Jungles

Having only ever previously heard Michael Sahl’s music in obtusely hysterical songs for the musical theatre, I had no idea what to expect from a disc of his instrumental music. Jungles (1990), a fully-notated score for jazz/rock quintet featuring electric violin, electric guitar, piano, bass, and drums, is a peculiar hybrid. Composed before the instrumentation of the Bang on a Can All-Stars became a new music standard, Sahl’s more progish than punkish quintet is not nearly as aggressive as most of the repertoire promulgated by the BoaC crowd and effectively demonstrates that such an ensemble is capable of an extremely wide emotional range.

—FJO

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