Washington Composers Orchestra

Not a lot of big-bands are known for pushing stylistic boundaries. More often, they’re the county-fair band accustomed to performing from atop a parade float. You know, 20 guys with grey hair wearing Hawaiian shirts playing the Basie and Goodman hits that broke ground 70 years ago, but have scarcely made a tremble since. Bucking this trend is precisely why the Washington Composers Orchestra stands out. A big band led by avant-garde jazz musicians Wayne Horvitz, Robin Holcomb, and Tom Varner, WACO came into existence “as a regular performing ensemble for composers who wished to write for a jazz instrumentation without being confined to traditional jazz and big band styles.” The group is filled out by a number of other small-group leaders, including Mark Taylor, Thomas Marriot, and Steve Treseler, making for a dynamic collection of composers and performers. Strangely, this big band has chosen one of Seattle’s smallest stages for their regular gigs at ToST. But the logistical nightmare of fitting everyone on stage makes for an even more exciting show. ERIK NEUMANN

Last Sunday of every month, 8 p.m., 2009

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