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Canadian guitarist/composer and co-leader of the “NOJO” large ensemble, Michael Occhipinti pays homage to fellow countryman and celebrated folk singer, Bruce Cockburn on Creation Dream – the songs of Bruce Cockburn. With this release, the guitarist garners some additional support from frequent collaborator, clarinetist Don Byron, along with a sympathetic cast of top-notch Canadian jazz musicians, while Cockburn, strums his acoustic guitar on one track, (“Pacing The Cage”).
The musicians inject or perhaps transpose the themes and finely crafted lyricism of Cockburn into a jazz-based set, brimming with softly executed statements, tender choruses and effective soloing by the leader, violinist Hugh Marsh, trumpeter Kevin Turcotte and Byron, who appears on three tracks. On pieces such as “Mistress of Storms”, Byron and Occhipinti engage in rapid fire yet subtly stated unison lines as they segue into a tenacious swing vamp, marked by the guitarist’s interesting chord voicings and tuneful melodies.
Violinist Hugh Marsh injects warm, sonorous motifs into “Wondering Where the Lions Are (Giftbearer), as the band embarks upon an understated Caribbean groove amid Occhipinti’s unconventional phrasing and clever melding of roughly hewn statements performed on electric guitar yet Marsh eventually picks up the tempo with a blistering solo.
Occhipinti alters the momentum and elevates the intensity a bit during the rock/shuffle groove titled, “Creation Dream”. Here, the artist exhibits his distinctive style yet rekindles memories of the late jazz/blues/rockabilly guitarist Danny Gatton; however, Occhipinti also fuses avant-garde chord progressions with fiery licks and glistening dynamics. - The band surges onward with a rather playful take on “Rumours of Glory”, while they pursue radiant dreamscapes on “Homme Brulant”.
Not being overly intimate with Cockburn’s massive body of work, it is rather evident that Michael Occhipinti and co. have poured their respective souls into this thoroughly convincing project, as the this band exuberantly extracts and reinvents the man’s music, in altogether attractive fashion! Recommended.
Track Listing: Lovers In A Dangerous Time, Mistress Of Storms, Live On My Mind, Wondering Where The Lions Are (Giftbearer), Pacing The Cage, Creation Dream, One Of The Best Ones, Rumours Of Glory, Homme Brulant, If I Had A Rocket Launcher, Lord Of The Starfields
Personnel: Michael Occhipinti; guitar: Kevin Turcotte; trumpet: Andrew Downing; bass: Barry Romberg; drums: Don Byron; clarinet: Hugh Marsh; violin: Bruce Cockburn; acoustic guitar (one track): Jonathan Goldsmith; piano: Jean Martin; drums: Mike Murley; tenor saxophone:
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.