November 2007

416 Toronto Creative Improvisors Festival – day 1
November 13, 2007 The Tranzac Club Toronto
A report by David Fujino with photos by Mike Colyer

Nobuo Kubota — solo voice

His slow breath intakes, the half-comical chant, the fun syllables, and an inventive, conversational shaping of sounds and deep-gut emotions suitably impressed some of the audience at The Tranzac there to enjoy Nobby Kubota's solo voice performance.

Kubota was ideal as the kick-off artist for this November 13th installment of the 416 Toronto Creative Improvisors Festival because of his appropriately crossover artistic identity — he's been an architect, visual artist, sculptor, past teacher at OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design), installation artist, and a saxophonist with the Artists Jazz Band — and now for more than 10 years, he's expanded further into solo voice performances where he offers a searching, entertaining, risky, and personal approach to sound making.

You might think Kubota's moment-by-moment voice work is mostly about process, but realistically, it's about coming up with an artistic product, or in this case, coming up with yet another individualistic, improvised, and whole performance.

Sarah Peebles — sho David Sait — guzheng

Subtle movements in pitch and tone colour characterized the sound of this quiet unannounced set.

David Sait's stringed guzheng was an arpeggiated stream that intersected with the eery sliding pitch of Peebles' blown multi-reed mouth organ, the Japanese sho; together, this duo brought chamber music intimacy to the listening space.


Drumheller played a loose set of their own (autumnal) compositions.

Brodie West's "Calypso" was built around a gentle bass and drum pulse that was then danced out by the flat roll of Nick Fraser's snare drum; the melody itself was sung and bent into lyrically imprecise pitches by altoist West, and led to — believe it or not — the impressive backwards motion of Eric Chenaux's distinctive soloing guitar. Meanwhile, trombonist Doug Tielli played effectively in the high keening register throughout the set's three tunes and Rob Clutton's patterned pizzicato lines kept the audience listening.

By the way, these guys weren't loud, but their music was effective and personal.

Brodie West — alto sax
Doug Tielli — trombone
Eric Chenaux — guitar
Rob Clutton — acoustic bass
Nick Fraser — drums

The Selfish Gene: Structured Improvisation for Ensemble (Sarah Peebles)

The conductor, Rob Piilonen, held up a Cue Card with a number on it. He explained that he'd be holding up various cue cards for the ensemble to play.

Piilonen also said, "This piece tonight is about 'process'", and to illustrate the wide range of outcomes that are possible, he then conducted the ensemble in two versions of The Selfish Gene ...

While the second version was leaner and simpler in form, the first version was a slow moving, growing sound curtain where a horn occasionally peeked out from the group sound and the string basses maintained a multi-note phrase.

The ensemble's playing, come to think of it, exemplified some of the key musical attitudes of free improvising musicians: the value of process over a finished product; the shifting focus between the self and the group; and the experience of freedom as balanced out by limitations and directions.

The Ensemble:
Conductor, Rob Piilonen
Rob Piilonen — flute
Jon Bakan — alto sax
Paul Newman — alto sax
Nick Buligan — trumpet
Nicole Rampersaud — trumpet
Arnd Jurgenson — guitar
Tilman Lewis — cello
Aaron Lumley — bass
Michael-Owen Liston — bass

Nobuo Kubota

Sarah Peebles

Brodie West

Eric Chenaux
We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
• • • • • •
Mike Colyer
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The Live Music Report

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