DON ELLIS — Soaring (review)

DON ELLIS — Soaring album cover Album · 1973 · Progressive Big Band Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
dreadpirateroberts
One of his last studio recordings, Soaring brings together a wide range of elements from Ellis’ past to create an accessible big band album with its share of fusion and even pop sensibilities. The record certainly still has its tricky moments, where it seems like half the players are hard at work doing different things, but it does retain a sense of completeness.

Ellis essentially has a small orchestra to utilise but doesn’t crowd his arrangements. There’s also a focus on more ‘riff-based’ playing for some of the rhythm sections – take ‘Go Back Home’ or ‘The Devil Made Me Write This Piece’ for instance and it’s generally a set of exciting tunes, opener ‘Whiplash’ not least among them. There’s still room for a couple of slower numbers – of which the brief ‘Image of Maria’ is perhaps the more heartfelt, while ‘Nicole’ is a bit cooler.

‘Sladka Pitka’ written by organ and piano player Milcho Leviev possesses perhaps the most varied arrangement, melding CTI-sounding light funk with what could be described as a car-chase horn arrangement, and passages that evoke some sort of bad trip. The most expressive song, even the most direct, has to be ‘Invincible’ with its coy beginning and explosive middle section – the stand out piece for me.

Fans of his earlier work may not enjoy this album, but if you already own ‘Haiku’ ‘Connection’ or ‘Tears of Joy’ and don’t have Soaring yet, it’s definitely worth a look.
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