By Matt Micucci
2015 marks the 30th anniversary of Either/Orchestra. The band will be celebrating the occasion with a performance at Johnny D’s in Somerville MA on Friday December 18.
Either/Orchestra is a ten piece jazz ensemble, led by saxophonist Russ Gershon, who founded the band in Cambridge, Massachussets in 1985.
Gershon has stated that his initial intention was simply born out of wanting to hear great musicians realize his vision of the large jazz ensemble, influenced by Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Charles Mingus and Sun Ra. Yet the ensuing decades unfurled an adventure in swing, bebop, avant-garde, Latin and Ethiopian jazz, producing Grammy nominated arrangements, perennial placement in critics’ polls and appearances on the most prestigious stages of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Paris, Rome and beyond.
The band is characterized by a heavier and more orchestrated sound than that of a smaller jazz combo, but remains more streamlined and improvisation-oriented than most big bands.
Either/Orchestra quickly developed a reputation for presenting adventurous music in an entertaining package, delighting and challenging club, colleges and festival audiences in small towns and big cities, as well as recording a string of critically acclaimed albums, and Grierson’s ear for talent made the band a formative showcase for such names as John Medeski, Miguel Zenon and Matt Wilson, who would go on to have prominent and celebrated careers on the jazz scene.
On December 18, Russ Gershon, will be joined by alumni guests for a romp through material from their eleven albums, featuring the thrilling jazz, Latin and Ethiopian sounds that have made them unique through a generation of jazz history.
In addition, the Either/Orchestra will be releasing two albums in the spring of 2016, The Collected Unconscious on Accurate Records and The Music of Nerses Nalbandian on Ethiopiques, Buda Musique.