This new, extended reading by Mats Gustafsson and Fire! Orchestra of the great Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki´s seminal "Actions For Free Jazz Orchestra" (1971) was commissioned by the Sacrum Profanum festival in Kraków in 2018. The idea was to place this classic piece in a contemporary setting, with a new approach and a new body of sound. However, the original score was used as a platform for the new reading, connecting history with the present.
The first performance of "Actions For Free Jazz Orchestra" took place in 1971 at Donaueschingen and featured the New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra, 14 international jazz heavyweights assembled by Don Cherry for the occasion and conducted by Penderecki.
The composer had heard the Globe Unity Orchestra a couple of years earlier and was fascinated by the possibilites of working with musicians from a different background and with other perspectives than he was used to from the classical world. The challenge for all involved was to find the right balance between composition and improvisation. The idea was initially met with some scepticism from the musicians, but this soon gave way to acceptance and even great eagerness.
Fire! Orchestra´s instrumentation is almost identical to that of 1971, the main difference being a tuba replacing one of the trombones. Also worth noticing is that the new reading clocks in at 40 minutes, considerably longer than the 1971 version.