14. She's Not My Girlfriend (my girlfriend’s normal)
Wes Cheang-acoustic guitar
Ryan Driver-analog synthesizer
Myk Freedman-lap steel
Kai Koschmider-alto saxophone,
Evan Shaw-alto saxophone
Produced by Jean Martin
Recorded July 12, 2008, Canterbury Studio
With Jeremy Darby and J. Martin
Mixed and Mastered by J. Martin
at The Farm, Toronto ON Canada
Art and Photos by J. Martin
All Tunes by Myk Freedman SOCAN 2009
St. Dirt Elementary School is a little big band; it's a salon orchestra; it's a cabaret pitband; it's a New School concert band half-remembering old school psychedelics in a district West of Weimar and North of San Antonio. It is both public and private. It can swing like a Kollektief or shamble like a seaside sinfonia. St. Dirt Elementary School plays compositions: rubberband exotica, bouncing like bamboo windchimes dangling from the hood of a springloaded pram.
SAINT DIRT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL / Ice Cream Man Dreams
Un disque surprenant et très agréable. Il s’agit d’un ensemble dirigé par Myk Freedman. Neuf musiciens, instrumentation acoustique (sauf un synthé analogique et une lap steel). Une musique un peu jazzée, surtout foraine. Une version ontarienne de la Fanfare Pourpour? Je vais apprécier de plus en plus avec chaque écoute, je crois.
A striking and quite enjoyable record. This is an ensemble led by Myk Freedman. Nine musicians, acoustic instrumentation (save an analog synth and Freedman’s lap steel). The music is a slightly jazzy but most fair-like. Ontario’s answer to Fanfare Pourpour? I will be digging this more and more with each listen I’m sure.
This disc of instrumental tunes by composer and guitarist Myk Freedman describes a world of charmed invention and serious fun. The nine players (including Freedman on soulful lap steel, and several stars from Toronto's blooming improvised music scene) amble skillfully from the suave and silly title track, to outtakes from a dream of Weimar cabaret life, to episodes of genial beboppery and casually eloquent improvisation. The playground and the clown's red nose are never far off, but there's also a strain of sweet melancholy running through this music, typified by the ambiguously titled My Future's in the Air . This brainy, highly entertaining disc is made for people who like their crackerjack pleasures to contain surprises, and is a good reminder that the verb “play” is jointly owned by children and musicians.
Music that makes you feel this good — that life can be laughably wonderful — is hard to find. Wherever St. Dirt's leader, lap steel player/composer Myk Freedman, is working, that's the place to look. From the comical, Fellini-esque title track, replete with glockenspiel and squeaky bike horns, to the slyly swinging "Clicking with the Clique," wherein sax, piano and synth solos careen perilously close to self-destruction, Dirt's style of goodtime music-making is centred on embracing and celebrating the members' inner-goof without sacrificing crack musicianship. Even more sombre pieces like "My Future's in the Air," with its Tom Waits-y, noir atmosphere, are realized with a knowing naiveté. A standout track is "Riverbank Manager," with a hernia-inducing alto sax solo and Ryan Driver's hilarious analog synth sounding like a flatulent R2D2 on a bender. And with titles like "She's Not My Girlfriend (My Girlfriend's Normal)," the Dirts always find a way to bring a smile to your face. Ice Cream Man Dreams is an elixir against the blues. (Barnyard)
Saint Dirt Elementary School: Ice Cream Man Dreams
Saint Dirt Elementary School is a fearless nonet whose music at times suggests a kind of Bill Frisell-meets-Nino Rota hybrid with a smattering of Carla Bley (circa Music Mecanique and Social Studies) thrown in for good measure. The group's songs are dizzying carousels of glockenspiels, piano, bass, guitars, and woodwinds that pack an abundance of ideas into tracks running no longer than five minutes at a time. The whimsical and irreverent tunes aren't standard, solo-driven jazz compositions, though they are infused with a loose jazz sensibility and performed by players who could parade their chops if the music demanded it. Myk Freedman's lap steel brings a Frisell-like twang to the material, while alto saxophonists Kai Koschmider and Evan Shaw, clarinetist Julia Hambleton, and pianist Tania Gill complete a powerful front line that attacks the material with high-wire abandon; Wes Cheang's acoustic guitar, Ryan Driver's synthesizer, and drummer Jake Oelrichs' glockenspiel also add complementary colour to the album's fourteen tracks. Among other things, Ice Cream Man Dreams ranges between breezy stadium anthems, shambolic splatterfests, and bluesy dirges during its fifty-seven-minute running time.
Each song offers some memorable twist on the group's sound: “He Looks Just Like Her (and She Thinks He's Beautiful)” is so intricate it's a veritable Rubik's Cube of melodic invention; Mike Overton anchors the wistful Rota-esque theme in “Clicking with the Clique” with a Steve Swallow-like bass line; Gill's melodic playing lends “Poppy” a rather transporting Mediterranean feel; a sprinkling of klezmer spice sneaks into the clarinet-driven “Unnameable Dance”; and a bit of Monk-like impishness emerges in the oblique, bluesy swoon of “Bear Wrestler,” while the lead melody powering “Sparrow” is pure Monk. It's not all fun-and-games: when the mood strikes, the group's also capable of playing it straight and pretty (e.g., “I Am Trapped on a Ship That Has Already Sunk,” “Murder Ballad”). Though a large outfit, Saint Dirt Elementary School treads carefully in not letting its sound become overly muddied by competing voices. All told, the recording's a swell and scenic ride, and a pretty unique one at that.
"Saint Dirt Elementary School may have created the creepiest opening sequence in CD history.
Ice Cream Man Dream fades in with, somewhat predictably, ice cream truck chimes, and they're accompanied by a honking noise that sounds like a clown's nose being squeezed. These may seem like harmless sounds on their own, but there's something very unsettling about the way they've been combined here.... The material onthe instrumental Ice Cream Man Dream was scripted by Toronto's Myk Freedman, but he brought a nine-piece band along to fluff things up. At some moments, Saint Dirt Elementary School are reminiscent of Jim O'Rourke. At others, they're akin to The Hylozoists"...