July 2007

Music (in) Galleries
presented by AIMToronto
July 14, 2007 17 Galleries along Queen Street West Toronto
From Trinity Bellwoods Park to Gladstone Avenue
by David Fujino
In another imaginative bit of programming from the members of AIMToronto (Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto), audiences got treated to 17 overlapping sets of creative improvised music in 17 art galleries on this Saturday afternoon.

Music (in) Galleries was a cool version of a gallery crawl, with audiences walking westward on Queen Street West from art gallery to art gallery, in this case, to hear creative improvised music. A number of us sampled and hopped about from gallery to gallery, while a few stayed in a gallery to hear a musician out.

Here's 11 snapshots of the music I heard.

Gallery 1 – It all started off at 880 Queen Street West, Launsberg Contemporary, at 2 pm, where Parmela Attariwala (violin) and Ben Grossman (hurdy gurdy) swapped and synchronized sheets of overtones, reversed lead and harmony roles, and calmly developed an empathetic and ultimately harmonious music.

Gallery 2 Angell Gallery, 890 Queen Street West. Nick Buligan on silver fluegelhorn and Tilman Lewis on bowed cello took a reflective, simple sounds approach to their music making. Lewis was highly active, percussive, and even scratchy; Buligan played the sweet spots and breathed in and breathed out on his horn.

Gallery 3 – Nilan Perera was seated, blasting away on electric guitar, pedals and electronic gear spread out on the floor of this basement level gallery, New Gallery, situated at 906 Queen Street West. Perera projected a self-contained electronic sound universe in which rock, ambient, jazz, and new music, rub against the noise in life, loudly.

Gallery 4 – Christopher Cauley (soprano sax) and Joe Sorbara (percussion) faced each other on a slightly raised platform against a large and luminous video backdrop at MOCCA, 954 Queen Street West. All the time, Sorbara firmly related his tom-tom and cymbal sounds to Cauley's hard-blowing, cyclical statements.

Gallery 6Paul Petro Multiples & Small Works, 962 Queen Street West, had Ken Aldcroft seated by himself in the small space, playing electric guitar. I felt then and I felt afterwards that Aldcroft was one of the highlights. Frankly, his extended sounds were sometimes brittle and downright unattractive, but he always played the core of the music. In the case of a Monk tune, he whammed away on the end notes, nice and appropriately dissonant. His playing was uncompromising.

Gallery 7 – Anne Bourne (cello and voice) and Matt Brubeck (cello) droned and oscillated and Germaine Liu (percussion) counter-rhythmed on small cymbals placed on the floor of Propeller, 984 Queen Street West. Anne Bourne sang/chanted in this modal world while bowing her cello; cellist Brubeck was a felt presence.

Gallery 8 – Two voice artists — Toronto's Christine Duncan and Vancouver's DB Boyko — delivered a visual and theatrical performance at the Ontario Craft Council, 990 Queen Street West. It was like stepping right into the middle of an actor's scene in progress. DB Boyko occasionally emitted twittering sounds from her largely impassive and controlled face in reaction to Christine Duncan who was slightly bent forward from the waist and supplying a series of near-taunting drones. It was a highly watchable sound performance.

Gallery 9Gallery TPW, 56 Ossington Avenue, featured a robust tenor sax (Paul Newman) in duet with a mobile yet grounded acoustic bass (Michael Herring). Think Jimmy Garrison with Coltrane.

Gallery 10 – I arrived at Xpace at 58 Ossington Avenue to hear Kyle Brenders' rugged tenor sax winding down to keyboardist John Kameel Farah's high twinkling notes hanging in the air.

Gallery 15Engine Gallery, 1112 Queen Street West, hosted a finely interactive trio of Rob Piilonen leading and pushing on flute, Wes Neal fluently sympathetic on bass, and Tiina Kiik on accordion, deftly filling in the spaces and emitting occasional high drones.

Gallery 16Loop Gallery, 1174 Queen Street West. The relentless, biting line of John Oswald on alto was paired with Ronda Rindone's screechy provocations on bass clarinet. In an interesting bit of theatre, the seated Rindone turned her back to Oswald and even moved further away from him, all the while responding and taunting on her bass clarinet. Near the end, the two players filled the gallery with the sounds of a conference of birds.

The concept of Music (in) Galleries was recently explained to me by the trombonist, Scott Thomson: He said it was a representation of all the music you can't hear if it's playing in all the galleries. I loved it.

I'm glad I got to hear so many of Toronto's finest creative improvisors.

Thanks to all the improvisors and the galleries. I definitely hope there's a 3rd year for Music (in) Galleries.

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We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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