POSTED: AUGUST 10TH, 2002
Eight years in, the compositional octopus that is the Neufeld~Occhipinti Jazz Orchestra continues to surprise. Highwire again finds the big band building a wall noise and straddling the thin line between order and complete chaos. The tunes here are deliberately challenging. but the difference is that at 16 members, not including regular guest Don Byron and violinist Hugh Marsh, NOJO is tighter than most trios, able to tackle even the most sadistically convoluted compositions that Neufeld and Occhipinti throw at them. On Highwire, that ranges from delicate compositional tightrope acts and driving Psychedelic rock to a snippet of This Old Man, with Byronís clarinet often driving the madness but the entire band playing a starring role in keeping it all together.