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The Book Of The Heart The Mother Of The Book Hallucinations The Roswell Incident Oasis Of Whispers
Angles Here To Go Strophe Powerbuch Indios Eletronicos Open The Way


| Reviews |

1. Axiom 1 4:43
2. Angle 5:31
3. Theorem 2 4:40
4. Corollary 6:20
5. Radius 2:56
6. Axis 5:58
7. Vertex 4:40
8. Circle/Square/Triangle 4:36
9. Theorem 1 4:27
10. Big Ears (for Paul Haines) 4:16
11. Axiom 2 5:37

All compositions by Glen Hall, published by Kikue Music (SOCAN).

Recorded at Quest Recording Studio, Oshawa, Ontario, June 27, 2004
Engineer – Paul LaChappelle
Mastering – Eugene Martynec
Producer – Eugene Martynec

glen_hall/trio_muo - notes by Phil Ehrensaft

Right after an entrancing live performance by the Trio Muo, I googled the term /muo/ in order to decipher the ensemble’s unusual name. The derivation, I assumed, was from the Italian verb muovere, meaning “to shift, stir, move.” That is certainly what compact but complex improvisations by multi-reedist Glen Hall, bassist Michael Morse, and percussionist Joe Sorbara were doing to innovative composed themes.

The alternative Greek meaning, “I conceal,” seemed unlikely. This original reference may have been to something enclosed and thus hidden from eavesdroppers. The intentions of the Trio Muo are diametrically opposite to concealing things from the eavesdroppers called audiences.

The advanced nature of the music might be called a form of concealment. Most listeners do not have much training in the ideas or practices of contemporary art music that underpin the Trio’s wizardry. They overcome that barrier by performing advanced music with strong narrative and emotional strands. Open ears and active listening with both sides of the brain are what count most.

What actually inspires the Trio’s name, as I discovered from discussions with Glen, is a secondary definition of the Greek word muo: literally, “I cover the eyes and mouth.” This connotes looking within oneself for inspiration, and locking out extraneous influences in order to do so. Most interestingly, the ancient Greeks did not include covering the ears as part of that process.

Where an exceptional jazz ensemble like the Trio Muo departs from the ancient Greek connotation is that the “oneself” is a group of people who have become rapid-fire mind-readers. The several become one. This requires people who are both instinctively on the same wavelengths, and who work hard and long at cultivating those instincts.

When Hall and Morse first played together 24 years ago, Sorbara was still in nursery school. The Trio came together three years ago, and Sorbara is very impressive in his ability to hold his own with two of the driving figures in Toronto’s improvised music scene.

The trio combination of horn, bass and drums has created some of the most unconstrained and creative moments in the history of jazz. Think of Sonny Rollins’ landmark Night at the Village Vanguard sessions or Ornette Coleman’s At The Golden Circle, Stockholm/. Minus the chords laid down by a piano or vibes, there’s an extra degree of freedom --- and hard work too.

What Trio Muo is doing in this exemplary disk must be understood both in terms of Glen Hall’s unusual musical trajectory over the past two decades and his leadership role in building an avant-garde musical scene in Toronto.

(see Press – “Renaissance of a Renaissance Man” by Phil Ehrensaft)

* *



Canadian multi-reedist Glen Hall is noted for pushing the envelope, largely within modern jazz and free improvisational domains. This trio release exemplifies that notion rather poignantly. His interesting compositional concepts reflect learning from the masters, while concurrently sculpting his own voice. The band slices up time signatures; Hall and the rhythm section execute contrapuntal maneuvers, all within a semi-structured format. Within various cycles, bassist Michael Morse engages in counter-harmonies with Hall, providing an interesting balance for Joe Sorbara's rim shots and over-the-top maneuvers.

The band is apt to delve into a hustle and bustle groove, often complementing its geometrically designed themes. On “Radius,” Hall pursues a subversive yet quite colorful avant garde blues mode, eliciting an after-hours vibe. In other spots, they render crash and burn frameworks with stop/start motifs. Sorbara transmits his all-encompassing musicality by using various cymbals and small percussion instruments, bringing world music and tonal shadings into play.

Then on “Vertex,” Hall's slightly gruff flute work contrasts nicely with Morse's rough-hewn arco passages. Nonetheless, Hall's theorizations and applications offer a striking portrait of a mature artist who enters the studio with a concrete game plan. This stuff is miles ahead of your typical free jazz cutting session, where vast expression equates to wantonly produced cacophony. Recommended.

- Glenn Astarita


Veteran improv warrior Glen Hall's past collaborators have included arranger Gil Evans and Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Renaldo. But trio_muo, a working unit since 2002, is the Ontario-based saxophonist and flutist's own chamber ensemble.
As cohesive as it is flexible, the band is filled out by longtime associate, bassist Michael Morse, who shadows the reedist's every move like a P.I. on a stake-out; and decades younger percussionist Joe Sorbara. Reveling in ambiguity, most composition titles relate to concepts of geometry, so as to focus the listener on the music itself, with its shifting tonal centres, free time and elastic intervals.
Appearing more formidable than they actually are, the 11 tunes take as touchstones the advances of originals like Ornette Coleman and Thelonious Monk, whose characteristic doubled motif echo in a couple of Hall heads. Recorded with remarkable clarity, most tracks have definite architecture, with Hall sharing space with the other two, even turning to alto flute on “Vertex” to melodically accompany the others' improvisations. Solid and thick-toned, with a touch of sul ponticello interjections, Morse is the CD's rhythmic core, while Sorbara colors the proceedings with cymbal pings, rattling maracas, clapped drum sticks and sonorous drum rolls and bounces.
Although he reveals a plush and luxuriant bass flute tone on “Big Ears”, a threnody for poet Paul Haines, playing his usual tenor and soprano saxophones Hall's expression is assured and unique, moving from peeping, quivering shrills on the smaller horn to undulating, territory-marking sonority on the tenor.
This is a fine effort all around.

- Ken Waxman

Angles – notes by Glen Hall

Since its beginnings in the experiments of Lennie Tristano, the abandonment of repeating chord changes for spontaneous shifting tonal centers by Ornette Coleman, the non-metric swing of Sunny Murray, and the ecstatic microtonality of Albert Ayler, Free Jazz has evolved to encompass a universe of musical expression that can, in equal parts, engage, mystify, and transport listeners. Trio Muo has inherited this vibrant art form’s concepts, and works at developing its own ‘unified field theory’, synthesizing them in our own approach to improvisation in general and in the pieces on the present recording Angles in particular.

Our approach focuses on several ideas central to the freedoms that energize Free Jazz. Time, in the form of a regular pulse, is allowed to alter, expand, contract, sub-divide and/or disappear. The ‘tyranny’ of ding-ding-da-ding time is supplanted by our use of flexible, relativistic time. Tonality, in the form of a fixed key center with occasional modulations, is relinquished for moving, hide-and-seek key changes, sometimes more stable, sometimes more rapid than Coleman’s harmolodics, at times using symmetrical or exotic scales and interval patterns. Intervals, the basis of melodies, are used in groups that provide specific themes, units or motifs for improvisational development. Combined, these concepts give Trio Muo a framework with which to explore and build upon individualized compositions as well as to compose pieces spontaneously.

The compositions on Angles use these concepts in such a manner that, to improvise on them in the way demanded by the pieces themselves, has required considerable group thought and work. Tunes like Angle, Vertex and Corollary, for instance, use intervals, not chord changes or traditional melodies, as their building blocks. The intervals of Vertex and Corollary get larger and smaller, while the ones in Angle invert and alter. Time in Axiom, Corollary and Theorem is crowded, rushed, sub-divided, speeded up, slowed down or paused. Roles of instruments are reversed, as in Vertex, where the alto flute plays the ‘melody’—a series of expanding intervals—which is, in fact, an accompaniment to the improvising of the bowed bass and bowed cymbals. Tonality in Big Ears and the spontaneously-composed Radius is deliberately ambiguous, modulating, resolving or not resolving, according to how the trio experiences the unfolding of ideas.

All of the pieces on this recording are the result of extended and concentrated study, experimentation, practice and thought. The ‘What key are we in?’, ‘What are the changes to this tune?’, ‘How many bars per chorus?’ of the pre-Free Jazz approach don’t help much here; a new set of constructive principles are at work, very much related to the earlier ones, yet decidedly different, too.. And so each tune has required its own special techniques of development to be assembled, learned, and internalized. Improvising on these pieces is ‘dangerous’ in that there are no repeating structures acting as a safety net and no well-worn, automatized habits of improvising—patterns, arpeggios, turnarounds, etc.—that allow us to go on ‘automatic pilot’.

And what about the song titles? Customarily, the title of a tune is intended to evoke a sentiment, a feeling that is central to the song, or sometimes an image, something to visualize that captures that emotion. In the case of Angles, the titles, while referring to concepts of geometry, are actually not directly concerned with that subject. In fact, I chose these titles because they don’t have an emotional resonance (perhaps mathematicians can get worked up over a corollary, an axiom, a theorem, but I think it’s safe to assume that most of us have no feeling about such things one way or the other). In my experience, the so-called ‘emotion’ of a performance is regularly a pretext for trying to communicate a feeling one is not actually having at the moment. This introduces a falsity into music, both in the genuineness of the emotion itself and in the authenticity of experiencing the feeling at that moment, the real-time actuality that is purportedly the driving force of the communication. It is pretending, not being; it is show business, not experiential reality. So the titles here, with the exception of Big Ears, don’t refer to their denotative meaning. Instead, they were chosen to be a blank canvas on which listeners can paint their own personal meaning, the meaning being in the ear of the behearer.

Finally, to learn a tune, Thelonious Monk would go through it, sometimes for hours at a time, trying to find his own personal way into the melody, harmony and rhythm of a piece. Trio Muo trod this same trail to hew our path in an uncharted land, our music. For us, travelling in this sound world has brought us new insights, new ideas, new ways to express ourselves, and new ways to hear music. We hope it does the same for you.

The Book Of The Heart The Mother Of The Book Hallucinations The Roswell Incident Oasis Of Whispers
Angles Here To Go Strophe Powerbuch Indios Eletronicos Open The Way

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