Downbeat (October 2012)
Review: AIMToronto Orchestra "The Year Of The Boar" (BR0323)
BY: Michael Jackson

This is the studio debut for a group assembled at the 2007 Guelph Jazz Festival by soprano saxophonist Kyle Brenders, initially to interpret Anthony Braxton’s music. The repertoire expanded to include pieces by Brenders, Justin Haynes, Joe Sorbara and vibraphonist Germaine Liu.

Tightly synched a cappella horns scamper like the eponymous boar at the outset, before the whole ensemble joins. A shriek from Christine Duncan precedes hog-like rasps from soprano and assorted reeds before a count-in to a jovial line out of a Dutch fanfare brass band book. A landslide of long tones ensues, coming to rest in an oasis of pastoral guitar and whistling. Clearly through-composed and cued, nonetheless far from a predictable ride.

Brender’s “Fields” generates brooding electrical currents with arco buzz and shimmering long tones before an incredible tinkling—like thousands of amplified glass cockroaches—heralds percussionist Sorbara’s “Rendered In Desperation.”

Pristine recording by Jean Martin at Toronto’s Canterbury Music abets the wide dynamic range of the ensemble, which can hold much in reserve, unlike other groups its size. The personnel may comprise contemporary music specialists more than jazz-based improvisers, restricting solo indulgence. There’s remarkable clarity of purpose, even in paraphrasing histrionics backing Duncan’s demented rants during “Follow Line Flow Line,” which concludes spookily with creepy strings, key pops and deadened piano keys. Liu’s “Cross Fading Accents” comes at you like some off-course threshing machine.