volume 1: this is not the answer

What was the question?
Kyle Saulnier
Samuel Barber
Johannes Brahms
Helen Deutsch / Bronislau Kaper
Howard Dietz / Arthur Schwartz
Alan Sparhawk / Low
Brian Wilson / Tony Asher
Thom Yorke / Radiohead
Kyle Saulnier
The Awakening Orchestra
Catalog Number: 
big band

Bronx, NY

Release Date: 
May 27, 2014
Liner Notes: 
2 CD

volume 1: this is not the answer

One Sheet: 

Although it’s right there in the name, it’s not entirely clear whether composer/leader Kyle Saulnier’s Awakening Orchestra is in fact an orchestra, a big band or something entirely and wildly different. Encompassing broad swaths of musical style in both original and recontextualized and re-imagined compositions, the Awakening Orchestra delves deep into traditions from classical to jazz to indie rock on their debut album, volume I: this is not the answer.

Interspersing original work - like the intricate, four-part, title-track symphony - with often radical interpretations of work by Samuel Barber, Radiohead, Johannes Brahms and Low, volume I: this is not the answer crafts a powerful mix of written and improvised material. Throughout, individual expressions of virtuosity blend seamlessly with Kyle Saulnier’s ever-shifting orchestral textures, and the Awakening Orchestra’s eight years of performing experience come through in the nuanced yet strongly-defined ensemble concept that threads through the record.


“[A]s rare an achievement as Carla Bley's historic Escalator Over The Hill (ECM, 1971). The latter work—more jazz-operetta in orientation and prescribed in its thematic flow—nevertheless shares many similar elements and the Awakening Orchestra has created no less of a monumental event. … The title track is a four-part suite and nothing short of a masterpiece. Saulnier's challenging score embraces the diverse families of instruments that make up the Awakening Orchestra. Each of the four movements has a unique personality, drama and subtle beauty that that approaches an altered musical realm without overreaching. … [The] versatility within This Is Not the Answer is exceptional and while the individual pieces can sound episodic at first listen they later gel in a holistic way. … This Is Not the Answer is tour-de-force and one of the best albums of the year.” [FULL ARTICLE]
Karl Ackermann

“[The] insightful Saulnier is constantly pushing the idea that [The Awakening Orchestra] is really just a huge great music band that is not solely intended for only one genre audience. … Everyone improvises and almost cries as you are in the henhouse, but the composers exceptional flexibility with complex arrangement brings water to the right mill. … [A] complete masterpiece … [T]ruly one of the best albums of 2014.” [FULL ARTICLE - Original in Croatian]
Vladimir Horvat