Exposé Online banner

Peter Gordon — Symphony 5
(Foom FM004, 2015, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2015-07-04

Symphony 5 Cover art

Peter Gordon is an American composer with a very broad idea of what a “symphony” can (or should) encompass. It certainly doesn't fit the idea of “serious” music, containing as it does many elements from both rock and jazz. The first movement is a moody, impressionistic piece for what might be called a chamber orchestra, a largish ensemble of brass, woodwinds, and percussion (including mallets) that functions more like an orchestral percussion section than a jazz or rock rhythm section, with a brief section for a soprano sax solo backed by almost-conventional accompaniment of a sparse electric guitar part and herky-jerky drums. “Transgression” takes a few steps towards the jazz side of the spectrum with a slinky bass line and interlocking sax and trumpet parts. A tinkling interlude features piano, vibes, and clarinet. Throughout the sections, there’s a lot of harmonic density, little reliance on simple triads for the harmonies. With the third movement, “Juvenalia,” we are given a different flavor, highly consonant, with an organ and simple harmonies reminiscent of a New Orleans marching band. “Homeland Security” then takes us in another direction, bringing to mind classic TV themes like “Peter Gunn” or “Mission: Impossible.” It has the insistent bass line that just shouts, “Spies!” The fifth and final movement is “Chamber Disco,” which actually does have a sort of warped disco beat, though the density of the arrangement is decidedly un-disco. It’s a little like a Philip Glass piece gone awry, with short melodic fragments from different instruments being added in layers, punctuated by sections that lean a bit towards big-band brass. For fans of instrumental arranging, Symphony 5 is a treat, mixing modern chamber music, jazz, soundtracks, minimalism, and more into a semi-cohesive whole. Plus, it’s just kind of fun to listen to.


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Peter Gordon

Latest news

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more

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 Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Jesús Figueroa - Jesús Figueroa – This CD reissues both albums of Jesús Figueroa, Con Todos (1972) and Magica Fuente (1974). Figueroa was the lead singer of Uruguay psych band Opus Alfa, which evolved into Dias de Blues (without...  (2005) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues