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For more than a few decades now, alto saxophonist/ arranger/ bandleader Ed Palermo has been looking at the music he grew up with, and reconstructing it from the ground up within a big band configuration Whether that’s been the sounds of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, classic jazz or, most often, Frank Zappa, Palermo and his virtuosic 16-piece cast provide a new way of considering long-familiar music. In 2017, the band took a deep dive into the world of the British Invasion with a two-disc collection that retooled material by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Traffic, King Crimson and others; the new, single-disc set continues along those lines, and is equally exciting and innovative.  Vol. III finds Palermo and company using The Beatles as their base, then fleshing out the list with songs by Procol Harem, The Moody Blues and others. “Within You, Without You,” the George-Harrison-penned Indian-tinged vehicle from Sgt. Pepper, starts things off, sitar and all, and by midway – with the horn section at full throttle – it becomes obvious just what this big band is all about. But never one to play it straight, Palermo infuses the jam with bits of The Hollies’ “Stop, Stop, Stop,” then returns to the main theme several tracks later to bring it alo full circle. Some tunes, like Jethro Tull’s “Nothing Is Easy” and Thunderclap Newman’s “Something In the Air,” retain the basics of their source material, diverging just enough to keep things lively. A couple of Zappa numbers are tossed in for good measure – Palermo can’t help himself – and don’t really fit, but that minor misstep is more than compensated for.

Jeff Tamarkin, Relix, January-February 2021

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