Lenny Pickett With the UMO Jazz Orchestra: The Prescription

[29 July 2014]

By John Paul

Described as “the only professional orchestra in Finland specialized in jazz and new rhythm-oriented music”, the UMO Jazz Orchestra proves the ideal foil for Pickett’s often-idiosyncratic approach to the saxophone. Above all else, Pickett is a master technician with an almost absurd control over all registers of his instrument, often pushing his horn’s sonic limits into the upper stratosphere. Picking off with ease notes here and there within his altissimo register that a lesser player could only ever dream of stumbling upon gives him an instantly recognizable voice on his instrument that even those only casually familiar with the saxophone would easily be able to identify as belonging to “that guy from SNL”.

On The Prescription, Pickett finds himself backed by equally capable players that help create a highly compelling brand of contemporary big band music that transcends its complexity and proves itself a rewarding, easily enjoyable listen. From the blues-based riffing of opening track “Busted Again” to the somewhat cartoonish playing on “Alex Foster” and “A Sad State Of Affairs” (featuring Pickett on E-flat clarinet) through the drastic stylistic shifts on “XV”, The Prescription is an album that from the outset casually requests your attention and, once captured, finds it held fast. An ideal release for those who find themselves wishing the musical interludes between commercial breaks on SNL lasted just a bit longer, The Prescription is solid from top to bottom and loaded with top-notch playing not to be missed.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/183696-lenny-pickett-with-the-umo-jazz-orchestra-the-prescription/