Reviews of Instruments of Mass Pleasure:
"Instruments of Mass Pleasure is an insanely good album. What one is struck by foremost, though, aside from any composition issues, is that this outfit has some incredible players built in. Each tune and its arrangement highlights yet another point of strength for the band as it swoons and swerves from decadence to decadence. This band has neither the rigidity of the old guard nor the naïveté of the new guard. It can emulate the old masters, but has a style all its own." 4 1/2 stars
(Adam Greenberg, AllMusic.com) Full review
"While the nine charts are as modern as one could envision, they are firmly grounded in time-honored jazz and musical tradition, never forswearing rhythmic or harmonic convention and structure to accomplish some undefined or exotic purpose. The CJO, which was launched more than a decade ago, validates the fruit of that experience, playing together with notable warmth and congeniality. Those who appreciate a modern big band that places music in the forefront are sure to dig it."
(Jack Bowers, AllAboutJazz.com) Full review
"Alex Budman and others on this San Francisco CD may not be as well known but listening to this gives an accurate picture how ‘monster’ talented these guys really are. There’s a taste of Slide Hampton and Joe Henderson orchestrations here. Up and down the coast reflects an eager jazz reflection as there’s a very hip elegant underscore here, with time signatures reflecting the very hip mist of San Francisco."
(Dick Crockett, Sacramento Radio)
"When you hear the music of Alex Budman, you would naturally assume that he must be a seasoned veteran. His saxophone playing is first rate; good clean technique, warm, rich sound, and a completely different approach of each; soprano, alto and tenor, respectively. His dark sound and economical lines are a pleasure to hear...
Besides his other attributes, Budman happens to be a terrific clarinet player as evidenced on the CD closer, Ballad for Benny, by Oliver Nelson. Again the sound is dark and full, and Budman displays complete control of the horn from bottom to top. Alex Budman may not be a seasoned veteran yet, but you’d never know it by what comes out of the end of his horns, or pen."
(Billy Kerr, Saxophone Journal)
"I would have to give it high marks for the musical content that delivers exciting solos, engaging charts and a blockbuster performance by a first-rate orchestra deserving of recognition as one of the finest ensembles in the business today."
(Ed Blanco, Jazzreview.com) Full review
"For over a decade, these San Francisco swingers have had a permanent place at Pearl's, where they can hone their collective and solo chops. No wonder the comfort level shows on every track of Alex Budman and Co.'s fourth CD. The CJO exudes the excitement of a modern-day straightahead big band while acknowledging its roots."
(Harvey Siders, JazzTimes) Full review
"The charts neatly wrap pleasant melodies and the solos second the notion that jazz modernity and accessibility are not mutually exclusive."
(Bill Shoemaker, Downbeat)
Saxophonist/clarinetist Alex Budman is one of the latest brave souls to take on the jazz orchestra, and to his credit, the results are fresh and enjoyable, especially when diving into Latin grooves. Being that they are Monday night regulars at San Francisco's Jazz at Pearl's, it should be no surprise that this ensemble sounds as tight and professional as they do. Bravo!
(Michael Fortes, Rasputin Music) Full review
Review of Monday in the City from jazzreview.com
"An incredible sound charged out of Pearl's. Horns. Lots of horns, in fact. I marched in and was met immediately with the glorious chaos that is the Contemporary Jazz Orchestra. Five saxophones. Four trombones. Four trumpets. All tumbling through Mingus, Duke Ellington, Thad Jones and yet more.
Good God, these guys can play! And they know every chart known to man. At one point, ringleader Alex Budman swung around and yelled out "279!" Willie Brown and I looked at each other from opposite ends of the bar and each mouthed the number in awe. Later I asked one of the saxophone players if they really knew that many charts. He shook his head, smiling. "No, not really. I think we are up to about four hundred by now."
(Christopher Caen, SF Examiner, 3/31/05)
Here's the original SF Chronicle column from 1994: