The Cinematic Orchestra @ El Rey Theatre 09/14/07
Last night the Cinematic Orchestra played to a sold out El Rey crowd of instrumental enthusiasts, like myself. If you haven't heard any of their music then you have no idea what you're missing out on. With nearly eight years under their belt, the UK based outfit, led by Jason Swinscoe, has produced some of the finest jazz infused electronica I've ever heard. However, seeing them live is a whole other experience.
The Cinematic Orchestra opened their powerful set with the extensive twelve minute "Burn Out". The crowd was comprised of mostly older jazz-appreciating folk, who probably heard the hype on KCRW the morning prior, and die-hards, who shouted "Evolutiooooon" every other song. However, they were one of the most responsive crowds I've come into contact with, when it comes to instrumental shows at least. People actually applauded at appropriate times, which is a rarity nowadays. You always get some asshole who's going to try and ruin the song for you by screaming at the top of his lungs during a short, tranquil moment. Well, not last night. Everything was in it's proper place, including the crowd response.
As per usual, the Cinematic Orchestra brought a few special guests, vocalists, to help fill in the gaps. The formidable Nu-Jazz vocalist Heidi Vogel joined in for awe-inspiring renditions of "Child Song" and of course "Evolution". The acoustic opener Grey Reverend offered up his version of Patrick Watson's vocal additions in "To Build A Home", quite possibly one of the most poignant songs to grace us this year. During the extended version of "Ode To The Big Sea" we all watched with our jaws on the floor as Luke Flowers ravaged our minds with obscenely pristine drumming. The caliber of this sort of jazz-based musicianship is entirely commendable. Jason Swinscoe has always managed to bring the most talented musicians to the forefront of the jazz-tronica scene.
Other highlights included switching to soprano sax for the Herculean effort "Work It! (Man with the Movie Camera)".
I suggest you catch the Cinematic Orchestra's mind-blowing performance whenever you get the chance. While listening to their albums, there is an element of improvisational energy that is missing. Seeing them live helps you understand the skill-level involved in this obscure genre where turntables and jazz improvisation collide.