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30 October 2012
By Lawrence Joseph in Cult#Mtl (Québec), October 30, 2012

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“Classical lushness and avant garde edginess coalesce into a sharp-witted yet delicate set, one of the year’s best releases.”

After 18 years of existence, bassist and composer Nicolas Caloia’s Ratchet Orchestra qualifies as a Montréal free jazz institution, despite sparse recordings and performances. The unit has grown exponentially over the years, from humble quartet beginnings to the current 31 member outfit. Musique actuelle stalwarts like flutist Jean Derome, clarinetist Lori Freedman and drummer John Heward all contribute here, and just about every other member also leads important ensembles in their own right.

The Ratchet’s first quartet CD from 1994 covered Christian Wolff’s Burdocks, providing some early clues into Ratchet philosophy. Burdocks is a non-hierarchical piece of distinct components using only minimal music notation, from which a collective work can be assembled. Which more or less describes the nine cuts here, cleverly constructed with composed parts lying alongside improvised lines, so that strong readers seamlessly mesh with the less formally schooled.

While there is much freedom, it never descends into chaos. There is a strong sense of composition and structure throughout, although more Sun Ra than Count Basie. Each song is built around a memorable theme, and care is taken in orchestration, not just during the ensemble parts, but also backing each solo. Like Ra, the stylistic range spans big band history from ’40s swing to avant swarm.

Winnow starts things off with a mysterious but sweet series of chords, followed by melancholic winding sax and growling trumpet solos which lead back to the theme. Dusty begins with a clocklike rhythm, but soon gives way to a distorted bent note guitar solo that kicks the band into swirling overdrive around a demented clarinet solo. This exemplifies the variety not just between, but also within, each song.

The 24 possible permutations of the words in the phrase “kick that habit man,” (“kick that man habit,” “habit that kick man,” etc.) are each stated exactly once within Kick. That track provides some comic relief and is the only track with vocals, but the Ratchet keep things moving throughout. Classical lushness and avant garde edginess coalesce into a sharp-witted yet delicate set, one of the year’s best releases.

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24 October 2012
By Massimo Ricci in The Squid’s Ear (USA), October 24, 2012

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“A few attentive spins and you’ll see that there are some values to remember in this totally respectable release.”

Those who get thrilled in recalling orchestral masterpieces such as Strings With Evan Parker (Emanem) will find something quite flavorsome to chew here, though not on an identical level of artistic strength. GGRIL is a collective from Rimouski, Québec, described as the “home big band" of the Tour de Bras label. Exclusively composed of musicians of different ages and experience based in the Lower St. Lawrence region, over the years the ensemble has played with several leading lights of the improv landscape. This particular set was taped in April 2011 after a brief clinic led by the English master of swirling reeds.

Whereas the concert starts with a completely free piece — Semis — in which the players waste no time in finding contrapuntal stratagems by reducing the toe-dipping procedures to the required minimum, the subsequent tracks Bouturage and Marcottage are directed, respectively, by Parker and violinist Raphaël Arsenault. Still, the music remains entirely conceived on the spot, showing a wealth of veins and colors and an idiosyncratic sense of humor (a gorgeously wacky tuba solo — courtesy of Gabriel Rivest — at the beginning of Bouturage is my overall favorite snippet of the entire disc). Electric guitars and bass furnish the action with the right quantities of charged rush when needed; a couple of accordions warrant substrata of folk echoes that sound preposterous and suggestive at once.

The attendance of guest trombonist Scott Thomson adds fuel to the fire in the “melodically bizarre” department, thus balancing the more overt tendency to seriousness dictated by two violins, a clarinet and an acoustic bass. A propulsive consistency is not missing, and — judging by the bursts of audience laughs sporadically heard — a theatrical component must have been applied during the exhibition. Parker’s soprano and tenor work just fine without exceeding any limit as he immerses himself in the improvisational ebb and flow with flexible modesty. A few attentive spins and you’ll see that there are some values to remember in this totally respectable release.

blogue@press-4795 press@4795
16 October 2012
By Sylvie Nicolas in Le Devoir (Québec), October 16, 2012

Press Clipping

blogue@press-4787 press@4787
13 October 2012
in Info-Culture (Québec), October 13, 2012

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“La mise en scène est astucieuse. Les projections vidéos sont surprenantes et prenantes.”

Existentialisme ou surréalisme? Bien difficile à dire.

La pièce La chute du piano présentée à la salle Multi de la coopérative Méduse a intrigué la centaine de spectateurs samedi soir le 13 octobre.

Un heureux mélange pluridisciplinaire et multimédia d’une durée d’environ 45 minutes.

Il est très difficile d’en tirer une conclusion. Par contre nous pouvons dire que le jeu et le texte des comédiens se limitent au strict minimum. Les textes étant récités par une voix dite ‘off’. La mise en scène est astucieuse. Les projections vidéos sont surprenantes et prenantes. Les effets sonores sont adéquats. On nous a dit que «nous avions des oreilles pour voir» et que même si «une question est bonne, il ne faut pas la gâcher en lui donnant une réponse».

Chacun doit faire sa propre évaluation de ce spectacle. Ou était-ce une représentation?

Synopsis

Il est question d’un piano qui chute, d’une auteure qui chute, d’un chanteur qui se tient sur un point élevé, d’un danseur étendu par terre. Il est question d’un philosophe et d’un musicien qui discutent du projet de faire un spectacle dont le sujet (et le titre) serait la chute du piano. Ce philosophe et ce musicien, Gilles et John, sont des personnages inventant le spectacle qui est en train de se faire par des personnes réelles. C’est l’envers. L’endroit étant le plateau où les artistes se tiennent, où les images et les scènes — faites de poésie et de pixels — se font et se refont jusqu’au point d’impact, la chute du spectacle.

Éclats et Rhizome proposent un projet hybride entre poésie, danse et musique. Une collaboration franco-québécoise, une rencontre interdisciplinaire autour des figures du philosophe Gilles Deleuze et du compositeur John Cage.

blogue@press-4788 press@4788
9 October 2012

We suggest you check out Ailleurs by Alexandre St-Onge, the latest addition to our shop.