Upstream Orchestra at Victoriaville

June 6th, 2013

REVIEWS

UPSTREAM ORCHESTRA @ VICTORIAVILLE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL  May 18th, 2013

"As a big fan of large ensembles & modern big bands, I was glad to hear the next set from the Upstream Orchestra. This 18-piece ensemble is from the Maritime provinces in Canada and led by saxist Paul Cram, who had a previous large ensemble at Victo several years back. The orchestra was conducted by Jeff Reilly who also once played in a duo with Jerry Granelli at Victo previously. They played three pieces, one by Barry Guy and two by Mr. Cram. You could tell that a good deal of time and preparation went into this concert as the pieces were well-written, tight and superbly played. Vocalist Tena Palmer was one of the highlights of this ensemble, her voice an integral part of the orchestra's tapestry and waves of lines. She often didn't sing words but used her voice in other ways. Some of the music on the first piece reminded me of a spy movie theme and featured a smokin' tenor solo from Mr. Cram. The second piece, "The Magic Order", began quietly with soft vocals, muted trumpet, flutes and other horns all sailing together. This piece reminded me of the Grand Wazoo (Zappa's large jazz ensemble from the early 1970's) which mixed free and charted sections perfectly. The last piece, "Witch Gong Game" by Barry Guy was quite intense and explosive. Different sections of the orchestra (as synth/guitar/voice/percussion) would rise or submerge within other sections, occasionally erupt with some marvelous solos from the soprano sax, voice or other players. The music recalled the great British composer Neil Ardley, who is a personal favorite of mine. I've listened to dozens of large ensembles over the past few years and this, the Upstream Orchestra, was one of the best." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, NYC, 6/6/13

 

“Another real treat was the set by Upstream Orchestra, 18 pieces from the Maritime Provinces of Eastern Canada – not a place one usually thinks of as a  hot bed of avant-garde music. But this year was an improvising orchestra with real depth and very strong conduction by Jeff Reilly, they started off with a great run-through of Barry Guy’s Witch Gong Game* and followed it with two pieces by their musical director, Paul Cram. Big chunks of Mingus, George Russell, the ICP and much else assembled itself into a squawk-swept landscape of brilliant playing. They don’t seem to have any recordings available, but hopefully they will soon.” The Wire (UK)
 

  • He got his wires crossed. We finished with WWG. I’m not  unhappy to  be mistaken for Barry Guy.