The Whole Note
Review: Ken Aldcroft - Joel LeBlanc, The Long and the Short of It (TRP-DS02-016) and Andy Haas - Ken Aldcroft, Notes on the Miasms (Resonant Music 010)
By: Tiina Kiik

Toronto guitarist Ken Aldcroft displays his formidable guitar technique and improvising acumen in two new "free improv" releases.

The long and the short of it features him with fellow guitarist Joel LeBlanc in two contrasting short and long works. Each "short" is a concise tidbit of colour and rhythm which sets up a lengthier (over 20 minutes) set. The Long (I) is a mellow soundscape which seems to emulate the soothing environment of the wilderness. The minimalistic patterns and atonal guitar effects are precisely placed in the relaxing soundscape. In contrast, The Long (II) is a wall of sound, giant stadium extended rock guitar extravaganza. It sounds like one giant guitar riffs, extended solos and in-your-face sound bolts, combined with humour and wit in a stunning example of superb music.

Notes on the miasms features Aldcroft improvising with Andy Haas on sax and electronics. The music is more atonal than the above release making it perhaps a bit more of a difficult listening exercise for those not accustomed to this type of music. Haas' rapid saxophone lines against Aldcroft's guitar colours are brilliant in their textures, phrasing and energy. The occasional reference to traditional jazz and blues is a welcome musical commentary.

These two releases are fine examples of the flourishing creative music scene in Toronto. The improvisation skills, talent and dedication of musicians such as Ken Aldcroft guarantee a vibrant improvising future for players and listeners alike.