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An excellent introduction to the early years of Red Toucan in 2 CDs with 22 tracks from master improvisers including Peter Brotzmann, Pheeroan Aklaff, Tony Wilson, Peggy Lee, Gerry Hemingway, Dave Liebman, Kyle Bruckman, Frank Gratkowski, &c. &c.

Various Artists
Amalgam(e): 10 Years of Red Toucan [2 CDs]

Various Artists: Amalgam(e): 10 Years of Red Toucan [2 CDs] (Red Toucan)
Label: Red Toucan    
Released in: Canada    

"amalgam(e) is proof enough that Red Toucan has been a vital addition and contributor to today's jazz scene. Originally formed to document vital Québec jazz, but later developing significant relationships with a variety of Canadian-born and international improvisers, from clarinetist François Houle to contrabassist Jöelle Léandre, Red Toucan has consistently presented cutting-edge improvised music, devoid of pretension and brimming with thoughtful, potent musicianship.

Comprising twenty-two tracks and over two hours of music, amalgam(e) is a fantastic starter course for those unfamiliar with the Red Toucan diet. Beginning at the beginning with a humorous pre-song dialogue among musicians that culminates in what could be a Red Toucan motto, "check your hang-ups at the door", Charles Pappasoff's "Serious" is both reminiscent of "Lonely Woman" and a driving beast of a tune with the ever-resourceful Pheeroan Aklaff in the engine room.

Tracks two through four take a sharp left turn in presenting some of the many wonderful sessions Red Toucan has captured with the aforementioned Houle, including recordings where the clarinetist is partnered with label-staple Léandre, as well as Marilyn Crispell. Houle's sound, crisp and clean, is rare in these times of multi-multi-instrumentalism, and it is indeed a treat to hear the clarinet in the hands of a studied master. Mostly eschewing extreme harmonics for more classically-reminiscent tonalities, the three selections manage to showcase the range of Houle's talents, including an almost klezmer-like swing in "Prayer", a rough and tumble affair with Crispell, and a free-improv setting with Léandre and Georg Graewe.

The remainder of disc one highlights a variety of group, duet, and solo settings from increasingly well known, and hopefully soon to be better-known players, with particularly nice statements from Dana Reason on piano (from border crossings), Dylan van der Schyff in fine, Bennink-link playfulness on drums playing with Paul Plimley and others (from stable chaos), and a start-stop big band piece alternating between Zorn-like hopping and Threadgill-like orchestration, with trombone, cello, violin, electric guitar, tenor sax, bass, bass clarinet, and drums (from polish theatre posters).

Disc two starts with a Peter Brötzmann blowout, acerbic as ever, but with a bit of the ridiculous, unfortunately, in the guitar of Sakari Luoma, who appears to be in full heavy-metal attack. The hoped-for Last Exit sound never quite emerges, and the piece is one of the few low points on the compilation. Tracks two and three, both featuring Gerry Hemingway in very different settings, on the other hand, are quite beautiful and return to the high level of disc one. Hemingway's duet with John Butcher (from shooters and bowlers), in particular, is beguiling as ever. A trio piece (from arrears) with Graewe, Frank Gratkowski, and the redoubtable John Lindberg on contrabass is again a moving piece of improvisation, with Lindberg spending the better part of the first four minutes on the body of his bass, thumbs and fingers, only to move to a percussive statement on the strings, followed by some inside-the-piano finessing from Graewe: A nice, evolving piece of collective improvisation.

Back to Léandre for tracks six and seven of disc two, this time in performance with Masahiko Satoh-not entirely a meeting of the minds (almost a sense of two competing aesthetics), but only in light of the other remarkable performances from the bassist throughout the rest of the compilation-and Yuji Takahashi-whose meeting with the bassist turns out to be a much more satisfying endeavor. The Laura Andel Orchestra is featured on track eight (from somnambulist) in a four-minute take on sustain-bowed cymbals, heavy on the strings, with some processed (?) white-noise accompaniment. A haunting piece, truly. In with a few Chicagoans for track nine, (from wrack) with Tim Daisy and Jeb Bishop teaming up with Kyle Bruckmann (on oboe, English horn), Kurt Johnson (bass) and Jen Clare Paulson (viola): Some early steam turning into a saunter and eventually evaporation, only to restart again.

The last two tracks are highlights from the Cactus Records label, dedicated, as the liner notes to amalagam(e) state, to "music of a more composed nature". An interesting if less then audible distinction-certainly the likes of polish theatre posters are heavily composed works. Nonetheless, two pieces from Catus records are included, the first being a welcome duet setting for Dave Liebman. The second track and the closer to amalgam(e), is "Hommage à Debussy", performed by Michael Jefry Stevens: A fitting tribute and lovely end to this spectacular two disc set."-Matthew Sumera, One Final Note

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
European Improv, Free Jazz & Related
Various Artists & Compilations
Jeb Bishop

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Price: $9.95
In Stock


Shipping Weight: 4.00 units

Quantity in Basket: None

Product Information:

UPC: 777078910523

Label: Red Toucan
Catalog ID: RT 9325
Squidco Product Code: 18038

Format: 2 CDs
Condition: New
Released: 2004
Country: Canada
Packaging: 2 CDs in a single Jewel tray
Recorded on various dates and at different locations.


Charles Papasoff

Santi Debriano

Pheeroan Aklaff

Baikida Carroll

François Houle

Tony Wilson

Dylan van der Schyff

Marilyn Crispell

Joëlle Léandre

Georg Graewe

Peggy Lee

Ron Samworth

Bill Clark

Lisle Ellis

Donald Robinson

James Routhier Ensemble

Glenn Spearman

Peter Valsamis

Dana Reason

Danny Parker

Paul Plimley

Rosco Blur

Mark Whitecage

Michael Jefry Stevens

Brent Arnold

Andrew Drury

Timothy Young

Craig Flory

Steve Moore

Eyvind Kang

Hasse Poulsen

Nikolai Yudanov

Sakari Luoma

Peter Brötzmann

Frank Gratkowski

Dieter Manderscheid

Gerry Hemingway

Wolter Wierbos

John Butcher

Michael Moore

Henning Sieverts

John Hollenbeck

Achim Kaufmann

John Lindberg

Masahiko Satoh

Yuji Takahashi

Laura Andel Orchestra

Kurt Johnson

Kyle Bruckmann

Tim Daisy

Jeb Bishop

Jen Clare Paulson

Steuart Liebig

Michael Vatcher

Vinny Golia

Rhoda Averbach

Michael Gerber

Dave Liebman

Michael Jefry Stevens

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Track Listing:

CD 1

1. Serious 10:35

2. Prayer 6:05

3. Song for Jeanne Lee 3:24

4. Such as It Is (Live at Banlieues Blues) 3:21

5. Deep Pocket 8:06

6. Go Left Out of Shantiville 6:13

7. Border Crossings, Pt. 1 3:18

8. Stable Chaos 6:44

9. Bittersweet 6:59

10. No Comment #1 6:06

11. Polish Theatre Posters 4:22

12. C'est Ca #7 4:46

CD 2

1. Money Wrench 8:29

2. Rotation 5:43

3. Shooters And Bowlers 5:00

4. Beq 5:48

5. Arrears #2 7:29

6. Signature #4 6:07

7. Signature #C 5:06

8. Entering 4:46

9. Rather Dour 6:13

10. Transit 7:46

11. Empress 8:19

12. Hommage A Debussy 2:10