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10 April 2023, 8 pm

Mercury + Whim (“Trees” album launch!)

@ La Sala Rossa, 4848 boul. St-Laurent, Montréal

In this mercurial concert, two leading Montreal improvising collectives – Whim and Mercury – present their newest work in a thought-provoking evening of  unconventional surprises, inventive sounds, and emotional intensity, pushing the boundaries of traditional music!

The Whim Ensemble, featuring Ofer Pelz (prepared piano), Preston Beebe (drums) and Stéphane Diamantakiou (bass), come from free jazz, contemporary and experimental music, with artistic worlds fused together by bringing their experiences as composers and improvisers to the ensemble. They explore and create extended performance techniques to explore new textures and timbres. While playing their instruments beyond the ‘traditional’ way, they connect their sound together like an extension of the Other. The music they create comes from very abstract ideas, such as metaphors, as well as very concrete concepts related to time, energy, and density. Inside these concepts, they explore repetition and variation as well as gestural and textural transformations.

In this concert, the Whim Ensemble will launch their new album, Trees – a musical exploration of the ideas developed by the Danish painter Piet Mondrian in his abstractions of trees. Their motivation is to translate his creative process into music. Piet Mondrian developed a method of visually distilling the essence of naturally harmonious forms by recursively painting the same tree while reducing its visual components with each repetition. In doing so, he was able to uncover the essence within the intricate structure of a tree. As with Mondrian’s tree abstractions, the Whim Ensemble aims to extract some elements from a musical gesture and uncover underlying structures, while learning about trees themselves and being inspired by their behavior, growth, varieties, and habitats..

Mercury, born from an improvised meeting between clarinetist Lori Freedman and bassist Nicolas Caloia 20 years ago, continues its intense and moving act, further exploring barriers of sound and in so doing, revealing the contemporary remains of melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic entanglements. As well as playing alongside each other in various ensembles and recording projects, the two musicians’ most provocative music together is Mercury.

They have invited other musicians to join them in spontaneous creations as well as on formally organized tours, and, in addition to writing their own compositions several musicians have written works for them, such as Malcolm Goldstein, Joane Hétu, Pierre-Yves Martel, Peggy Lee, Rainer Wiens, Martin Arnold, and Francois Houle. Mercury has toured widely in Europe and Canada and they will be releasing their first studio recording on Clean Feed Records in the Fall of 2023.

Lori Freedman is one of the most important avant-garde musicians of her generation and her bass clarinet playing is unprecedented. Her music has been attracting attention from other performers and composers, experimental film and dance makers across several continents. Receiving the Freddie Stone Award in 1998 and having a catalogue of over 70 recordings, many of which feature her solo and duo performances, some of her highlight collaborations have been with Joëlle Léandre, Roscoe Mitchell, Frances-Marie Uitti, Steve Lacy, Misha Mengelberg, Joe McPhee, Toshimaru Nakamura, Rohan de Saram, George Lewis, Axel Dörner and Richard Barrett.

Nicolas Caloia is a Montreal based bassist, composer, and bandleader. He works at creating a living music by using rigorously composed material to channel collective improvisation. He can be heard in ongoing collaborations with Tristan Honsinger, Joe McPhee, Matana Roberts, Malcolm Goldstein, Kim Zombik, Lori Freedman, Rainer Wiens, and Yves Charuest or in past projects with Roscoe Mitchell, Marshall Allen, Steve Lacy, Hassan Hakmoun, William Parker, and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. Nicolas has composed for and led many ensembles including 20 piece, Juno and GAMIQ nominated Ratchet Orchestra. He has fulfilled composition commissions from the Quatuor Bozzini, Tour de Bras, Productions Super Musique, FIMAV, Radio Canada, and CKUT 90.3 fm.

We would like to thank the the Canada Council for the Arts for their support.

We would like to thank the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Conseil des arts de Montréal and the SOCAN Foundation for their support.