The Upper Austria Jazz Orchestra: Brazilian world music project

It may be a silly self-fulfilling prophecy to describe an Austrian big band album as Teutonic (as the term is pejoratively applied), but there is a heavy and almost martial discipline on this one that sometimes goes to the against the spirit of the project he took with the Brazilian composer and percussionist Fernando Paiva.

South American music is nothing but light and airy, so there is a sense in which the arrangements by members of the Upper Austria Jazz Orchestra of five Paiva charts and others seem sometimes overworked. If the base material had been something other than Latin, or the whole thing less heavy, the result would have been different. Even the oases of Coral Voices and Ballad For Beyond escape sandstorms.

But the pieces are generous and reflect the inclinations of the arrangers as well as their mastery of the brassy idiom. The opening Mockin, written and arranged by saxophonist Christian Maurer, has a bop complexity but ends with a free episode. Blues Brass, a Paiva chart arranged by pianist Helmar Hill, is so catchy that it almost goes beyond its welcome, but along the way there are delicious solos by Maurer (soprano) and Manfred Weinberger (bugle). The intriguing Erichs Tante Is A Dominante is another bop tongue twister scripted by the wonderful singer Verena Loipetsberger in unison and with a final of wild percussion.

Despite the ontdupois, the formats are imaginative, tightly controlled, and delivered with aplomb; and with some delicious solos dotted all over the place. The result, however, looks like a fusion of two cultures; even Loipetsberger’s vocals are harnessed to the overall sound, not free to float beyond it.

UAJO has one form: 27 years as an interpretive unit, 12 CDs to its name, and Paiva-type concerts or collaborations with Mike Gibbs, Kenny Wheeler, Ed Puddick, Jane Monheit, Richard Galliano and d ‘others. Eight of the 10 arrangements are by band members, and at 12 minutes under 90, the album offers great value.

Discography
(1) Mockingbird; Voice of coral; Erichs Aunt is a Dominant; Brass blues; Terra Dos Passarinhos; (2) Sambita; (3) Ballad for the afterlife; Meus Passos No Mundo; The lifeline; In Campainha De Salamanca (77.25)
(1) Fernando Paiva (d, pc); Verena Loipetsberger (v); Andreas Pranzl


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Henry R. Wright