Carl Orr - Absolute Freedom - 2004 - Carl Orr
"Great album, great improvising, great compositions. World-class soulful electric jazz". - Jonathan Gee
"Carl Orr is one of our finest jazz-rock guitarists and composers" - Walter Kolosky (Author of the book Power, Passion and Beauty: The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra and Senior Writer for Jazz.com)
"...a masterful guitarist" - Musician Magazine
"a jazz-rock genius" - Chrissie Murray , Jazz UK.
This is a new name to me, but what a find.Carl Orr has got amazing players around him and this cd is testimony to that. Heavily influenced by both John McLaughlin and John Scofield with hints of Miles, the music played here is of high energy and high calibre. Orr draws on the aforementioned guitarists for style and power but it's obvious that he's his own man as all bar one of the eight compositions are his.Guest musicians aside, The Carl Orr Band are an extremely tight unit capable of full on Jazz-Rock and at the same time delicate, intricate and beautifully constructed playing. This is Jazz-Rock Fusion of the best type, interesting, demanding and innovative which grooves and rocks but also has it's delicate pieces, in particular a lovely rendition of Donald Fagen's "Tomorrow's Girls". The outstanding track for me it "Dangerfunk", a superb tune that slowly builds into a great Jazz-Rock workout that has it's roots firmly in McLaughlin/Scofield territory but has a beauty and subtlety that Miles would be proud of. A brilliant tune played with passion and technique that wouldn't be out of place on John McLaughlin's brilliant "The Promise" CD. Reviewed by & © Steve Owen JAZZ VIEWS , August 2004.
"Jazz guitarist extrordinaire Carl Orr presents 'Absolute Freedom', his first new CD for five years and a major step forward for his funky jazz-rocking sound. The album includes guest appearances from legendary drummer Billy Cobham who Carl has worked with since 1996 and flavour of the month saxman Nathan Haines creator of the unique Bemsha club night, at which Carl played for over a year, but most of all it features Carl's inimitable mix of fiery guitar licks, compositional flair, spiritual commitment and absurdist wit. Since moving to the UK from Sydney in 1995, Carl has established himself as a stalwart of the London jazz scene, playing with the likes of Ernie Watts, Randy Brecker and George Duke along the way. Now, with 'Absolute Freedom', he's ready to spread the word beyond the jazz faithful. Backed by a band that includes in-demand bassist Neville Malcolm, the extraordinary young drummer Dave de Rose and Adam Glasser on Rhodes piano and chromatic harmonica, Carl performs seven distinctive originals, plus a cover of Donald Fagen's 'Tomorrow's Girls'. His music bares the influence of his heroes: Miles Davis, John Scofield, Steely Dan and John McLaughlin, yet remains uncompromisingly original throughout" - © Jamie Renton, Straight No Chaser magazine, June 2004
This, the Australian guitarist's 5th self-produced album is a classic funky jazz-rock tour de force. Five years since his last recording, the CD is reminiscent of many of the finest mid-seventies funky jazzthetics, whilst showcasing the guitarist's inimitable mix of fiery guitar licks and compositional flair. The sound is also retro 70's, fitting that decade's mark as the zenith of this genre, that feeling further strengthened by the presence of no less than king of the fusion tub thumpers, Billy Cobham on two tracks, with whom Orr toured in the late 90's. The album's strong opener, 'Unstoppable' features Cobham's driving rhythm and Haines' lead soprano. This track would be at home on any of the drummer's great Atlantic platters from the mid 70's and was written particularly for the drummer's live set. It's also a good attempt at writing a "Headhunters' style tune, funky, fairly minimal but with a memorable tune. "Dangerfunk", the album's musical highpoint is 12 minutes of fusion at it's best, again powered by Cobham's trademark latin tinged-funky drums. Orr's guitar soars and screams over BC's batterie using a variety of effects to turn up the heat. His playing here is inspired and accomplished and he is obviously at ease with the esteemed company. Cobham's playing is also majestic, alongside some of his best recorded work. The guitarist's wit is evidenced by the inclusion of Donald Fagen's "Tomorrow's Girls", a strange choice, where Orr embellishes the simple melody, adding tasty licks very much in the Scofield style. Again with "Return of the Jazz Police", a light hearted tune aimed at a well known jazz trumpeter and self-appointed officer in that constabulary, his Scofield roots are even more pronounced. Always mindful of the composition's requirements though, he exudes good taste, an individual approach and a personal sound that can cry like Hendrix, comp with Scofield's surety or sculpt with the originality of Mclaughlin. "Non-violence is the Only Way Forward" is another super fast groove held down admirably by Dave de Rose, the title being self-explanatory. With this and "The Price of Peace" Orr lays his philosophy firmly on the table (he has been a practising Buddhist for over 20 years). This last track features a remarkable chromatic harmonica solo by Adam Glasser who also contributes some fine keyboards to the album, as well as an intimate and heart-felt bass solo by Neville Malcolm. If he can lay claim to a place in the top pantheon of guitarists in this genre, it is not through blatant fret melting technique, although on more than one track he shows he has chops in abundance. Nor is the man himself a self-interested extravert or wild showman. His prowess lies in mature composition and soulful yet ascerbic and profoundly tasteful guitar, that often knowingly betrays his major influences in Hendrix and Scofield. There aren't many guitarists that can call on the quality of Cobham and Haines for their solo projects and their endorsements are, to an extent, validation of this man's work. With this album he deserves to become a more familiar name, like a vintage wine waiting to be discovered. - Reviewed by & © Marco Anderson, ALL ABOUT JAZZ
Recently those of us who write for All About Jazz were asked to submit our top ten choices for the best CD of 2004. Unfortunately for Carl Orr, I did not get to hear his 2004 release until 2005. English guitarist Orr, who spent his formative years in Australia, has been around for sometime but his claim to fame up to this point has been a four-year stint with Billy Cobham's band. (Cobham makes two impressive appearances on this record as a guest star.) Absolute Freedom is a real revelation. Orr is an outstanding guitarist whose facilities are utilized in various and disparate settings. Whether leading his band in an updated Larry Coryell Eleventh House motif, as on the opening number, Unstoppable or in a happy blues number a la Jeff Beck in Blues for Jimi or in a Tommy Bolinesque fusillade, as heard in Non-violence is the only way forward Orr handles his chores with ease. He's not afraid to play quiet--always a sign of a great guitar player--and he is not afraid to shred his guts out. His compositions are intriguing mixtures of bluesy funk, sometimes real slow, and jazz-rock signatures with a little space and texture thrown in. I could be wrong--that hasn't stopped me before--but several tunes seem to pay homage to Jeff Beck, John McLaughlin and even to Billy Cobham's wonderful but often overlooked fusion classic, Crosswinds. Orr also seems to admire Steely Dan in form and structure and in fact covers a tune written by Donald Fagen. That is not to say that Orr is derivative in any way. But, the only way to describe music is to compare it. In this case, the comparison is with really good players. Orr's compatriots are very good. Keyboardist Adam Glasser is at home laying down beautiful soundtracks--think Steely Dan and Crosswinds--and is willing to take road trips with some frenetic and tasty comping and lead playing. Bassist Neville Malcom can bend and snap the strings with the best of the funkers, and drummer Davide De Rose seems to have the drumming thing down. In addition to Cobham, guest soprano sax Nathan Haines makes a very strong appearance. Absolute Freedom is full of new ideas explored most fully by a collection of players that know how to play the old ideas as well. This is a very worthwhile recording. Perhaps I can skirt the rules a bit next year and include it on my best of 2005 list. Visit Carl Orr on the web. This article copyright By & © Walter Kolosky 2004 © All About Jazz and contributing writers. All rights reserved.
After hearing this astonishingly accomplished slice of intelligent fusion I wondered how it could possibly be that I'd never previously heard of Carl Orr. A little bit of digging reveals that the guitarist was actually born just up the road from me in Newcastle-Upon- Tyne, though other than a spell studying at Berklee in the mid 80s he has spent much of his life in Australia, only returning to the UK in 1995. Now in his mid 40s, 20 years of dues paid in various jazz and rock ensembles, including a long association with fusion legend Billy Cobham, are beginning to bear fruit. Within seconds of the opening bars of "Unstoppable" we're taken back to the Miles/Scofield units of 20 years ago. Orr has Scofield's way of squeezing out notes until they cry, adopting the same distorted . tone, accented by volume and wah-wah peddles. Whilst the disc's title may prepare you for some post-Last Exit free-funk cacophony, 'freedom in the groove' (to paraphrase Joshua Redman) is what this disc is all about. Forget any preconceived notions about old school fusion, Orr's band lack both pomposity and rhythmic stiffness that have made the genre so risible for many years. Bassist Neville Malcolm and drummer Davide de Rose are a flexible team and they know how to probe within a structure without destroying it. Glasser's Rhodes piano is. as contemporary as it is retro, adding seductive layers of texture. Cobham and Haines guest only on "Unstoppable" and the extended workout "Dangerfunk", though it's abundantly clear elsewhere that Orr's band deliver even without the patronage of established stars.
With big label backing I'm sure that something could be done about the incongruously bland and unassuming packaging. This material is ready-made fodder for the jazz funk/groove aficionados (of which I confess I am one) that get a kick out of Scofield's more recent output, Soulive or the allconquering Medeski, Martin a Wood. Possibly hard to find other than at gigs or via the website (www.carlorr.com). but if there's any justice in the music marketplace then I hope it can be the stepping stone that raises the guitarist's profile to a more fitting level of visibility. by & © Fred Grand JAZZ JOURNAL Feb 2005.
This is a pretty good album by Aussie-born Orr, one of the ablest guitarists on the UK Scene. Equally effective in acoustic-jazz or electro-funk mode, he shapes his phrases in an attractive, vocalised way. If his technique lacks a bit of the lightning fire it had when he first appeared here with Billy Cobham, it's probably because he hasn't been similarly stretched since leaving Billy's all-star orbit.(RESPONSE FROM CARL "Now it's up to me to prove him wrong!") It's significant that the most urgent tracks here, 'Dangerfunk' and 'Unstoppable' are the two featuring Cobham and Kiwi soprano saxman Nathan Haines. Haines,an excellent and under-rated player, has plenty of chops but also the taste to leave spaces and let the beat breathe. Elsewhere, the first chice regulars, drummer Dave de Rose, Fender bass man Neville Malcolm, make a crisp, propulsive rhythm team behind Orr, who sounds hip and comfortable on 'Return of the Jazz Police' and 'Blues for Jimi', being himself and making only a fleeting direct reference to Hendrix in a spluttering coda. 'Tomorrow's Girls', a Steely Dan cover, finds or using a cleaner sound for his becker-ish licks, while 'Dangerfunk' features nimble Rhodes keyboard work by Glasser, a fine harmonica player who might have been used more. His only chromatic workout comes on 'The Price of Peace',. This languisd ballad is one of three Orr originals ('Voice of the People' and 'Non-violence is the only way forward') whose socio-political titles give the album a distinctly up-to-the-minute zeitgeist. Review by & © Jack Massarik, JAZZWISE , May 2005
During his time in Australia from the 70s to the mid '90s, the brilliant English fusion guitarist, Carl Orr worked with artists like Jackie Orszacky, Dale Barlow, Marcia Hines, Steve Hunter, Wanderlust and James Greening. After relocating to London in 1995 he worked with Billy Cobham from 1996-2000 performing with Randy Brecker, Ernie Watts, Gary Husband and George Duke. Since then he has been concentrating on his own music as well as working with artists including Sean Wayland, Christian Brewer, Caroline Loftus,Tammy Weis and Juliet Kelly. He has released seven albums and is also featured on albums by Billy Cobham, Dale Barlow, Jackie Orszaczky and many others. Carl teaches guitar at Middlesex University, England. "Absolute Freedom" is a brilliant all instrumental fusion studio project by one of today's outstanding fusion virtuoso guitarists, and is VHR by A.O.O.F.C. Great talent like this should be rewarded and never ignored. There is too much crap out there masquerading as music. I would urge you to buy Carl's great "Blue Thing" album, and give his "Deep Down" album a listen. It's also worth listening to Billy Cobham's "Focused" album with Carl Orr on guitar. Check out http://www.carlorr.com/ [Tracks @ 160 - 320 Kbps: File size = 64.8 Mb]
1 Unstoppable 6:19
2 Blues For Jimi 6:38
3 Tomorrow's Girls 4:20
4 Dangerfunk 12:29
5 Return Of The Jazz Police 7:42
6 Voice Of The People 8:16
7 Non-violence 6:13
8 The Price Of Peace 5:09
All tracks composed by Carl Orr except "Tomorrow's Girls" by Donald Fagen
Carl Orr - Electric Guitar, Keyboard Pads on Track 8
Neville Malcolm - Bass Guitar
Adam Glasser - Rhodes Piano, Chromatic Harmonica Track 8
Dave de Rose - Drums except Tracks 1+4
Billy Cobham - Drums Tracks1+4
Nathan Haines - Soprano Sax Tracks1+4
"Nobody had heard of Carl Orr until he astonished London on a concert tour with US drum phenomenon Billy Cobham. The Australian guitarist, a former Bach student, fitted easily into an all-star line-up that included the amazing Gary Husband on keyboards. Last night he launched his latest album, Absolute Freedom, with a demonstration of the versatility every contemporary jazz guitarist needs. This began with the electronica that steers a solid-body Stratocaster in so many digital directions. Some of us would prefer Carl to discover his individual voice and stick to it, but we go along with his sonic experiments-"I sometimes think the reverb pedal was invented with me in mind", he confessed last night-because we know he can produce a fluent, no-nonsense line of thought in any of his foot-pedal identities. First, though, came grungy numbers such as Unstoppable and Blues for Jimi ("Part of a rock opera I've written-it's about the discovery of penicillin, you'll love it") that found Orr in full jazz-rock mode, his wah-wah, fuzz and echo monitors all showing red. What with keyboarder Mike Gorman and bassist Neville Malcolm making similar gurgling noises, they sounded like a band under water. Happily, Orr surfaced into the hipper ambience of Steely Dan dedicating Tomorrow's Girls to the watching Elliot Randall (he of the famous rock guitar solo) in the audience. The mellowing process continued in the second set, when Orr, now playing a handsome Heritage semi-acoustic, produced some churchy Phil Upchurch-like blues and Wes Montgomeryish octaves during the thoughtful anti-war ballad The Price of Peace. For an enjoyable finish, drummer Dave de Rose started rapping in Italian (subtitles next time please) and two guests, Adam Glasser and Steve Rubie, joined the group on chromatic harmonica and flute. Finally a word about Steve, who runs this venue, a comfortable, low-lit room in dusky-red with large pictures of jazz icons(Beiderbecke, Armstrong,Monk,Coltrane) on the walls, a good piano and a decent menu. Without any aid grant he's been presenting jazz here 363 days a year since 1987 and is about due for a sainthood or an MBE." by & © Jack Massarik. Carl Orr : 606 Club, SW10 . EVENING STANDARD 15 Sept 2004.