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Plumb Lori Freedman, Scott Thomson

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A recording of wide-ranging, freely improvised solos and duets by Montréal clarinetist and bass clarinetist Lori Freedman and Toronto trombonist Scott Thomson played, as Mark Miller says in his liner notes, “with a folksy sort of virtuosity — amiable, agreeably unpretentious and without the patented sheen of the conservatory.”

Plumb

Lori Freedman, Scott Thomson

La presse en parle

  • Nate Dorward, Paris Transatlantic, 12 décembre 2008
    This is first-rate music that hardly deserves the tag “abstract”: it contains more melodic invention than a score of mainstream jazz records.
  • Stuart Broomer, Musicworks, no 102, 1 décembre 2008
  • David Fujino, The Live Music Report, 1 septembre 2008
    These players freely ’play the music’ — and therefore gift us with their sonic imagination, individual experience, and far-reaching intuition.
  • Pierre Durr, Revue & Corrigée, no 77, 1 septembre 2008
    Les nouveaux labels canadiens semblent relativement ouverts et non dévolus à quelques formes musicales très précises, à la manière de nombreux petits producteurs européens.
  • Philip Clark, The Wire, no 293, 1 juillet 2008
    Remarkably serious entertainment.
  • Mike Chamberlain, Signal to Noise, no 50, 1 juin 2008
  • Grisli, Le son du grisli, 23 avril 2008
    … l’exercice du duo improvisé est ici porté haut par une paire alerte: Lori Freedman et Scott Thomson
  • Marc Chénard, La Scena Musicale, no 13:7, 1 avril 2008
  • Vish Khanna, Exclaim!, 1 avril 2008
    Those with some knowledge of Freedman and Thomson’s work as individuals will likely appreciate Plumb
  • Isnor B Gordon, Left Hip Magazine, 1 avril 2008
    Plumb is a very dynamic session with lots of variety. At times meditative and peaceful, deeply out there, noisy, shrill, mellifluous…

On Barnyard

Nate Dorward, Paris Transatlantic, 12 décembre 2008

Plumb is the only “traditional” free improv disc in this batch of releases, an encounter between clarinetist Lori Freedman (best known as half of the duo Queen Mab with Marilyn Lerner) and trombonist Scott Thomson. It’s recorded in extreme close-up in a dry acoustic, which actually suits the music very well: the playing is plenty vivid on its own, a lot of the action taking place “inside” the sounds. The CD is, fortunately, not an extended-technique showcase, though there are plenty of odd, ear-tickling sounds to be found here. What the duo is up to is subtler than hiss-blap-brrp sonic extremism: often it’s as if they are unpacking the extraordinary sonic oddities and treasures discoverable even in fairly standard sounds on their instruments, the rasps and flutters and expressive jolts that lurk within a note. Thomson keeps to small, tactile gestures but somehow contrives to give bebop momentum even to moments of drifting near-stasis, his playing’s calm surface ruffled by countless small shivers of delight and contrariness; while the solo piece Lead shows how much mileage he can get out of quivery pirouettes and split tones — he even throws in some curt bouncing-ball melodies right out of J J Johnson. Freedman is more inclined to moments of catharsis, exploiting the bass clarinet’s sheer animal warmth or (contrarily) emitting abrupt, computery bleeps, and letting loose a huge outcry in the middle of The Plummet; but she’s also got a knack for using hisses, sighs and whispers with needle-like precision. (Nice to hear a free improv disc where the quietest moments are so intense, even passionate, never threatening to dissolve into vagueness or low-energy drift: there’s a quiet, bubbling episode at the end of Leak that will make your scalp prickle.) This is first-rate music that hardly deserves the tag “abstract”: it contains more melodic invention than a score of mainstream jazz records.

This is first-rate music that hardly deserves the tag “abstract”: it contains more melodic invention than a score of mainstream jazz records.

Review

David Fujino, The Live Music Report, 1 septembre 2008

Avant players Lori Freedman and Scott Thomson converse easily throughout these nine recorded tracks of engaging free improvisation.

Each has a solo track, but otherwise they’re playing spacious, structurally aware, highly sensitive duets. Trombonist Thomson frequently senses mood changes and adjusts (Leak), while clarinetist Lori Freedman expresses her ideas in well-structured outflows (The Plummet).

Also, they employ extended (and invented) techniques to project their imaginations through sound — or through mixtures of sound and silence, to be more exact.

While I know it’s a cliché, I have to say that Freedman and Thomson ’play so human’ in this recording, and their axis of mind, body, and breath, literally breathes in these sonically free and surprising, well-shaped improvisations.

These players freely ’play the music’ — and therefore gift us with their sonic imagination, individual experience, and far-reaching intuition.

These players freely ’play the music’ — and therefore gift us with their sonic imagination, individual experience, and far-reaching intuition.

Critiques de disques

Pierre Durr, Revue & Corrigée, no 77, 1 septembre 2008

Est-ce circonstantiel ou serait-ce une orientation plus générale? Toujours est-il que les nouveaux labels canadiens semblent relativement ouverts et non dévolus à quelques formes musicales très précises, à la manière de nombreux petits producteurs européens.

Barnyard Records, à travers ces quatre enregistrements, s’inscrit un peu dans la lignée d’Ambiances Magnétiques par un éclectisme évident, non sans humour d’ailleurs, côtoyant aussi bien le rock (avec une approche évidemment déstructurée), le jazz et l’improvisation. Basé à Toronto, il est une émanation du batteur Jean Martin, qui émarge dans les trois premières références citées.

Barnyard Drama a tout du happening rock, dans lequel l’improvisation suit une ligne directrice assez concise, véhiculée par les entrelacs des deux guitares aux sons incandescents, elles-mêmes propulsées par la batterie de Jean Martin. L’un des deux guitaristes n’est autre que Bernard Falaise, souvent présent sur les enregistrements québécois. L’auditeur pense parfois aux délires d’Amon Düül (celui de Paradieswärstdüül ou de Collapsing) avec plus de rigueur, d’autant plus que la voix de Christine Duncan adopte aussi (en particulier sur Invisible) les intonations de Renate Knaup (référence cette fois-ci à Amon Düül II).

Si le duo de Jean Martin avec le saxophoniste Evan Shaw relève plutôt d’un jazz assez cool (c’est sans doute le sens du titre Piano Music sur un enregistrement dépourvu de notes issues d’un clavier) malgré un jeu de percussion assez atypique, celui que présente le batteur (ici usant d’autres instruments) avec Colin Fisher (saxophoniste lui aussi multi instrumentiste) s’inscrit davantage dans l’univers des musiques de traverses (pour reprendre un vocable des années 80) avec une variété d’approches, passant du bruitisme atmosphérique (et mélodieux) à une sorte de jazz rock électrifié, ou à des séquences hautement improvisées.

C’est à des improvisations plus nettement dissonantes et sans assise rythmique, que l’on pourrait presque qualifier d’intégristes, que s’attaquent la clarinettiste montréalaise Lori Freedman et le tromboniste de Toronto, Scott Thomson, mêlant, sauf dans l’une ou l’autre pièce en soliste, les effets peu conventionnels tirés de leurs instruments respectifs, en jouant aussi bien de leur timbre spécifique que des sonorités annexes qu’ils suscitent. Parfois sèches et âpres, celles-ci peuvent aussi ^tre empreintes d’humour, voire de tendresse.

Les nouveaux labels canadiens semblent relativement ouverts et non dévolus à quelques formes musicales très précises, à la manière de nombreux petits producteurs européens.

Review

Philip Clark, The Wire, no 293, 1 juillet 2008

If this combination of clarinet and trombone echoes a classic jazz frontline from the era of King Oliver or Jelly Roll Morton, it’s not a heritage that Toronto based Lori Freedman and Scott Thomson deny. Indeed one track from this superb duo record, Plumb, eagerly embraces that lineage, as Freedman’s chattery clarinet lines interweave against the contour’s of Thomson’s abstracted tailgating trombone. But there are other concerns too: Freedman bounces off fruity fundamentals as she explores the outer reaches of her instrument’s overtones, while elsewhere deadpan post-dada humour belly-laughs its way to the front. Remarkably serious entertainment.

Remarkably serious entertainment.

Critique

Grisli, Le son du grisli, 23 avril 2008

Sur Plumb: le dialogue récemment improvisé par la clarinettiste Lori Freedman et le tromboniste Scott Thomson.

Instables, les deux intervenants s’imposent des instincts de jeu différents: discours haché ou notes longues gagnées par l’angoisse ou l’ironie, méthode éprouvée mais appliquée encore de l’écoute attentive ou interventions individuelles annulant tout fantasme d’effort commun, pratiques le plus souvent expérimentales. Régulièrement investi, plus rarement convaincant, l’exercice du duo improvisé est ici porté haut par une paire alerte: Lori Freedman et Scott Thomson, Canadiens doués et d’aplomb.

… l’exercice du duo improvisé est ici porté haut par une paire alerte: Lori Freedman et Scott Thomson

Review

Vish Khanna, Exclaim!, 1 avril 2008

Plumb is an honest, no-frills document of two of the busiest musicians in Canadian improvised music joining forces for a good-humoured recording session. From a personality perspective, Toronto, ON trombonist Scott Thomson often plays the rascally rogue, while Montréal clarinettist Lori Freedman is more earnest and soulful in her musical explorations. In these solo and duet pieces, each player shifts their roles accordingly, calling and responding to nuanced appeals for new sounds from their respective instruments. Freedman generates squawks and squalls on Aplomb that are rhythmic and damn near poetic. Two Depths is moodier, beginning with the Theremin-like bubbling of Thomson’s gurgling trombone, which suspends Freedman’s subtle accompaniment in the air before both instrumentalists begin bristling at one another in concert. Such physiological experiments, where the trombone, clarinet and bass clarinet each are ascribed with communicative traits usually reserved for braying organisms, continue on the stirring To Horn and the subdued big-band musings of Two Plums. Those with some knowledge of Freedman and Thomson’s work as individuals will likely appreciate Plumb the most but there’s certainly something vivacious about their interplay.

Those with some knowledge of Freedman and Thomson’s work as individuals will likely appreciate Plumb

Review

Isnor B Gordon, Left Hip Magazine, 1 avril 2008

A satisfying 45 minutes of free improv fire music from Canada’s Lori Freedman and Scott Thomson. Freedman is one of, to my knowledge, two major Canadian bass clarinetists alongside Halifax’s Jeff O’Reilly. She has shared the stage with major players on the avant and free improv scenes - and beyond - including a noteworthy duet with fellow ‘licorice stick’ abuser François Houle. Thomson I’m not familiar with but he proves himself up to the task of brushing up against Freedman’s impressive talents with a series of squeaks, shrieks, skronks and skree that fall firmly in the category of ‘extended technique’.

Plumb is a very dynamic session with lots of variety. At times meditative and peaceful, deeply out there, noisy, shrill, mellifluous, grating like fingernails on a chalkboard, humourous, beautiful and unapologetically dissonant - they explore all facets of their instruments and sonic possibility.

Though Freedman is a powerful force that can really burn, she also knows when to step back and give other players a chance to shine. She does that on the third piece, Lead, letting Thomson take a solo flight for the whole track. Very nice piece.

Fans of abstract free improv in that gray zone between jazz and contemporary classical will love Plumb. An excellent release from new label Barnyard. Let’s hope they continue to put out albums of this calibre and they’ll make a fine addition to the Canadian musical landscape alongside labels like Jesse Zubot’s Drip Audio.

Plumb is a very dynamic session with lots of variety. At times meditative and peaceful, deeply out there, noisy, shrill, mellifluous…

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