WITH A NAME like the New Jungle Orchestra, it's only reasonable to assume that the 14-piece band led by Danish guitarist Pierre Dorge is deeply indebted to Duke Ellington. Certainly, the rich colors and compelling rhythms of Ellington's "jungle music" are the inspiration for an evocative update of "the mooch," the opening track on the Orchestra's album "Even the Moon Is Dancing." But Dorge's musical focus is far broader than that.
"Suho Ning Samo," for example, weds an infectious West African beat to a festive chant. It owes more to Gambian folk music than jazz, yet the solos by Dorge and reed player Morten Carlsen convey a spontaneity and spirit common to both.
A similar balance is struck on the album's title track, though this time around the mood is more expansive and daring. The West African rhythms and horns give way to Dorge's restless single-note improvisations before the late pianist and bassist Johnny Dyani brings the group ever so gently back to "the mooch" for a final take. Like much of the album, the performance is a blend of the familiar and the exotic, and it brings to mind one of Ellington's favorite compliments: "Beyond category." PIERRE DORGE & NEW JUNGLE ORCHESTRA --
"Even the Moon Is Dancing" (SteepleChase SCS 1208). Appearing Saturday at d.c. space.