Museum London hosts LOLA concert

Audience connects with jazzy ensembles

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

A duet performs at LOLA

Courtesy of Michael Brown

An art gallery might not seem like the ideal venue for a concert, but the experimental musicians that played Museum London on Thursday night were definitely in their element. The walls were adorned with paintings, the bar was opened and the stage was set for three jazz-influenced acts that all took very different approaches to making music.

Muskox, the brainchild of Michael Smith, isn’t your typical headliner. The ensemble has its roots in jazz, but embraces alternative country, Americana and folk music. Muskox took a minimalist approach to the performance, focusing on the music above all else. That approach paid dividends as the tonal qualities of their songs were complex and entertaining in their own right.

Each song was intricately layered with distinct instruments that all stood out without overpowering one another; an impressive feat considering Muskox experiments with the banjo, xylophone and at times, a wooden box. Their musical expertise should come as no surprise since all of the band members are formally trained musicians.

The opening duo, Not the Wind, Not the Flag, did not shy away from experimentation either, incorporating diverse sounds from Iran, China and North Africa. The pair played the most astonishing set of the night and lasted almost a full hour without stoppages.

Instead of playing individual songs, Not the Wind, Not the Flag improvised their continuous performance and were constantly transitioning from instrument to instrument, occasionally even playing two at the same time.

Canaille achieved a sound more commonly associated with the golden age of jazz through the liberal use of saxophone, trumpet and bass. Although less experimental, Canaille proved the most accessible of the bunch. They had the most upbeat, visual sound of the night that provided a welcome contrast to the other performers.

The venue was adequately filled with a wide range of people in attendance, including an uber-hip dreadlocked girl who sat sewing a shirt on the floor, Western music students and CHRW representatives among many others. All were very receptive to the Toronto-based musicians who appreciated the turnout.

The $12 ticket was worth the money and not only for the great live music. There were plenty of complimentary nachos, cashews, desserts and the jazzy art-crowd favourite " strong coffee. With an abundance of tasty treats and tasteful music, Museum London provided a great Thursday night for everyone in attendance.

The LOLA concert series continues April 22 with a show by Windy & Carl and Benoit Pioulard at the London Convention Centre Theatre.

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