River Cow Cosmic Orchestra Creative Page

Kansas City’s tradition of jazz innovation continues with the amazing ~ RIVER COW ORCHESTRA ~

Every song is created on the spot, without charts, dubs, retakes, or written music.

Abstract enough for you?

River Cow Orchestra takes a Zen approach to creating music. Creating spontaneous music that will never be heard again, anywhere.
Collective improvisation, spontaneous jazz without apology. River Cow Orchestra sets the music free.

Experience future jazz ~ RIVER COW ORCHESTRA ~ free the moo-sic!

"...They create very open and wide structures and take time to develop things.
Their improvisations originate on stage or in studio without much pretension.
This results in very captivating music that is never in a hurry and working very
consequent to its goal..It's just there.” Dolf Mulder, Vital Weekly, Netherlands

"These guys are on the sidelines of reality.."
Lynn Allred - LA Audio sound engineer - quote

"I sincerely believe this is the best creative venture I've ever heard from a midwestern group of cows & give it my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "best creative jazz"! "
Rotcod Zzaj - Zzai Productions - Improvijazzation Nation


Jazz artists in America have suffered much during the past thirty years. Dwindling
audiences and public indifference toward the idiom have resulted in the emergence of more marketable jazz during the past few decades. The innovative avant-garde and free jazz styles of the 1960s and 1970s have been replaced with less adventurous more commercial jazz. In the 1980s, Wynton Marsalis became the leading advocate for the ‘Classical Jazz’ that promoted mainstream artists like Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. He authored an article in the New York Times titled, “What Jazz is – and Isn’t” (1988) that took aim at "..an attempt to blur the lines (of jazz) for commercial purposes." In the article he said new age, third stream, jazz/rock fusion were not jazz. In recent years a sub-genre ‘Smooth Jazz’ has emerged. Being heavily influenced by R&B and funk ‘Smooth Jazz’ has a contemporary beat to make the music more attractive to younger audiences. Commercial radio stations have promoted artists like Kenny G. and pitched ‘Smooth Jazz’ as a new format.

So where is jazz headed in the 21st century?

River Cow Orchestra alters the conventions of jazz. Our music philosophy focuses on collective improvisation, similar to the old New Orleans Jazz parades, paying particular attention to how each band member interacts with the group as a whole.
We discard traditional features such as written melodies over fixed chord changes and instead focus on the roots of jazz, collective spontaneous improvisation.

We seek to explore the process of artistic creation rather than focus on making a polished commercial product for entertainment. We emphasize musical mood and place an aesthetic premium on the character and personality of each musician rather than the technical skill of each individual.

We follow the trailblazers of avant-garde and free jazz who cast off conventional jazz elements in search of greater artistic expression. We believe the forefront of jazz innovation lies with collective spontaneous improvisation. We are indebted to the jazz musicians which spearheaded the way.

Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Sam Rivers, Sun Ra, Rahassan Roland Kirk, AACM and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Anthony Braxton, Derek Bailey, Don Cherry, Charles Mingus, Roscoe Mitchell, Charlie Haden, later works of John Coltrane & Miles Davis, and many others.

River Cow Orchestra is not ordinary music, it challenges the audience. If you are interested in discovering something different we dare you to listen.

Updated:  November 7, 2010

Back to Profile