Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Recording: Adam Rudolph & Go: Organic Toronto Orchestra

Artist: Adam Rudolph & Go: Organic Toronto Orchestra

Songs: [two excerpts]

Recorded at The Music Gallery, January 23, 2016.

Adam Rudolph & Go: Organic Toronto Orchestra - [set 1, 1st piece] [excerpt]

Adam Rudolph & Go: Organic Toronto Orchestra - [set 2, 3rd piece] [excerpt]

Adam Rudolph is a master percussionist who has worked with many luminaries, including Yusef Lateef. But this visit to the Music Gallery saw him working as teacher and conductor to a large-format ensemble1 brought together to get an intensive grounding in his musical philosophy and methods. Speaking to Nilan Perera before the show, he described the project as "a 21st century idea of what an orchestra could be", designed to create room for "mi", a word of the Dogon people of Mali that expresses how the inner voice of a musician can be brought forth in the music they play — very much the contrary of the image of the ensemble player in European "classical" music whose function is to remove themselves to express the composer's ideas. (He also spoke of African-American call-and-response as one of his foundational musical experiences, which was a revealing lens on the night's music.)

Conducting solves what's often the biggest problem of large-group improvisation: finding a shape and knowing when to stop. The most visible aspect of several days' work with the crew of local musicians was his use of elaborate hand signals and vivid body language — he was the most animated conductor I've seen leading an ensemble since Gergiev. Obviously, there was a lot more going on under the surface in terms of how his compositions created a structure but left lots of room for indeterminacy. The upshot of all of this was a group whose textures ranged widely — from the more formally-arranged sounds of the short first extract here that wouldn't sound out of place at a typical "New Music" concert to the free-spirited blaxploitaion big-band improv of the second, which showed how this large group could nimbly stop-and-start on a dime. Really quite wonderful stuff. This played to a full house at the Music Gallery, where it looked like many people were attracted by Rudolph's involvement. Here's hoping some in the crowd will be inspired to seek out some more from the local participants who can be found joyfully improvising in the city's creative music scenes.

1 The ensemble was as follows:

  • Vocals : Tova Kardonne, Zoe Alexis-Abrams
  • Horns: Lina Allemano, Heather Segger, Jay Hay, Karen Ng
  • Strings: Ilana Walniuk, Aline Homzy, Araz Salek, Rob Clutton
  • Drumkit/percussion: Joe Sorbara
  • Hand percussion Raphael Roter, Rakesh Tewari
  • Keys: Simeon Abbott
  • Turntables/Electronics: SlowPitchSound
  • Guitar: Luan Phung

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