STRAIGHT SWING WITH A SWAGGER.
ost of today’s big bands are confined to their rehearsal space. If they’re lucky, they gel occasional work in their home cities. Few have had the wider impact of the Either/Orchestra, which does not let its Cambridge,
Massachusetts, base deter it from winning jazz polls, garnering Grammy nominations, and regularly touring the country.
The ten-piece Either/Orchestra is the brainchild of Russ Gershon, who organized the group in 1985. Gershon not only recorded the band but also began touring (the Midwest starting in 1988, the West since 1990), making his Accurate label a haven for creative players and writers. Shortly after Labor Day, Accurate released The Brunt—the band’s fifth album and the label’s thirty-fourth—and the Either/Orchestra commenced its third West Coast tour, including six states and a stop at the thirty-seventh annual NTos t terey )azz Testival.
Fite new album is prime Either/ Orchestra, encompassing both jazz and non-jazz traditions, able to evoke vivid scenarios without sacrificing a roguish daring. The band extends the venerable swagger of Duke Ellington’s “Blues for New Orleans’" one moment, and the gruff elegance of Gershon’s tenor saxophone on “Pas de Trots” the next. As usual, Gershon sustains a lean, declarative swing as he ushers in new members (including the trombonist Dan Fox, who wrote the ominous “Permit Blues”), features rich orchestrations from alumni (as on Curtis Hasselbring’s title track), and gets old reliables like Charlie Kohlhase and John Carlson to go the distance once again. Above all, it’s the leisurely spirit of Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay,” captured with an intelligent affection in Gershon’s arrangement, that defines the Either/Orchestra’s serious yet sunny personality. —B.B.