Is it really possible to blend "classical traditions with a language whose roots are jazz"? Jack Elliott and the New American Orchestra seem to think so, but the evidence produced at the ensemble's Sunday night concert at the Wadsworth Theatre suggested that the quest may have quixotic, rather than harmonic, overtones.
The works included in the program (which was fairly typical of the orchestra's repertoire) defined part of the problem. Music which is neither good "classical" nor good jazz can hardly be expected to produce a good blend of anything.
Larry Cansler's "Fanfare for Orchestra," for example, revealed its Copland inspiration in every off-beat accent and open fifth. And what substance it otherwise may have had was largely diminished by the ensemble's thin and tinny string sound.
"Deep Thought," by Dick Doerschuk, conjured up a few telling jazz moments, largely because of Warren Luening's lovely fluegelhorn playing, but in sum it was little more than a dance band ballad with string accompaniment.