Independent UFPCD001 (www.urbanfluteproject.com)
The aim of the Urban Flute Project, the brainchild of Royal Conservatory flutist and teacher, Jamie Thompson, as I understand it, is to acquaint anyone who is interested (through its website and through CDs like this one) with urban locations around the world, not through the way they look but through their acoustical properties, conveyed by hearing a flute played in them.
This CD consists of 28 short tracks of Jamie Thompson playing in various locations. He was most successful in attaining the goal, “Re-defining space,” the CD’s sub-title, in places where the acoustical environment became a co-performer: the Manitoba Legislature; the Scarth Street Deco in Regina; track the Soldiers’ Tower at University of Toronto; Singhampton Bridge; Laird Lair; and the Millennium Centre in Winnipeg. The reverberation of these spaces became his performing partner. The ambient sound conveying the unique sonic properties – everything from moving water, birds, industrial machinery, horses’ hooves, the voices of people and even frogs – on the other tracks came across, alas, not as musical partners but as contrived impositions, reminiscent of the naïve sound effects of 1940s and 50s radio dramas.
No doubt, live at the time, every one of these musical moments would have been surprising and magical. Capturing the magic, the surprise and the spontaneity in an audio recording, has proven here to be very difficult if not impossible. The idea is good, but did not translate well into CD format. I might add that Jamie is a fine flutist and I hope he continues to record. I look forward to hearing a recording that does him justice.