The New Jazz Composers Octet: Bad Alchemy


Bad Alchemy


The New Jazz Composers Octet


The Turning Gate (MTM-00019)

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Myron Walden (alto sax), Nasheet Waits (drums),

David Weiss (trumpet, flugelhorn), Steve Davis (trombone), Jimmy Greene (tenor and soprano saxes), Norbert Stachel (baritone sax, bass clarinet), Xavier Davis (piano), Dwayne Burno (bass)


Composed by John Greaves


Recorded: Brooklyn, NY, January 19 and December 20, 2005


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

"Bad Alchemy" is an interesting reversal on the widely held assumption that modern jazz is more complex than rock, made more interesting that this Henry Cow song is covered by a collective of musicians that has the word "composers" in its name.

The song itself is operatic in its dramatic, stilted structure, and the original even contains obtuse lyrics that were sung in the style of a Broadway musical. Those singing lines work well as horn charts in the NJCO's hands. It was undoubtedly challenging enough to interpret this composition straight, but the group wasn't satisfied with doing merely that. Instead they loosened up the highly structured composition some with improvisation via cascading, urgent notes from Myron Walden's sax solo and Nasheet Waits filling and rolling on his kit underneath.

Advanced jazz groups don't typically look at 1970s avant-rock groups for source material, but seeing how well this rendition of "Bad Alchemy" turned out, perhaps they should do so more often.

Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron


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