… Tom Walsh nous oblige à reconstituer le puzzle d’une musique bigarrée et tendrement malicieuse. — ImproJazz, France
Les compositions sont rondement menées et réinventent ce style si particulier. — SOCAN, Paroles & Musique, Canada
Noma is a gigantic laboratory. In the left corner: a guitar, a bass, and a drum set. In the right corner: a guitar, a bass, and a drum set. In the middle of the ring: Walsh, his trombone and his sampler. Noma driving its own hybrid design, brings us on a wild rollercoaster ride down the radio dial of style. Highlighting the group’s superb musicianship with stop-on-a-dime arrangements, Walsh & Company have evolved a repertoire and playing vocabulary unmatched in modern music.
Taken from the best moments of performances in Toronto and Montréal between 2000 and 2002, Diversion provides an opportunity to discover the virtuosity of Noma and its composer and leader Tom Walsh.
CD (AM 119)
- 1Ouvert Tour (2002), 4:37
- 3Art & Arthur (2002), 6:40
- 6half past piano (2002), 2:10
- 7Conversation (2000), 7:08
- 12Inversion; Diversion (2002), 5:08
- 17Two Pair / Deux couples (2000), 8:47
- 23guy segue / tout ti improv (2002), 3:57
- 24Bud’s duB (2002), 7:45
- 27Capacity (2002), 7:19
- 31afri kebek (2002), 1:17
- 32Africa Prayer (for Abdullah Ibrahim) (2002), 6:43
- Label: Ambiances Magnétiques
- AM 119 / 2003
- UCC 771028111923
- Total duration: 61:49
- Sympathique case
- 126 mm × 126 mm × 5 mm
- 45 g
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In the press
Côté cour: guitare fuzz basse fretless et batterie funky; force et puissance. Côté jardin: guitare préparée, contrebasse charnelle et batterie frémissante; sensibilité et détente. Au milieu: Tom Walsh, tromboniste flamboyant déjà remarqué en duo avec le batteur Pierre Tanguay (Midi Tapant). Outre une pertnience instrumentale rare (le très émouvant Africa Prayer, dédié à Abdulhah Ibrahim), Tom Walsh se révèle être un metteur en sons des plus habiles. Fusion des styles, structures mouvantes, transgressions assumées, humour perçant, ballades country, art de la déglingue; Tom Walsh nous oblige à reconstituer le puzzle d’une musique bigarrée et tendrement malicieuse. L’une des très bonnes surprises de cette sélection québécoise.
A musical eclectic, trombonist Tom Walsh has become a fixture of Montréal’s actuelle scene since his move from Toronto in 1990. Around that same time, he put together a middle-size group, NOMA, with musicians from both cities. As a kind of free-form funk band that had definite Prime Time connections, it could groove with the best of them, but the difficulties of holding such a group together led to its eventual disbanding. A decade later, a slimmed down version was re-introduced, this time with an all-Montréal lineup of seven, divided into a funk rhythm section (with electric bass, guitar and drums) and a jazz one (with acoustic bass, guitar and drums), with the leader directing traffic, knob-turning his sampler and turning in a few trombone spots (in that order). Thirteen years after its debut release, Climbing the Waltz, this long delayed follow-up appears, but time seems not to have altered much of its basic portent. Indeed, the groove element is very much at the heart of the music, but the pieces (11 in total) are much more fragmented, or modular, implying they’re never assembled the same way from one performance to the next. Like the first disc reviewed above, this one is also a composerdriven project, albeit looser, with spot solos, mainly by electric bassist Al Baculis, but not that many from the leader himself. The jazz connection is more covert than overt, apart from Bud’s Dub, the rollicking theme of which is actually Monk’sln Walked Bud” (uncredited). An unusual feature is that all but two pieces have been further subdivided, resulting in 32 tracks (a deliberate choice of the leader to allow listeners to surf through the music according to their own whims).
Second disque de l’ensemble Noma, créé en 1989 et mené par le prolifique compositeur et tromboniste Tom Walsh, qui signe la majorité des pièces de l’opus, Diversion est à la jonction du jazz et de la musique actuelle. Les musiciens émérites qui interprètent les œuvres de Walsh sont renversants de virtuosité. Les compositions sont rondement menées et réinventent ce style si particulier. Notons que l’enregistrement en direct est d’une grande qualité.
Canadian bandleader and composer Tom Walsh and this far-flung group of musicians have their fingers in so many pies — funk, fusion, avant-jazz, prog, even non-idiomatic improv — that it’s a surprise that Diversion isn’t baked into an indigestible lump. Instead, Walsh and his mates avoid the stop-start schizophrenia that characterizes a lot of other genre exercises and stick with a creative but organic sense of development that takes each of these ten pieces on a strange ride, but not before giving them some legs. (It might have helped that Diversion was recorded live over the course of two performances and then seamlessly edited together after the fact instead of cobbled together in the studio.)
A piece like Ouvert Tour, with skittering guitar scrapes that segue into a no man’s land of electronic buzzes and mournful trombone lines, or Two Pair/Deux Couples, which moves carefully from minute improv to Mingus-like horn growls to a vampy swing break, showcase NOMA and Walsh at their most diversified, while straight-up, stripped down (but still adventurous) funk numbers like Capacity or the prog-tinged Bud’s Dub prove they can stay interesting, even while staying inside genre boundaries.
Walsh and his bandmates have playing talent to spare and a barrell full of stylistic guises at their fingertips, but the true measure of Diversion’s success is its tight focus.
Noma è il nome del progetto — giunto qui alla seconda prova su disco — del trombonista Tom Walsh, un curioso campo di battaglie musicali dove attorno al “centro Walsh” si fronteggiano un trio jazz e un trio di funk elettrico, in uno scambio voracissimo e proficuo di materiali variamente strutturati. Rarefazioni di suoni trovati, improvvise accensioni di grooves, le chitarre elettriche spesso piegate in sprazzi lamentosi, il trombone mimetico del leader e un bilanciamento attento dei livelli contribuiscono a una musica in continuo movimento. Undici i brani, ma le tracce sono ben trentadue, per non perdere mai di vista la tessitura. (7)
Enregistré en concert à La Sala Rossa (grande soeur de la minuscule mais chaleureuse Casa del Popolo) ainsi qu’à Toronto au Music Gallery, cet OVNI sonore propose les meilleurs moments de ces deux mémorables prestations. Rappelant pratiquement le Uzeb des beaux jours dans ses moments groovy (Conversation), tantôt dangereusement swing (Bud’s Dub) et aussi parfois d’un hermétisme difficilement pénétrable, le deuxième opus de cet ensemble fondé par le tromboniste Tom Walsh ne manque certes pas d’audace ni d’arrangements compacts. Accompagné par une pléiade de musiciens aguerris, Walsh, sampler à portée de la main, fait ici preuve d’ume fabuleuse virtuosité. À l’instar de son principal pôle d’attraction, une œuvre riche et définitivement stimulante.
Deuxième album du groupe Noma, fondé par le tromboniste Tom Walsh, ce dernier toujours présent et entouré côté cour de Guy Kaye (gé), Alan Baculis (bé), François Chauvette (dr, perc); côté jardin: Rainer Wiens (gé), Normand Guilbeault (cb), Thom Gossage (dr, perc). Deux enregistrements distincts, en concert à la Sala Rossa, à Montréal, en décembre 2002. Des petites pièces qui font penser au Prime Time d’Ornette Goleman. Ensuite, des plages d’un concert le 9 mars 2000 à la Music Gallery de Toronto, d’une modernité avancée. Pour finir, retour avec Walsh où ce dernier s’aventure dans un univers plus funk. Une diversification peu ordinaire.
Diversion is the title of a excellent new work by the Canadian trombonist and composer Tom Walsh. Walsh is a prominent musician in the Canadian avant garde and jazz scene. As a classically trained musician he started his career as trombonist in a Newfoundland symphony orchestra. Later Walsh started to play with a many canadian rock bands. Rock bands became jazz and improv projects. And that’s the context Walsh is working in nowawdays. He played with national (Rene Lussier, Michel F Côté) and international (Bern Nix, Gerry Hemingway, Fred Frith, Iva Bittova, Phil Minton) jazz and improv musicians. Walsh is involved in several groups. With saxplayer Richard Underhill he has a duo, with Pierre Tanguay he takes acoustic and digital adventures as Midi Tapant, etc. etc. In 1988 he started his very own NOMA-project. Jazz is the keyword here. Musicians involved in this project came and went. It was never meant as a permanent group. On the other hand the musicians with their personal possibilities and energy were very important to Walsh, as NOMA is about the energies that everybody brings in. Diversion is played by two small ensembles. Some pieces are played by The Côté Cour ensemble featuring Guy Kaye (el. guitar), Alan Baculis (el. bass) and François Chauvette (drums). Other pieces are played by the Côté Jardin ensemble that has Rainer Wiens on electric guitar, Normand Guilbeault on contrabass plus Pierre Tanguay on drums. Both ensembles have Tom Walsh on trombone and sampler. Recordings were made on two different occasions. But on the CD all is very well edited into one whole. As a composer draws from many different styles and idioms, which explains the title of this CD. The compositions refer to funk, improv, rock, avantgarde jazz, fusion, etc. Some pieces stay within well-known boundaries, at other moments Walsh paints abstract figures with strange colours. Walsh melted these influences together with vision and suppleness into a coherent and well balanced work. Together with convincing and energetic playing Diversion is a very enjoyable listening experience.
Tom Walsh est un tromboniste très actif et très respecté au Canada. Il joue dans une foule de formations (tous styles confondus) en plus de faire de la musique pour la danse. Il s’agit ici d’un deuxième album pour la formation Noma - le premier remontant à 1996. Groupe double, à l’exemple d’Ornette Coleman, mais un propos tout autre; côté cour funky: guitare électrique à effets (Guy Kaye), basse électrique (Alan Basculis) et «funk drum» (François Chauvette); côté jardin jazz: guitare préparée bruitiste de Rainer Wiens, la contrebasse de Normand Guilbeault et le «jazz drumset» de Thom Gossage. Au centre, Tom Walsh au trombone, mais aussi à l’échantillonneur et aux commandes de ce groupe à deux faces. Le résultat est fascinant. On trouve en Walsh un soliste sobre et surtout un arrangeur très fin. Empruntant à la fois à toutes les tendances «funky» de la musique américaine (trip hop, funk, fusion), au jazz et aux univers plus abstraits, Walsh montre une connaissance des musiques de son temps et une sérieuse aptitude à les mélanger. Ouvertures grattouillantes et fondus enchaînés viennent bouleverser une musique sophistiquée remplie de réminiscences (dont In Walked Bud), d’arrêts et de reprises. La plupart des pièces sont d’ailleurs divisées en plusieurs plages (à la manière de la musique classique?) qui continuent, sans coupures évidentes, le développement d’un thème.
Du plus racoleur au plus difficile, Walsh se permet tout, simplement parce qu’il sait rendre fertiles les rencontres inusitées. Loin des parodies de genres, Walsh mélange les styles sans les diluer. En prime, la prise de son live est plus que convaincante. Épatant.
NOMA’s first album, self-released, failed to draw much attention, but this second opus released on the prestigious Montréal label Ambiances Magnétiques gives Tom Walsh’s project a much better chance to make an impact — that and the fact that the group’s material is pure dynamite. The leader and trombonist stands in the middle of the stage; to his left is an electric funk trio (Guy Kaye, Alan Baculis, and François Chauvette) and to his right a jazz trio (Rainer Wiens, Normand Guilbeault, and Thom Gossage — Pierre Tanguay subs for the latter in two pieces). This geographical disposition is directly reflected in the music, a blend of groovy licks, post-bop phrasing, plus healthy doses of free improvisation and humor (the addictive duo Ambiances Magnétiques has been returning to more and more in 2003). The album presents nine compositions by Walsh and two group improvisations, but it counts 32 tracks. Most pieces have multiple indexes reflecting each and every twist of the music. This could be credited to a hyperactive sense of organization, but this reviewer has a different idea: considering that most pieces are segued, that the album flows effortlessly like a genuine funk set (Fela Kuti comes to mind), and that it has been assembled from two different concert recordings (a fantastic editing job), this overindexing is probably meant to help the listener lose himself in the moment instead of keeping track of where one piece ends and the other begins. The level of playing is captivating: Kaye’s mean wah-wah and Wiens’ prepared electric guitar form the odd couple of the group, displaying lick after lick of infectious invention. Of course, Walsh’s trombone playing shines, but his composer side takes precedence. Pieces like Inversion: Diversion and Capacity reveal a dangerous bandleader, the kind that can entertain and at the same time push the music further than you’d expect.
Featuring the great Montréal-based trombonist Tom Walsh with two different quartets at two live sets in Montréal and Toronto from 2002. The Cote Cour quartet features Guy Kaye on electric guitar, Alan Baculis on el. bass and Francois Chauvette on drums, while the Cote Jardin unit features Rainer Wiens on el. guitar, Norman Guilbeault on contrabass and Pierre Tanguay on drums, with Walsh on trombone and sampler. While I am unfamiliar with all members of the first quartet, the Jardin unit includes both Norman and Pierre, whom I’ve caught up at the Victo fest on more than one occasion. The Cour Qt. features some fine intricate and haunting playing with Guy’s ghost-like spidery guitar, the rhythm moving together in waves, ebbing to and fro. There are some eerie samples floating through the mix and at times it difficult to tell who is doing what since it could me some modified guitar or trombone. This is a well balanced blend of progressive and jazz/rock tendencies, hard to predict which direction will surface next. Each player is utilized to their fullest as many of these pieces shift between a variety of complex schemes. It will probably take a while to enjoy all of this, since there is so many unexpected twists and turns. Most impressive.
Canada’s pre-eminent free jazz group NOMA hits a home run with Diversion. Tom Walsh has absorbed Ornette Coleman’s Harmolodic concept, synthesized it with a dizzying array of sound art gestures, and produced a recording of compelling resonance. The coloristic brilliance of prepared guitar by Rainer Wiens, the funk-solid electric bass of Alan Baculis, the earthy feel of drummers Francois Chauvette, Thom Gossage and Pierre Tanguay, all coalesce in music that is ethereal and butt-shaking, abstract yet visceral. Forget New York, Chicago, London, Amsterdam; Montréal’s NOMA makes music so unapologetically direct, conceptually articulate, sonically rich that its boldness demands global musical and critical acknowledgement. A 32 track CD, Diversion, recorded live in Montréal and at Toronto’s Music Gallery, ranges from the koto-like Ouvert Tour to the dynamic Conversation, by turns subtle and stark, lyrical and acidic, funky and swinging. Walsh’s visionary approach has yet to garner him the worldwide acclaim a NYC-based artist would long ago have achieved, but dauntless, he has, in true Canadian fashion, persisted, making a highly personal music in his brilliantly idiosyncratic way.
Tom Walsh has reconstituted NOMA in the dozen years since the group’s first recording. For one thing, it’s no longer a Toronto-Montréal band, but is composed of all Montréal musicians. NOMA is really a double trio of Guy Kaye (guitar), Al Baculis (electric bass), and Thom Gossage (drums) on what Walsh calls “côté cour.” They are the funk side. The jazz-actuelle side, “côté jardin,” is comprised of Rainer Wiens (prepared guitar), Normand Guilbeault (contrebasse), and Pierre Tanguay (drums). Walsh stands in the middle, directs, adds samples, and plays trombone. The music is set on 32 tracks over 61 minutes, and it ranges from very actuelle noodlings to dense funk, to crackling soundscapes, to fairly straight up jazz. Which is to say that Walsh gets a lot out of his musicians. The nice thing is that it all sounds part of a whole, with a general movement from the abstract to the concrete as the music moves along.
Le tromboniste Tom Walsh est un musicien éminemment éclectique qui collabore régulièrement avec les meilleurs musiciens du circuit actuel de Montréal et d’ailleurs. Son projet NOMA présente une nouvelle incarnation presque à chaque nouvelle apparition et l’on est heureux qu’un témoin nous soit resté de celle-ci. Avec deux guitares (Guy Kaye, Rainer Wiens), deux basses (Alan Baculis, Normand Guilbeault) et deux batteries (François Chauvette, Thom Gossage) pour l’accompagner dans ces enregistrements en concert (à la Sala Rossa et à la Music Gallery), Walsh reste tout de même un soliste relativement discret qui a le bon goût de laisser respirer sa musique à travers le jeu sans faille de ses accompagnateurs. Très belle prise de son qui révèle la richesse de l’ensemble.
Monday, November 17, 2003 / New releases