If jazz leaves you scratching your head, you’re in good company. Although only a novice listener myself, I do appreciate the freedom this music gives the artists and to me as a listener, allowing for the types of personal expression, and musical conversation and argument you can’t always get from the more commercially popular genres. And Potential Things by Canaille delivers that freedom.
This Toronto quintet name their sound “creative jazz”. Composer and musician Jeremy Strachan inks settings with sharp grooves and confident riffs and harmonies. The spaces around his lines are colored by solos from bass, trumpet, drums, a tenor and Strachan’s saxes. The interplay works.
For me, the best of Canaille starts with track 2, “Vincent Massey. The groove first centers around the bass, then spreads to the strutting riffs of the trumpet and sax in harmony, winking and nodding, with you bobbing your head in agreement. Then, halfway into the album, “Restoration” reveals an even more theatrical groove. Hear the bongo drums find perfection. This is nearly equaled by the alluring flute solo that follows; she says nice things, but with ambiguous intentions.
Potential Things‘ best might be track 6, “Dock Boggs”. A baritone sax lays a colorful groove, while the tenor sax and and trumpet explore themes just above it. Later, the song moves into freer territory with a succession of solos, one of the best being the drums’. At 3 minutes in, the bass and the trumpet start working together beautifully, and the drums get in on the act, this time livening things up with splashy cymbals. The song’s structure looks to crumble just when the sax harmony returns, bringing a stable conclusion.
A few tracks interested me much less. “Good Bits”, for example. I find that, for whatever reason, with too little structure, I start getting interference. It’s personal, I think, and I’m willing to believe that I’d have benefited from more time spent with the music. In all, Potential Things is a fantastic listen and beautifully packaged album. The grooves are compelling, the the songs’ compositions allow for freedom structured by Strachan’s inventive mind. Listen to Canaille’s newest.