The title tune for The Definition of A Toy
was written specifically for the album by reed multi-instrumentalist Michael Moore, who was inspired by an ad for a toy. The words that grabbed his attention were specifications that it be "open-ended, "interactive, and "encourage creativity. The members of this group inject those descriptives into every tune in the way they fashion a song, giving it a specific parameter within one body, then changing course and diameter as they go from one to another. The power comes from the moods they create.
For a project like this to succeed, there has to be a linking of the minds. All five players are familiar with each other, having played together in different contexts for various lengths of time. When this project was coming together, the possibility of making a recording it ran through the mind of drummer Dylan van der Schyff. The recording came to fruition in Vancouver in 2003.
The three toylike attributes are the gateposts for these players' adventures. They get onto a fertile plain saturated with melody and swing, spearheaded by trumpeter Brad Turner and fanned by Schyff after the embers are stoked by Achim Kaufmann, whose piano runs dissect the threads of the melody. Michael Moore comes in to add deep, bold strokes. And then the tempo slows and melody is again shunted aside as Turner unleashes tight clusters of notes, drawing Kaufmann into the spaces. The mood has shifted dramatically but seamlessly. Free expression continues on "Duet, where the early probe and feel bursts into raucous cries. The flux continues, but the cutting edge remains.
The compositions, one or two contributed by each member of the group except van der Schyff, were written with all the musicians in mind, and they live up to expectations. Quick rhythmic charges splash linear permutations, calm countenances propulsion, and melody breaks into shards as free forms fill the air. Change is constant.
Personnel: Brad Turner: trumpet; Michael Moore: alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet; Achim
Kaufmann: piano; Mark Helias: acoustic bass; Dylan van der Schyff: drums.