Down Beat - p.663 stars out of 5
- "The title tune is Haden's and is a brisk, 32-bar waltz nicely showcasing Miguel Zenon's lyrical alto. Steve Cardenas' acoustic guitar sails smoothly over the melody."
Personnel: Steve Cardenas (guitar); Miguel Zen¢n (alto saxophone); Chris Cheek, Tony Malaby (tenor saxophone); Michael Rodriguez , Seneca Black (trumpet); Ahnee Sharon Freeman (French horn); Curtis Fowlkes (trombone); Joe Daley Trio (tuba); Carla Bley (piano); Charlie Haden (bass instrument); Matt Wilson (drums).
With a cover that directly references bassist Charlie Haden's first recording under his own name, 1969's LIBERATION MUSIC ORCHESTRA, this 2005 album features an updated version of the LMO ensemble. As on the earlier disc, the spirit here is one of peaceful protest; while the former outing was in reaction to the Vietnam War, this record takes the George W. Bush administration to task, especially regarding the war in Iraq.
Pianist Carla Bley is the only returning member of the original LMO. As before, she proves to be a triple threat with her dexterous playing, intuitive conducting, and inventive arrangements. Haden, of course, anchors these tunes (which include his own eclectic title track and a soulful rendition of "Amazing Grace") with his formidable--though never flashy--bass work, allowing the other musicians, particularly guitarist Steve Cardenas and trombonist Curtis Fowlkes, to shine. This is big-band music that can shift with ease from avant-garde passages to swinging melodies, and the talent on hand adds weight to the underlying messages. Although it's difficult to express political outrage with jazz instrumentals, the LMO does exactly that on NOT IN OUR NAME, conveying discontent, sadness, and even hope with a potent, masterful set of songs.