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In response to "an offer they couldn't refuse", the Watt Works family agreed to release this album of Carla Bley's music recorded by the Orchestra Jazz Siciliana, a cigar-chewing, black-hatted, 17-piece big band, who pack more than a few loaded horn cases between them. The orchestra is augmented by Bley band regulars Steve Swallow and Gary Valente, in equally minacious mood, on these live sessions recorded in Palermo in the spring of 1989.
The Sicilian Orchestra tackles compositions previously heard on the Carla Bley albums Musique Mecanique, I Hate To Sing, Dinner Music, Duets, Live! and Heavy Heart, and though Bley herself is conducting, the orchestra's approach transforms the material or, to put it another way, returns it to the jazz tradition. Traditions die hard in Sicily, and this orchestra swings powerfully in the grand manner, like a Mediterranean Basie unit, almost, but for Carla's irrepressible sense of satire and piquant chord changes.