Either-Orchestra.org
Dial "E" for Either/Orchestra (Accurate AC-2222, 1987)

This is where it all began! In 1986, after their first season together, the E/O recorded Kenny Freundlich's New Orleans-style arrangement of "Doxy," Russ Gershon's take-off-your-clothes version of Roland Kirk's "Lady's Blues," a haunting, raucous group arrangement of Monk's "Brilliant Corners," and two of Gershon's early originals. Reveals the band's basic recipe: big-band lushness, combo agility and avant-pop experimentalism in an entertaining, witty package.



Top Ten for 1987: Boston Globe Jazz Critics



Personnel: Tom Halter, Dave Ballou, tp; Russell Jewell,Josh Roseman, tb; Robb Rawlings, as; Russ Gershon, ts; Steve Norton, bar.s; Kenny Freundlich, pn, DX7; John Dirac, g; Mike Rivard, bs; Jerome Deupree, dms; Also: Bob Seely, tp; Dan Drexler, tp solos (2,5); Bob Sinfonia, as (5); Copley Cats, v (4).



Tracks: 1.Doxy; 2.Nicole is Always in Tokyo; 3.Brilliant Corners; 4.17 December; 5.Lady's Blues.


Radium (Accurate Records AC-3232, released 1988)


In 1987-88, the band advanced its sound with Roscoe Mitchell's "Odwallah" (thumbs-up from the composer), "Willow Weep for Me" in a epic classical-big-band-free jazz-blues guitar raveup arrangment, Mingus' "Moanin,'" more Gershon originals, and Freundlich's infamous medley of "Nutty" and "Ode to Billy Joe." Part live, part studio, this disc crackles with warmth and energy.



"...shimmeringly beautiful...brilliant...sexy, this is jazz which roars with excitement, snarls with anger and glows like the radium dial on your alarm clock...one helluva disc."
-Alan Bargebuhr, Cadence Magazine



Boston Music Award, 1988: Best Jazz Album on an Indie Label



Personnel: Tom Halter, John Carlson, tp, flh; Russell Jewell, Curtis Hasselbring, tb; Robb Rawlings, as; Russ Gershon, ts, ss; Charlie Kohlhase, bar.s; Kenny Freundlich, pn, DX7; John Dirac, g; Mike Rivard, bs; Jerome Deupree, dms.


Tracks: 1.Born in a Suitcase; 2.Hard to Know; 3.Moanin'- Intro.; 4.Moanin'; 5.Insomnia; 6.Nutty/Ode to Billie Joe; 7.Odwallah; 8.Willow Weep for Me. 

The Half-Life of Desire (Accurate Records AC-3242, released 1990)


After touring extensively in 1988-89 with new members John Medeski and Douglas Yates, the E/O really hit its stride in Rudy van Gelder's studio, on Duke Ellington's 90th birthday. Includes John Dirac's orchestral arrangement of the Robert Fripp art-rock classic "Red," Gershon's wild hybrid of Miles' "Circle in the Round" and Duke's "I Got it Bad," the title track ballad feature for Charlie Kohlhase, plus two early Curtis Hasselbring compositions. Guest Mark Sandman of the rock group Morphine sings and plays underwater guitar in a bizarre remake of the Bing Crosby classic, "Temptation." The E/O's most electric recording.



"A hallucinatory fantasy." 

-Neil Tesser, Playboy Magazine


"Hellbent on both genre-bender hijinx and genuine sonic lustre..."
-Josef Woodard, Musician Magazine


"The hard-swinging but rhythmically elastic 11-piece lineup makes mincemeat out of your expectations."
-Gene Santoro, Pulse


Personnel: Tom Halter, John Carlson, tp, flh; Russell Jewell, Curtis Hasselbring, tb; Douglas Yates, as (exc. 5), ss; Russ Gershon, ts, ss, fl; Charlie Kohlhase, bar.s, as; John Medeski, (exc. 5) pn, or, DX7; John Dirac, g; Mike Rivard, bs; Jerome Deupree, dms. Track 5, add: Mark Sandman, v, g. solo; Dave Finucane, bcl; Robb Rawlings, as; Kenny Freundlich, pn, syn; Yates, Medeski out.       


Tracks: 1.Strange Meridian; 2.Premonitions;3.The Half-Life of Desire; 4.He Who Hesitates; 5.Temptation; 6.Circle in the Round/IGot It Bad; 7.Red.

The Calculus of Pleasure 
(Accurate Records AC-3252, released 1992)


Bandleader Gershon's "Benny Moten's Weird Nightmare," a bass clarinet feature for Douglas Yates, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Arrangement on an Instrumental. Bassist/composer Bob Nieske joined and began his major contribution to the E/O book, and the now-ten piece group (sans guitar) visited '50's classics from Horace Silver and Benny Golson, plus Julius Hemphill's "The Hard Blues." This 1990 recording best reflects the E/O's more intimate, jazz-combo side.



"The E/O pays tribute to the earlier masters not by mere re-creation but by redesigning the past to suit their future...consistently stimulating and very exciting: highly recommended
-Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene


"I like everything about this disc-the repertoire, the soloists, the influences, the album title, the generous timing (74-plus minutes), and even the graphic design."
-Stuart Kremsky, Option Magazine


"So full of fire it's hot to the touch."
-Andy Bartlett, Victory Review



Personnel: Tom Halter, John Carlson, tp, flh; Russell Jewell, Curtis Hasselbring, tb; Douglas Yates, as, ss; Russ Gershon, ts, ss; Charlie Kohlhase, bar.s, as; John Medeski, pn, or; Bob Nieske, bs; Matt Wilson, dms.


Tracks: 1.Whisper Not; 2.Bennie Moten's Weird Nightmare; 3.Consenting Adults; 4.Ecaroh; 5.Unnatural Pastime; 6.The Hard Blues; 7.Miles Away; 8.Grey.

The Brunt Accurate Records AC-3262, released 1994)


1992 found the E/O roaming from Florida to Vancouver, Portland Maine to Portland Oregon, New York to LA, marinating a new batch of material as they saw America by car. In two mammoth sessions, they recorded 24 tunes; here are some of the results, including Duke's "Blues for New Orleans" and Dylan's "Lay, Lady, Lay." Their densest, most "big-band" recording.



"This amazing ensemble does just about everything right on The Brunt, with wit, smarts, and nonstop chops." 

-Richard Gehr, Village Voice


"The most mature, accessible record from the band to date...a delight from start to finish." 

-Bob McCullough, Boston Globe



Personnel: Tom Halter, tp, flh; John Carlson, tp, flh, pktp; Russell Jewell, Dan Fox, tb; Andrew D'Angelo, as, bcl, cl; Russ Gershon, ts, ss; Charlie Kohlhase, bar.s; Chris Taylor, pn, syn; John Turner, bs; Matt Wilson, dms.



Tracks: 1.Pas de Trois; 2.Notes on a Cliff; 3.Hard Talk; 4.Permit Blues; 5.Jon's Dream; 6.H.A.C.; 7.The Brunt; 8.Blues for New Orleans; 9.Lay Lady Lay.


Across the Omniverse (Accurate Records AC-3272, released 1996) 


A specially-priced two-CD collection, all previously unreleased material from the first ten years of the entertaining and innovative ten-piece jazz ensemble Either/Orchestra.


Containing 22 tracks and 145 minutes of music, this is top quality material which simply did not fit on the highly prolific E/O's five albums to date. The sessions which produced all those albums are representedhere, ranging from the group's first studio session in 1986, to their most recent, in September 1995. Also included are two smoking live tracks, Born in a Suitcase featuring John Medeski at the nine-foot concert grand, and She's So Heavy.


Across the Omniverse is a great introduction to the E/O, containing many fan favorites which have never been avalable on CD, and is the next in the series for fans who have earlier albums.



Fabulous performances by ten years of band members including Matt Wilson, Charlie Kohlhase, Michael Rivard, Russ Gershon, John Dirac, John Carlson, Tom Halter, Douglas Yates, Curtis Hasselbring, Bob Nieske, etc.



The 28 page booklet contains over a dozen pictures and reams of information, including two sets of liner notes, by Neil Tesser (from Chicago) and David Prince (from Santa Fe), program notes from bandleader Russ Gershon, and a list of every place the group has ever played!


More Beautiful Than Death 
(AC-3282, released 2000)


The first new release from the Grammy-nominated ten-piece since 1996 reveals that the Either/Orchestra has by no means been sitting still during the last four years.

With a small but significant change of instrumentation - add congas/percussion, remove one trombone - and major changes in personnel - only bandleader Russ Gershon and veterans Tom Halter and Charlie Kohlhase are holdovers from their last album - the E/O has made its most sensual, rhythm-heavy recording ever.


Famous for the breadth of its musical vision, the E/O rides the powerful drums of Harvey Wirht, from Suriname, and the exciting congas of Vicente Lebron, from the Dominican Republic, on a trip from North American jazz/blues/funk, to Latin jazz, and Township jazz/calypso, to Ethiopian pop tunes from the '70s. All of these grooves are incorporated into original compositions by Gershon, except for the three Ethiopian tunes which have been arranged by the band.

The result is an intoxicating brew, forceful and seductive, with memorable melodies, superb ensemble playing and some of the best soloing ever heard in the long history of the Either/Orchestra. This is without a doubt the most accessible E/O album ever. The groove emphasis brings the E/O's tradition of challenging writing and cutting edge playing into a form that will be enjoyed by fans of African music, Latin music, even reggae and jam bands, without losing the core of E/O fans and jazz critics.



Tom Halter - trumpet, flugelhorn
Colin Fisher - trumpet, flugelhorn
Joel Yennior - trombone
Jaleel Shaw - alto saxophone
Russ Gershon - tenor, soprano saxophones
Charlie Kohlhase - baritone saxophone
Dan Kaufman - Steinway, Rhodes and Wurlitzer pianos, Hammond B-3
Rick McLaughlin - bass
Harvey Wirht - drums
Vicente Lebron - congas, bongos, percussion

on "Number Three" Miguel Zenon replaces Shaw, add Atemu Aton: bass

Recorded June 12-13, 1999, except "Number Three": May 30-31, 1998; bongo overdubs August 6, 1999 at Fort Apache Studios, Cambridge MA

Recorded by Matthew Ellard
Mixed by Matthew Ellard and Russ Gershon, August/September 1999
Assistant engineers: Scott Eisenberg, Mike Peters
Mastered by Jonathan Wyner, M-Works, Cambridge MA
Produced by Russ Gershon

1. Amiak Abet Abet (Teshome Sissay; arr. by E/O; 10:03)
2. Number Three (10:20)
3. More Beautiful than Death (10:46)
4. Musicawi Silt (Girma Beyene; arr. by E/O; 6:21)
5. Breaktime for Dougo (8:35)
6. All Those SOBs (8:58)
7. Slow Mambo for J.J. (4:53)
8. Feker Aydelmwey (Ayalew Mesfin; arr. by E/O; 7:09)
9. The Eighth Wonder (6:54)

All compositions by Russ Gershon except as noted


Afro-Cubism (Accurate Records AC-3283, released 2002)


The release of Afro-Cubism culminates a challenging year for Accurate Records, and documents a fertile and exciting period for the Either/Orchestra, both under the helm of saxophonist/composer Russ Gershon.


Tracks on Afro-Cubism include originals by Gershon and pianist Gregory Burk (a Soul Note recording artist who makes his debut with the E/O here), along with a wildly imaginative Latin-jazz arrangement of George Harrison's "Don't Bother Me,"complete with a completely new set of Spanish lyrics by Lebron, entitled "No Me Molesta." The set is rounded out by Gershon's arrangement of "Yezamed Yebaed" by Teshome Meteku, an Ethiopian Latin jazz tune from the 1960s. The inclusion of Ethiopian music continues a theme begun in the E/O's 2000 release, More Beautiful than Death, which contained the three-part Ethiopian Suite.



The personnel on Afro-Cubism and Neo-Modernism is: Tom Halter and Colin Fisher, trumpets; Joel Yennior, trombone; Jeremy Udden, alto saxophone and flute; Russ Gershon, tenor saxophone; Charlie Kohlhase, baritone saxophone (his last recordings with the E/O; the 14-year veteran has since left the group and been succeeded by Accurate recording artist Henry Cook); Gregory Burk, piano; Rick McLaughlin, bass; Harvey Wirht, drums; Vicente Lebron, congas.



"With Afro-Cubism, Russ Gershon' 10-piece ensemble fully embraces the sounds of mambo, charaga and cha cha cha. E/O's perspective on Afro-Cuban music emphasizes its sensuous beauty and swaying rhythms. The results should entice fans of Paquito D'Rivera, et al, but also listeners who don't think they like Latin jazz.....[four stars]." 

- Jon Andrews, Down Beat


"A thoroughly enjoyable disc, rife with gyrating grooves and tender refinement. GRADE: 9/10

-Michael J. Ryan, Boston Herald


"A churning Latin stew tinctured with the spice of Dizzy's Gillespie's Big Bands, flavored with a dollop of the intensity of Sam Rivers Rivbea All-Star Orchestra and a fistful of Randy Weston's (Melba Liston arranged) large ensemble work from a few years back..." 

-Dan McClenaghan, allaboutjazz.com


"The Either/Orchestra has achieved that sort of rare, atmospheric level of reputation that invites constant wonder and scrutiny. Afro-Cubism ignites a renewed passion for their music." -Chris Merrick, radio KBOO, Portland Oregon


"The E/O has built a solid discography...the continually evolving Orchestra includes an abundance of talent...[On Afro-Cubism] there are excellent solos, but the primary focus is on Gershon's excellent writing, which imbues each piece with a sophistication not always seen in the genre of modern big band music. Gershon knows how to use close voicing, counterpoint, changes in dynamics, and altered chords to breath life into the band, and he effectively alternates between concentrating on brass or saxes separately and combining them as a whole. The arrangements feature the adventurous twists that have come to be expected from the Orchestra...an enjoyable, exciting affair with plenty of strong moments." 

-Steven Loewy, Cadence, Dec. 2002


"A disc of special atmosphere and impact."

-Roberto Menabo, Bluestime (Italy)


"Some of the freshest, most worldly jazz around." 

-Karl Stark, Philadelphia Inquirer 


Neo-Modernism (Accurate Records AC-3284, released 2003)


Following up the Latin-tinged Afro-Cubism(AC-3283, 2002) is Neo-Modernism. With this recording the E/O salutes diverse innovators of modern jazz not by emulating their styles, but by seeking the spark of the creation in their sound experiments.


Bandleader Russ Gershon's compositions here are inspired by Billy Harper's extension and "lyricalization" of John Coltrane ("Los Olvidados"), Thelonious Monk's swing and Steve Lacy's Monk ("Baby Invents Monk"), the contrasting ways that Wayne Shorter and Charles Mingus achieved transcendence in their music ("The Modernist"), and the middle-aged Miles Davis and Sun Ra of the 1970s, bringing electronics into their respective ensemble sounds ("Heavily Amplified Hairpiece"). The set is completed by Bob Nieske's "Fast Edd," which the bassist brought to the Either/Orchestra during his tenure in the band during 1990-91. "Fast Edd" contains two superb duets, between Charlie Kohlhase's baritone sax and Joel Yennor's trombone, and between Vicente Lebron's congas and the drums of Harvey Wirht.



AllAboutJazz, Oct 2003

It's puzzle why the ten man Either/Orchestra, under the leadership of saxophonist Russ Gershon, is still something of an underground outfit. They've been through fifteen years and eight albums, the spawning of careers of several first rate jazz men, including John Medeski and Charlie Kohlhase, and scores of great live performances.


The groups's last two CDs, More Beautiful than Death and Afro-Cubism, were progressive jewels – African and Latin rhythms with dark undercurrents, dense arrangements that demand repeat listenings; challenging compositions, and at least one raucous masterpiece: "The Ethiopian Suite."


Neo-Modernism continues in this vein – brightly truculent (in the very best sense of the word) with dark underpinnings, intricate textures, vibrant soling, and a palpable sense of the joy of musical creation pervading the proceedings.


The Either/Orchestra consists of three brass, three reeds, piano/bass/drums and a percussionist. The sound is full and rich, in your face a great deal, with a lot of churning going on beneath the surface, thanks to Gershon's arranging skills.


Gershon's E/O sound has been compared to trombonist/arranger Melba Liston's work with Randy Weston's large units and Sam Rivers' big ensemble recordings. On Neo-Modernism you'll hear the influence of Mingus, a la Mingus Mingus Mingus on "The Modernist," with its dense texture and Rick McLaughlin's muscular, aggressive bass lines. The spirit of Coltrane's African Brass session seems to be hanging around "Los Olvidados," with its all-encompassing harmonies and dark rhythms.


There's also a nod to Thelonius Monk and soprano sax man Steve Lacy (who has made it his mission to interpret Monk's music), on "Baby Invents Monk." Add to these a hard-driving, edgy take on "Fast Edd," written by former E/O bassist Bob Nieske, that features Gershon's Steve Lacy-esque soprano sax work.


The set closes with "Heavily Amplified Hairpiece," a title that could have been penned by Mingus, but the song opens with a knock and rumbling Bitches Brew groove, with drummer Harvey Wirht and percussionist Vincente Lebron cooking along on a hot simmer, an organic opening to a song that adds the wasp sting (a new thing for E/O) of electronics to the mix.

Progressive as always, spirited, and with too many creative solos to mention. 


Ethiopiques 20: Live in Addis 
(Buda Musique, released 2005)

Ethiogroove: Mahmoud Ahmed and Either/Orchestra (DVD)
(Buda Musique, released 2008)



Mood Music for Time Travelers 
(Accurate Records AC-3285, released 2010)


 "Another in a string of triumphant recordings...highly recommended." 

–Michael G. Nastos, AllMusic.com

 

“[They] take totally serious music and make it fun...The sense of groove and joy is overpowering.”

-Mark Saleski, somethingelsereview.com

 

“Wizardry...rich in texture and sparkles with great ensemble playing and

plenty of style and sizzle from the soloists.  Recommended.”

–GH, Baker and Taylor CD Hotlist

 

“Their laid-back style of big band Latin/African jazz is a treat...The surface is mellow and polished, but the results are not superficial...plenty of hooks and hints for the ear to hang onto...elements of pop and world music together [in] a sound that is accessible and unique. Underneath is a lot of intelligent, sophisticated and highly musical soloing and ensemble work, and the disc has a subtle and powerful effect....[Moves] from good times mood music to some probing and open-ended emotional questions, leaving an unexpected and intriguing set of lingering reactions...rewards long term listening.”

–George Grella, The Big City blog

 

 

1. The (one of a kind) Shimmy

2. Beaucoups Kookoo

3. Coolocity

4. Portrait of Lindsey Schust

5. Ropa Loca

6. Thirty Five

7. Latin Dimensions

8. The Petrograd Revision

9. Suriname

10. History Lesson

 

All compositions by Russ Gershon

except 6 & 10 by Rick McLaughlin

7 & 9 by Joel Yennior

 

Tom Halter: trumpet

Daniel Rosenthal: trumpet

Joel Yennior: trombone

Godwin Louis: alto saxophone

Russ Gershon: tenor, soprano saxophones

Charlie Kohlhase: baritone saxophone (1, 2, 6, 7, 8)

Kurtis Rivers: baritone saxophone (3, 9, 10)

Henry Cook: flute (4, 5)

Rafael Alcala: piano and Hammond B3 organ

Rick McLaughlin: double and electric bass

Pablo Bencid: drums

Vicente Lebron: congas, bongos and percussion