The Whole Note

Review: Ken Aldcroft-William Parker “Live at the Tranzac Vol. 1” (TRP-DS04-023)

By: Raul da Gama

It is always curious to hear about musicians moving to Toronto where the establishments supporting creative music are few and far between, especially if these musicians relocate from Vancouver or Montreal. But who’s complaining? I am at great risk of losing an arm and a leg for suggesting better the Vancouver-born Ken Aldcroft than a hockey player from the U.S. for the Maple Leafs. However, when you hear his 2016 recording with bassist William Parker it all becomes eminently clear. Both men have reputations for being key 21st-century innovators. Parker and Aldcroft worship at the altar of creativity and if you needed more reasons to appreciate those facts, they are all on this remarkable album, Live at the Tranzac Vol.1.

There is never a dull moment on this long piece, simply entitled Set 1. Ideas abound and the music virtually bustles with energetic rhythm and vigorous figurations with no hint of ever coming to an end. The music weaves in and out of melodic phrases and features ever arresting improvisation that challenges even the instrument’s timbral colour. This is a dazzling performance – with Parker also featured on the Japanese shakuhachi and the West African donso ngoni – and when imbued with the intensity and imagination of Aldcroft and Parker the music emerges with a constant stream of new colours, emotions and effects. Moreover, both musicians are supreme masters of musical invention, as this recording triumphantly demonstrates.