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Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra: Tidal Currents – East Meets West

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Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra: Tidal Currents - East Meets West
Composer and conductor Jill Townsend, and composer and saxophonist Christine Jensen

There will always be something unique – something truly tasty to savour – about jazz in an orchestral context. The communal joy of humanity proverbially singing as one voice jumps to mind. That’s the macrocosm. Looking inward, microcosmically, so to speak, there are the intricate connections that are built, the artistic ideas that are exchanged, the joyful dialogues that ensue… all of which adds up to observing the absolute best that humanity has to offer – often in extreme close-up.

Tidal Currents – East Meets West by the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra

This is what is proffered to us as listeners of discerning music, to have and to hold with at least two of our senses – sight and sound – with this superb recording Tidal Currents – East Meets West by the magnificent Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, conducted here by Jill Townsend, but also – in every sense – co-led by the soloing soprano saxophonist Christine Jensen. Each of the two co-conspirators – Miss Townsend and Miss Jensen have brought two monumental compositions each to the studio.

A section of the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra

The idea is to recreate not simply each others’ visualisation of the broad vistas that have emboldened their individual visions of what functioned as an impetus to their individual works on the recording, but also to create a sense of a natural confluence of ideas that have brought them together in the sense of defining their common cultural topography.

In each of the four works – two by Miss Townsend [Inside the Wave and Tidal Currents] and [the other] two by Miss Jensen [Crossing Lachine and Rock Skipping Under the Half Moon] – water [that great leveller of all things planetary and – therefore human – acts as a mighty, often thunderous metaphor. Short liners notes delve deeper into the metaphorical and actual raison d’être for each work, so no need really to elaborate further… simply listen to the music and then read [is one’s advice].

But lest that make this the music seem too overpowering, to overly meditative – even ponderously grim – let it be known that there is so much playful drama in the unfolding of this music that we may also enjoy it in all t he childlike wonder with which it has been conceived. This is exactly what makes this recording so special to the senses.

The orchestra is made up of magnificent individual performers who appear to have interiorised this music to such a deep extent that the music seems to come from lived experience – not simply of the composers, but of each of the musicians themselves. Interpretations are eloquently idiomatic, soli are brief – and poignant. Each adds a meaningful daub of paint [so to speak] onto the musical canvas.

The overall effect is monumental: You have a vision of waters colliding from coast to coast. Not that glib soundbite [‘coast-to-coast-to-coast] that politicians often give us when describing our great country, but in a real sense of the East and West Coasts – with the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans [and mighty St Lawrence River] “tumbling in harness” as the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas one put it. Only this time its music to our Canadian ears because it is so close to home, written and produced by two stellar Canadian artists. ‘Nuff said…!

Deo gratis…

Music – 1: Inside the Wave; 2: Crossing Lachine; 3: Tidal Currents; 4: Rock Skipping Under the Half moon.

Musicians – Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra conducted by Jill TownsendChristine Jensen: alto and soprano saxophones [soli on 3, 4]; Neil Watson: alto saxophone; Naill Cade: tenor saxophone [solo on 2]; Monica Jones: tenor saxophone; Kyle Wedlake: baritone saxophone; Joel Green: trombone; Jeremy Duggerley: trombone; François Godere: trombone; Isabel Lavoie: trombone; Shane Hicks: trumpet; Jeni Taylor: trumpet; Richard Gillis: trumpet; Matthew Walden: trumpet [solo on 1]; Will Bonness: piano; Karl Kohut: bass beginning solo on 3]; Fabio Ragnelli: drums [solo on 1]; Larry Roy: guitar.

Released – 2024
Label – Chronograph Records [CR 109]
[chronographrecords.com]
Runtime – 29:34

Based in Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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