©Brett Delmage, 2019
Togetherness! at IMOO Fest 2019 (l-r: Scott Thomson, Ellwood Epps, Stephane Diamantakiou, Aurélien Tomasi, Ivan Bamford) at IMOO Fest 2019 ©Brett Delmage, 2019

IMOO Fest 2019 – Day 2
GigSpace, Ottawa
Saturday, September 7, 2019 – 7 to 10 p.m.

The second evening of IMOO Fest 2019 was a study in complete contrasts: from nuanced sounds in near-silence, to joyful South African grooves, to a four-part improvisation.

Up first was a trio from Montreal and Guelph, playing unusual instruments in graceful harmony. Pierre-Yves Martel performed on various whistles and on the viola da gamba – bowed, pizzicato, and rubbing against the instrument's wooden body at its waist. Ben Grossman created melodies, drones, and rhythms on his hurdy-gurdy. Patrick Graham produced sinuous sounds and complex rhythms on a wide variety of drums, rattles, and triangles. Their improvised show was crisp, beautiful, and used the GigSpace's quietness very well.

Togetherness! took its vibe primarily from South African jazz, with pieces by Abdullah Ibrahim and Dudu Pukwana predominating. Their three-horn front line – Scott Thomson on trombone, Ellwood Epps on trumpet, and Aurélien Tomasi on alto sax and clarinet – played joyous melodies over a strong rhythm section of Stephane Diamantakiou on double bass and Ivan Bamford on drums.

They opened with an upbeat piece by leader Epps that featured intertwined and vibrating horns over a strong groove and continued in that vein for five more tunes, sometimes with a gospel or New Orleans flair added as well, with bluesy notes from Epps' and Thomson's selections of mutes, and a fierce clarinet solo from Tomasi. It was a dynamic and audience-pleasing 40 minutes.

The one-time-only improvising quartet of Ingrid Laubrock on soprano and tenor sax, Tom Rainey on drums, Linsey Wellman on alto and baritone sax, and David Jackson on electric guitar and effects, closed the evening with a 45-minute fully-improvised set that moved from sparsely-scattered notes to all-out chaotic crescendos in a series of powerful soundscapes. It showed considerable simpatico between Wellman and Laubrock in particular.

The evening attracted 35-40 listeners, who applauded warmly throughout. The festival continues tonight at GigSpace starting at 7 p.m., with the PCP Trio, Jason Sharp, and the IMOO Orchestra featuring Laubrock and Rainey.

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