Residence: Ontario (Canada)
- Performer (tenor saxophone)
On the web
Glen Hall, Exclaim!, April 12, 2011
Glen Hall, Exclaim!, February 1, 2011This is a highly individualistic take on ambient music that’s rewardingly listenable.
Glen Hall, Exclaim!, April 1, 2009Quatuor Bozzini play every note with microscopic attention to detail and nuance, making even the smallest gesture contribute to this finely faceted gem.
Glen Hall, Exclaim!, March 1, 2009Breathtakingly audacious, yes
It takes bravery to take on the music of late composer/soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy. Musicians must study his syntax, melodic contours and rhythmic nooks and crannies if they hope to gain even a tenuous foothold in this most daunting landscape. And The Rent, a fearless five-some, do more than just a quick touristic jaunt through of Lacy’s œuvre; they damn well inhabit the stuff. From the opening strains of Prospectus, one of the most familiar of the composer’s pieces, the group rip it up, with vocalist Susanna Hood leading the charge. Hood makes much of Jack’s Blues, with lyrics by Robert Creeley. Not surprisingly, The Rent play The Rent with feeling, with saxist Kyle Brenders digging deep for a multi-directional solo and trombonist Scott Thomson contributing a gutsy, full-toned “rebuttal.” Exceptional are drummer Nick Fraser and bassist Wes Neal, who keep the highly intellectual material solidly grounded. The Rent can feel that their time and dedication to Lacy’s music have been well invested.
Montréal-based trio Pink Saliva produce music that’s at once intensely deep and readily accessible. Accessible because drummer Michel F Côté lays down earthy rhythmic patterns that sound beamed to the planet through a reverb-y, distant mix. Intensely deep because trumpeter Elwood Epps (aka Gordon Allen) puts so much passion and focus into each and every sound, from kissing lip smacks to achingly beautiful single notes, suspended over the insistent thrumming of Alexandre St-Onge on either bass or laptop. All the musicians are technically ultra-adept, but you won’t find displays of ego or pyrotechnic showing-off. Mood and atmosphere are carefully created and sustained with attention to sonic salience. Amour, Amour, Amour begins with a lo-fi, rubbery vamp opening into a vulnerable trumpet cry that just stops dramatically. Eros Turannos features loose lips and cracking Harmon mute split tones and a reaching bass solo over multivalent drum motifs. This is a highly individualistic take on ambient music that’s rewardingly listenable.
Although he was born, and died, an American, composer/theorist James Tenney earned a warm spot in Canada’s musical psyche for his tenure as a professor at Toronto’s York University. And it is a motivating mix of affection and respect that moved Montréal-based string quartet Quatuor Bozzini to produce this reverently mounted two-CD collection of Tenney’s entire work of quartet/quintet pieces. Spanning five decades, Arbor Vitæ includes the piece of the same name composed in 2006, the last year of Tenney’s life, an ethereal waving and weaving of microtones, the mid-period Saxony, using tape delay and an extended tamboura-like drone’s unfurling, and early work String Quartet in One Movement from 1955. The foursome grow to a quintet with the addition of percussionist Rick Sacks on 1995’s Cognate Canons and 1997’s Diaphonic Study includes ever-expansive pianist Eve Egoyan. Quatuor Bozzini play every note with microscopic attention to detail and nuance, making even the smallest gesture contribute to this finely faceted gem. But one drawback is Tenney’s penchant for homage, which can be derivative, sometimes of sources other than the composer being honoured. This music is cerebral, no doubt about it, but with the likes of former premier Mike Harris itching to exert an anti-intellectual influence, maybe some grey cell stimulation is just what we need.
It’s common for young musicians to do projects of music by their heroes just to pick up the vibe and, maybe, some reflected validation. But saxophonist Kyle Brenders takes this gambit to a whole other level by recording compositions by his mentor, modernist visionary Anthony Braxton, with the man himself. Breathtakingly audacious, yes, but when listening to this 93-minute, two-CD release it becomes apparent that the twosome are technically well-matched. This balanced pairing perform two of Braxton’s uniquely imaginative pieces with energy, precision and creativity. Long composed parts are executed with vigour, yielding to improvised sections that flow logically from the preceding notated materials. And it’s the improv sections where Brenders shows he is thoroughly equipped to lock horns with the master on his turf and at his level. By turns, the pair act as foils/accompanists for one another, finishing phrases and inspiring and/or goading each other to further heights. Recommended.