Sunday, 1 April 2012

Saint Dirt Elementary School: "Abandoned Ballroom"

Saint Dirt Elementary School is at the forefront of Canadian avant-garde jazz. No, this isn't some elementary school marching band (even though that would be cool too), do not worry. However, what does it mean to be at "the forefront of Canadian avant-garde jazz"? Well, I hope you're all prepared because today we have a pop spelling quiz, and the first and only word is "avant-garde". No? Ok ok, lets turn to our friends from dictionary.com. Avant-garde can be described as "the advance group in any field, especially in the visual, literary, or musical arts, whose works are characterized chiefly by unorthodox and experimental methods". So how does this pertain to Saint Dirt? Well, this ensemble is "an advanced group", in the "musical arts", "whose works are characterized chiefly by unorthodox and experimental methods". Don't worry, there is a point to all this... Lets introduce the band. The ensemble includes: Wes Cheang on the acoustic guitar, Ryan Driver on the analog synthesizer, Myk Freedman on the lap steel, Tania Gill on the piano and the melodica, Julia Hambleton on the clarinet, Kai Koschmider on the alto sax, Jake Oelrichs on the drums and glockenspiel, and Mike Overton on the bass. If you couldn't tell by the diverse list of instruments, this band is most definitely unorthodox and experimental, but lets get into the album. Saint Dirt's most recent release, "Abandoned Ballroom" features an assorted group of compositions, each one more different than the next. The first song on the record to note is "Zombies Love Dancin' to This Number". When listening to this composition, its like you're entering the world of Jacques Tati's Playtime (for all you film buffs out there), characterizing itself with almost a carnival like theme. The next song to note is "Lulliby for Naughty Children". In regards to this particular tune, the title says it all. This piece is characterized by many different keys, tempos, and movements...in other words... tension! Despite the tension (not what a child wants to hear before bed), it is a subtle tension, allowing the listener to stay interested, very interested. All in all, this album is two things, different and amazing. It is so "avant-garde", that it isn't even available on itunes! Do not fret, it is still available online (see bellow). Well, we hope you all enjoyed your first lesson in avant-garde jazz, and don't worry, you all passed the pop spelling quiz! 

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