Percussionist Joe Sorbara has been making waves around Toronto for the last little while but I’d only opened up my ears recently. These two releases help matters out in helping to discover this emerging talent.

Along with curating The Leftover Daylight Series with Ken Aldcroft and Nick Fraser, and being heavily involved in Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto, Joe Sorbara is also busy in recording his musical progress down to tape. His latest issue “Remnants” features a trio in which he’s joined by guitarist Ken Aldcroft and saxophonist Evan Shaw. Improvisation is obviously at the heart of this recording. From the get go, all three musicians attack the meat on the bone, hungry to chew large chunks at a time. Shaw has some of his best moments when he gets to have face-to-face conversations with Sorbara. His jagged alto attacks are a perfect fit to Sorbara’s cymbal-heavy shimmers. In fact, Sorbara explores just about every facet of his percussion set. All is done with intricate care and a ton of forethought. At certain points, Sorbara’s subtle approach reminds me of another outstanding Toronto percussionist [turned laptop artist] Tomasz Krakowiak. Aldcroft is all over the map. From the shronkiest of guitar feasts on Remnants II, to Bill Frisell-like passages on You Make Me Feel Queasy and Odd. This is an album that is ultimately a welcome sign from local musicians, one full of jagged energy and improvisational mastery. More of the same brave sounds would be most welcome, thank you.

Originating in the Greek word muo – I cover the eyes and mouth – Glen Hall’s latest ensemble Trio Muo is an interesting epiphany of sorts. If we take muo to mean looking into oneself for musical inspirations, then in this case the trio’s leader has succeeded in pulling off a major feat. “Angles” is not an easy album, but who expects this sort of rampant dialogue to be easy to swallow. Bassist Michael Morse along with percussionist Joe Sorbara joins Hall on this sonic excursion. Being at the helm of the ship gives Hall major responsibilities. He has to find a way to ground his cohorts. His reed playing is fairly exuberant – whether he utilizes the sax or the flute [which is only used on one number]. Colouring the pieces in every imaginable way – tonal varieties and quick stop-and-go movements – Hall succeeds in offering a wide variety of playing throughout the album. With his wide palette of percussive tools [bells, maracas, etc.] Sorbara’s unique approach acts as the bridge between impressively skip-like bass work from Morse and Hall’s angular blows. A personal highlight is Big Ears (for Paul Haines), a subtle, poignant and underplayed piece dedicated to the highly underrated Canadian poet. “Angles” turns out to be an impressive album, full of daring work from all three musicians.

-- Tom Sekowski; The Wholenote (06/2006)

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