Sarah Chan, Vue Weekly, January 25, 2007

Jazz ensemble finds its harmonic Convergence

Ken Aldcroft's Convergence Ensemble is an improvisational group that never performs the exact way twice.

Aldcroft leads the band on guitar, with Evan Shaw on alto sax, Scott Thomson on trombone, Wes Neal on bass and Joe Sorbara on drums, and together they spontaneously arrange the group's pieces with improvised elements based on composed materials. There are a few rules to follow when the group gets together for a performance, however.

"Not only do we improvise music, we will interpret and arrange and orchestrate through improvising," explains Aldcroft. "We don't tell anyone what they have to play - it's all done on the spot. There could be a solo, duo or trio, or everyone playing."

Ironically, the anything goes attitude is finely tuned through rehearsals.

"I try to rehearse the band in a way where we don't play the same tune in the same way," Aldcroft says. "The guys know the way to keep it fresh is to listen and react to what's being done in the moment"

As a graduate of the MacEwan jazz program, Aldcroft is looking forward to taking the stage at the Yardbird Suite here in Edmonton.

"I know they still base (the program) on making skilled musicians," he says of his old music school. "The background I have from there is amazing."

Aldcroft says that while the Convergence Ensemble's musicians do not try to avoid the influence of genre-based music like jazz, they don't spend much time worrying about the possibility of being pigeon-holed by their respective backgrounds.

"We're going to have our group sound, which is going to be our sound," he states. "We've all got our collective voices."

Beyond the somewhat vague description, though, the Convergence Ensemble's style is hard to capture in words. Aldcroft suggests seeing them live is the best possible explanation for what they do.

"For people who have heard the band, they always really enjoy it - the audience is as much of the experience as we are," he promises. "We're going to step up on that stage and we don't know what's going to happen. Whoever is in the audience is going to be part of this experience and the great thing about performing is you get that connection."