All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

4

Earl MacDonald and the Creative Opportunity Workshop: Mirror of the Mind

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Death Defying Records, it says on the cover. A doom-laden title for a record label but any expectations of a frenzy of black metal or gangster rap are soon dispelled by the beautiful cello and piano interplay on the opening bars of the title track. Mirror Of The Mind, from pianist Earl MacDonald and the Creative Opportunity Workshop, is an album that surprises and delights—from the unusual piano, cello, sax and percussion line-up to the mix of styles and inspirations that influence MacDonald's writing.

MacDonald, Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Connecticut and a former musical director for Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau band, has crafted an impressive array of tunes. The frontline combination of Kris Allen on saxophones and Christopher Hoffman on cello does much to establish the band's unusual sonic identity.

There are two covers. John Lennon and Paul McCartney's "Blackbird" is immediately recognisable, initially staying true to the original melody. This particular feathered friend is rather jollier than the original thanks to Rogerio Boccato's percussion and Allen's lively soprano saxophone. The mood of Arthur Hamilton and Johnny Mandel's "I Never Told You" is more sombre, Hoffman's cello playing adding a touch of melancholy to the tune's beauty.

MacDonald's own compositions range from the romantic ("Mirror Of The Mind") to the swinging ("Bottom Feeders") to the somewhat odd. "A Thousand Memories" is an all too brief pleasure, a heady mix of MacDonald's simple, repeated, riff and the interplay of tenor sax and cello. It's also an excellent example of Hoffman's warm, woody, cello tone which, when combined with Allen's tenor, manages to sound pleasantly similar to a bass clarinet.

While things are consistently interesting across Mirror Of The Mind, things get weird at a couple of points. "It Was Whispered" is full of angular, spiky, interplay between the musicians, a contrast with the more flowing melodies of most of the tunes.

The weirdness escalates "Where Thinking Leaves Off." The tune goes through periods of edgy, free-form music from each member of the quartet but it's most unsettling when laughter, verging on the maniacal, bursts out. A darkly dramatic episode in what is, for the most part, a much lighter and more upbeat set of compositions. Maybe Death Defying Records isn't so inappropriate a name for the label after all. Judging by the ways in which MacDonald and his colleagues take their creative opportunities, the band name's about right too.

Track Listing: Mirror of the Mind; A Thousand Memories; Beneath; Blackbird; Bidwell Cronies; Disillusionment; Miles Apart; It Was Whispered; A Priori Perception; Where Thinking Leaves Off; I Never Told You; Bottom Feeders.

Personnel: Earl MacDonald: piano; Kris Allen: tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Christopher Hoffman: cello; Rogerio Boccato: percussion.

Title: Mirror of the Mind | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Death Defying Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Open Borders

Open Borders

Death Defying Records
2018

buy
Open Borders

Open Borders

Death Defying Records
2017

buy
Quintet Matinee

Quintet Matinee

University of Connecticut
2015

buy
Mirror of the Mind

Mirror of the Mind

Death Defying Records
2013

buy
Re: Visions

Re: Visions

Death Defying Records
2010

buy
Re:Visions

Re:Visions

Death Defying Records
2010

buy

Related Articles

Read Northern Migrations CD/LP/Track Review
Northern Migrations
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Egregore CD/LP/Track Review
Egregore
by John Eyles
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Lifelike CD/LP/Track Review
Lifelike
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Whatever Possessed Me CD/LP/Track Review
Whatever Possessed Me
by Don Phipps
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Live At The Fillmore East 1968 CD/LP/Track Review
Live At The Fillmore East 1968
by Doug Collette
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 21, 2018
Read "Gallarais" CD/LP/Track Review Gallarais
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 15, 2017
Read "The Imperfect Sea" CD/LP/Track Review The Imperfect Sea
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 4, 2017
Read "Your Queen Is A Reptile" CD/LP/Track Review Your Queen Is A Reptile
by Chris May
Published: February 21, 2018
Read "Song of No Regrets" CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read "Nattens Skogar – version for four players" CD/LP/Track Review Nattens Skogar – version for four players
by John Eyles
Published: December 1, 2017
Read "Saluting Sgt. Pepper" CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017