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Season Review part 2

And we're back: February was grant time, happily interrupted by The Sum of its Parts time. This concert was memorable for its ease. Sometimes improvising together is a challenge, with compositional, personal or even political problems that need to be addressed and overcome. This is part of the fun of collaboration, and we welcome it. But sometimes there is a synergy that can’t be denied. The Sum was one of those shows. Working with Tim Crofts, is something I always welcome, he is a committed and completely dedicated musician, throw him into the mix with Rob Power, whose virtuosity you almost take for granted, he’s so laid back, and Paul Bendzsa whose joy in music making is so infectious. Well you’ve got a good show! And we did.

The Western Front, Vancouve

March brought more grant writing and the big tour! suddenlyLISTEN was fortunate to get funding from Canada Council to travel to Toronto, Victoria and Vancouver for concerts. The trio was Lee Pui Ming, Erin Donovan, and me, and the project was years in the making! Like maybe 3 years, from first hunting for gigs, to actually showing up to play? Lots anyway….The trio was a classic one, originated in 2004, and continued in the 10th Anniversary Season.

The trip was amazing, a web of flawed, (and perfect!) organization, music, old friends (lots of them), and extended family. And travel: The ferry ride to Vancouver Island was awesome, as always. The concerts were challenging, and well received by presenters and audience alike. I got to know Vancouver a bit as well, using our van to drop, off, pick up, deliver and discover!

Lee Pui Ming in Vancouver

And it was amazing to get to play together 3 times, we could continue our work from the night before, it’s so rare. Thanks to Open Space in Victoria, The Western Front in Vancouver and Gallery 345 in Toronto, as well as our various hosts in each place, and of course, The Canada Council for the Arts.

Then we had a little blast of Open Source concerts at 1313 Hollis. First, Arthur Bull and the Liona Boyz, shared a show. Arthur and I are working on a Charlie Parker project, using his music to inform our improvisations. Arthur is a gift to our scene here in Halifax. His music is strong and pure and his spirit is inclusive and infectious! We paired up with Liona Boyz, my new band with D’Arcy Gray and Geordie Haley, (the 2 most fun, and most musical guys in town). LB is into paraphrasing Canadian pop music in our improvisations, lots of little snippets of Neil Young and Feist are heard as we play. It’s a fun and challenging project. Watch for a recording in the fall.

Open Source 4 featured Allison Cameron on a Circuit tour. Allison is an old friend of suddenlyLISTEN and we love to have her truly original music making in our shows! She was joined by some of my favourite locals, led by David Barteaux, one of Halifax’s most senior and most unheralded creative musicians. And when I say creative I mean it! He makes instruments out of bits of plastic, little tone generators, and simple but inventive processing. I’m a big fan. Andrew Jackson also played, he’s a young trombonist from the jazz tradition, that has attended our workshop several times, and really gets this music. He’s free, and fearless. And happily, John DS Adams was there, my brother, and collaborator made his debut as a Nova Scotian artist, recently moving from Alberta. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be at this concert….that’s what you get for having a day job as a cello player…..

Arthur Bull and Bob Vespaziani at 1313

Later in April, Arthur returned to Open Source, this time with Bob Vespaziani, playing percussion and effects. It was a great duo, on tour with Circuit once again.

A little Circuit sidetrack------This grassroots organization is proving itself to be a real resource for creative musicians looking for a tour of little shows across the country. More and more, artists are using Circuit to get their tours rolling. I can’t wait to land on e of those tours myself! If you’re interested in throwing your hat into the grant ring, let me know and I’ll tell you how!

Back to Arthur: He made the show part of the last meeting of the workshop, so several participants joined in with Bob and Arthur, including Tena Palmer, who you’ll hear next winter on the Main Series. It was a nice way to close the season for our workshop, and a nice concert to listen to!

Speaking of the workshop: It is really the biggest thing we do, reaching out to the public every other week, to open their ears and make music together. It’s what suddenlyLISTEN is all about, and we love this group of musical people! There are a few that come and go, and a few that have been there every meeting, for many years. Their dedication inspires Tim and me to show up on Monday nights, through the year. I encourage you to give it a try. The music we make is really beautiful and the people are warm and welcoming!

Then we entered the final stretch: Christine and DB came to town! This was a great few days of fun: producing and listening to Stall, at the Maritime Conservatory (picture 20 people crammed into the girl’s bathroom!) Then Christine and DB led a creative singing workshop for 10 courageous people, including me. That was fun and challenging for sure, exploring different ways to use our voices and to free up that instrument that all of us own, but hardly ever get out of the case! And finally the piece de resistance: Vox Latrina. This was another example of true music making. It had all the pieces we need: freedom, listening, dynamics, laughter, technical mishaps, weird sounds, beautiful sounds, duos, trios and quartets. And of course an audience. It was a memorable show for sure.

They all are really. The beauty of what I get to do is assemble what I imagine to be compatible musicians together, and see what comes out, it’s the literal realization of my imagination! So, I get to compare what I imagined the sounds might be, with what they turn out to be. And I spend a lot of time imagining who I’d like to bring here, who from Halifax might work well with the guest, and who might want to attend the concert. It’s a great privilege.

A privilege I’d like to continue for as long as possible! Which brings me to you: What makes you come to a suddenlyLISTEN concert, or just decide to stay home? Why do you enjoy this music? When don’t you enjoy it? How do you think we can tell more people about the music that we enjoy? Do you think there are more people out there who might enjoy it, who haven’t tried listening to, or playing it yet?

I welcome your comments. See you in the fall, and keep your eyes peeled for more posts from me over the summer.

Jun 14, 2012 at 12:12

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