Dr. Perry Alexander

The University of Kansas

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Tabriz - Sarah Chaksad Orchestra

The Sara Chaksad Orchestra is new to me, recommended by Apple Music or AllAboutJazz - I can’t remember. Those are my go-to sources for new jazz music, so I’m certain it’s one of the two. Anyway…

The Sara Chaksad Orchestra is what I would call a non-traditional big band. Yes the trumpets, trombones, saxes and rhythm section are all there, but there’s a bass clarinet, strings, shells (the conch type) and a singer. I love large ensembles like this and Tabriz does not disappoint.

The album is 8 tracks ranging from traditional big band (The Flower) to more outside work (Song of a Lark). My preference leans toward the more traditional, but there’s still quite a bit of experimental work here.

Album opens with Dreamcatcher and a quiet trumpet solo building from a simple line to the full band. Trumpet work is highly lyrical with no pyrotechnics. Vocalist seems to be working in the background as well. Modern big band at its best.

Tabriz is next featuring a classical/latin style guitar. The guitar work is clearly latin, but Tabriz isn’t. Works quite well though.

Home follows in a similar style with the trumpets working as a solid unit. Great sound. Don’t know who leads the trumpet section, but they sound particularly great.

And now for something completely different. Mehamn opens with shells. Can’t recall when I’ve heard shells lately. I’m not a huge fan, but they are used to great effect on this piece. Nice middle eastern feel integrates the shells perfectly.

It’s Too Late takes the energy way down along with the tempo. Nice change of pace while maintaining the feel and integrity of the album. Beautiful vocal work on this track.

The Flower is my favorite track on the album. Remember mention of the bass clarinet? Here it is in spades. Experimental bass clarinet no less. It’s really great. Eventually the band takes over, but the clarinet remains. I hit repeat several times on this one the first time through.

Song of a Lark is not my cup of tea. Starts outside and the band takes over reasonably soon and brings it back. I’m not a fan of free jazz or noise jazz generally, so best not take my feelings too seriously if you do like that kind fo thing.

Album closes with Thankful which kind of sums up my feelings about this discovery. Happy to have found it. Thankful opens quietly featuring the piano. Much different than the earlier tracks. It works.

Tabriz is something my jazz friends should definitely listen to. Great big band work that sticks with tradition, but not too closely.