Monday, March 26, 2018

Debut album release "NEVER DIE!" by \\livingfossil//, led by saxophonist Gordon Hyland

NEVER DIE! is the debut album by \\livingfossil//, led by Toronto born-and-raised saxophonist Gordon Hyland. The band features a roster of musicians - all active players in Toronto - who have had important roles in Hyland’s life: be it as collaborators, friends, and/or mentors.

The central band is comprised of Mackenzie Longpre on drums, Neil Whitford on guitar, and Andrew Roorda on electric bass, all of whom have played music with Hyland for over a decade, having been members of the band Ninja Funk Orchestra. Torrie Seager (Hush Pup) adds additional guitar, often doubling the melody in Hyland’s arrangements. Vivienne Wilder provides acoustic bass, and Mike Murley (Metalwood), on tenor saxophone, is featured on several compositions. Murley also co-produced the album with Hyland’s longtime collaborator, engineer and mixer, Andrew Mullin at Canterbury Studios in Toronto. The non-standard instrumentation (two guitarists) allows each musician to shine equally, and leads to the exploration of interesting new timbres: doubling between guitars and saxophones, effected instruments, and compositional forms influenced by graphic scores and free improvisation.

Most of the tracks on this album are original works composed by Hyland, several of which are highly programmatic. The lead track on the album, ‘Macrophages’, zooms into the world of the white blood cell on its noble quest to seek and destroy an infection. The album begins with a nebulous opening section that coagulates into the pulsating rhythmic heartbeat provided by Longpre and Roorda, underscoring the mysteriously determined melody of Hyland’s sax. ‘Living Fossil’, from which the band’s name is also derived, alludes to a concept that Hyland discovered while reading ‘The Ocean World of Jacques Cousteau’, a series of books that Cousteau published in 1975. At one point, the author asserts that a sea creature called the nautilus is effectively a ‘living fossil’, having apparently not evolved significantly since the Cambrian period some 500 million years ago. Hyland explores this theme by guiding the listener through a lush, whirling ocean of crystalline chords and shimmery guitar that cradle an exquisitely lonely sentiment.  NEVER DIE!, the album’s title track, encapsulates the overall theme of the album: it is a tragicomedy, where a nostalgic sounding saxophone melody is interrupted somewhat rudely by an explosive Zappa inspired groove. Despite the cacophany, Hyland’s sense of humour never allows the album to sink completely into the darkness.

Levity is also provided - with slapstick insanity - in the playful rendition of the Ornette Coleman song ‘Lorraine’ and Hyland’s arrangement of the aptly re-titled ‘Lessforgettable’, his take on Irving Gordon’s classic standard originally made famous by Nat King Cole. Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps’ is retitled ‘Baby Steps’, both a tip of the hat to one of the world’s greatest saxophonists, and a simultaneous wink to the absurdity of jazz school hero worship. The stadium saxophone track ‘Satellite’ harkens back to Hyland’s days in the electro-prog rock club scene with Ninja Funk Orchestra.

Official website:

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Guitarist and composer Harley Card new album The Greatest Invention...a musical tapestry

Harley Card is a Toronto based guitarist and composer. Well versed in jazz and popular music, Harley has been a collaborator in Toronto’s diverse music scene since 2003. He has released three albums of his original music; ‘The Greatest Invention (2017), Hedgerow (2013), and Non-Fiction (2008). In addition to leading his own projects, Harley is a member of the the innovative Toronto groups; Stoptime, Hobson’s Choice, and God’s Gift To Yoda. 

The Greatest Invention is Harley's third CD and is the follow up to 2013’s ‘Hedgerow’ and his 2008 debut, ‘Non-Fiction’. It introduces eleven new compositions written for his long standing group, The Harley Card Quintet.

The music on The Greatest Invention ranges from longer developed pieces to more direct themes that bring the soloists into focus and pay tribute to the tradition of the great quintets in jazz. The album draws inspiration from a range of musical influences, memorable places, and Harley’s deep interest in exploring the process of composition. The title track is inspired by the bicycle and the joy of cycling. It is an album unified both by Harley’s voice as a writer and the Quintet’s sound and approach, developed over the last twelve years as a working band. 

Card takes the listener on a captivating journey. Virtually flawless with an ensemble cast second to none!Brent Black -

As a sideman, Harley has played with a wide array of bands including; Carlie Howell and The Deharms, Harrington, Karl Silveira Quintet, Heavy On The Willie, and The Dan Jam Orchestra. As a freelance guitarist he has worked with; Richard Underhill, Alex Dean, Alex Samaras, Dave Clark, David Virelles, Mike Malone, William Carn, Bernie Senensky, Michael Herring, and Michael Davidson among others.

In 2008 Card traveled to Switzerland to compete as a semi-finalist in the Montreaux Jazz Festival’s Guitar Competition. Harley is a five time recipient of the Toronto Arts Council Creation Grant, a three time recipient of the Ontario Arts Council’s Popular Music Grant, and a two time recipient of  Canada Council Tour Grants for tours with his quintet. Harley is a graduate of Applied Music at Mohawk College and Jazz Performance at The University Of Toronto. 

Marty's review: Harley Card's talents as a composer and guitarist come to the fore in a big way on this his third album release. Each composition is a craft in itself as the quintet weave and flow through their paces with almost effortless abandon. I would call it a musical tapestry, as each picture comes together and tells a story that allows the listener to create their own story from the sounds that are formed and created. An exceptional release that highlights the talents of all involved.

Official website: