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Hard Rubber Orchestra: Cruel Yet Fair

During the ’90s, Vancover has had one of the most vital local scenes on the planet. Vancouver musicians have been an integral part of the artistic success of the du Maurier International Jazz Festival Vancouver. In turn, they have benefitted both fron the collaborations with musicians from the United States and Europe afforded them by the mix-and-match programming of artistic director Ken Pickering, and from a level of exposure in the international press that eludes 99.9% of “local musicians.” this is not to suggest, however, that they would not have made similar progress had they relocated to New York or Europe. As these discs convey, their is a remarkable concentration of world-class creative musicianship in Vancouver.

Trumpeter/composer John Korsrud’s Hard Rubber Orchestra is a juggernaut. On Cruel Yet Fair, the 22-piece esnsemble rips through Korsrud’s erudite compositions, kicking up a dust storm of ideas that linger long after the disc is over. As a composer, Korsrud gives minimalism’s interlocking figures and repeating motives big band brawn and palpable propulsion, while grafting material from funk, Latin, and rock sources. He makes very arcane concepts swing hard. While he is a gifted trumpeter, Korsrud is, more importantly, a generous leader, who hands the bulk of the solo space to colleagues spanning the Vancouver spectrum, from hard-hitting jazzers like trumpeter Brad Turner and baritone saxophonist Daniel Kane, to NOW Orchestra-affiliated improvisers like soprano saxophonist Graham Ord and guitarist Ron Samworth. Incredibly, Cruel Yet Fair is Hard Rubber Orchestra’s first recording; there hasn’t been as impressive a debut by a composer and his orchestra in years.

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