A Look Back at

David Fujino
Personal Picks 2008

Just like this website says, live music and live performance are important in life. There's nothing like it — the experience of something being created, live, right in front of you.

From the year 2008, here's some concerts, two plays, a symposium, and some CD recordings that gave me that Live Experience.


The Rent @ Somewhere There, Toronto (Sep. 21)
Maybe Scott Thomson trombone, Kyle Brenders soprano sax, Wes Neal bass, Susanna Hood voice, and Brandon Valdivia drums, got their repertoire and band name from Steve Lacy, but lucky for the micro audience, the players also had a lot of artistic individuality to share, like in "The Rent" — the namesake of this group — where the cha-cha/blues composition was suddenly blown wide open by vocalist Susannah Hood's eruptive dance, a surprising sequence of freezes and a swift jacknifing body — where the set ended humanly, and soothingly, I felt, with "Somebody Special", words by Brion Gysin, music by Steve Lacy.
> LMR report

AIMToronto Orchestra @ Polish Combatants Hall, Toronto (Oct. 26)
Probing soloists Scott Thomson (trombone), Ronda Rindone (clarinets), Christine Duncan (voice), Colin Fisher (tenor saxophone), Ken Aldcroft (guitar), and Kyle Brenders (soprano saxophone) played the 1-1/2 hour concert as a continuous sound collage of six compositions and responded closely to the music's thickening curtain of sound as the percussive accents of piano, drums, and vibes, played softer throughout. A very creative, large-scale concert.
> LMR report

Music for The Soul by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra
@ St. Anne's Anglican Church, Toronto (Nov. 20)
A varied programme of transcendental voice and string music was transmitted to us by the 26-piece Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the 20-piece Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra under the resonant blue and gold dome of St. Anne's Anglican Church. The lived themes of the Estonian people were sounded out in words and spare tones that held our attention because they projected everlasting human concerns such as faith, artistic dissent against war, and a reasoned hope.
> LMR report

Barnyard Records CD Launch and Concert @ Lula Lounge, Toronto (Dec. 2)
This CD launch and concert from Barnyard Records was an exciting introduction to Toronto free players like saxophonist Kyle Brenders and trumpeter Nicole Rampersaud; meanwhile, in the second half of the concert, where the Blah Blah 666 Big Band played stereotypical Mexican songs with zest and some respect, the musicians still got to fly 'outside'.
> LMR report


Madre by Beatriz Pizano @ Theatre Passe Muraille (Jan. 29 to Feb. 17)
The central story about the reconciliation between Julia, a Colombian mother with Alzheimer's, and her estranged daughter, Angela, from Toronto, was well played by Marcia Bennett as Julia and Anita La Selva as Angela. The on-stage use of large mirrors and video projections effectively supported the other major themes of memory and forgetting, historical memory, and memory and personal identity.
> LMR report

A Crooked Man by Richard Kalinoski @ The Theatre Centre (Feb. 23 to Mar. 2)
Alex (Garen Boyajian) arrives in Armenia to interview his grandfather Hagopian (Hrant Alianak) about the Armenian genocide of 1915 for a magazine; but the more Alex learns about his scornful grandfather — considered by some as a 'crooked man' — ever more complicated questions arise like, Is Hagopian an avenger or assassin? Is he a murderer or a hero?
> LMR report


A number of CDs, mostly from praiseworthy Barnyard Records, have given me a lot of pleasure and new information this year.

Piano Music Evan Shaw and Jean Martin (Barnyard Records BR0303)
This duo's ability to make refined music out of anything is exemplified by pieces like "Moose Clock" (a triple layer of steady bells, a male voice reading out loud the names of Chinese food dishes, and the dialogic alto of Evan Shaw); by way of contrast, "Sweeter than a plastic bag" pulses with large electronically-processed chords that are intersected by lean alto cries. Percussionist/producer Martin's minimalist talents bring overall structure and stylistic flair to Piano Music which, of course, has no piano.
> LMR report

Little Man On the Boat Jean Martin and Colin Fisher (Barnyard Records BR0304)
The drummer and Colin Fisher go multi-instrumental (trumpet, banjo, drums, voice, tenor saxophone, etcetera) in order to play an inventive music that's strongly orchestral in intent, resonant with tone colours, and animated by a deep and malleable groove. From the sing-a-long falsetto voices of "Olive", to the assertive 'jazz orchestra' punctuations in "Hempville", to the 'spaced out' rock guitar chords/energetic post-Ayler tenor saxophone/plus reoccurring xylophone of "Allo Caveman", this two-headed and clear-headed look into space and rhythm, rules.
> LMR report

Plumb Lori Freedman & Scott Thomson (Barnyard Records BR0305)
The axis of mind, body, and breath, literally breathes in these sonically free and well-shaped improvisations from two premier avant windplayers, clarinetist Lori Freedman and trombonist Scott Thomson. Freedman and Thomson converse easily throughout these nine recorded tracks of engaging free improvisation in duet and solo formats.
> LMR report

Vu-Tet Cuong Vu (ArtistShare AS0073)
Cuong Vu's recording mixes the energy of quartet members saxophonist Chris Speed, drummer Ted Poor, and the free rock bass of Stomu Takeishi with his expressive looped trumpet and layered acoustic-electric compositions. Vu's borderless and intelligent approach to sound really stands out.
> LMR report

I'm a Navvy Barnyard Drama (Barnyard Records BR0302)
Barnyard Drama is voice instrumentalist Christine Duncan and drums/loops/turntablist Jean Martin who are joined on this recording by the two guitarists Justin Haynes and Bernard Falaise. Such deeply satisfying, avant garde music (with its origins in jazz, blues, as well as art, theatre, New Music, and conceptual art) is the direct product of group empathy, creativity, and a fully operative intuition.
> LMR report

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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