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Old 05-26-2010, 04:02 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,564
Default Art of Time Ensemble-Songbook 4
By John Terauds
Entertainment Reporter
Music Critic
The Art of Time Ensemble

With guest vocalist Gregory Hoskins. Andrew Burashko, artistic director. Repeats Wednesday. Enwave Theatre, 231 Queens Quay W. 416-973-4000

The Art of Time Ensemble is closing its season in style as well as substance with the fifth edition of one of its signature “Songbook” projects (misleadingly titled Songbook 4) at Harbourfront’s Enwave Theatre.

In this outing, Canadian folk-rock singer-songwriter Gregory Hoskins chose 12 songs he would love to perform one day, Art of Time artistic director Andrew Burashko parcelled each piece out to a composer or arranger, then assembled a six-member band to make the music happen, with Hoskins supplying the vocals.

Adding on two instrumental-only tangos to bridge intermission time, Tuesday night’s opening performance turned into a very substantial musical feast, leavened by the usually word-shy Hoskins’ wry post-song commentary.

This is an intimate program, coming from Hoskins’ heart, and often focusing on interior journeys rather than extroverted ballads. And, from a purely musical point of view, the arrangements provide a wealth of emotional as well as intellectual stimulation.

In his introduction, Burashko explained that, with the financial and recorded-broadcast support of CBC Radio 2, he had asked each composer-arranger to “stay true to the song, then reinvent it.” In the listening, it was clear all the artists involved had risen to the occasion.

Jane Siberry’s opening “Calling All Angels,” as reimagined by Michael Occhipinti, became a true, atmospheric invocation. It was an alluring invitation into a rich, new musical universe where jazz, blues, tango, pop, folk and classical orbit each other as equals.

Leonard Cohen’s “Boogie Street,” took a detour through Tango Terrace. Cole Porter’s “Miss Otis Regrets” shed real tears, thanks to Phil Dwyer’s wistful arrangement.

The ghosts were out in force for Aaron Davis’s eerie-and-bold reworking of Gordon Lightfoot legend, “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

Credit for the evening’s success also goes to the mix of jazz, pop and classical musicians on stage, including Burashko at the piano, Dwyer on sax, violinist Benjamin Bowman, cellist Amy Laing, Joe Phillips on bass and guitarist Justin Abedin.

This is one of those rare songbooks where everyone can find a point of interest.
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