Living Fossil
RIYL: BADBADNOTGOOD, Kim Oki, Vijay Iyer Trio

Jazz is not something you would expect to hear much on college radio these days. In fact, there are a lot of college deejays shying away from jazz. It is a tragedy, really. Despite this realization, there are artists out there making truly ground-breaking, experimental jazz. This includes Toronto’s trio Living Fossil. There must be something in the water there, as we know their contemporaries BADBADNOTGOOD also hail from The 416.

Now, while the record NEVER DIE! might be challenging for some, there are some truly free-wheelin’ moments throughout the record. Band leader Gordon Hyland flexes his sax chops immediately on the album opener “macrophages.” As the album progresses, Hyland continues to lay down some wonderful arrangements backed by Mack Longpre on drums, Neil Whitford on guitar, Torrie Seager on guitar, Andrew Roorda on electric bass, and Vivienne Wilder on the acoustic bass.

All in all, this rotating cast of members come together to make some wonderful contemporary jazz tunes that would turn the ear of even the most staunch critics and genre stalwarts. This, to be frank, is a lot do with Hyland’s playing, but the rest of the band allow him to full realize each movement. That said, there are definitely pieces where each artist has their spot to shine behind Hyland’s over-arching horn, much like any other jazz ensemble.

Now, while the whole record is worth your time, if I had to choose a particular song, I’d choose “lorraine” to start. There are some interesting time changes throughout the piece. Further, the moodiness of the track lends well as it lands smack dab in the middle of the record.

If you still aren’t sold, from Hyland and the ensemble’s Facebook page, they “explore programmatic soundscapes, stadium saxophone songs, and reinterpreted standards in an effort to make a live jazz set feel like a synesthetic dreamscape.” Well arranged. Great instrumentation. Worth your ear.

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