Editorial Portrait of Wayne Horvitz
Photograph of Seattle based musican and composer Wayne Horvitz conducting the New York Composers Orchestra, East and West
The New York Composers Orchestra was formed in 1986 by composers Wayne Horvitz and Robin Holcomb as a means to perform works by composers wishing to write for jazz instrumentation without being confined by traditional jazz and big band styles. In New York, the orchestra was commissioned to perform works by Anthony Braxton, Lenny Picket, Butch Morris, Marty Ehrlich, and Elliott Sharp, among many others. After Horvitz and Holcomb relocated to Seattle in 1988, however, the NYCO repertoire spread out across the US – it has been performed by the original ensemble in New York City, Horvitz and Holcomb’s New York Composers Orchestra West, which very occasionally performed here in Seattle, and the Boston-based Jazz Composers Alliance, which has also showcased some of its scores.
Opportunities to hear large orchestras as adventurous as this, featuring musicians as gifted as this, are few and far between. As Rolling Stone has noted: “The NYCO points directions out of the musical prison that surround too much current jazz. And, like all truly great big bands, it swings its tail off.”
In this Seattle revival, Horvitz presented a stellar lineup of old friends from New York days along with some of the outstanding Seattleites whom he recruited to his cause early in his time here: on reeds, Hans Teuber, Briggan Krauss, Skerik, Doug Wieselman, and Jim Dejoie; on trumpets, Ron Miles, Brad Allison, and Thomas Marriott; on trombones, Chris Stover and Nelson Bell; on French horn, Tom Varner; on drums, Bobby Previte; on bass, Phil Sparks; on piano and organ, Wayne Horvitz. Robin Holcomb conducts and plays piano. With special guest, on guitar: Tim Young.