Lacy (soprano saxophone)
(Communications No.4) / Communications No.5
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The Jazz Composer's Orchestra was formed in the fall of 1964 in New York City as one of the eight groups of the Jazz Composer's Guild. Mike Mantler and Carla Bley, being the only two non-leader members of the Guild, had decided to organize an orchestra made up of musicians both inside and outside the Guild.
This group, then known as the Jazz Composer's Guild Orchestra and consisting of eleven musicians, began rehearsals in the downtown loft of painter Mike Snow for its premiere performance at the Guild's Judson Hall series of concerts in December 1964. The orchestra, set up in a large circle in the center of the hall, played "Communications no. 3" by Mike Mantler and "Roast" by Carla Bley.
The concert was so successful musically that the leaders decided to continue to write for the group and to give performances at the Guild's new headquarters, a triangular studio on top of the Village Vanguard, called the Contemporary Center.
In early March 1965 at the first of these concerts, which were presented in a workshop style, the group had been enlarged to fifteen musicians and the pieces played were "Radio" by Carla Bley and "Communications no. 4" (subtitled "Day") by Mike Mantler. The Contemporary Center concerts, by this time, had achieved a lot of public recognition, and it was decided that a group could play more than the single night that had been the rule until then, if they so wished. Mantler and Bley took a weekend in April and invited guest composers within the Guild to write and conduct pieces for the occasion. The orchestra, still with the nucleus of regular musicians who had played with it since its conception, now consisted of thirteen pieces. At this occasion it performed "Communications no. 5", a new work by Mike Mantler, a repeat performance of Mantler's "Day", a revised version of Carla Bley's "Radio", "Loose Latin" by Bley, and a piece each by Bill Dixon and Burton Greene, conducted by the composers. This was the orchestra's last performance at the Contemporary Center.
Shortly after, the Jazz Composer's Guild discontinued its activities. The orchestra continued to exist under the new name "Jazz Composer's Orchestra". Its next appearances, in July, were at the Newport Jazz Festival during an afternoon presentation of new music which included the groups of Paul Bley, Archie Shepp and Cecil Taylor, and two weeks later at a concert in the garden of New York's Museum of Modern Art together with the New York Art Quartet. The works performed by the orchestra at both occasions were "Communications no. 6" by Mike Mantler and "Start" by Carla Bley, written for a small ensemble of eight pieces.
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