Exposé Online banner

Circum Grand Orchestra — 12
(Circum-Disc CIDI 1401, 2014, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2014-07-27

12 Cover artIn 2014, with the heyday of big bands in jazz many decades behind us, it's great to hear musicians forging ahead in this venerable tradition, and not just emulating past styles. We've recently noted Zubatto Syndicate from Seattle, and Satoko Fujii has ventured into this territory both in the US and Japan. And in a way, Circum Grand Orchestra from Lille, France, is halfway between those two examples: the presence of electric guitar and some rock-inflected beats moves them away from the free(-ish) jazz of Fujii, but they're definitely more jazz-oriented than Zubatto. The 12-piece ensemble includes trumpets, woodwinds, and a double rhythm section, and the group is described as a collective, though electric bassist Christophe Hache is listed as leader. It really shows in the egalitarian nature of the arrangements. Everyone gets their time in the spotlight, and none of it is wasted. Trumpets, saxes, bass clarinet, guitar, all have their moments. Sometimes I'm reminded of Nucleus, where a sinuous bass line provides a rhythmic underpinning for great interplay between the horns. There are also sections of very low event density, where one or two players will improvise together backed only by very sparse percussion or piano. Another reference might be the large-group recordings of Charles Mingus or George Russell, especially if you think to Russell's adventurous projects starting in the mid-60s. One of 12's best features is the amount of space in the music; in spite of the large number of players, there's a lot of openness, moments of quietness where you'd never know there were so many musicians in the room — or maybe a bunch of them popped out for a beer at the pub next door. No, it ain't got that swing (unless you have a very loose definition of swing), but it do mean a thing.

Filed under: New releases, 2014 releases

Related artist(s): Stefan Orins, Circum Grand Orchestra

Latest news

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more

2017-01-27
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more

2017-01-26
Butch Trucks RIP – Butch Trucks was one of two drummers in the first incarnation of the Allman Brothers Band in 1969, helping the band achieve its legendary status as an American original. He died on January 24, 2017 of a self-inflicted gunshot would. He was 69. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Cast - Legacy – For their ninth studio album, Cast present another strong set of tunes in their established mode. While there are strong contributions from all members, the keyboards of Alfonso Vidales are clearly...  (2000) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues