Exposé Online banner

Brian Landrus Orchestra — Generations
(BlueLand Records, 2017, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-10-20

Generations Cover art

In my book, adding orchestral parts to jazz and rock is a risky business. Not only do you have the needs that all genres have of writing interesting music, but the added necessity to make the orchestra parts interesting as well often presents difficulties that many artists are unable to overcome. For every successful attempt, there are dozens of failures. Brian Landrus is a baritone saxophonist, and Generations presents just short of an hour of modern jazz backed by a 25-member ensemble that includes strings, a full complement of woodwinds, brass, harp, vibraphone, and drums. He handles the arrangements admirably, fully utilizing the tones and colors available, and devises parts for the instruments that don’t just fill in backgrounds for his soloing or cover the chording that a pianist would do in a smaller group. At times I’m reminded of the great jazz soundtracks that Quincy Jones has done, which blend 20th Century techniques with inventive jazz playing. The album starts out with the five parts of the “Jeru Concerto” (four movements plus an interlude). This work features Landrus on the bari, but there are plenty of great passages of ensemble work for the others — after all, a concerto is really all about the soloist. Aside from the concerto, there are seven individual pieces. These other pieces are a bit more balanced in that they don’t focus so much on Landrus himself, so you’ll hear the occasional trumpet or bass clarinet solo, though most of the spotlights for flute, vibes, and the others are composed. There’s some pretty dense polyphony at times, where various groups of instruments compete for attention, but it all fits together quite nicely. In all, Generations is a nice piece of work with a distinctive sound and a pleasingly fresh example of large ensemble arrangement. I suppose it wouldn’t be practical for Landrus to maintain a group like this for a tour, but this studio creation is a fine addition to the canon.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Brian Landrus

More info
http://brianlandrus.com/albums/brian-landrus-orchestra-generations

Latest news

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Simon Steensland - The Simon Lonesome Combat Ensemble – Cutting-edge, unpretentious and imaginative are three adjectives that describe this offering by Swedish multi-instrumentalist and composer Simon Steensland. Mixing elements of rock, neo-classical,...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues