Barry Guy's interests in improvisation and formal composition received their grandest form in the London Jazz Composers Orchestra. Originally formed to perform Guy's composition Ode in 1974 (released as a 2-LP set on Incus and later, in expanded form, as a 2-CD set on Intakt), it became one of the great large-scale European improvising ensembles. Early documentation is spotty – the only other recording from its early years is Stringer (FMP, now available on Intakt paired with the later "Study II") – but beginning in the late 1980s the Swiss label Intakt set out to document the band more thoroughly. The result was a series of ambitious, album-length compositions designed to give all the players in the band maximum opportunity for expression while still preserving a rigorous sense of form: Zurich Concerts, Harmos, Double Trouble (originally written for an encounter with Alexander von Schlippenbach's Globe Unity Orchestra, though the eventual CD was just for the LJCO), Theoria (a concerto for guest pianist Irène Schweizer, Three Pieces, and Double Trouble Two. The group's activities subsided in the mid-1990s (it has not reconvened since then, though apparently Guy does not consider it "disbanded"). Guy has since then created a smaller ensemble, the Barry Guy New Orchestra.
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