"...a stroke of genius... The sheer beauty of "Dream #8"'s melody, the insistent head of "Furious" and the unlikely dub closer "No Harm" (with Saft on rhythm guitar!) are only a few of the highlights found on The Uninvited, a highly refreshing album of creative jazz." — François Couture, All Music Guide
The Edmonton, Alberta-based Modo Trio makes its 482 Music debut with the release of The Uninvited (482-1049), featuring special guest, New York multi-instrumentalist/producer Jamie Saft.
Inspired by the aural landscapes of rave culture, but grounded in the traditions of jazz and creative improvisation, the group builds an inclusive, electro-acoustic sound through the collective efforts of Craig Brenan (trombone augmented by a five-voice harmonizer and looping device), Jeff Johnson (acoustic and electric basses) and Bill George (drums). Saft (piano, Rhodes, mini Moog and guitar), who produced The Uninvited and plays on all 10 tracks, plans to tour with the group in the coming months.
"Jeff and I bring in structures for tunes, which we then work on as a group," explains Brenan, the group's co-founder and a 2002 Alberta Arts Council Artist of the Future Award winner. "None of the compositions have changes or chord suggestions -- the music has form, melody and usually a bass line, but the rest is freely improvised. We never discuss key, tempo, time feel or groove before we play."
"I contacted Jamie," Brenan continues, "because every album that I love seems to have him involved in some way. We met for the first time at the Banff Centre (host of the Banff Centre Jazz Workshop run by Dave Douglas) and started recording on the same day. Jamie helped us take our music to the next level -- listening more, composing and perfoming better and creating a high-quality recording."
Modo Trio was founded in 1999 by Brenan and Johnson to explore their mutual interest in African and Spanish music, as well as the Drum 'n' Bass music that was reaching Canada at that time. The group solidified its current line-up when George joined the group in 2003, and has continued to evolve its approach, bringing inspirations such as dub music into its already eclectic sound.
Defined by Brenan's rare use of harmonizers and loops to augment the sound of his acoustic trombone, Modo Trio has been called "a fascinating mix of exotic contemporary grooves and improvisation" (Roger Levesque, Edmonton Journal), toured across its native Canada and appeared on Canadian television. Prior to The Uninvited, the group self released two recordings, including 2005's You Are Being Probed, which received extensive airplay on Canadian radio.
This recording began as an idea to unite the Modo Trio with muliti-keyboardist/instrumentalist Jamie Saft. Although Saft did not pen any compositions here, his flowing playing and vast array of sounds, from the lusciously mysterious to vibrations that can only be described as consciousness-melting, contribute to make his presence strongly heard on nearly every track.
While this is a recording that primarily explores the territory where electronics meets improvisation, these are all musicians experienced with and comfortable playing acoustically, as evidenced on the title track “The Uninvited”. It shows that their music is, at its core, listening to one another, phrasing together and telling a story. Between Brenan’s harmonizer and Saft’s keyboard sounds, there is a blending of textures that evolves to match the intent of the soloist, or simply to deepen the richness of the sonorities. This is beautifully expressed on the rubato tone poems “Aurora”, and “Dream #8 and the profound ballad “Solace” by bassist Jeff Johnson. As striking and novel as these may first sound, they are not merely experiments, but are soulful performances within new aural landscapes: the heart moving the machine.