|Guitarist Ken Aldcroft is known as a mainstay in Torontos small, but growing improvised community, heading up the Trio Records imprint since 1997 and heavily involved with the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto collective. In his work with players like Joe Sorbara, Gordon Allen, Evan Shaw, Brian Harding and countless others, he has made a strong case for his often-ignored instrument in the world of improvised sounds.
Aldcrofts latest outfit, Convergence Ensemble, is made up of players who have shared the stage (and were heard on records) with him on numerous past occasions. This quintet revels in the art of communication. Each member develops a unique language with a set of two or three people in the group. While Aldcroft keeps the Ensemble unified, trombonist Scott Thomson alternates between robust lines and mid-tempo (almost lyrical) scruffy blows. In turn, this is reflected in Joe Sorbaras frantic, multi-rhythmic percussion, which then has a close effect on Evan Shaws alto squeals. Even when the players are let loose to test improvisational waters, every part and every single note has a dead-on, well defined purpose.
Aldcroft is one fine guitar player. One minute he is all chord changes and multi-faceted rhythms, while the next, he is a wild-deviled picker, walking a fine line between blues and rock idioms. Sure, there are raving guitar solos, but these are purposefully kept to a bare minimum. Melodic passages are heard throughout the record and there is absolutely no reason why Aldcrofts music cant be enjoyed by a conservative (there it is Ive said it!) jazz aficionado. What I like the most about the record is that the pieces are long enough to allow for the full expansion of concepts from all members of the ensemble. Brilliant in execution and rich in ideas, The Great Divide sees seasoned players openly communicating with each other.
Tom Sekowski October 06