Album Review: Looking Forward, Looking Back, by Symphonic Jazz Orchestra

Symphonic Jazz Orchestra is a group of Los Angeles musicians who combine American jazz with the traditional format and sound of European orchestras. The group is heavily involved in the Los Angeles community, playing at auditoriums around the LA basin and investing lots of resources into teaching music in underfunded LA County schools. 

Looking Forward, Looking Back is their first published record since the group began in 2001. The LP has three different pieces: "Dark Wood: Bass Concerto for Mcbride," "Symphonic Captain's Journey," and "Rhapsody in Blue." "Dark Wood: Bass Concerto for Mcbride" has, as you might have guessed by the title, a prominent role for the bass, which wickedly weaves the melody in a unpredictable yet rythymic fashion through four movements. "Symphonic Captain's Journey" is probably the jazziest of the three pieces, with a funky electric guitar melody and prominent brass and percussion sections. The last piece, "Rhapsody in Blue," is split into three parts, all with piano at the forefront, making a fitting end to the album. Overall, Looking Forward, Looking Back is a interesting mix of styles that plays out well--a good addition to any jazz or symphonic collection.   

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