Those readers familiar with Soundlist (www.soundlist.ca) and the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto (www.aimtoronto.org) will readily recognize guitarist Ken Aldcroft. He is a tireless performer and promoter of improvised music on the Toronto circuit. His prolific output has achieved a great deal in increasing the acceptance of this sometimes-misunderstood genre of music.
The release of Ken Aldcroft's Convergence Ensemble disc "The Great Divide" is a welcome addition. Besides Aldcroft, the other players are Evan Shaw on alto sax, Scott Thomson on trombone, Wes Neal on bass and Joe Sorbara on drums. Aldcroft bases all the five tracks on his own tunes - the players effortlessly move from his melodies to freer sections. I play improvised music myself and occasionally risk finding my performances hurtling towards a state reminiscent of an extremely cluttered closet in dire need of a professional organizer. This is definitely not the case with Aldcroft and company! Each player is very familiar with Aldcroft compositions and is able to establish such strong musical boundaries in the freer sections that the music is never out of control. The musicians create a plethora of unforgettable aural delights.
The mix, sound quality and production values are top notch. Pete Johnston's liner notes provide interesting facts and insights. As is the case with improvised music, this recording is a one-time "musical snapshot". I agree with Johnston's suggestion of repeated listening. The music just gets better and better each time. An excellent effort recommended for both the seasoned and novice listener.