This is the second of two volumes in the "New Horizons" series issued by the very enterprising Tantara label, and it's every bit as good as the first. The first disc features the Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra conducted by Stan Kenton in a concert recorded in March 1965. This again features ambitious, complex compositions sometimes verging on the "third stream" combination of jazz and classical music, and most of the items are receiving their world premiere performances. It's all good, exciting music, but the last two items stand out for me. These are "The Invisible Orchard" by Shorty Rogers that clocks in at 21 minutes (the track is listed as "excerpts", so one wonders how long the whole piece is), and "Il Saltimbocca", a 16-minute clarinet tour de force featuring Buddy de Franco as soloist. Hear and marvel!
The second disc is a series of mostly live performances by the New York Neophonic Orchestra and the Neophonic Jazz Orchestra, both conducted by Joel Kaye and recorded over a number of years. This disc is more or less a showcase for the composing and arranging talents of Johnny Richards (who wrote or arranged 10 of the 14 tracks), with some other works by Ray Starling and Joel Kaye. These are much shorter than some of the pieces on disc one, and my personal favourites are "La Suerte de los Tontos" (The Fate of Fools) and the album closer, a great version of "Caravan". Kenton may not be conducting, but these boys certainly know how to swing.
If you like big band jazz, you'll love this. The recording quality may be slightly rough in places, but dive in and enjoy. Highly recommended!