by carl wilson

Hot-Clutton Issue

Rob Clutton. Photo by Joe Sorbara

Tonight at 10 pm at the Tranzac Club, bassist-composer Rob Clutton launches his first solo-bass CD, coming out on the Rat-drifting label with the typically self-effacing title Dubious Pleasures. I'm quoted in the press materials calling Rob one of Toronto's most gifted pure musicians, and it's a very pleasant surprise to find this modest player stepping out of the group context (he plays in a good dozen ensembles, including his own Rob Clutton Band) to put himself in the spotlight. The disc shows off Clutton's comfortably wide range, whether he's plucking or playing arco or using extended techniques such as the long hisses and frictions that make How Big Are the Dots sound like a journey in a slow-leaking balloon, or the wavering, grumbling drones that rise to scraping screeches in Mr. Taciturn. But there are also nearly devotional-sounding melodies, as on the concise Air. It's easy for something like a solo bass CD to become monotonous, to feel like a recital without personality, and it's a credit to Rob's developing compositional chops that Dubious Pleasures never recedes into background music but keeps up its intensity and physicality. He's a difficult musician to place in a school - this is not a "free jazz" album or a new-music composition disc or a micro-sonics improv album, though it contains elements of each. The eclecticism is welcome, although I sometimes wish I had more of a compass for where this music wants to go, perhaps more of a sense of an argument or challenge posited. This is an issue I have with a lot of Canadian creative improv these days. I'm not sure if it's a reasonable one. On my side is the dialectical tradition of jazz and improv, which have thrived on their forward-questing energies, but perhaps it is too much of an extramusical, or nonmusical, concern - and maybe the quiet refusal to be burdened with it in the current scene is a healthy abstention, forcing the focus back on to the music's unfolding from moment to moment. This sense of duration, almost of a suppressed narrative, is common to a lot of the Rat-drifting releases (featuring players such as Eric Chenaux, Martin Arnold, Doug Tielli, Ryan Driver, etc.), and perhaps it's where Rob's less abstract, more robust style meets theirs.

After his solo set tonight he will join Tim Posgate's Jazzstory for a set with Posgate on guitar, Lina Allemano on trumpet and Jean Martin on drums. The Tranzac is at 292 Brunswick Ave., Toronto, just south of Bloor.

On Record | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, March 22 at 3:50 PM | Linking Posts




Zoilus by Carl Wilson