Guests: Rob Clutton, Bass and Puff (my cat), Voice
All Compositions by Colin Fisher and Jean Martin 2007 - SOCAN Special Thanks to Rob Clutton for playing bass on Folk Song and Puff for singing on Cat Song Recorded, Mixed and Mastered by Jean Martin at The Farm studio, Toronto ON Photos and Art by Jean Martin
This studio recording deftly interlaces and frames the spontaneous improvisations of Toronto reeds/guitar multi-instrumentalist Colin Fisher and drummer/producer Jean Martin into extended and dynamic song forms with results that range from delicate to euphoric.
Between the two of them, drummer/loopster Jean Martin and multi-instrumentalist Colin Fisher command a veritable orchestra of sound resources. And they deploy them here to captivating effect. From the endearingly uncertain vocalese on opener “Olive” to the powerhouse Weather Report-ish “Koyaya,” with its irresistible riffage and Fisher’s virtuosic electric bass solo, Little Man on the Boat displays sophisticated arranging. Especially noteworthy is Martin’s growing production expertise, as the sound quality and mixing are superb throughout. The title tune features the CD’s strongest playing — Fisher’s guitar histrionics are genuinely inspired, dramatically emotional and technically spellbinding. The only weak link in the eight-track document is “Allo Caveman,” which suffers from the saxophone’s limited range of gestures and a lack of self-critical editing. Regardless, Little Man shows the duo’s imaginative breadth, mature arranging and production skills in the context of diverse tunes that are engaging even after repeated listening. (Barnyard)
Toronto’s Barnyard Records are a creative bunch, armed with energetic solos, euphoric interplay, and spontaneous improvisations. In one eventful setting, the label is presenting a CD launch party for 3 brand new recordings at Montréal's Casa del Popolo.
Barnyard Records certainly isn’t very old. Its young livestock roster sprung into gear with the 2006 release I’m A Navvy by Barnyard Drama, which featured the resourceful poetic-styled vocal presence of Christine Duncan, the drumming and turntable work of label head Jean Martin, and the fancy guitar impressions of both Justin Haynes and the incomparable Bernard Falaise. You can expect that foursome to create some excitement during the upcoming Suoni Per Il Popolo Festival later this June, but for the moment at least, Barnyard Records is busy welcoming three new creative beauties into the world.
With three combos in the spotlight, individuality may need to be shelved for a short while, and Jean Martin should be a little busier than most, as the CD Launch Party and Concert will zig zag through Colin Fisher & Jean Martin's Little Man on a Boat, Evan Shaw & Jean Martin's Piano Music, not to mention Plumb by trombonist Scott Thomson and Montréal clarinetist (and bass clarinetist) Lori Freedman, for a very eventful evening of mostly jazz-based collaborations (and I use the term loosely) at the Casa del Popolo. And to set the record straight, negating my catchy article title, there’s as much simple beauty involved as anything remotely cacophonous.
It’s a bit of a toss up, but both albums featuring deft percussionist Jean Martin are my favorites from the lot. The dude’s got a magic touch on the skins from the likes of it. Piano Music, featuring Martin alongside Evan Shaw, with its tongue and cheek title, doesn’t actually feature any piano, but it’s well-stocked in crazy ass jazz improvisations (not to mention a few overdubs), often reaching great heights— all of which can hardly be contained on the 14-minute "Rattlebag Jimmy". Shaw, an extremely talented and rich-sounding alto-saxophonist, manages to keep things captivating and tantalizing throughout. Little Man on a Boat, meanwhile, finds Martin hooking up with reeds/guitar multi-instrumentalist Colin Fisher for a wild ride, despite the more song-oriented format. À la fois tactical and free as the wind, these two animals really cut the cake on the wondrous, rustic and comforting "Folk Song"(which features Rob Clutton on bass), or the shining cacophonous splendor of "Hempville".
Pay yourself a treat, and get the quality and diversity you really crave in one single malt shot serving.
Jean Martin and Colin Fisher | Little Man On the Boat
Little Man On the Boat is another strong offering from Barnyard Records, Jean Martin's label.
Throughout eight recorded tracks, drummer/producer Jean Martin and Colin Fisher play a music that's inventive, open, subtle, strongly orchestral in intent, resonant with tone colours, and animated by a deep and malleable sense of groove.
These are two fine player/composers, and their look into the relationship between space and rhythm produces diverse compositions like "Olive", with its sing-a-long falsetto voices; the evenly stressed trumpet tones of Martin in "A Long Way From Beacon Hill"; the assertive 'jazz orchestra' punctuations in "Hempville"; and, "Allo Caveman", a serio-comic piece built on 'spaced out' rock guitar chords, an energetic post-Ayler tenor saxophone, and a reoccurring xylophone.
Free jazz, creative music, improvised music, whatever you'd like to call this recording, is okay.
The music speaks for itself out of a strong jazz sensibility with (internalized) dialects of rock, ambient, pop, electronic, and new music, as part of its overall clear-headed, creative expression.
A beautiful album that defies any easy pigeonholing, Little Man on the Boat is a collaboration between Toronto musicians Jean Martin and Colin Fisher. Between the two of them they’ve got all the instruments covered: Martin performs here on drums, trumpet, keyboards and loops, while Fisher is featured on tenor sax, guitar, bass, melodica, banjo and vocals. The two share composition credits, and the album was record mixed and mastered by Jean Martin at his own studio, featuring his own photos and art and released on his own Barnyard label. Phew! These guys are busy dudes.
Ostenibly coming out of the jazz scene, the album does feature a fair bit of free improv, with some really nice playing on a variety of instruments, including some really cool skronky disorted guitar work and some blazing hot sax playing from Fisher – who the hell is this guy that plays this well on not one but two instruments, and maybe more and why is he not a household name in contemporary jazz?
But the sound transcends the limitations of free improv with lots of compositional savvy, multitracking (Fisher soloing against himself works well) without falling into that the dangerous and potentially icky/blah territory known as ‘post-rock’. There’s broke-down skronk/funk, pretty peaceful bits, a good mix.
One particularly nice track ends the album, the title track, “Little Man on the Boat” that actually recalls the new age fingerstyle guitar of William Ackerman, taken to a new place maybe a post-Jim O’Rourke world — I could see him doing something along these lines, and I bet if he heard this he’d be jealous he didn’t create this track himself. Again, some incredible guitar playing from Colin Fisher – amazing technique on display, including some lessons that sound learned from the warbly pitch bends of the sitar.
A beautiful and invigorating album, exactly the kind of forward-thinking music that jazz players should be striving to make, but with definite appeal beyond the genre. Well worth checking out.