June 2005

Glen Hall Trio
June 25, 2005NFB TheatreToronto
Report by David Fujino with Photo by Barry Thomson
On this Saturday night at the NFB theatre, Glen Hall offered us a very different musical landscape.

Instead of an assaultive approach to free jazz, these musicians went 'inside' the music to explore group inter-dynamics, quiet and lower sounds ("Rooster Steps") and yes the expanding and contracting of time ("Theorem").

Glen Hall (Photograph — © Barry Thomson)

Speaking in a lightly sardonic manner, Hall was quick to point out that the group's name is not the Glen Hall Trio. It's Trio Muo. (Muo is from the Greeks. It means closed eyes and a closed mouth that speaks no words as a person goes on an inner journey.) So as these musicians go inside, then with each other, maybe they can connect with the audience, Hall said.

But since this is music, and not philosophy, let's note that these conceptually advanced gentlemen play with a very mellow sound. Drummer Joe Sorbara, an active presence in Toronto's free improvising community, drew sympathetic music from all parts of his drum kit as he supported and interacted with the group's flowing creativity. 'Clear and intelligently probing' describes Glen Hall's soprano sax, flute and tenor playing. And in the case of bassist Michael Morse, a sweet tone and attractive clarity of mind distinguished his playing throughout the concert.

The core influence of this music is, above all, Thelonious Monk, Hall stated, as well as players like the pioneer avant-garde trombonist Roswell Rudd and the composer/keyboard player Carla Bley.

This is not music which grabs an audience by the collar. It needs an open and cooperative audience that can find its place in this music, a music detailed in its explorations and unhurried in its process.

As for Glen Hall's repeated praise of the visual projections behind the band — there was a video camera, two large monitors and two computers being played by the technician Theo — I'm afraid it still looked like an uninspired psychedelic light show to these eyes. (I never really cared for light shows that much 'back in the day', and on this particular night, I noticed that I preferred to close my eyes when listening to the music. Perhaps some things never change. It's still, after all, 'all about the music.')

The trio concluded with three great tunes: Monk's "Friday the 13th", the ballad "Peace" by Ornette Coleman, and "Captain Korn" by Carla Bley.

We were not whipped into a frenzy this night. We left with a quiet appreciation for musicians who are striving to hear into the core of music.

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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