Published May 17, 2019FIMAV's 35th edition kicked off with a veteran of the festival. Vancouver's Peggy Lee first performed here in 1997, with her eight-month-old son backstage. Now 22, he was in attendance, taking a break from his music program at Concordia to watch as Lee's newly assembled tentet performed a suite that covered a wide array of modes and styles of composition.
Opening with a folksy fanfare, the early parts of the concert featured a variety of tightly knit structures, ranging from simple Western balladry to complex motorik rhythms, which eventually opened spaces for members of a four-piece brass section to take free jazz-influenced flight.
Later pieces featured more abstracted and far-reaching intros and interludes by individual players whose skronks and seemingly asynchronous noises were cleverly assimilated into the flow of the larger ensemble. One such midpoint cello solo by Lee herself served as an encapsulation of the entire concert, with equal parts melodic beauty pressed against ecstatic and explosive noise, giving way to sublime and interlocking minimalism.
The latter part of the concert highlighted fine interplay between electric bassist James Meger, drummer Dylan van der Schyff, and organist Wayne Horvitz, showcased in a couple of pieces that suggested an alternate '70s filmic landscape where a funky Lalo Schifrin-style theme is tailored for an Eastern European cop drama. Everything is wrapped up in a cover of "Whispering Pines" by the Band that neatly brought together all of the previous bits and elements of performance into a lovingly rendered coda.