Central and Eastern Canada launch dates for Constellation
6th October, The Upstairs, Montréal, Québec
8th October, The Black Sheep, Wakefield, Québec
11th October, The Mansion, Kingston, Ontario
13th October, The Tranzac, Toronto, Ontario
28th October, The Seahorse, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Other dates of note:
17th September, Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, Fredericton, New Brunswick
23rd September, Deep Roots Festival, Wolfville, Nova Scotia
24th September, Deep Roots Festival, Wolfville, Nova Scotia
23rd March, 2012, Collaboration with Symphony Nova Scotia, Rebecca Cohen, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Having already built a following among fans of indie rock and other decidedly non-Django genres, Halifax’s ECMA-winning hot jazz ensemble, Gypsophilia, has stepped out of the box once again, this time recording a new album with the Montreal producer and engineer who’s best-known for his work with acts like Stars and the Arcade Fire.
Yet the product of the band’s first collaboration with Howard Bilerman, titled Constellation, is actually a more sophisticated and classic-sounding album than its sophomore project, Sa-Ba-Da-OW!
Bilerman’s most conspicuous contribution to the record – to which he describes himself as something of a midwife – is its warm, crisp, and spacious sound. The recording feels intimate – as if the listener is right there in the room with the band. Bilerman didn’t conceive a “new” sound for the ensemble, but rather made their collective voice come through loud and clear.
Beyond that, the 11 new tracks are a product of Gypsophilia’s own musical evolution, which is marked by an increased reverence for classic genres and a continued desire to mix things up for the modern age.
Alec Frith’s composition “Super Bowl Party” kicks off with some country fingerpickin’ and ends with a little ode to the champions…shall we say. Adam Fine’s “Vino Griego” is actually a reworking of a French rugby chant, while his Kool and the Gang-inspired composition “Bercy” is an experiment in adapting 70s funk for a drumless Django-inspired ensemble.
On the more timeless side of things, the single, Ross Burns’ “Montréal” shows the band at its angular and swingin’ best. There’s also Gina Burgess’ “Damsel in Delight” a western swing-inspired number punctuated with rollicking honky tonk piano; Matt Myer’s “Valse Povero,” a classical waltz with a major synth interlude; “Trick Wick,” a piece that breaks into a little Dixieland at the end, and “Zachary’s Czardas,” a decidedly Eastern-European-inspired number.
The entire album was recorded live-off-the-floor to analogue tape over the course of one week in Bilerman’s hotel2tango studio in Montreal’s Mile End. Its inventive arrangements and intuitive interplay are a further testament to the band’s evolution since its last recording.
Gypsophilia earned two East Coast Music Awards for 2009’s Sa-ba-da-OW!: Instrumental Album of the Year and Jazz Album of the Year. It also earned a glowing review on Boing Boing, a performance on CBC’s DNTO, a #1 spot on the national jazz radio charts, and a Nova Scotia Music Award for Jazz/Electro Acoustic Artist/Group Recording. Its debut album, Minor Hope, earned two Nova Scotia Music Award nominations and an ECMA nomination.
The band formed in 2004 for what was supposed to be a one-off gig at the Atlantic Jazz Festival, but it was virtually forced by audience response to schedule a follow-up club date—which was lined up around the block. It went on to spawn a minor retro movement in Halifax that saw 20-something fans attending the band’s concerts dressed in garb from the 20s and 30s.
The band members, themselves in their 20s and 30s, are alumni of everything from the Johnny Favourite Swing Orchestra to Symphony Nova Scotia. Alec Frith (guitar), Matt Myer (trumpet) and Ross Burns (guitar) all play with the roots-Reggae band Verbal Warnin’; Myer is an ECMA and Juno-winner with the Johnny Favorite Swing Orchestra; Adam Fine (bass) plays in klezmer outfit Der Heisser. Sageev Oore (keyboards) has been a featured soloist with Symphony Nova Scotia and a member of the Woodchoppers Association, while Gina Burgess (violin) has also played with the Symphony and with the Maria Osende Flamenco Company.