from the Creative Music Newsletter
The Miniature Orchestra is a unique conception, which, although it has much in common with classical chamber music, it has too many elements of improvisation, world rhythms, and tonal colors to be classed with anything else you might be listening to these days.”
Larry and the Miniature Orchestra - Best Concerts of 2007
More from Metroland Magazine, Albany, NY:
Chernicoff has fashioned a unique genre of chamber jazz that is at once pensive, bracing, endlessly interesting, and, in its quiet manner, fun.
For two lengthy sets before a sizable and rapt house Saturday night, Chernicoff´s eight-piece group, playing without any amplification, explored the sound of beauty and coherence. Roughly half of the compositions presented were rigorously composed, highly melodic and groove-based, structured works that … were consistently changing and going somewhere. Injected into these works were extended improvisations of varying combinations of players—not solos so much as collaborative, on-the-spot compositions of new and (again) melodic signatures in response to what Chernicoff had written in the score. With a group of truly world-class players, it worked so well that it became difficult to tell where Chernicoff´s writing ended and the improv began. And the sound was, in a word, heavenly.
The music spun around two primary axes: the woodwinds of master players Charles Pillow and Tim Moran (who must have played a dozen different instruments between them) and the twin cello attack (I´ve always wanted to say this in a review) of Tomas Ulrich and Greg Heffernan. Bassist John Lindberg and Silk Road Ensemble´s percussionist Shane Shanahan added nuance, color and drive.
Chernicoff alternatively conducted and played vibes, piano and percussion, and in his understated way, led what can only be described as an orgy of joy over this focused and, often, smiling group of wickedly insightful players. And there, in the center of it all, was Chernicoff´s 19-year old daughter Lydia, a student at Baltimore´s Peabody Conservatory, on violin. Lydia played played beautifully and assertively.
From the Berkshire Eagle:
Music Speaks for Itself
Dwelling, as we are inclined to do, in the comfort of a shameless world overwrought with artifice and hype, it is refreshing — no astonishing — ever so often to encounter someone who appears to be just what he is — and within the sphere of entertainment, no less.
Such a gentleman is Larry Chernicoff, composer and musician, who seems willing to allow his work to speak for itself.
Chernicoff, as so many others have done, could choose to display his wares in an atmosphere of extravagant trappings and introduce them with a slick line of stage patter supplied by a writer who specializes in such matters. Instead, this past weekend, he assembled, in his fashion, a rather amazing group of musicians, the current personnel of an ensemble he calls Windhorse, allowing the music to roll out sans transitional glibness or self-conscious smugness. And an enthusiastic crowd of around 350 assembled in the Colonial Theatre on a stormy Saturday evening greeted Chernicoff's efforts warmly.
The music is a cool blend of several genres, most prominently jazz in some of its basic structure with enough improvisational freedom to make it challenging to hear, and, no doubt, to perform. It resembles chamber music in some of its instrumental juxtapositions.
Among the more interesting numbers, and one that Chernicoff confided that he had reworked somewhat, "You're Too Serious" carried some thick-textured ensembles with sax accents, but also a couple of interior sections that made rich use of the strings in a sudden Baroque tilt. The rest of the group eventually picked up these warm phrases.
"Thursday," a piece built around two notes, is extravagant with both super harmonies and engaging modulations.
Tom Schmidt, the pianist and composer and the evening's guest, shared his ruminative piece, "From Age to Age," a moving New Orleans-flavored andante, with Chernicoff embellishing his variations on vibes.
Lydia Chernicoff, a talented and cheerful young musician studying at the Peabody Institute, made a fine jazz debut producing a shimmering violin obbligato in the busy and ethereal "And Now Are Spirits." She found obvious delight elsewhere in improvising along with her father and his colleagues.
"Fabulous Opportunity" was the evening's encore, offering just that for the group, but especially for Lindberg and Ulrich.
Listeners of Chernicoff and Windhorse music certainly are provoked to think, and glow just a bit.