Friday, September 5, 2008

Ratchet Orchestra - Live at Sala Rosa November 28, 2007

This came out of the blue - and I can't really point you to somewhere to get it from. Nicolas Caloia runs the Ratchet Orchestra, an apparently flexible jazz combo among other things. He was on one of the disks in the NoType Montreal Free set and is active in that scene.

There are 27 artists listed on the front of this - indicative of the big band sound - and the 6 tracks are by Caloia (3), Sun ra (1) and Lombardo (1 - not sure who this is!) There is so much going on here - September has a slow intro of bass, horns, piano and drums, with whistle and clarinet melodies. It loops and builds, somewhat raucous with a little free jazz over the top. But for a live recording it is very clear, you can pick out the instruments as it whirls and swirls to a climax before a short drum and piano solo that slides into Love on a faraway planet. OK - I've heard of Sun Ra and bits of his but not much, and the two tracks here suggest not enough. They are contemplative restrained and very attractive - parallel orchestrations and a subtly oblique melody draw you in. A short joyous lilting from Carmine, with an Eastern swing, before a scrabbly fiddle, bass and second violin on T(h)rust. The others join after about 3 minutes for a building, exciting ensemble, with some wild winds and the fiddle still going at the end.

Drum and bass support the winds on Tiny pyramids, sinuous and melodic, this has a lovely violin solo with clarinet, a band building section before a drum solo and a bird-whistle. In the final track, Unconditional, flute piano and percussion build slowly, horn lines enter creating tension, dropping back to bass piano and clattery percussion. The winds return before a gentle finale.

I have got to like the big band free jazz orchestral stuff - some of Nathan Hubbard, or Jeff Kaiser's albums (or, looking at an old australian 12", the Hot Half Hour). And this is another beauty to add to that roster. As I said, I have no idea how you can get this - I have kept Caloia's address if people want to ask me for it - I would rather not publish it. And if anyone has a better link, let me know. UPDATE: Nicolas got in touch and has provided the link to buy this album, so go here

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