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"Review of Neo-Modernism"

“Draws from Trane, Monk, Mingus, Shorter and the electrified Miles...but bandleader and principal composer Russ Gershon understands that imitation is suicide. The tougher trick is to capture the heart and spirit of the music, and this group knows how... Challenging, exploratory, occasionally unsettling, and often eye-popping – a fitting tribute to the men chosen as inspiration.”
–Chris Gardner, JamBands.com - JamBands.com

"Review of More Beautiful than Death"

“The best kept secret in jazz.”
- –Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald, 2001

"Quotes from Press Kit"

“One of the first great large jazz bands of the new millenium”
–George Kanzler, New Jersey Star Ledger, August 6, 2000

“A world class ensemble.” –K. Leander Williams, Time Out New York, March 2000

“The best kept secret in jazz.” –Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald, 2001

“One of the jazz world’s most gifted and adventurous big bands.”
–Richard Harrington, Washington Post, April 2000

“Challenging, exploratory, occasionally unsettling, and often eye-popping.”
–Chris Gardner, JamBands.com, Sept. 28, 2003

“The freshest, most worldly jazz around.”
–Karl Stark, Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 3, 2002

“One of the most innovative large ensembles in jazz for almost 20
years...[the Either/Orchestra] is still pushing the envelope.”
–Martin Johnson, New York Newsday, August 6, 2004

“Boston’s Either/Orchestra carves out a unique niche among large ensembles with
[music] that looks to the past only for inspiration...not historical reminiscences, but
brilliantly orchestrated pieces that speak brightly of Now. Their music sizzles with energy.”
–Irwin Block, Montreal Gazette, Sept 11, 2003
- various

"from Fernando Gonzales"

“The 10-piece Either/Orchestra, founded in 1985 and based in
Cambridge MA, has created a
remarkable body of work, built on crafty musicianship, eclectic taste and a healthy sense of both tradition and the absurd. It has tackled anything from Duke
Ellington and Robert Fripp to Ethiopian pop music with gumption and wit.”
–Fernando Gonzalez,
Washington Post, March 16, 2003
- Washington Post

"M. Ryan"

“Truly amazing...remarkably focused and firm...the playing...
is overwhelmingly rhythmic and taut while the songs are lush,
stylish...rife with gyrating grooves and tender refinement.”
–Michael J. Ryan, Boston Herald - Boston Herald

"Dan McCleneghan"

“It’s puzzle why the Either/Orchestra, under the leadership of
saxophonist Russ Gershon, is still something of an underground outfit. They’ve been through nineteen years and nine albums, spawned the careers of first rate jazz men, including John Medeski, Matt Wilson and Miguel Zenon, and made scores of great live performances. [Their repertoire features] African and Latin rhythms with dark undercurrents, dense arrangements that demand repeat listenings; challenging compositions, and at least one raucous masterpiece: The Ethiopian Suite. [There is always] a palpable sense of the joy of musical creation pervading the proceedings.” –Dan McCleneghan, AllAboutJazz.com - AllAboutJazz.com

"Chris Merrick"

“The Either/Orchestra has achieved that sort of rare,
atmospheric level of reputation that invites constant
wonder and scrutiny.”

–Chris Merrick, radio KBOO,
Portland Oregon

"Live in Addis Reviews"

“An amazingly great set from Either/Orchestra – easily their finest album ever, and a wicked batch of Ethiopian funk! The set’s a very faithful homage to the best Ethiopian styles of the 70s – with lots of echoes of the generation of Mulatu, who also makes a guest appearance himself!” –GlobalGrooves(CD) dustygroove.com

“Astonishing...monumental...the best live album of the year-in any genre”
–Paul Olson, AllAboutJazz.com

“ Amazing!!!!! I think it belongs among the finest evocations of Africa in jazz ever recorded... Bravo! Encore!” –Norman J. Weinstein, author of A Night in Tunisia: Imaginings of Africa in Jazz

“ [An] incredible performance” –Tim Perlich, Now Magazine, Toronto

“ Wildly entertaining” –Lenny Mazel, KCME-FM

“ A rousing concert...the E/O interprets Ethiopian numbers with colorful, winding horn
arrangements and driving percussion, to which the audience responds with immense
enthusiasm.” –Brian Lonergan, AllAboutJazz NY

“Live in Addis is a total triumph as music, once again, is shown to be able to bring together diverse peoples in mutual love.” –Budd Kopman, AllAboutJazz.com

“Sends the senses into the very heart and soul of communal human love...
A force that dares to break barriers.” –Lofton A. Emenari, III, WHPK, Chicago

“[A] completely remarkable recording...I think the performance of “Shellila” is actually the greatest recorded example of an ecstatic and informed audience response to supreme jazz in the history of recorded jazz...give five stars to the audience and musicians both. This recording is the flower of their profound embrace.” –Norman Weinstein, AllAboutJazz.com

“Fascinating...a fine exposition of Ethiopian music that makes for a throbbing coupling with jazz.” –Jerry D’Souza, addislive.com

“Splendide, émouvant et bruissant d’élans musicaux naturellement partagés, de la passion subite do Russ Gershon pour quelques disques de “Great Ethiopian Music” – ceux du grand chanteur Mahmoud Ahmed, entre atres–, lentement mais surement transformé en authentique projet artistique. R´sultant, aprés dix ans de maturation: ce concert exceptionnel, immortalis´en un double-CD que vous vous devez impérativement d’acquérir si vous goutez, comme il se doit, les exp´riences musicales à fort caract´re humaniste – sans aucun cliché “fusion” et encore moins “world”, cela va sans dire: l’Either-Orchestra ayant tout “simplement” passé la musique ´thiopienne au prisme de sa culture jazz-´etatsunienne.” –Frédéric Goaty, Jazz Magazine, France

“An explosion of happiness... Everybody plays with a lyricism, a spirituality, a breath, a groove which evokes the best pages of the South African Chris MacGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath: a jazz which is popular, inspired, contraband, generous, open to the world.” –Alex Dutilh, Jazzman, France

“Simply sumptious...numerous elements are present – sould, jazz, funk Afrobeat, traditional music, Arabic-tinged melodies and serpentine arrangements that run deeper than deep...a truly thrilling cross-cultural event.” –World Music Central - various

"Live in Addis Review"

CD Review: Either/Orchestra - Live in Addis (Ethiopiques 20)
November 08, 2005
dj earball
Ethiopiques 20: Live in Addis
Ethiopiques (Buda Series)
Music, Usually ships in 24 hours

The Either/Orchestra is a ten-piece jazz ensemble based in Cambridge Massachusetts. The Ethiopiques series of recordings is known for re-releasing music from Ethiopia's "golden years" in the early 1970s. What strange events conspired to bring them together?

Let's just say that a chance 1994 encounter between E/O bandleader Russ Gershon and a CD called Ethiopian Groove: The Golden 70s. led to E/O's reinterpretation of some Ethiopian classics. And a chance encounter between this music and the ears of Buda Musique's Francis Falceto let to an invitation for E/O to perform at the 2004 Ethiopian Music Festival. And that's where this live 2-CD set originated. That's the story, though the liner notes provide far richer detail.

But I know you're now wondering if this sounds like jazz or like world music, right? Well, yes. And the tilt of that "yes" depends on where you're listening from.

Fans of Ethiopian music will hear familiar rhythms and melodies, such as the unmistakable Arabic tinge of "Muziqawi Silt" (which has, in the hands of the Daktaris and Antibalas become an Afrobeat anthem). Less Ethiopized ears may simply hear an adventurous jazz big band experimenting with unusual rhythms and exotic melodic lines.

This illusion holds up through most of the first CD, but is shattered on the last track, "Soul Tezeta," when the Motown ballad feeling gets a rich dose of vocals by Michael Belayneh. Also graced with Ethiopian voices are the shuffling "Antchim Endelela", featuring Bahta Gebre-Heywet, and the sublimely torchy "Shellela" sung by Tsedenia Gebre-Marqos.

While the Ethiopiques series has provided some great blasts from the past, this latest release proves that Ethiopia's unique and compelling music lives on today. This album is highly recommended for adventurous listeners, and a great entry point to the Ethiopiques series.

A version of this post appears on dj earball's SoundRoots World Music Blog.

http://blogcritics.org/archives/2005/11/08/080815.php - Blogcritics

"Interview with Russ Gershon"


Either/Orchestra Handles All Tough Turns
of Jazz Road
Posted: 2003-10-27

By R.J. DeLuke

Saxophonist Russ Gershon is on the horns of a dilemma with his
sparkling band, the Either/Orchestra, the rock-solid 10-piece organization that churns out all kinds of music. The surprising sounds are steeped in jazz, but like a Luis Tiant pitch, the thunder the band emits can come from just about any angle. Critics have loved them. Yet gigs aren’t as plentiful as they should be for such a
stellar group. Gershon – who’s tired, in a way, of winning Downbeat
magazine’s “talent deserving wider recognition” award which the
band has consistently garnered – feels it’s time for the band to step
into the limelight.

The latest recording, Neo-Modernism, shows the band can step into the ring with anyone. While the last album, Afro-Cubism, had a
Latin touch and the one before that, More Beautiful Than Death, had influences from Ethiopian music, the new disc has a deep jazz groove, with nods to folks in the jazz pantheon like Monk, Coltrane, Sun Ra and Miles.

“This album in a way is my own personal pantheon of jazz masters,”
says the 44-year-old Gershon. “This is a little bit more of a jazz
album. The neo-modernism concept is… we’ve been hearing the
term neo-classicism and neo-traditionalism for years, so I figured
I’d just put a little twist on that.”

“My notion here is to go back to the inspirational figures and try to
visit them in a way that’s not imitating them, but trying to find
something in the track of what was inspiring about them and how
they must have felt at moments when they were discovering things.
That’s one of the reasons I came up with these kind of mutant
combinations. To see if we can kind of blow up the chemistry set.”

That’s the kind of approach the Either/Orchestra has had since the
Boston-based group was formed in 1985.

“When we play for people who haven’t heard us play before, their
jaws drop. ‘Oh my god, what a great band.’ I feel like the goods are
there, but we need to get some more celebrity status or some kind of
star thing,” says the bandleader. “Become trendy in some way or
something. I feel like if we can get this thing in front of more people,
we’ll have a bigger audience. The audiences we get in front of really
go for it.

“There's a confusion between 'big band,' meaning 'large ensemble,'
and 'big band,' meaning 'nostalgia music from the 30s and 40s.' It's a
natural confusion because it's the same phrase. But while they
overlap, they're really two completely different things. The
'big-band' as I use the term is a large group of players, playing any
style of jazz, creating a range of textures, and containing a variety of
soloists. This variety and range can make 'big band' a more
interesting experience than a small jazz group to a lot of people.”

That’s what the Either/Orchestra brings. The group, smaller than a
traditional “big band” and larger than most working groups, is like a
six-cylinder car, able to take turns easy, but with power; able to
climb hills, and still get good mileage. Their music not only affects
the listener, it can infect. And it’s a gig worth catching.

“The first time I ever turned on a radio
under my own power I heard ‘I Want to
Hold Your Hand.’ And then the first time I
ever went to a big rock concert was Sly and
the Family Stone. The first time I ever
went to a big jazz concert was Rahsaan and
Pharaoh Sanders and Alice Coltrane. And I
played classical music when I was a kid,”
Gershon explains. “So I feel like I was
formed on a bunch of different styles,
different genres and - AllAboutJazz.com


Ethiopiques 20: Live in Addis (2005) - CMJ top 5
Neo-Modernism (2004) - CMJ top 5
Afro-Cubism (2002) - CMJ top 5
More Beautiful than Death (2000) - CMJ top 10
Across the Omniverse (1996)
The Brunt (1994)
The Calculus of Pleasure (1992)
The Half-Life of Desire (1990)
Radium (1988)
Dial "E" for Either/Orchestra (1987)



The Either/Orchestra is a legendary band. Founded in 1985 by saxophonist/composer Russ Gershon, the ten-piece E/O took to the road like an indy rock band and broke new touring ground all over the US, Europe and Africa.

Combining the musicianship and skill of jazz players with the "go for broke" energy and committment of rockers, the E/O makes music that reaches all kinds of audiences, from punks and hippies to the jazz hard-core. Originally influenced by Ellington, Coltrane, Miles Davis and Sun Ra, over the years the sounds of Latin music have come in with band members from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Mexico. Over the last nine years, the E/O has become involved with the melodic and exotic sounds of Ethiopia, recording a live album there and collaborating with the top stars of Ethiopian music.

Many future stars have passed through the E/O, including John Medeski, Matt Wilson and Miguel Zenon and the late Mark Sandman of Morphine, and today's lineup is just as talented.

The E/O places a premium on connecting with the audience, putting on an entertaining show and taking the listener on a trip across three continents.