This was the first Polish concert of Barry Guy’s London Jazz Composers’ Orchestra, which for many years was his platform in the search for balance between improvisation and notated music. A concept almost impossible to realise. A group composed of a dozen or so strong leaders positioned behind music stands, in which the individuality of each member was supposed to be reined in to suit the wider stylistic context and the dictates of a compositional plan, wrote about LJC Maciej Karłowski. Is this not what Miles Davis had in mind in the 50s, when creating the Birth of the Cool Band – in the opinion of many, the first jazz ensemble to be composed of leaders – in an attempt to reconcile the combustive nature of freedom with the rules governing a collective? That’s surely the case, but Guy went further, successfully employing the accomplishments of contemporary music, a tonal language and compositional formulas that were at a far remove from jazz, thereby creating a fusion not so much of styles as musical philosophies. (Kraków Jazz Autumn, https://en.kjj-festiwal.pl/barry-guy-new-orchestra/)
A nearly impossible concept: an ensemble made up of more than a dozen strong leaders, placed behind music stands, with a view to employing their individualities in a broader stylistic context and within a certain precomposed design, wrote about LJC Maciej Karłowski. Was it not the same concept that led Miles Davis in the 1950s to set up The Birth of the Cool Band, the first jazz leaders’ band, which attempted to combine the fiery element of freedom with rules that govern a collective? Most likely it was, but Guy went much further, successfully exploiting the achievements of contemporary music, types of sound and composition far removed from jazz, which was not merely a fusion of many styles, but an entire new philosophy of music.
Harmos, the Greek word for a union of bodies, is something more than physical unity or an artistic union of individualities. In Barry Guy’s musical world, it is a meeting place for many, frequently apparently contradictory ideas, which prove to work together surprisingly well.