10 Iris Trio Project Earth The Blue ChapterProject Earth: The Blue Chapter
Iris Trio
Centrediscs CMCCD 33924 (cmccanada.org/shop/cmccd-33924)

Newfoundland is poetry and birds and surf, rocks and accents and music. This disc, from the Iris Trio, performing the music of jazz pianist Florian Hoefner, and including the poems of Don McKay, provides a window opening into the experience of being there, reminding the listener to seek what is wild or untainted, if anything of that nature remains to be found. 

Artistic activity that attempts what Blue Chapter does, whether effectual or not, always makes me sad. Fortunately in this instance, it doesn’t also provoke grumbles; rather, I can just listen and forget that the world these artists want to help us appreciate may already be gone. Consider the lament McKay has written for the now extinct Great Auk, whose calls were described in words by naturalists; they died out before the advent of sound recording. Spoken word followed by a musical soundscape, both words and musical cries make us lament what we missed. The sadness isn’t that we don’t know what the cry was like, but that we never will. In Song for the Song of the Great Auk the pathos is undeniable. Kudos to all three players (Christine Carter on clarinet, violist Zoë Martin-Doike and pianist Anna Petrova) for their confident and calm expression. 

In his note in the liner material, McKay ruefully comments on his approximate success in staying “on cue” (“with the beat” for the musicians among us). It’s fun to imagine him struggling on the learning curve with the band, and managing at a far better rate than his self-assigned 70%. 

And there are fun tracks too, there are joyful expressions, there’s a Newfie kitchen party among the nesting birds on the islands. Forgive me for feeling Blue, but that is the colour of this chapter, the first, says the publicity material, of three. We look forward to the next two.

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Author: Max Christie
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