Listening Artist in Residence: Scott Thomson


Listening Artist in Residence:


ST's little pickle

We’re delighted to welcome to the 3rd Annual Something Else! Festival of Creative Music, as this year’s Listening Artist in Residence (LAiR) SCOTT THOMSON, an improvising trombonist, composer, producer, writer, and listener based in Montreal. His varied work and play reflect his profound interest in music as social life. After Scott was chosen and accepted to become LAiR, he has started to become involved in our collective as a member and has graciously provided invaluable support to our efforts. We thank him… warmly!
He took the title seriously enough to start writing about the artists coming to the festival… what a guy! Scott will have at least a finger or two in various pies at this year’s bake-off:

June 16, 8 pm: Gala Night with ST, John Oswald & Ben Grossman + The Spokes + Earth, Wind & Choir
June 17, 6 pm: Solo trombone performance before The Out Louds
June 18, 4 pm:  ST’s The Rent play before Castor et compagnie
June 18,  8 pm: Scott & Jack Vorvis play before The Thing
June 19, 12-6 pm: Scott will sit in with various bands during Open Streets Hamilton

Scott Thomson (by Christopher Cauley)

Scott Thomson plays in established groups in many styles, and prizes ad hoc improvising as a way to meet creative people. He works extensively with singer and dance artist, Susanna Hood, as a duo and with the quintets, The Disguises and The Rent. Scott’s suite of songs, The Muted Note, based on P.K. Page poems, has been the basis of discs with Susanna and with The Disguises, a major stage work with choreography by Susanna, and a 40-performance, nine-province Canadian tour in 2014. Scott helped to found the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto (AIMToronto) in 2004 and served as a director until 2009, and he continues to co-direct the AIMToronto Orchestra, convened for a project with Anthony Braxton in September 2007. From 2007 to 2010, Scott was the artistic director of Somewhere There, a performance space for live creative music in Toronto that hosted 850 concerts during his tenure. Scott has composed a series of site-specific works, ‘cartographic compositions’ for mobile musicians and audiences in unconventional performance contexts including, notably, the National Gallery of Canada; the Art Gallery of Ontario; Montréal’s Vieux Port and Parc Lafontaine; and Parc National du Bic.

Selected Media Quotations:

“Scott Thomson’s trombone at moments practically lifted me out of my body.”

–Carl Wilson,

The Muted Note is a striking accomplishment—an almost naked work, in which unaccompanied trombone and voice are frequent. One does not hear these episodes as the work of individuals but as part of a complex ensemble of poet, composer, and interpreters. The Muted Note ultimately resonates like [P.K.] Page’s galvanized language itself.” 

–Stuart Broomer, review of The Muted Note: Songs Based on Poems by P.K. Page in Musicworks

“Thomson’s trombone blasts are nothing short of spectacular.”

–Tom Sekowski, Wholenote Magazine

“You made the trombone sound like an entire nightclub, like a crackhouse at 4am!”

–Rob Clutton in person after a show

The result [of Songs & Dances from The Muted Note] is remarkable, sacrificing some intimacy but gaining greater resilience and highlighting the strength of Thomson’s melodies, like the vibrant Picking Daffodils. […] Thomson has achieved a fine balance in the writing, creating arrangements that frame and expand P.K. Page’s luminous language without drowning it out, sometimes employing understated dissonance to suggest ambiguity.”

–Stuart Broomer, review of The Disguises recording in Wholenote Magazine.

“Somewhere There is […] a truly special place, a national treasure, […] the place where true art ferments.”

–Richard Marsella, Wholenote Magazine

“Somewhere There is just the kind of place where great music scenes are incubated.”

–Evan Parker, following his February 2009 AIMToronto Interface Series at Somewhere There

“Thomson keeps to small, tactile gestures but somehow contrives to give bebop momentum even to moments of drifting near-stasis. The calm surface of his playing is ruffled by countless small shivers of delight and contrariness, while the solo piece ‘Lead’ shows how much mileage he can get out of quivery pirouettes and split tones. He even throws in some curt bouncing-ball melodies right out of J.J. Johnson. This is first-rate music that hardly deserves the tag ‘abstract’; it contains more melodic invention than a score of mainstream jazz records.”

Nate Dorward, Plumb review, Paris Transatlantic Magazine

“Remarkably serious entertainment.”

Phillip Clark, Plumb review, The Wire

“…a folksy sort of virtuosity – amiable, agreeably unpretentious and without the patented sheen of the conservatory.”

Mark Miller, Plumb liner notes

“Scott Thomson, trombonist extraordinaire, plays with Roswell Rudd raucousness but his tone can get eerily whispery.”

–Glen Hall, Exclaim Magazine

“You blow into this end of the trombone and the sound that comes out the other end disrupts the cosmos.”

–Roswell Rudd, White Anglo-Saxon Pythagorean non-pareil (apropos of the trombone in general, not ST in particular!)

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