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Hold True (Accroche-toi) Vertical Squirrels

Just beautiful. Vital, Netherlands

i Vertical Squirrels sono tra le cose più piacevoli ascoltate di recente in ambiti (avant?) rock-jazz. Blow Up, Italy

Like the music they play, the Vertical Squirrels came together through a mixture of chance and perseverance. Long-time collaborators in and outside the academy (in projects musical and non- musical), Daniel Fischlin, Ajay Heble, and Lewis Melville started officially playing together as a group upon the arrival in Guelph of drummer/percussionist Rob Wallace, in 2008. Starting partially as an informal outlet to get Heble back into playing piano after years of curating the Guelph Jazz Festival (but rarely performing himself), the Vertical Squirrels quickly morphed into a recording and gigging band focused on their distinctive brand of in-the-moment improvisation. They bring together years of diverse individual musical experiences, a sense of humor and friendship to their playing, and a deep commitment to multiple forms of sonic expression and freedom.

Hold True (Accroche-toi)

Vertical Squirrels

Lewis Melville, Ajay Heble, Rob Wallace

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In the press

Review

Dolf Mulder, Vital, no. 795, August 29, 2011

These four new releases from Ambiances Magnetiques and the Malasartes sub label introduce works from relatively new as well as well-known musicians. The CDs of Vertical Squirrels and Irem Bekter satisfied me most. But not only because their names are new to me. Vertical Squirrels is a quartet consisting of Ajay Heble (piano, melodica, percussion), Daniel Fischlin (guitars, effects, percussion, flute, provencale), Lewis Melville (bass, baritone, banjo bass, percussion, radio frequencies, grand organ) and Rob Wallace (drums, percussion, vocals). They are on the road since 2008. All four gathered lots of experience in all corners. Combined in this line up this proves to be a fruitful combination. Very diverse, and fresh music is the result. All pieces originate from collective improvisations but are very diverse, with a fine sense of humor. The cd opens with a grooving piece Spunk in your Funk which is great fun. In contrast the next piece is a very open improvisation abstracting from beat, rhythm, etc. Also the pieces that follow are free exercises of somehow rock-based improvisations. Danse des araignées mécaniques opens with a fine solo by Heble on what seems a self-prepared piano. La mnémologie / Amnesiaville is a delicious free rock jam. Pierre Labbé also incorporates many influences in his new work. He tries the bigband-format for his new cd. For this ambitious project Labbé composed a suite of contemporary music and avant-jazz and rock, performed by a 13-piece big band, in a way that reminds me sometimes of the belgian Flat Earth Society. Labbé is known for his work with Les Projectionnistes, L’Orkestre des pas perdus and Papa Boa, a band who sadly made only one cd. Also under his own name you can find some releases. The opening track plays with bluesy and funky motives. Further on Labbé touches on many other styles and idioms. Although I often enjoy a playful style of composing and arranging as Labbé is practicing here, this time it failed to impress me. That brings us to another one from the trio Derome-Guilbeault-Tanguay. Their first release contained music composed by Derome only. The second one contained old standards for the most part. On their new one we have a balance between standards and compositions by Derome. Besides five compositions from Derome, they interpret compositions by jazz giants as Ellington, Kirk, Dolphy, Strayhorn and Mengelberg. So it’s an exercise as we have heard earlier form this trio. Another celebration of their love for jazz. It will surely appeal to those we are into jazz. Ah yes, it has Derome singing in one track, I’m Checking Ou’t, good bye. Singing in all tracks, is what Irem Bekter is doing on her Primero by the Irem Bekter Quintet. Singer, dancer and actress Bekter was born in Istanbul and grew up in England. She feels very attracted to Argentine folklore, especially the “zapateo” (Argentinian podorythmy) and folk dances. Since 2003, Montréal is the place to be for her. With Montréal-based musicians she started to explore traditional Argentine folklore fruitfully combined with classical and jazzy influences. First results are reflected on this CD. Just beautiful.

Just beautiful.

Altrisuoni

Stefano Isidoro Bianchi, Blow Up, no. 156, May 1, 2011

Un sincopato ritmo jazz e una chitarra che fa pensare al Ribot waitsiano; è (Put Some) Spunk in Your Funk, pezzo d’apertura dell’album dei canadesi Vertical Squirrels, Ajay Heble (piano, melodica, percussioni), Daniel Fischlin (chitarra, flauto provenzale), Lewis Melville (basso, banjo, radio frequenze) e Rob Wallace (batteria e vocalizzi). Ma è solo una delle mille indicazioni fornite da un disco che poi si dimena alla ricerca di onomatopee da veri scoiattoli verticali (Nomads, Sparrows & Machines) e veri ragni meccanici (Danse des araignées mécaniques), si sbilancia recuperando il Davis elettrico in versione notturna e flessuosa (l’ottima ¡Ah/Ha!), snocciola un talkin’ free (L’impatience des poissons), sfiora la psichedelia etnofolkie (Leaps Of Faith), si abbandona a romanticismi classicheggianti (La mnémologie / Amnesiaville) e dolcezze da rock ballad d’altri tempi (Resurrectiong The Good). Il gusto del puro suono che scorre coi freni mai troppo tirati è la via di un’interazione perfetta tra strumenti evidentemente guidati dal piano ma mai comprimari: appena un po’ barocchi, ironici, curiosi, affabili, intelligenti, abili, disincantati, rilassati ma non svagati, i Vertical Squirrels sono tra le cose più piacevoli ascoltate di recente in ambiti (avant?) rock-jazz.

i Vertical Squirrels sono tra le cose più piacevoli ascoltate di recente in ambiti (avant?) rock-jazz.

Music Reviews

Lawrence Joseph, Montreal Mirror, March 10, 2011

The Squirrels gnaw out a unique brand of in-the-moment improvisation on this debut CD. Based in Guelph, ON, these multi-instrumentalists’ wide tonal palette is held together by trance-like, chim­ing percussion from Rob Wallace. ¡Ah/Ha! could be a long-lost late-’60s Can track, while Leaps of Faith reveals a Fripp influence from guitarist Daniel Fischlin and Amnesiaville exhibits the free-jazz tendencies of pianist Ajay Heble. Despite these recognizable roots, Hold True is an unclassifiable blast of fresh air. 9/10

Despite these recognizable roots, Hold True is an unclassifiable blast of fresh air. 9/10

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