Thursday, April 04, 2019

TP monthly newsletter

Hi folks,

I still haven't found that catchy name for my (almost) monthly newsletter. I guess TP Newsletter is better than all the Toronto Maple Leaf-inspired titles I tried on for size in the last couple days since they clinched a playoff spot. 

Of course I have a gig on the first night of their playoff journey; Thursday April 11 I will be heading over to the Tranzac to play our monthly with Collette Savard and the Savants. We usually start at about 10:15. I may be there at 10:14. (hopefully no overtime on Thursday)

The other fun little project I am involved in right now includes my Blog that I have been keeping for close to 20 years and 2000 posts. Yes, I was blogging before you knew what a blog was. (I was podcasting back then too actually!)

It has been a really good run of making good records with my friends over the last year and half. So, I have decided to write a little behind-the-scenes blogpost about one CD per week and I am calling it "Blow Your Own Horn". So far I have written about So Long Seven's Kala Kalo, Ronley Teper's The Game and The Cluttertones' Leeways. Here is the link to the most recent one: 

The next two weeks will be Collette Savard and the Savants and then the Ragtime Orioles CD. Please check them out as the whole point of doing this is to get more people to hear our music. 

Collette Savard and the Savants will be at Grossmans on Easter Monday April 22. 6-9pm means that you might be able to attend! It is a very cool local dive with a lot of history. 

Thursday April 25 Andrew Downing and I are back at Sellers and Newel bookstore. This is such a cool venue. (talk about intimate!) I recommend advance tickets. (you can email Peter online or just drop into the store) Banjo/Cello duets in a bookstore...tell your friends!

Friday May 3 I will be at the Dakota for an early show (7pm) with Ronley Teper's Lipliners. (Ronley and I are touring at the end of May too but more in the next letter on that) 

Thanks for reading, hope the spring brings great new things for us all!


p.s. Go Leafs Go!!!!

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Cluttertones/Leeways part 3 of "Blow My Own Horn"

As is my new weekly habit, I pour myself a drink and start listening to one of the records that I played on in the last 18 months. Tonight it is the Cluttertones; Leeways.

Cluttertones are probably the most critically acclaimed group I have ever been a part of. Some of my favourite music writers have written beautifully about both our records, I have heard suggestions (even demands!) of a Polaris Prize shortlist.  Yes, those that know and love this group are very passionate. (this record was number one on the Canadian college radio jazz charts)

Individually there is really something going on here. Bassist and composer Rob Clutton (one of my oldest and best pals) has made numerous recordings including a couple solo bass albums that have been highly regarded. His compositional curiousity and expermination always leads to interesting new forms, shapes and pieces of music for this group. Trumpeter Lina Allemano has captured the hearts and ears of the creative music scene in Toronto and Berlin (where she spends half her time these days). Ryan Driver plays analog synth and piano on so many records and is part of so many bands I can’t keep track of what he is up to any more.

Collectively there is nothing like the Cluttertones. 

I love the way this record opens. Gull has such a non-idiomatic starting point and the band stretches it from A-Z (sorry for the writing cliché) a couple times anyways.

In the ten years I have been playing banjo and guitar in the Cluttertones there have been a few tracks that come out of the folk-music section of Rob’s brain.  The second track; Bears is certainly one of them. This track always gets a great response when we play it live. Ryan sings Rob’s abstract poet lyrics that I never get tired of. (I also never really understand them either) fyi, there are very few people who sing anything like Ryan Driver.

Lina Allemano is a Canadian treasure. She is taking the trumpet to new places and has been celebrated in at festivals in New York, Berlin and across Canada and has quite a local following here in TO with her bands Titanium Riot and The Lina Allemano Quartet where she performs monthly at the Tranzac. She is featured on the third track called Julio. Her extended trumpet techniques will leave you wondering if there is anything she can’t do on the trumpet.

This CD is beautifully recorded by Jeremy Darby at Canterbury Sound. (on the fringes of my neighbourhood at Dufferin and King…pretty sure I biked to these sessions)

I always go out of my way to hear Rob Clutton play solo bass shows. (he does a few every year in Toronto) The opening for Septiembre is a great bass solo and I hope lots of young bassists get to hear this track. (it includes some band accompaniment including our special guest Lee Pui Ming on piano)

The album is called Leeways as the second half of the record is a suite that Rob wrote for our friend, pianist Lee Pui Ming. She is a very special musician and a great person. The suite has five parts where one person is featured in each part.
We worked hard with Pui Ming to get this together. Having a special guest in this group was a lot of work but it all paid off. She has great instincts and also a real thinker. She is always fun to be around too!

Special shout out to Randi Helmers who did the beautiful artwork for the cover of both of our records. She is a great painter and I am always looking forward to her next show. Yesim Tosuner did a great job laying out this Cd as did Dawne Carleton writing the liner notes. (Dawne was also the choreographer for the dance piece we did to release the first CD)

Each time I hear this Leeways suite I am struck by the balance Pui Ming has between the strength and rhythmic creativity while she attacks the piano and the subtlety with which she plays the other half of the time on the bench. (although she is often up off the bench)

Special thanks to Scott Thomson and the Guelph Jazz Festival for hiring us to debut this piece a couple years back before we went into the studio to record it. I feel very fortunate for my ongoing relationship with that festival that has consistently inspired artists to continue to do what they do and encouraged music fans to support the music that we are making.

I have tried to describe this music to people over the years but never really succeeded. I will say that it might be the strangest band you have ever heard. I would also suggest good headphones or speakers and just let the music wash over you. It is quite an experience.

Listen to (and buy!)  Leeways here:

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