By the mid-60s, it was clear that big bands were not "coming back" (as a commercial force), but that didn’t stop trumpeter/drummer/composer Don Ellis (1934-78) from then assembling a great, long-lived jazz orchestra. (Among the alumni are Tom Scott, John Klemmer and even Art Pepper). Then, most big bands were not seen as innovative (though Duke Ellington and Sun Ra still had lotsa tricks up their respective sleeves), but Ellis’ was an exception. While not particularly way-out radical but certainly not conservative, Ellis (who’d been in the bands of George Russell and Charles Mingus) wrote music with drastic time changes (9/8 and 15/16) that embraced bop, free/avant jazz, 20th century classical music, the rhythms and then-progressive elements of rock and the use of electronics. This live disc, originally on Atlantic in 1977, was Ellis’ last. While it doesn’t reach the heights of his best work for Columbia, it’s still an excellent set, reissued on Koch with 3 extra tracks (almost 25 extra minutes of music). In the manner of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, this stuff is not exactly subtle and could be accused by some of the sin of excess (Ellis’ band then comprised four reeds, eight brass, keyboards, two bassists, two drummers, two percussionists, and a string quartet), but then, that’s a big part of the fun. Like Kirk’s best, this stuff packs a big, loud, immediate, joyous WALLOP, enough to make Maynard Ferguson or Jones/Lewis sound like Guy Lombardo by comparison. There are plenty of exhilaratingly intricate arrangements brought off with brassy swagger and panache, and some fine soloing to boot (courtesy of Ted Nash on reed and Jimbo Ross on viola). This is definitely an album to crank up loud, make the windows rattle and generally become an enlightened public nuisance.