March 2008

The Tiny Alligator Large Band
March 26, 2008 Tranzac Club Toronto
A band within a band
by David Fujino with photos by Roger Humbert
Caitlin Smith's sophisticated mix-and-match style of music was realized beautifully the other night at the Tranzac Club by the 17-piece ensemble, The Tiny Alligator Large Band.

With its depth of brasswinds, doubled woodwinds, and even a bassoon! the band sang with the appealing sonority of a sleek classical wind ensemble.

An ensemble which could, at will, play like an intimate woodwind trio, or come out roaring, as in the pert "Sugar Cube", where singer Jennifer Ryan's blunt dramatics kept reminding us of a wry boulevardier.

Composer Smith also had the plus factor of volatile jazz soloists to work with. Among them were trumpeter Kevin Turcotte and saxophonists David French and Andy Ballantyne. Powered by a crack rhythm section of piano, bass and drums, these soloists invigorated the occasionally cautious mind of Smith's music. In the Brahms-like melody, "Lullaby for Me", Adrean Farrugia's poised piano intro set up David French's pouring soprano solo perfectly, while "Prelude", with its bright brass chorale and unison undertow of trombones and woodwinds, seemed to take an optimistic, yet guarded view about the return of spring.

But Smith's taste for the sounds and sentiments of alt-pop weren't neglected, either; in particular, Andrew Byrd's lyrics — "it hit me like an act of God", and its refrain, "Today was supposed to be just another day" — hit all the right notes, and a knowing Jennifer Ryan sang away to the song's rolling boogie and its "Lady Madonna" feel.

Caitlin Smith
And although the other featured singer, Kristin Mueller-Heaslip, sang only briefly in the 3-part "Goat Songs", the soprano returned after Intermission to interpret a Bertolt Brecht poem with emotional depth and world-weary dignity.

In what amounted to a farewell concert, Caitlin Smith led her ensemble through most of its repertoire this evening, for she's leaving Toronto soon to pursue private musical studies in New York.

We look forward to hearing where her music next takes her.

Caitlin Smith conducting
The Tiny Alligator Large Band
The Tiny Alligator Large Band
Caitlin Smith — composer/conductor

Adrean Farrugia — piano
Scott Kemp — bass
Anthony Michelli — drums

Jennifer Ryan — voice
Kristin Mueller-Heaslip — soprano

Emma Elkinson — flute
Michele Jacot — clarinet
Andy Ballantyne — sax and doubles/reeds
David French — sax and doubles/reeds
Dan Pencer — bass clarinet & bari sax
Ondrey Golias — bassoon

Jason Logue, Lina Allemano, Kevin Turcotte

Darren Sigesmund, R.J. Sachithananthan, Steve McFarlane


We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
• •
The Live Music Report

| Home | Archives | CD Reviews | Photo Galleries | Concert Listings | Contact |

Please contact us to secure permission for use of any material found on this website.
© The Live Music Report – 2008