Another from the crop of overly schooled jazz cats forging into rock-derived improvisational music, the Miracle Orchestra mix vintage fusion sounds with more cohesive hippie undertones.
The band came together in 1996 as members attended the New England Conservatory of Music and the Berklee School of Music in Boston, MA. After constant gigging in the area, they recorded their debut album, Coalesce (1998), as a septet. The band often shared stages with fellow Berklee-ites, the Slip, commonly billing themselves under some variation of a hybrid of the bands' names. The music they produced together was deeply psychedelic and exploratory in nature.
Making a name for themselves, the group found themselves the winners of Boston Magazine's Best New Jazz Band award for 1998. They were invited to play a two-hour set on the side stage at Phish's Lemonwheel festival in Limestone, ME, as well. The band gradually pulled in different influences, including Indian composition and free jazz. Despite their open ears, the band still had a hard time breaking away from their schooled roots.
Near the end of 1998, Colin Fisher (trumpet), Jeremy Udden (saxophone), and Brian Sayers (percussion) left the group to pursue other interests. A core quartet featuring Bill Carbone (drums), Garrett Sayers (bass), Geoff Scott (guitar), and Jared Sims (saxophone) streamlined the group's sound, pushing it in a more groove-oriented direction. With compositions primarily by Scott, the new quartet was easier to take on the road.
The band soon found a home on the northeast's jam band circuit, playing high-visibility shows at BerkFest and jamming with musicians like DJ Logic and winning accolades from fellow musicians, including Allman Brothers Band bassist and jam band elder Oteil Burbridge. During the summer of 1999, they recorded Live Volume One in their hometown of Boston. Predictably, more touring followed. After winning the Boston Phoenix's award for Best Jam Band, the group was signed to Grapeshot Records. They released Forks, Bends & Spoons in 2000.