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Review by Scott Yanow: Mira Mode Orchestra - Restless City


The Mira Mode Orchestra is a very modern and unusual jazz orchestra. Saxophonist Ede Merkel is the leader but in many ways this is a co-op that he has with younger and talented musicians, mostly from Germany.
The Mira Mode Orchestra is certainly one of the first jazz groups ever that consists of three horns, a four-piece rhythm section, and five strings. On Restless City, their first recording, Merkel contributed five of the nine selections and arranged Clara Hill’s “Glacial Moraine.” The other three selections were contributed by trumpeter Sebastian Piskorz. “Glacial Moraine” features Clara Hill’s vocalizing while a male singer called Simple One is featured on “Shade Of Ivory.”

Much of the music (particularly Merkel’s pieces) has inventive use of repetition. The performances blend together post bop jazz, electronics, funk, groove music, expressive pop vocals, and a gritty urban sound along with hints of the big band tradition. The writing for the strings is particularly inventive and there are some strong solos from the horn players along the way.

However it is the unique ensemble sound of and the unpredictable arrangements that give Restless City and the Mira Mode Orchestra in general its own colorful musical personality.
Scott Yanow

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