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New England Conservatory Honors Ensemble Great on Paper (Kevin Sun, saxophones, EWI, Isaac Wilson, keyboards, Simón Willson, double bass, Robin Baytas, drums. Coached by Ted Reichman,) performed this set live in Jordan Hall April 1, 2014.
Founded on the principles of equality, freedom of speech, and reckless exploration, Great on Paper is an improvised, four-person party that goes into musical situations without an exit strategy. Featuring a typical jazz quartet configuration with a distinctly atypical bent towards the avant-garde and the folkloric, GOP taps into the jazz tradition without getting too ideological or self-conscious about it.
GOP performs mostly original music that is somehow both formally sophisticated yet, in moderate doses, pleasant to listen to. With numerous musical influences that range from Steve Coleman to Paul Bley to Stevie Wonder, GOP has no interest in disguising its catholic tastes, and the band’s co-mingling of diverse musical sensibilities allegedly lend it an air of refinement and worldliness. As one anonymous reviewer has said, “At their show in December, that new band GOP really put the ‘Status’ in ‘Status Quo!’” Call them what you will—a postmodernist mélange, abstract sound-fashioners, jazz charlatans—GOP takes no prisoners and doesn’t apologize when it steps on your feet; it just keeps on moving right along.