BRIAN IRVINE ENSEMBLE With PAUL DUNMALL/BBC CONCERT ORCHESTRA et al - Montana Strange: The Music Of Brian Irvine (FMR 315; UK)
This is the second disc that we've gotten of the music of Brian Irvine with his ensemble plus Paul Dunmall as the featured soloist. This disc is even more ambitious, adding the BBC Concert Orchestra and the RTE National Symphony as well. "Montana Strange" was inspired by the work of filmmaker David Lynch and is dedicated to Paul Dunmall, a good friend of the composer Brian Irvine.
Mr. Irvine's ensemble is a 12-piece band with Steve Noble (the only familiar name) on turntables. The first part, "Dick Laurent is Dead", takes it title from 'Lost Highway' and is a harrowing, intense work.
Although Mr. Dunmall is the featured improvising soloist (on tenor sax), it often sounds like his part was written out, he fits perfectly. The strings and horns provide dark waves and disorienting currents to navigate through.
Mr. Irvine is a great composer who draws from various sources and streams: Ives or Copland-like Americana to more dissonant European extremes with Dunmall's sax surfing the waves in different sections. There are a number of surprising twists and turns here and David Lynch fans should also enjoy this gem.
This is one of the most successful combinations of modern classical and modern jazz without any of those stale third stream cliches that only hard-nosed critics complain about. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery.