62. Orchestra Jazz Siciliana / Plays the Music of Carla Bley (1985)
I scratch my head and wonder what type of band feels up to the task of taking on the Carla Bley catalog -- the feel, the humor, the attitude, the fun, the mayhem of it all -- and not just "doing" it, but actually doing it justice? It's a tall order not for the feint of heart, a matter complicated by the fact that you need a pretty big band to come even close. And then I find this CD, I take one look at the cover, and I know I've found the group. They might be nuts, you don't know, but you're surely not going to ask. Maybe you'll just listen and let the music do the talking. More to the point, I open up the disc and there's a photo... four photos! of Carla mugging with the band in some Mediterranean backstreet, plus a credit to her name for conducting and arranging the selections. As if that wasn't enough, Steve Swallow and Gary Valente are on hand as guests. Alto Orazio Maugeri blows my mind. In fact, they all do. I'm not a newcomer to the Carla Bley discography but somehow I missed this one completely. It's the closest anyone will ever get to doing Carla, and in a sense, it is Carla. In a word, it's perfect.