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Looking For America by The Carla Bley Big Band

Carla Bley assimilates slices of Americana into these snazzy, witty, and often- vociferous big band arrangements. The artist greatly benefits from her longtime musical associates, trombonist Gary Valente, bassist Steve Swallow and others for this large-scale orchestra setting. Consequently, this theme-based production might signify one of Bley’s finest outings in recent years. It’s a cunning endeavor indeed, as the artist’s vision consists of folksy, roots oriented motifs lifted from "The National Anthem," and "Old MacDonald Had A Farm."

Bley and her band homogenize modern jazz with variations of the blues, gospel, swing, and other genres via brassy horn arrangements, awash with punctual overtones and accents. The twenty-one minute, multipart opus titled "The National Anthem," features a myriad of cleverly constructed choruses and horn parts, amid wildly creative quotes from America’s musical theme. Other segments include a Latin element and a Mexican mariachi groove. Therefore, as the proceedings move forward it seems that Bley - sets to music - America’s immigration process, which of course is an elemental aspect of our society and culture. Bley ends the outing with a funk-rock driven slant on "Old MacDonald Had A Farm." Here, she perhaps consummates the recording with contemporary intimations, as though she’s telling us that - we are here - perhaps from a time-lapse standpoint. Yet, at the end of the day, this exquisite undertaking bares the mark of Bley’s signature composing style. And with that, the soloists’ are in top form. (Strongly recommended.... )

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: The Carla Bley Big Band
  • CD Title: Looking For America
  • Genre: Big Band / Swing
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: WATT
  • Musicians: Earl Gardner, Lew Soloff, Byron Stripling, Gianpaolo Casati (trumpets), Robert Routch (french horn), Jim Pugh, Gary Valente, Dave Bargeron (trombones), David Taylor (bass trombone), Lawrence Feldman (alto & soprano saxophones, flute), Wolfgang Pusching (alto saxophone & flute), Andy Sheppard, Craig Handy (tenor saxophones), Gary Smulyan (baritone saxophone), Karen Mantler (organ, glockenspiel), Carla Bley (piano, conduction), Steve Swallow (bass), Billy Drummond (drums), Don Alias (percussion)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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