Posts Tagged ‘Trondheim Jazz Orchestra & The MaXx’

MNJ Records – 27th November 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

The title boils it down pretty much to perfection: this album is a document of a collision of two collectives, resulting in a performance featuring an 11-piece outfit with full brass section featuring two tenor saxophones, alto sax, trombone, and trumpet, in addition to a brace keyboards, a recorder and your conventional rock setup with bass, drums, and guitar. As the image on the album’s cover shows (overlaid with some terrible graphics), they filled the stage in the packed-out venue and as the audio reveals, they entertained the audience with around forty-five minutes of beguiling big-band jazzing.

Now, there’s jazz and there’s jazz…and there’s jazz. Classic jazz, played live in basement bars, I can dig, but doesn’t work in a recorded setting: to me, this is background mzk; experimental jazz that melts the brain and is eye-opening in ways beyond words is exhilarating but exhausting and best consumed in small doses; and then there’s that smooth, poppy, commercially-orientated Jamiroquai jazz that just blows goats. And then there’s this, which somehow manages to incorporate elements of all three, often simultaneously.

‘Orgelbå’ mashes world and jazz with some ebullient vocals and nagging cyclical motifs. It’s bold, energetic, and melodic in its bold swells of brass. It’s also quite accessible, verging on background… and it’s ok. Background has a definite place, but it is very much on the entertainment side of the line, opposite art. This isn’t about technical ability: both require equal skill, but commercial appeal and artistic merit are very much independent measures when it comes to music or, indeed, any creative art.

It all gets a bit nasty on ‘Time Taxi (Part 1)’ with some kind of bee-bop vocals entering the fray of a rather commercially-orientated melody. Ach, I say ‘commercially-orientated’, but what I suppose I mean is irritating mainstream jazz. When the pitch mentions ‘dystopian sci-fi’, it’s probably a fair assessment but not in the way it’s intended, and what starts out promisingly swiftly becomes something rather more awkward. But then, you can’t please all of the people…

AA

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