It was a question of names – and numbers – when the Titanium Trio played in Ottawa on Sunday, January 22.
Toronto trumpeter Lina Allemano had composed all the material for the group – which also includes drummer Nick Fraser (originally from Ottawa) and bassist Rob Clutton – in one celebratory gulp last spring, but she hadn't originally given the pieces any individual names. For a while, she was referring to them as #1 to #10 (the equivalent of a classical composer having concertos 1 to 10), although she eventually named about half.
But for most of this show, the titles didn't give the audience much of a hint of what to expect. The first set, for example, consisted of #2, #4, #7 (aka Bagpipe), and #3.
What the audience actually heard was a tight collaboration among all three players. There was a considerable dynamic range: Clutton's Fender electric bass provided a warm, strong underlayer, from he which he regularly emerged with intricate but understated rhythmic patterns.
Allemano and Fraser provided a constantly varying and interesting dialogue on top. Fraser's drumming moved from the lightest touches with brushes on cymbals, to staccato and fierce. Allemano's trumpet curlicued, called out, moved from intense fast riffs to slow, full lines, and even echoed a Mingus piece at one point.
The overall mood was introspective and almost elegiac, but each piece included a large portion of improvisation and innovation. The musicians occasionally even surprised themselves when they came to a somewhat unexpectedly fast ending on a couple pieces, or restarted in another direction.
At several points, Allemano used a 1930s-style bucket mute to achieve a particularly sonorous, warm sound unlike that created by a regular mute. And then she went one step further near the end, using a soft drink can (filled with small rattling pieces) as a mute to create an interestingly breathy sound.
The audience appear to follow along smoothly with the musicians, listening intently to the music, and responding with warm applause at the end. The concert was part of the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais (IMOO) series, and attracted some Ottawa jazz fans who had not attended IMOO concerts before.
– Alayne McGregor
All photos Copyright ©Brett Delmage, 2012