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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Freezing Music and other tunes by Al Purdy - in person August 30, Active Arts Studio

Jeff Keary of the celebrated Active Arts Studio concert venue  in Prince Edward County is hosting a Purdy A-frame fund-raiser on August 30th at Rednersville's historic 1849 stone Methodist church, the one with the astounding acoustics.

The program is rich and varied, a Purdy fan's dream line-up - poetry, a play, and music.

Jazz. The jazz composer who will be featured is Gerry Shatford  whose album 'When I Sat Down to Play the Piano' (which lovers of Al's poetry will recall as not being about playing the piano, not one bit) is just brilliant. Each track on the album is titled and inspired by one of Purdy's poems.

I love the variety of musical styles and voices Gerry uses in these compositions.

Gerry explains the artistic process: "All of the tunes on this album found their genesis in Purdy's poetry, as I began by reading the poems out loud, transcribing the rhythms I discovered in the spoken phrases. I added pitches to these rhythms to create melodic motifs which became the basic building blocks for the individual compositions".

Gerry Shatford
The poems are printed on the CD liner notes, so the listener can follow the process of creation, in addition to enjoying the virtuosity and originality of the music. For example, the highly charged melody and large intervallic leaps of 'Piling Blood' seem to spring from the violent and despairing images in the poem

The astonishing variety of musical styles on the album is one of the things that appeals to me. Charlie Parker's bebop 'Blues for Alice' echoes in the bluesy 'Love at Roblin Lake', 'How a Dog Feels to be Old' is a slow bossa-nova ballad, and 'The Dead Poet' conjures John Coltrane style improvisation. Then there's 'Mice in the House' with harmonies based on Gerswin's 'I Got Rhythm'.

Folks who enjoyed hearing 'Home-Made Beer' and 'At the Quinte Hotel' at the Purdy picnic (or anyone who has ever heard these icons read) will appreciate that Jelly Roll Morton style loping rhythm is a perfect choice for 'Beer', and ebullient boogie-woogie barrel house sets the right mood for 'At the Quinte Hotel'.
Neil Swainson

A Thelonious Monk evocation with its "pungent harmonies and quirky rhythms"works well with Purdy's 'When I Sat Down to Play the Piano' (and helps to replace the unfortunate visuals I always get when I read that poem.)

'When I Sat Down to Play the Piano' is available for download, and the CD is available for purchase, at Gerry's website. Check out the link to Gerry's work  and sample. If you like jazz and the poetry of Al Purdy, you will be hooked, as was I.

Terry Clarke at the recording session

Gerry's sidemen on the CD are the well-known and loved Terry Clarke on drums and Neil Swainson on bass. At the Saturday August 30 event Gerry will be backed by Brendan Davis on bass and Dave MacDougall on the Pinnacle Music Studio grand piano.

See you here - August 30

Thanks to Ontario Arts Council and The Canadian Council for the Arts for their support.

And finally, thanks to Gerry Shatford for explaining the complexities of the creation of this brilliant album. Now go buy it, and prepare yourself for the live performance at Active Arts Studio on August 30.

Advance booking only at Active Arts Studio/Eventbrite/

1 comment:

  1. I've never missed a gig in my town yet. Music makes people like me happy, and that's why I go on doing it - I like to see everybody smile.
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