Daniel Bennett Group: We Are the Orchestra // ****

The music on We Are the Orchestra was inspired when Bennett arranged the soundtrack to Whitman At the Whitney at New York’s Whitney Museum. The album’s title is a nod to the full ensemble sound that Bennett and Cocheo create through their overdubbing of multiple instruments (there are 12 to choose from, eight played by Bennett and four by Cocheo). Whether it’s Bennett’s own compositions (Inside Our Pizza Oven is co-credited to Cocheo) or those of Giuseppe Verdi (Theme from Ernani and Theme from Il Trovatore), the duo’s sound is light and cheerful, characteristically combining bright, immediately engaging, melodies with simple but effective rhythms usually provided by percussion and/or Cocheo’s stringed instruments.

Track titles also give a nod, this time to Bennett’s irreverent sense of fun. Loose Fitting Spare Tire is a jolly, country-ish, opener, its long, fluid, melody line giving it a sense of irresistible forward motion. Cocheo’s banjo on I’m Not Nancy continues the country feel. Despite its title, Refinancing for Elephants is the album’s gentlest tune, Bennett’s woodwinds taking the central role in the piece and giving it a touch of melancholy. Of the two Verdi compositions, it’s Theme from Il Trovatore that has the most immediate impact – Bennett’s overdubbed horns taking the lead part while Cocheo’s guitars provide the rhythm. 

Carl Finds His Way closes the album: it’s another tune characterised by an extended, flowing, melody line and some quirky percussion sounds and features Cocheo’s guitar at its rawest and funkiest. The whole album lasts just 30 minutes and each hearing left me with a sense of warmth, well-being and even optimism. Oh, and wanting more. Lovely.

DISCOGRAPHY

Daniel Bennett (as, ts, f, picc, cl, o, p, pc); Mark Cocheo (elg, g, bj). New York, no date.

Loose Fitting Spare Tire; I’m Not Nancy; Gold Star Mufflers; Theme from Ernani; Refinancing for Elephants; Inside Our Pizza Oven; Theme from Il Trovatore; Carl Finds His Way (30.00)

Manhattan Daylight Media