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At Rosedale United The Element Choir

Splendid and genius, nothing less! Monsieur Délire, Québec

It’s an ambitious and well-realized project. Musicworks, Canada

This recording features Christine Duncan’s extraordinary 50-voice improvising ensemble, The Element Choir, in collaboration with Jesse Zubot, violin; Jim Lewis, trumpet; Jean Martin, percussion; and Eric Robertson, playing the church’s beautiful Cassavent pipe organ at Rosedale United.

I’ve watched The Element Choir grow into the wonderful paradox that it embodies on this record. It is both a ragged multiplicity — its membership reflects extreme differences of age, history, style, and education (just like that of any community) — and a remarkable unity under Christine Duncan’s singular leadership and conduction skills. Insofar as the Choir coheres into a single thing, though, it amounts to one of the five personalities who create this ostensibly small-group and — let it not be forgotten — freely improvised music: Duncan (Choir), Lewis, Martin, Robertson, and Zubot. They possess the musicality, playfulness, and restraint to allow these unique and, in the most sublime moments, overwhelming sound resources (not only instruments and voices, but also the space itself) to be harnessed and channeled into a tangible feeling of wonder. This is very literally a wonderful record. — Scott Thomson, January 2010

At Rosedale United

The Element Choir

Christine Duncan, Jean Martin, Jim Lewis

In the press

  • François Couture, Monsieur Délire, July 13, 2010
    Splendid and genius, nothing less!
  • Stuart Broomer, Musicworks, no. 107, June 21, 2010
    It’s an ambitious and well-realized project.

Listening Diary

François Couture, Monsieur Délire, July 13, 2010

Splendid and genius, nothing less! Starting with a quintet of improvisers in a church setting is nice. When Christine Duncan (voice) and Jean Martin (drums) of Barnyard Drama are a part of it, it’s already better. When Jesse Zubot (violonist in Fond of Tigers and for Tanya Tagaq) is in too, it’s even better. Add in trumpeter Jim Lewis and, most of all, Eric Robertson on the church’s Casavant pipe organ, and you get something truly special. But are you ready for what REALLY sets At Rosedale United apart? A 51-piece improvising choir! This CD documents two sessions. Each opens with a short quintet introduction, followed by three long movements with choir, a choir that answers beck and call to Duncan’s directions. It’s more than beautiful, it’s majestic, grand, and utterly moving. A little more of that and I might just start going to church again, Very strongly recommended to fans of free improvisation, vocal music, or simply music that will move you to the core.

Splendid and genius, nothing less!

Review

Stuart Broomer, Musicworks, no. 107, June 21, 2010
It’s an ambitious and well-realized project.

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