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Harry Vetro: Harry Vetro's Northern Ranger

Dan Bilawsky By

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Through this debut release, Canadian drummer Harry Vetro taps into his homeland to present a series of wayfaring wonders. It's both a testament to his wandering spirit and an exploration of the Great White North's virtues as measured in nature and man.

As 2017 marked the sesquicentennial celebration of Canada's confederation, Vetro saw fit to celebrate the moment by setting off on a journey across the country's vast lands. His travels took him to the six indigenous cultural areas of the nation—Arctic, Subarctic, Northwest Coast, Plateau, Plains, and Eastern Woodlands—and ultimately inspired this musical production, a work that's Canadian to the core and a collection with a broad aesthetic that's both jazz-based, folk-dusted, and proudly experimental.

Using varied configurations and working from a fairly selfless stance, Vetro guides a sympathetic set of musicians through breathtaking vistas. He's not afraid to take the reins, as made evident on the tom-centric introduction to "Buffalo Jump," but the writing supersedes the need for solo space. Opening on guitarist Ian McGimpsey's placid rendering of "Northern Ranger: Leaving Goose Bay," Vetro then ventures further afield. The follow-up number—the aforementioned "Buffalo Jump," brought to life by a confident sextet supported by strings—bubbles with excitement while occasionally revealing a serene undercurrent. Later, "Northern Ranger: Air Borealis," conjured by a trio matching Vetro with pianist Jacob Thompson and bassist Phil Albert, shifts shapes and moods while dancing to the polar lights (and namechecking a small passenger airline); the all-too-brief "Pichogen Lake" serves as one of several places where trumpeter Lina Allemano's warm and fluid horn receives a setting it deserves; and guitarist Dan Pitt and saxophonist Harrison Argatoff each ride the currents aloft and/or afar on "Hawk Air," another number referencing a Canadian means of air travel.

Along the way we see a number of presentations that could be dubbed detours—Thompson's cool-headed solo piano work on "Blackcomb" and its introductory predecessor, a trio of pastoral tracks (two miniature, one full-length) under the parenthetical "Shakut Tun" umbrella—but they all tie into the theme at hand. Byways and highways, natural surroundings and man-made elements, and a general appreciation for all that stands north of the 49th parallel inform Vetro's venturesome work.

Track Listing: Northern Ranger: Leaving Goose Bay; Buffalo Jump; Sha (Shakat Tun); Gondola To Blackcomb; Blackcomb; Northern Ranger: Air Borealis; Pichogen Lake; Hawk Air; kat (Shakat Tun); Pacific Smoke; Northern Ranger; Tun (Shakat Tun).

Personnel: Harry Vetro: drums; Lina Allemano: trumpet; Harrison Argatoff: saxophone; Dan Pitt: guitar; Iam McGimpsey: guitar; Noah Franche- Nolan: piano; Jacob Thompson: piano; Andrew Downing: bass, cello; Phil Albert: bass; Jessica Deutsch: violin; Anna Atkinson: violin; Aline Homzy: viola.

Title: Harry Vetro's Northern Ranger | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: T.Sound

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