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Guelph Jazz Festival listeners treated to elevator music (review)

Listeners engage with the improvised elevator music made by Lori Freedman (bass clarinet), Jean Derome (sax) and Scott Thomson (trombone) ©Brett Delmage, 2013

View photos of this workshop

Some of these musicians will appear at the IMOO Ensemble SuperMusique concert at Club SAW on Sunday, October 20.

It isn't every musical performance or workshop where listeners have to get out of their seats not just to dance, but to follow the musicians around the building so they can still hear them play.

Listeners, walls, and ceilings became performing partners in the post-lunch musical performance at Guelph Jazz Festival's academic colloquium on Friday, September 6. The music commenced as it usually does, on the main stage space of the Macdonald Stewart Arts Centre (MSAC). Festival Artistic Director Ajay Heble switched hats (while still retaining his signature black beret), taking position at the piano instead of his usual listening post among the audience.

Before long, one musician investigated the ability of the gallery's drywall to modify the sound of his horn. Another walked among seated listeners with his trombone to create a moving point of sound.

Improvisers began to leave the stage area, wandering into MSAC's galleries. These pied pipers attracted listeners out of their chairs not to their dooms, but to new musical adventures, where the resonant acoustics of specific galleries, music from fellow improvisers, and the reactions of the listeners themselves were all invoked and incorporated into the live performances.

Moving among the galleries of improvisation, listeners explored the sound from a different perspective than a chair in front of a stage: discovering, with the players, the acoustic properties of MSAC's various rooms, the sound from all-around an instrument, and creating their own personal mix of sound by moving between discrete performances.

OttawaJazzScene.ca editor Alayne McGregor had slipped away to a quiet, unoccupied gallery on the second floor of MSCAC to finish some writing. Even she had a unique performance unexpectedly delivered to her, as every corner of the art centre became animated.

Elevator music (which has rarely been heard in elevators in recent decades) was revived, as Scott Thompson, Jean Derome, and Lori Freedman brought their improvised musical performance to new heights – or at least the second floor – playing all the way upwards.

Before the hour was up, the pipers returned back to their starting point, with listeners safely in tow and with some new and personal sonic experiences beyond the stage.

    – Brett Delmage

All photos ©2013 Brett Delmage


See also:

Read more about the 2013 Guelph Jazz Festival: