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Although it’s right there in the name, it’s not entirely clear whether composer/leader Kyle Saulnier’s Awakening Orchestra is in fact an orchestra, a big band or something entirely and wildly different. Encompassing broad swaths of musical style in both original and recontextualized and re-imagined compositions, the Awakening Orchestra delves deep into traditions from classical to jazz to indie rock on their debut album, volume I: this is not the answer.
Interspersing original work - like the intricate, four-part, title-track symphony - with often radical interpretations of work by Samuel Barber, Radiohead, Johannes Brahms and Low, volume I: this is not the answer crafts a powerful mix of written and improvised material. Throughout, individual expressions of virtuosity blend seamlessly with Kyle Saulnier’s ever-shifting orchestral textures, and the Awakening Orchestra’s eight years of performing experience come through in the nuanced yet strongly-defined ensemble concept that threads through the record.