Review: Ken Aldcroft’s Convergence Ensemble, “Our Hospitality” (TRP-010)
By: Wilbert Sostre
Part composition and a lot of improvisation, the music of the Convergence Ensemble is not for everyone. Especially if you usually listen to music with repetitive melodies and a steady beat. Almost all compositions are from the leader and guitar player Ken Aldcroft, but in reality the music on this CD is a spontaneous arrangement by all members of the group. An excellent horn section with Nicole Rampersaud on trumpet, Evan Shaw on alto saxophone, and Scott Thomson on Trombone. In the rhythm section, Joe Sorbara on drums and Wes Neal on bass.
The first piece, "Our Hospitality", starts with a collective dissonant improvisation that sounds almost like an argument. All instruments negotiate for a resolution and four minutes passed before the band gets into a nice funky groove with expressive, powerful melodies and harmonies on horns.
The moaning horns at the beginning of "Study In" are followed by a group improvisation. Then bass and drums guide the transition to Directions IV with some nice guitar chords and harmonies improvised by Aldcroft, closing with swinging melodies on horns.
"Just a Hint" sounds almost like a slow march. Evan delivers energetic solos on sax, followed by harmonized melodies on horns and impressive trumpet playing by Nicole Rampersaud.
Beautiful, melancholic sax intro on "Work Song", then trombone and sax exchange bluesy melodies until the end of the piece. The next track, Study In, belongs to Joe Sorbara and Wes Neal with masterful improvisations on drums and bass before the horns enter halfway, to end in a collective improvisation.
Like the tittle suggest, “Dialoguing” is like a dialogue between the instruments, and Evan Shaw sax solo is like a speech in the middle of that dialogue. Cheeky is the most melodic piece on this CD. The rhythm at the middle of this piece has a nice latin feeling and once again Wes Neal bass lines provides the groove that ties together this group of talented improvisers.