People are talking!
They're also writing!
"Elvis Schoenberg. Or is it Howlin' Charles Ives? Ludwig Von Ellington? Thelonious Verdi? Finally, the thrill of listening to two radio stations at once, and that elusive and joyous moment when the melodies coincide. Good old technology, generally two laps ahead of the musician-composer, has literally filled our air with music: the car, the neighbor's upstairs window, the joggers headphones, the electronic chirping birds that let the blind cross the street, and the produce section at the market. To think that we can separate one influence from the other is as ludicrous as thinking we can pick out the nitrogen and hydrogen from a single breath.
What is rare is that individual who not only acknowledges all that has assaulted his ears but has the mastery and skill to deconstruct it, re-construct it, and spew it back in a new and exiting form.
This music provides the same thrill as visiting the garage of that crazy guy two streets over who couldn't do or be anything else if his life depended on it.
Elvis has indeed left the building, and thank God there are still a few people who are willing to tread that thin line between commitment and being committed."
––– Martin Mull, actor and comedian
"I had some idea of what to expect, and a pretty good idea that some sort of treat was in store, and there would be some challenging charts that only the best musicians could get through. I got more than that. I was immediately engulfed not only by The Fabulous Miss Thing but by the huge sound these guys and gals put out.
"What better way to introduce the complexities and simplicities of music to a younger generation than using humor, intellect and recognition!? And what better way to re-introduce the old farts to stuff they thought they knew. Having toured and jammed with Jimi, who was seeking Bartok during his 'Purple Haze', he'd have loved the Orchestre Surreal's version of, 'All Along The Watchtower' He'd definitely have had the hots for Miss Thing.
"Their arrangements bring a significant different meaning into the originals while their mirror image brings their originals into great significant arrangements, leaving the discerning listener thinking that it should have always been that way. If they don't win a Grammy, Miss Thing can '...walk all over me'."
––– Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake, and Palmer)
The Orchestre Surreal is a unique live orchestral experience, rather than simply a classical concert. Comprised of some of Los Angeles' top musicians, the orchestra tackles the great compositions of the titans of classical music with a wry, satirical point of view. With Ross Wright leading the way as his alter-ego persona "Elvis Schoenberg," nothing is off limits. The show takes psychedelic sidebars with its singers, electric guitars, and even a Theremin(!) Part concert, part spectacle, and part just plain fun, you will never experience a music concert quite like that of The Orchestre Surreal.
–––Jay Irwin, El Portal Theatre
"By day a mild-mannered musician and film composer, when Ross Wright gets anywhere near a podium, voila!, he becomes Elvis Schoenberg, fearlessly jumping boundaries of genre and taste in a single leap.
"Not merely content to perform shotgun marriages between the likes of Wagner and Nancy Sinatra, Mussorgsky and Santana, etc., Wright (er, Elvis) took on a more ambitious task Friday night at the Ford Amphitheatre; a 'book musical' of a sort, called Symphony of the Absurd! It was, as Ed Sullivan would have said, 'a really big shew' in which Wright incorporated many of his set pieces and some newer numbers into a hellzapoppin' revue, with an eclectic assortment of dancers, sexy girls, pulp novel narrations, lighting effects, dry ice. In other words, it was a real hoot.
"The 'storyline', cooked up by Dangerous Dan O'Callaghan, the portly tenor who can also do cartwheels (shades of John Belushi), was a slender thing, indeed: Elvis and his friends save the Earth from an invasion of space aliens. It was just a ruse to link several of Wright's musical contraptions into a reasonably flowing whole, and perhaps to get in a few political licks, with O'Callaghan deposing the current Chief Executive and running for office himself to the tune of the Bee Gees' Jive Talkin'.
"If anything, Wright's collages of this and that bring Frank Zappa to mind; the quick cuts between styles, the intricately difficult lines, the occasional jazz breaks. But Wright doesn't share Zappa's gleeful misanthropy; his lampooning seems more affectionate and respectful of his audience's love of pop culture. At one point, where 'Blue Suede Shoes' is sung against a wacky 12-tone setting, the idiom literally could be called Elvis Schoenberg.
"Much of this mayhem featured the vocals of the pink-platinum-haired chanteuse The Fabulous Miss Thing (Angela Carole Brown), whose delivery sometimes resembled that of Tina Turner and who also plays a mean Theremin. The 22-piece Orchestre Surreal deftly handled any number of styles, with some good bebop breaks by the wind soloists."
––– Richard S. Ginell, Special to the TIMES
"In the mad, campy world according to Elvis Schoenberg's Orchestre Surreal, there's a whole lot of wailing and winking going on. In this L.A.-based outfit, classic rock nuggets are systematically turned on their ear, and altered with clever, disarming charts. Echoes of Frank Zappa's smarts-and-weisenheimer blend, Rocky Horror Picture Show-esque maneuvers, and post-Spike Jones approaches squirm through the music. If it sometimes threatens to buckle under the weight of its own acidic whimsy, it keeps impressing with its musicality.
"Its code of aesthetics (freely mixing high and low culture, high and low comedy) is encoded into the leader's nom de plume: The pelvis-oriented Elvis Presley, the rock icon, is mated with the cerebrum-oriented composer Arnold Schoenberg, the 'star' architect of serialism.
"Wait! Isn't that a snippet of The Andy Griffith Show tossed into Riders on the Storm like a friendly stink bomb? And isn't that the ascending motif from The Rite of Spring under the last verse?
"One credibility gap in the whole new lounge-camp boom is that the music actually requires good musicians, if Esquivel taught un anything. Shameless theatricality and smirking humor should be countered by the powerful persuasion of a job well done by instrumentalists who know how to play their instruments. Count Elvis Schoenberg's Orchestre Surreal as one band that does, and is fighting the good fight with the right musical weaponry."
––– Josef Woodard, LA TIMES