German pianist-composer Alexander Von Schlippenbach led this mid ‘70s studio session, but the abundance not just of other leaders but innovators – Anthony Braxton, Evan Parker, Peter Broztmann, Albert Mangelsdorff, Kenny Wheeler, to name but some – makes this very much an all-star session. The word orchestra is important insofar as the 16-piece unit is well in the lineage of a large ensemble in which intricate, ambitious composing for brass, reeds and rhythm section is the order of the day. Yet the strength of G.U.O is precisely the way the substantial resources are deployed all the while maintaining some of the characteristics of a small group, such as dizzying peaks of tempo, shrieks of sound and shifts of texture that are that much more difficult to effectively harness when there are so many players involved.
The result is a brilliant illustration of how the daring push of the ‘60s avant-garde sustained the forward march of artists who were intent on creating new sensations in sound in the subsequent decade. Maranao, the dazzling opener is a case in point. It has a rhapsodic melody set in swooning legato around which rhythm rumbles and rages like a forest fire before organically sparking into a raucous, primeval Afro-samba on a twisting pathway. It is a turbulent joy and a joyful turbulence.
Kevin Le Gendre
Globe Unity Orchestra & Guests, Baden-Baden 75 [FMP]