Canadian jazz pianist Peter Hum has been a fixture and mainstay on the Ottawa jazz scene for three decades. A journalist by profession, covering education, crime and city hall for the Ottawa Citizen, a social conscious and music, have always been driving forces in his life. His third album as leader, Ordinary Heroes
contains ten original compositions all inspired by his social and political concerns in today's society and, as such, is dedicated to those to whom we all owe so much on an everyday basis.
Expressing social activism through a musical statement, apparently makes sense because regardless of one's social or political bent, this session of modern mainstream jazz is quite appealing. This is pure straight-ahead jazz at its best, proving once again that Canada remains the home of some of the best jazz musicians in the world.
The album is presented by an all-star Canadian sextet of musicians the pianist has known and worked with for some time. Aside from the acoustic and electric pianos the leader employs, the band includes tenor saxophonist Kenji Omae
, trumpeter David Smith
, guitarist Mike Rud
, drummer Ted Warren
and, sharing the bass duties, Alec Walkington
and Dave Watts
Introduced by some light chords, Smith's horn and Rud's riffs, "Crises and Reckonings," the opening salvo, begins gently and quickly develops into a boppish fury of a track. The light ballad of "Casandra," features the leader on electric piano and taking the lead with some handy key work. The band turns serious and somber on "Fake News Blues," in protest at the liars out there.
In protest against demagoguery and politics of division, "Rabble Rouser," becomes a ten-plus-minute musical excursion where the players let it all hang out whether in excitement or despair; no difference, the music still grabs you! In stark contrast, "Embers," is a soft ballad evoking hope for the future with trumpeter Smith and the guitarist toning it down on a beautiful piece of music.
Other compositions worthy of mention are "Tears for the innocent," "Spare Hearts," and the enduring "Safe Passage." The project comes to a close on the memorable title-track capping one noteworthy set of music bound to please many listeners. Peter Hum's Ordinary Heroes
is no ordinary jazz album, it sparkles with amazing compositions and exemplary musicianship, whether it succeeds in making a social statement or not.
Crises and Reckonings; Cassandra; Fake News Blues; Nebulous Compensation; Rabble Rouser; Embers; Tears for the Innocent;
Spare Heart; Safe Passage; Ordinary Heroes.