Back to the Future: A NEXUS Concert

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I just got home from the NEXUS concert at U of T’s New Music Festival. It was terrific. If you were there tonight, we would welcome your comments. Some of the NEXUS members might be posting their own thoughts, but they are in a recording session all weekend so we may have to wait. For those of you who have never been to one of NEXUS’ concerts of improvisations, here are some impressions. What it looked like: a cubicle of shimmering gongs and bells; the black gleam of piano and clarinet; a white and silver sound sculpture like some otherworldly bouquet; red drums; blue mallets; a small green box (but I never saw it opened!); rods, wires and reeds.

These were played with hands, hammers, sticks, bows, mallets and mouths. They were rubbed, scraped, shaken AND stirred, snapped, tapped, even twirled in the air. I think I even saw a bundt pan being played with a bow!

Who played: NEXUS (percussion), Phil Nimmons (clarinet), David Braid (piano), Suba Sankaran (voice), Parmela Attariwala (strings) and Mark Laver (saxophone).

What it sounded like: It was a truly eclectic evening. At the beginning, a roll of sound punctuated by harmonica, clarinet and loon call. There was the richness of gongs, a waterfall of keyboard notes. Later the depth of a bass drum, the catching rhythms of hand drums, with the piano pulling it all together unexpectedly. From a world of, a whirl of sound, it resolved into a profound quiet. Then the remarkable Phil Nimmons played a moving duet with David Braid. In the second half, strings, voice and saxophone were added. The conversations between the musicians were fascinating. Percussion instruments sounded uncannily like voice, voice sounded uncannily like percussion. The music moved from quirky and whimsical to moody and mysterious. The beautiful voice of Suba Sankaran sparked the voicings of Parmela Attariwala, Mark Laver and Phil Nimmons. David Braid and NEXUS supported it all. Air, words, sound. Wood, air, metal. We found ourselves  moving through smoky blues, jazz stylings, even a bit of beatbox! It all ended with a melancholy and romantic aire, meditative and lovely. I hope you were there to hear it. If not, be sure to come to the next one!

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