Downtown Music Gallery
Review: Ken Aldcroft's Convergence Ensemble "Saskatoon" (TRP-017)
BY: Bruce Lee Gallanter

The Convergence Ensemble features Ken Aldcroft on guitar & compositions, Evan Shaw on alto sax, Scott Thomson on trombone, Wes Neal on bass and Joe Sorbara on drums. This set was recorded live at the Bassment in Saskatoon in January of 2007. Toronto-based guitarist, Ken Aldcroft, plays here at DMG a couple of times per year (with William Parker & Andy Haas), and often leaves us with or sends us his self-produced discs. He often collaborates with a number of Toronto's best musicians and here has put together a fine quintet. Ken has been using the same musicians for a while as he has three previous discs with the same quintet. His two rhythm teammates, Wes Neal and Joe Sorbara, worked with Evan Parker last year for a fine trio disc on the Barnyard label.

Starting with sparse sounds the quintet eventually works their way into more of groove with the trombone soloing heatedly over interlocking guitar and sax led lines. Mr. Aldcroft has a way of crafting quirky melodies, which seem to emerge from freer sections and involve subsections of the band to connect on different levels. You can tell that these musicians have been playing together previously since they always interact and work their way through Ken's shrewd charts so well. I dig that much of this is stripped down and rarely chaotic or too free. There is a handful of duo and trio sections that I particularly like since they give certain members a chance to shine or just combine their talents on a more intimate or intricate level. There is a section of "X Marks the Spot" which recalls a melody by Eric Dolphy before it jumps into a more hard swinging section with a great, fast guitar solo. I used to think that balancing the in and out with lots of unexpected twists and turns was more of a Downtown phenomena but I have come to realize that mature music explorers from around the world find their own way to explore and connect. This is a prime example of strong exploration at it's best!