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Artist Title Label

Bonneau, Michel / John Heward / Scott Thomson : 4x3 (Tour de Bras)

An unusual mix of instruments from the Montreal trio of percussionist Michel Bonneau on congas & balafon, John Heward on drums, and Scott Thomson on trombone, all members of Ratchet Orchestra and Heward's Murray Street Band, in an album of active and uniquely layered confident rhythmic floors over which Thomson freely plays with remarkable technique.

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product information:

Label: Tour de Bras
Catalog ID: TDB9028cd
Squidco Product Code: 26088

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2018
Country: France
Packaging: Plastic Sleeve
Recorded at The Pines, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in June, 2017, by David Bryant.


Michel Bonneau-congas, balafon, percussion

John Heward-drums

Scott Thomson-trombone

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Artist Biographies:

Michel Bonneau is a Canadian percussionist known for the bands and associations of Ratchet Orchestra, Nicolas Caloia, Land of Kush, Land of Kush's Egyptian Light Orchestra, Yaya Diallo.

-Squidco 9/21/2022

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

"John Heward is a Montreal-based visual artist and one of the world's leading percussionist working in the field of contemporary music and avant jazz. Untitled and undated, Heward's recto-verso drawings can be hung on walls, placed on floors or suspended from ceilings. The objectivity is emphasized by the subjectivity of placement, intention and chance in a continuing of space/time. His work is seductively ambiguous in its imagery, often calligraphic in its markings and use of cultural forms, and resistant to definitive interpretation."

-Paul Kuhn Gallery (

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"Scott Thomson is an improvising trombonist and composer. He works extensively with singer and dance artist, Susanna Hood, and writes songs for her based on published authors' texts to be played in many contexts, from duo to octet and sometimes including Susanna' s choreography. Monicker (with Arthur Bull and Roger Turner), for example, exemplifies Scott's commitment to open improvisation. He co-founded the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto (AIMToronto) in 2004 and served as a director until 2009, and co- directed the AIMToronto Orchestra, formed for a project with Anthony Braxton in 2007. In 2016, he convened the Montreal-Toronto Art Orchestra to play Roscoe Mitchell's music. He founded Somewhere There, a Toronto creative music venue that hosted 850 concerts during his tenure, 2007-10. Scott has composed a series of site- specific works, "cartographic compositions" for mobile musicians and audiences in unconventional performance contexts including, notably, the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Scott programs the Guelph Jazz Festival."

-Bug Incision (

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track listing:

1. I 12:13

2. II 8:29

3. III 10:38

4. IV (Toward Bamako) 12:33

sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"This is a trio of Montreal improvisers with an unusual configuration of instruments and a rich, if not that well-known, backstory.

John Heward has a long history as a drummer-including partnerships with saxophonists Joe McPhee, Glenn Spearman, and Joe Giardullo-as well as a distinguished career as a visual artist; his drumming possesses the same qualities as his paintings, a subtle, organic mingling of minimalism and abstract expressionism, achieving great depth with a sometimes-limited palette. Michel Bonneau is a percussionist whose instruments include congas and balafon. His credits reach back to Mali-born guitarist Yaya Diallo's Montreal-based ensemble of the early 1990s. Trombonist Scott Thomson navigates through all of this percussion, contributing to the layered, conversational exchange of rhythms.

The three musicians are all members of the large-scale Ratchet Orchestra, but they also play together in Heward's Murray Street Band, an improvising ensemble that occasionally performs publicly but plays weekly in Heward's studio. While the group could sometimes be a big band (a 2016 concert presented a seventeen-member who's who of Montreal improvisers), this recording grew out of a period when only these three musicians were attending regularly. There's no sense of missing parts: the trio achieves a tremendous intimacy and a flowing unselfconscious attention to detail.

The kinship of the two percussionists is immediately apparent on the opening I, a burbling knitwork of minimalist balafon melody and rattling metallic drum rims that ebb and flow through subtle shifts, the drummers' airy syntax eventually matched by Thomson's astonishing burbling trombone: he tongues through the instrument's registers at such a rate that it resembles light, high-speed drumming, ultimately resolving into blustery, declarative melody against conga and snare. Thomson manages to have it both ways here, sometimes surrendering his tonal fluency to become one with the percussion, at other times dancing from whispered highs to flatulent lows in a celebration of his horn's mobility.

While the pieces occasionally touch on genres (III suggests a Salvation Army military hymn but ends in sonic reverie), the ultimate IV has a subtitle, Toward Bamako, a reference to a Roswell Rudd composition quoted within. It's an explosion of Carnival-esque exuberance, a continuously melodic and polyrhythmic trip from initial promise through celebration to repose."-Stuart Broomer, MusicWorks

Get additional information at Musicworks Magazine
Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Musique Actuelle
Trio Recordings
Percussion & Drums
Recordings featuring brass instruments - trumpets, trombones, tubas, other horns
Canadian Composition & Improvisation

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Tour de Bras.

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