The Squid's Ear Magazine

Barnyard Drama: Martin, Jean: I'm a Navvy (Barnyard)

Toronto's amazing husband & wife team drummer Jean Martin and unusual vocalist Christine Duncan with guest guitarist Justin Haynes and Bernard Falaise, recommended!

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product information:

UPC: 777320131928

Label: Barnyard
Catalog ID: BR0302
Squidco Product Code: 11163

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2006
Country: Canada
Packaging: Jewel Tray
Recorded in Toronto, Ontario at Chemical Sound, March 10-11, 2005 by Ross Murray and James Heidebrecht.


Jean Martin-drums, turntables and loops

Christine Duncan-voice

Justin Haynes-guitar

Bernard Falaise-guitar

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"For their second album as Barnyard Drama, husband-and-wife team Jean Martin (drums) and Christine Duncan (vocals) recruited two bold, creative, and highly compatible electric guitarists: Justin Haynes and Bernard Falaise. Fans of the latter's work in avant-prog groups like Miriodor and Les Projectionnistes may feel a bit at a loss when approaching this album, but those who know him for his involvement in various Ambiances Magnétiques-related improvisation projects will recognize here some of his best work of late in that vein.

Barnyard Drama's debut album (Memories and a List of Things to Do) was a fascinating variation on avant-jazz, focusing on Duncan's stunning range (from a seductive torch singer to a hysterical child) and Martin's light drumming and turntables. I'm a Navvy has a lot more bite, and not only thanks to the guitarists: Duncan is more exuberant, Martin occasionally pounds harder, and the group's sound as a whole is grittier and more urgent. The album contains nine songs -- yes, songs, with lyrics, melodies and developments -- even though improvisation also plays a key part in each one of them. Highlights include the scary title opener, the beat-driven "The Blues," and the near-epic "Invisible." Duncan's shapeshifting voice (extremely girlish in "Butt'ry Burning," animal in "I'm a Navvy," velvety in the Rodgers & Hart standard "Little Girl Blue") is always at the center of the music, revealing a unique singer and powerful performer.

This album is bursting with creativity and talent, while striking a good balance between odd songwriting and free playing. Simply put, I'm a Navvy is a must, and a very serious year-end list contender."-François Couture, All Music

"If anyone wanted a snapshot of improvisational music in Canada at its best, here it is. Longtime duo turned quartet, with the addition of guitarists Justin Haynes and Bernard Falaise, Barnyard Drama is the gold standard of new improvisation in this country, and probably elsewhere, as well, if we Canadians weren¹t so darned modest. Not only do they create soundscapes of profound breadth and depth, they imbue them with sonic and conceptual drama that subverts the group¹s self-effacing name.

Their tunes are dramatic with a capital D. Vocalist Christine Duncan defies vocal categorization; she¹s an instrumentalist who holds her own in the most abstract of improv settings. And the dual guitarists draw her formidable skills out, from lip-fiddling to throat Œyodeling¹, in ways that elude verbalization. And isn¹t this the point of music? To transcend the verbal? Drummer Jean Martin is capable of making music happen in the most unlikely ways. Yet, here, he is organically connected to the goings-on in a way that draws out his innate playfulness. And Martin¹s deft production expertise has rendered the whole proceedings haunting and ethereal.

Barnyard Drama has taken a bold step away from its duo inception. But the move looks super-good on them. The guitars bring out in the innate bluesiness of a group that could be mistaken for a neu-improv anomaly. Highly recommended."-Glen Hall, Exclaim Magazine

Artist Biographies

"Musician, producer, Jean Martin was nominated for best drummer for the 2004 National Jazz Awards and is the recipient of the 2004 Freddy Stone Award. This award from the Minden foundation is for outstanding leadership, integrity and excellence in the area of contemporary music and Jazz

His group Barnyard Drama is an improvising duo featuring vocalist Christine Duncan. They toured Canadian festivals, summer 2004, promoting a CD intitled Memories and a list of things to do. The new cd I'm a Navvy was launched at the prestigious FIMAV and features guitarists Justin Haynes and Bernard Falaise.

Other recent releases are with trio Idiolalla with singers DB Boyko and Christine Duncan and the Vancouver based group Laconnor, this electronic, musique actuel group features Francois Houle on clarinet and lap top, Jesse Zubot on violin and lap top and Jean on drums and electronics. Laconnor toured Canadian Jazz festival 2006.

Jean has appeared and collaborated with: Eugene Chadbourne, Joe Fonda, Jesse Zubot, Juno nominated DD Jackson, David Murray, Don Byron, Dominic Duval, Mark Dresser, Wilbert de Joode, John Oswald, Francois Houle, Jean Derome, Frank Gratowski, Chelsea Bridge, Kevin Turcotte, Peggy Lee, Tony Wilson, Brad Turner, Lori Freedman, Tom Walsh, Pierre Tanguay, Marilyn Lerner, The National Arts Centre Orchestra, legendary Canadian blues man Dutch Mason, Andy Stochansky, Zubot & Dawson, Bob Fenton, Roddy Ellias, Tim Postgate's Jazzstory, Christine Duncan, Hugh Fraser, George Kohler, Bob Murphy, David Mott, The Bitches Brew Band, Rob Frayne, The Jivewires, Micheal Occhipinti, Rich Underhill, Justin Haynes, Hugh Marsh, The Henry's and many others.

He has appeared on a one hour TFO and BRAVO TV jazz special entitled, "DUOS" performing improvisations with Award winning trumpeter Kevin Turcotte. Jean participated in a new project put together by Ajay Heble and the Guelph Jazz festival. A Jazz Opera with the music of DD Jackson, featuring Peggy Lee, Brad Turner, John Geggie and Dean Boman among others. This piece was performed for the 10th annual Jazz festival in Guelph and in Vancouver in September 2003.

With the Jean Martin Trio: he has recorded 2 CD's and has toured Canada on three occasions, performing at most Jazz festivals in this country. The latest recording a completely improvised work was released with a tour in November 2003. The trio features guitarist Justin Haynes and national jazz awards winner, trumpeter Kevin Turcotte.

With Chelsea Bridge: He has released 5 CD's on Unity Page Records, has done 4 Canadian tours from '92 to '97, was featured at the Blue Note in NYC , the Molda International Jazz Festival in Norway and the Washington DC Jazz Fest (Canadian Jazz Ambassador Series).

With Juno winner DD Jackson: He has released 2 CD's on Justin Time Records, has toured France (including: Maubeuge & Rouen International Jazz Festivals, Feb. '97), 2 Canadian tours in '94 & '95 and was featured at various venues in Northern USA (Montana, Seattle, Buffalo and various clubs in NYC) including a CD release gig at the Fez Jazz Club in NYC, with legendary saxophonist David Murray."

-Barnyard Records (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Christine Duncan began learning her craft in church. A minister's daughter, she performed with her musical family "The Duncans" in gospel shows on stages across North America from the age of five. When she was 15 she recorded her first album of her own original gospel tunes in Nashville.

Inevitably her roots led her from gospel and inspirational music to soul, singer songwriter folk music, R&B/blues, jazz and more recently, new music and improvised music. Since 1994, she has released 5 albums under her own name, and has been involved in many other recording projects, including 2 albums with the Hugh Fraser VEJI big band.

A musical chameleon with a near five octave range, Duncan uses her voice as an instrument, exploring its full tonal, timbral and textural range. She has recorded and/or collaborated with Bob Murphy, Hugh Fraser, Miles Black, Veda Hille, Paul Plimley, Danielle Palardy Roger, Jean Martin and performed with such names as Kenny Wheeler, Rufus Reid, Dave Young, P.J. Perry, Ray Charles, Linton Garner, Paul Horn, Jeff Healey, Andre Crouch, Sabeer Mateen, John Oswald, Paul Dutton, Nobuo Kabota and many others.

Recently she performed in 120 Songs for the Marquis de Sade, winner of the Alcan Performing Arts Award: Music/Opera 2002; a new opera premiere, written by Peter Hannan and Peter Hinton, which was presented in Vancouver BC, by Modern Baroque Opera and Vancouver New Music, in March, 2002.

Along with Christine's rapidly growing audience has come recognition in the form of a nomination for the Alcan and Pacific Music Industry Assn. 1997 West Coast Female Vocalist of the Year. She was also the subject of a CTV/BC Film funded documentary-portrait entitled Coming Home: Christine Duncan at Christ Church Cathedral, currently showing on BRAVO."

-Barnyard Records (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Bernard Falaise. Born Montréal, Québec, 1965. Residence: Montréal, Québec. Composer, Performer (guitar).

Bernard Falaise was born in Montréal, where he currently lives. He plays electric guitar, composes and improvises - all with evident joy - for Miriodor, Klaxon Gueule, les Projectionnistes, Diesel and other groups. He has written for the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal (ECM), Quartango and the Isis Quartet, and has created music for exhibitions, television, the theatre and dance. Allergic to labels, Falaise explores acid rock, twelve-tone waltzes and industrial tangos with equal enthusiasm."

-ActuelleCD (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Track Listing:

1. I'm A Navvy 5:57

2. It's Raining To Drink Standing 10:12

3. The Blues 7:10

4. Happy Fingers 2:45

5. Coda 2:02

6. Sigh, Me Good 6:40

7. Invisible 9:07

8. Butt'ry Burning 5:22

9. Little Girl Blue 8:49

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Musique Actuelle
Unusual Vocal Forms
Toronto Area Improvisation
Quartet Recordings
Canadian Composition & Improvisation

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