15 Brodie WestMeadow of Dreams
Brodie West Quintet
Ansible Editions AE-003 (ansibleeditions.com)

This is the third release by Toronto-based alto saxophonist Brodie West’s quintet, retaining the same stellar personnel: pianist Tania Gill; bassist Josh Cole; drummer Nick Fraser; and multi-instrumentalist Evan Cartwright, here contributing drums, vibraphone and guitar to significantly expand the group’s palette. West’s background includes extended work with the eclectic Dutch school of improvisers, including drummer Han Bennink and The Ex, musicians whose work extends from free jazz to syntheses of anarcho-punk and African dance music. The result is that West’s creativity ranges freely amidst existing genres, creating sudden juxtapositions of rhythm and timbre, from the glacier-slow, almost ceremonial Fortress to the piping life of Haunt and the wistful dissonance of the title track. 

Grotto may begin as a slightly murky, film noir ballad, but West’s thin, upper-register tone and quarter-tone pitch bends press it far afield, to a kind of science-fiction melancholy. His compositions can continuously shift ground. Inhabit III begins as a slow exchange of single notes by Gill and Cole before adding Fraser’s drums and Cartwright’s guitar; then West joins the complex rhythmic weave with a simple melody, only to shift suddenly to a rapid, pointillist sequence with Fraser and Gill. 

If the music first fascinates with a deliberated disjointedness, it’s the compound mystery and intensity that will keep a listener engaged. West is among the most creative figures in Canadian music, reconstituting long-running conventions into musical puzzles as engaging as they are disruptive.

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