Film in Music
Film in Music is another project led by the formidable cellist, improviser and composer Peggy Lee. It was originally conceived in 2009 as a musical response to the HBO series, Deadwood. Essentially it is a film score written in reverse. See the film then write the music. The recording has the vast brooding quality that we often associate with film music, especially western film music. It has a sonic atmosphere that evokes the scale of western landscape. Ironically, most of Deadwood was shot in a tight mountain location and felt constrained, even claustrophobic. The response of Lee and the band is to open it up. All of the eight musicians on this CD are exceptional improvisers and many are already well known to our readers: in addition to Lee on cello there is Jesse Zubot, violin; Kevin Elaschuk, trumpet; Ron Samworth, guitar; Chris Gestrin, Fender Rhodes; Torsten Muller, acoustic bass; André Lachance, electric bass; and Dylan van der Schyff on drums.
Lee’s idea was to structure the recording as a suite, relying on her great gift for melody as a way of starting an idea. The suite has eight composed sections which frame the story and provide the starting place for the extended improvised statements from the individual artists. These solos vary; they can be unaccompanied or played by smaller ensembles within the larger aggregation. Essentially this makes each artist a character in the story. It really works the same way improvised theatre works and the story is never told the same way twice, even though it always has the same reference points.
Lee’s music is challenging but always rewarding. It bears repeated listening. I was playing this at breakfast for my eight-year-old and she said it sounds like we are at the Planetarium. Good call.
reviewed by R. Doull
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