Michael Moss the Accidental Orchestra HELIX
(4th Stream Records ERG 10013)
Street Date: March 24, 2018
Jason Kao Hwang, Rosi Hertlein, Fung Churn Hwei (violins), Stephanie Griffin (viola), Lenny Mims and Carol Buck (cellos), Steve Swell (trombone), Vincent Chancey (French horn), and Waldron Mahdi Ricks (trumpet), Richard Keene (oboe), Elliott Levin (flute, tenor saxophone), Ras Moshe (soprano and tenor saxophones), Michael Lytle (bass clarinet), and myself, Michael Moss (Bb clarinet), Steve Cohn (piano), Billy Stein (guitar), Rick Iannacone (ambient guitar), Larry Roland (string bass), Warren Smith (percussion, vibraphones), Badal Roy (tabla), Chuck Fertal (drums),
and Michael Wimberly (djembe, African bells and percussion).
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Multi-instrumentalist/composer Michael Moss, a veteran of New York’s free jazz scene, has assembled a brand-new 22-piece band, the Accidental Orchestra, for Helix, the premiere recording of a pair of his latest extended compositions. Helix kicks o with “The Old One,” which gets its title from Einstein’s name for God. Moss describes this ve-piece suite as “an initiation into sacred ground.” He views it as part of a musical tradition stretching from the earliest ritual over the dead to Bach’s Mass in
B Minor, through Native American rites of passage into the spirit world, the Jewish mourner’s Kaddish, and Buddhist funeral rituals.
Moss wrote See Sharp or Be Flat/C# or Bb while recovering from a fracture su ered in tripping over a curb. The composer brings
a quirky sense of humor to the situation, right down to deciding to name his ensemble the Accidental Orchestra in memory of the incident. Moss aimed to let the band swing on this contrapuntal theme and variations mixing jazz, rhythm and blues, and the joy of dance. “Throughout I refer to Norwegian Wood (The Beatles), I Feel Good (James Brown), and Bags Groove (the Modern Jazz Quar- tet), but do not resort to familiar big band tropes,” Moss explains. “This is a type of string orchestra, but with lots of jazz musicians pushing the boundaries.” The Chicago-born, Madison, Wisconsin-educated Michael Moss has been an active member of the New York jazz scene for 50 years, earning recognition for his skill and imagination as a multi-reed player, and for the freshness and intensity of his writing. The self-described “farthest-out cat” was a mainstay of Manhattan’s famed loft jazz scene, playing with Sam Rivers, Dave Liebman, Paul Bley, Annette Peacock, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Richie Beirach and scores of others. He’s equally at home from a duo setting to an orchestra of 50-plus players. His musical studies have taken him across the globe and through the centu- ries, absorbing the music of Thailand, the Middle East, Ireland, Europe, East Africa, and elsewhere, with Renaissance orchestras, folk melodies, chants, blues, Latin and other styles catching his ear. With Helix, “I am extending an American musical heritage, stretching from Charles Ives, Scott Joplin, Fats Waller, and Louis Armstrong into the future,” Moss says. Listeners can’t help but be captivated by what they hear, as they accompany Moss and the Accidental Orchestra on this life-long journey.