Review by Danny Gaisin
Top ten listings are ubiquitous; even the ARTS REVIEW publishes an annual re-cap. When one Google’s ™ North American registers of most-acclaimed music schools, such names as Oberlin; Eastman; Colburn; the Manhattan School; Ann Arbor and Julliard come immediately to mind. Always included in the register is Boston’s Berklee, whose graduates include Bruce Cockburn, Diana Krall, Quincy Jones; Branford Marsalis and all of the ‘Imagine Dragons’ ensemble. Berklee is the world’s largest independent jazz & modern music school with students from around the globe.
This year, the school has underwritten a Canadian tour of the undergraduate faculty members who have formed 2Birds Band. To entrust both the funding and responsibilities of presenting such an iconic organization as Berklee (& the Boston Conservatory)’s reputation to five young people barely out of their teens indicates signifies not only the confidence Faculty administration places but signifies the creative and technical expertise these youngsters possess.
The groups’ tour includes performances in Toronto and Hamilton as well as a tutorial clinics at Mohawk College and the Centre For String Playing. Last evening the quintet staged a gig at THIS AIN’T HOLLYWOOD; “The Birds” categorically flew. Their novel creativity and atonal innovations evoke the groundbreaking of D’Indy or Hindemith as well as more contemporary pop icons. One of the Parisian violinists (Tony Bird) is as animated on stage as the infamously peripatetic Andy Gibb!
The challenge facing the group’s percussionist is the radical changes in tempo. This seems to occur in almost every composition. One minor-key piece had a klezmer–ish introduction that segued into a violin/pizzicato cello riff with an African folk incorporation. Yet the work was your basic 12-bar progression. The overall feeling of improvisational responses between the team members obviously reflects a telepathic musical relationship that belies the relatively short period that they have spent together. A particularly memorable piece had a potent oriental feel even so far as to relegate the TTS, TTTS scale of conventional European music.
There is an energy not only in their compositions but in the execution as well. 2Birds may not appeal to the conventional jazz aficionado, but for any fan or student of pushing the progressive jazz envelope, this group can certainly be a musical education. Gabe; George (cello); Tony (violinist); Marc (drums) and bassist Evan each contribute their own individuality and creative genomes proving the Aristotelian adage that “the whole is oftimes greater the sum of its parts”.
This Ain’t Hollywood is Hamilton’s 2nd oldest tavern having been built in 1893. The present owners have been running it since 2008 and their policy is regular open-mike evenings receptive regardless of genre. The booze pricing is reasonable and brought-in food is permitted. The establishment’s young sound/light engineer is technically trained and effective. No wonder T.A.H. is a local award-winner!