Monday, 16 April 2012

Roddy Ellias and Donna Brown: "Acts of Light"

When asked about jazz fusion, it sometimes seems like a rudimentary question. However, if you really dig deep into the topic, you will actually find yourself with an answer filled with much complexity. Its hard to even say when the fusion movement began or how it came about. However, most music historians postulate that the movement began in the late 1960s. Throughout the 1970s, Fusion artists like Al Di Meola and Miles Davis composed music that combined jazz with rock music. However, with the rise and popularity of funk, fusion music in the 1980s had a very different sound. The 1990s saw the emergence of nu-Jazz, which fused jazz with a more electronic and industrial sound. Though, with all of these sub-movements in the fusion word, its hard to imagine a fusion between jazz and classical music. As Chase Sanborn notes in his Jazz Tactics, "classical and jazz musicians rarely mix at cocktail parties." Despite all this, Canadian guitarist and composer Roddy Ellias seems to have found the perfect fuse between these two, seemingly, conflicting musical genres. Throughout his career, he has been described as "positively brilliant" and "a Zen master on the guitar". Most recently, Ellias collaborated with Canadian soprano Donna Brown, on their new album "Acts of Light". The personel on the record include Ellias on the guitar, Brown on the vocals, Jennifer Swartz on the harp, Ken Simpson on the marimba, and Frederic Lacroix on the piano. All tracks on the album were composed by Ellias with texts written by Sandra Nichols. Some songs to note on the record are "What You Wanted Was So Simple", "Puzzle Pieces", and "Looking Up". We're not going to discuss each noted song in detail like we usually do because they are truthfully indescribable. So instead, take a listen to  "What You Wanted Was So Simple", and you'll realize why we could not justify doing an in-depth analysis of these beautiful compositions . To end things off, Roddy Ellias does not provide an answer to fusion music. Rather, he continues to add to the complexity. Though, it is due to this complexity that we love jazz music in the first place. Bravo Mr. Ellias, bravo.

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