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Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, October 30, 2009

Tim Brady is perhaps the most ambitious guitarist and composer to emerge from Canada over the past couple of decades. He rarely seems to be tied to any one category like jazz, classical or progressive rock, although his music involves all of those and more. This double disc (CD+DVD) set is Tim’s most ambitious work yet. My 20th Century features two ensembles: Bradyworks (el. guitar, piano, saxes, sampler & percussion) and the Quatuor Molinari (string quartet) plus video. This work is broken into four parts, each one an homage to an certain artist. Strumming (for John Lennon)> is first and it was inspired by the John Kennedy assassination, the arrival of the Beatles and the way TV brought the world together for these monumental events. The piece features multiple electric guitars and a looped video image. I dig the way a melody and then some guitar noise is trying to break through the multiple layers of strumming. Each of the various layers of guitar parts evokes different ways the electric guitar effects our lives. Traces (for Charlie Christian) was inspired by a famous early jazz guitar solo (Solo Flight from 1941), in which Mr. Christian joined Benny Goodman on stage at Carnegie Hall, thus breaking down racial barriers. This piece features Bradyworks, Tim’s working quintet, and it is a deconstruction of Mr. Christian’s solo. I like the way that this work turns the original melody inside out, so we hear it in different ways, speeding it up and slowing it down in places. Hommage à Rosa Luxemburg was inspired by a painting by Jean-Paul Riopelle, “a work obsessed with ghostly images of birds and nature”. This piece features the Quatuor Molinari string quartet and samples of the casino where the painting was hung. It is long and consistently fascinating with slowly swirling layers of strings punctuated by selective samples. The final piece is called Double Quartet and it does indeed feature both groups. It is dedicated to the composer Dmitri Shostakovich and was inspired by the composers’s long life in Russia under various regimes and the great music that he composed. This piece is the most ambitious yet and is about 30 minutes long, broken into three sections. As I listen to this piece for the third time in 2 days, I am still amazed by the many things involved: Zappa-like quirky writing, tight inter-connected lines moving together and around one another like with the precision of a successful train schedule (not NJ Transit). The video DVD provides another source of stimulation to be dealt with and again it takes time to absorb the many different ideas involved. A great deal of preparation and work obviously went into wonderful double disc set, so please take the time seriously study this grand work. It will be well worth it, I can assure you.

Tim Brady is perhaps the most ambitious guitarist and composer to emerge from Canada over the past couple of decades.