Countermeasure: For Alice
Haunting vocals from Daniel Boyle and percussion by Dame Evelyn Glennie are featured on the vocal ensemble’s new single.
By Kerry Doole
Countermeasure - For Alice (Independent): On Sept. 11, the internationally-lauded 13-member vocal group from Toronto releases its third studio album, Guest Sessions. As the title infers, the concept of the record is to feature a guest solo instrumentalist on every track, with Aaron Jensen composing each number for voice.
For Alice, the third single off the album, features vocal soloist Daniel Boyle, with Grammy-winner Dame Evelyn Glennie contributing on RAV drum.
Boyle's pure and soaring voice and Jensen's poetic lyrics are framed perfectly by atmospheric horns, percussion and vocal harmonies. Immerse yourself in this and you will indeed be "lost for a moment in time." A beautiful piece.
In a press release, Countermeasure Artistic Director Jensen says “I wrote For Alice specifically for Daniel. I wanted to compose a song that both showcased his remarkable voice but also that resonated with him emotionally.” As Jensen was ruminating on lyrical ideas, he happened across a short story by Alice Munro, The Moons of Jupiter, about a woman coming to terms with the imminent loss of her ailing father. Daniel had recently lost his father to cancer, and themes of Munro’s story, (acceptance, catharsis, and the curation of final shared moments) seemed to align with Daniel’s experience.
This track is the only co-write on Guest Sessions. The press release explains that "Unlike the other works, Dame Glennie’s improvised performance came first. She provided Countermeasure’s Aaron Jensen with several extended improvisations to choose from on a variety of percussion instruments. Jensen selected Dame Evelyn’s expressive performance on the RAV drum (a dreamy and resonant pitched hand percussion instrument). Jensen kept her improvisation completely intact and mapped melody and lyric over the foundations of her gestural performance."
For the album, Countermeasure recruited a highly impressive list of guests. Aside from Glennie, it includes two other Grammy winners, Randy Brecker on trumpet and Cindy Cashdollar on dobro, plus Juno-winning fiddler, Natalie MacMaster, platinum-selling Quebecois guitarist, Christian Roberge, Pamelia Stickney on theremin, Charlie Gabriel (Preservation Hall Jazz Band), and Toronto A-listers Rich Brown, Kevin Fox, and Michael Davidson.
Countermeasure is currently preparing for a shared bill with the New Japan Philharmonic in May 2021 at Triphony Hall, in Sumida, Tokyo.
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