In 1968, composer-trumpeter Michael Mantler recorded The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra. Released on the JCOA label (and subsequently distributed by ECM), this classic, groundbreaking album of composition and improvisation featured Mantler conducting a large jazz orchestra that included some of the era’s iconic free improvisers as soloists: pianist Cecil Taylor, cornetist Don Cherry, trombonist Roswell Rudd, saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, guitarist Larry Coryell, saxophonist Gato Barbieri. In the process of digitizing his catalog, Mantler reacquainted himself with early scores, eventually envisioning fresh performances of this vintage material.
With The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra Update, Mantler has re-imagined his 1960s music for the 21st century, with electric guitar and amplified string quartet added to the instrumentation. The Nouvelle Cuisine Big Band of energized young Europeans, conducted by Christoph Cech and featuring Mantler on trumpet, was recorded in these updated scores live at Vienna’s Porgy & Bess club in 2013. Just as the original did in 1968, the result sounds stirringly contemporary, brimming with dark majesty and a bright sense of sonic possibility.
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