The New & Avant-garde Music Store

Review

Tom Sekowski, The WholeNote, no. 12:6, March 1, 2007

As a cross-Atlantic outfit — Lori Freedman is based in Montréal, Marilyn Lerner in Toronto and Ig Henneman in Amsterdam — Queen Mab Trio has a world of new music mastered at their fingertips. Through their last few releases, they’ve wavered between chamber music, improvised styling and dashes of jazz. They’re never content to be shuffled into one given category, which makes each new release a surprise for the listener. At the beginning of every record, we ask ourselves, just what musical style will the group head into? So, here we are, at the first piece of their latest release. As I’m listening to the title track, I’m under an impression they’re hovering heavily over new music territory. Freedman’s well placed clarinet blows are interspersed with Henneman’s ear-friendly viola dabbling that are then wrapped up with occasional ivory strokes from Lerner. But then, wait, as I re-listen to the piece, it’s more on the improvised scheme. Well, yes – all three members have writing credits on the track. Something is up. I listen to the piece a few more times and at every turn I’m surprised at how easily they shift between styles. They’re like a sly fox who’s trying to outrun a wolf. Throughout the record, they take sudden shifts in direction at least half a dozen times. Every time this happens, you’re left with a question mark smack in front of your face. Is theirs an exercise in confusion or are they deliberately playing every imaginable style of sound they can get their hands on? Regardless, interplay with each other is marvellously stated. From the crow-like clarinet guffaws, through to the pointed viola clicks, through to the understated piano caresses, these women are working on a higher plane in terms of communication. With such superlative means of communication at work, it’s a shame the record is a mere 43 minutes long. I could listen to what Thin Air offers for hours on end.

I could listen to what Thin Air offers for hours on end.

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