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Colin Cannon: Intermission (Farewell)

Karl Ackermann By

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Reading the spare (and tongue-in-cheek) liner notes of guitarist/composer Colin Cannon's Intermission (Farewell), one could easily get the idea that Cannon wrote, arranged and produced the album for a relatively small inner circle of friends, family and associates. Referring to that cohort, he writes, ..."and besides you people, I don't particular care who else listens to this—it wasn't made for them." As with Mel Brooks' "The Producers," Cannon has failed to marginalize his wider audience by turning out one of the most charismatic releases in recent years.

Cannon has been leading a solid quartet for the past seven years, putting out two releases, In Summary (Self Produced, 2009) and Glenville (Self Produced, 2012). The 'Farewell' portion of the title refers to a departure from that format but that is only partially the case. Bassist Zak Croxall, drummer Tom Hartman and Manami Morita on all keys, are the same musicians appearing on the quartet albums, though Hartman shared drumming credits with Devin Collins on the latter of the two.

Japanese native, Morita, like a number of well-known jazz players from that country, began with classical piano before making the change to jazz. She later received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music and went on to win a number of competitive awards. Also a Berklee alum, Hartman studied with drummer/vocalist Terri Lyne Carrington, saxophonist George Garzone, and trumpeter Tiger Okoshi. Rounding out the all-Berklee quartet are Croxall and Cannon who at the age of sixteen was opening for the likes of Grammy-nominees Karrin Allyson and Brian Auger. He later studied with the same instructor who had tutored Pat Metheny and John Scofield. Working in tandem with the quartet is an ensemble that includes four vocalists, strings, brass and woodwind and vibraphone.

The hook is in from the opening of Part I, "Your Everyday Prelude," with Cannon's gentle picking merging with lush strings and overlaying spoken-word narratives from 1950s field recordings, moving in and out of focus. Carkner's haunting trumpet guides the transition to "Everyday" which wraps up with a swirl of soaring guitar, vocals and the sound of giggling children. Buoyant vocalese opens "La Da" but the piece ends more choir-like as anxious narratives continue to run in the background. "Mofo" begins with Morita's elegiac piano but morphs into a hard rock guitar piece. The "Intermission" half of the title track features "Let's All Go to the Lobby," the audio portion of a 1953 animated musical short that played as a trailer in cinemas, urging audiences to visit the concession stand. That piece transitions to an ethereal musical request to "check your phone; sip your drink."

By the time we get to Part II, it has become clear that the music on Intermission (Farewell) deserves not to be categorized. Themes may draw on jazz, rock or European chamber but the balance is intentionally open-ended, moving from minimal to orchestral; from simple and sweet to complex and jagged. Yet, with all these moving parts, there is a sense with each of these pieces that they are natural and undeviating from Cannon's vision. When "Reflections 3" closes the album it feels like a rich, satisfying and original musical experience has been realized.

Cannon moves listeners away from preconceived notions with Intermission (Farewell). He works multiple genres, traditions and styles to create an organic and opulent tapestry. The performances here are flawless; there are no wasted measures in this intoxicating combination of melody and surprising developments. It's early in the year but Intermission (Farewell) deserves to be on some lists when the year wraps up.

Track Listing: (Part 1) Your Everyday Prelude; Everyday; La Da; “My Time to Shine” –MM; Mofo; Intermission; (Part 2) Still Thinking; Still Breathing; Collin Goes To Church; Bugs and Stuff; Farewell; (P.S.) Recollections 1; Recollections 2; Recollections 3.

Personnel: Zak Croxall: electric and upright bass; Tom Hartman: drums; Manami Morita: piano, fender Rhodes, melodica; Colin Cannon: guitars, ukulele; synthesizer, vocals and sound effects; Devin Dunne Cannon: vocals; Brik Olson: vocals; Madison Straton: vocals; Alex Mitchell: vocals; Tomako Omura: violins; Allyson Claire: viola; Kristine Kruta: cello; David Carkner: trumpet; Sly Onyejiaka: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Yuhan Su: vibraphone.

Title: Intermission (Farewell) | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced

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CD/LP/Track Review
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Intermission (Farewell)

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