Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Boundary Busting Exuberance on a Five String Fiddle

WATERLOO, March 10, 2015 --- The violinist and composer Jaron Freeman-Fox hopes the exuberance of yelling from mountain tops and along ocean beaches comes through in his music.

"I hope it maintains that same feeling of freedom," Freeman-Fox said.

The genre-defying musician leads a quintet Friday, March 13, at The Jazz Room.  Be prepared for a musical tour that includes the sounds of Klezmer, Gypsies, Indian classical, some blues and jazz. The prolific and eclectic composer's latest CD is called "The Opposite of Everything."

Freeman-Fox wrote most of the music for that CD while walking the beaches on the Discovery Islands, which are in the Discovery Passage between Vancouver Island and the Mainland.  He also wrote a lot of the pieces while hiking in the mountains of India, where he had gone to study Indian classical music.

"The vast majority of the music I wrote for "The Opposite of Everything" is music that I wrote when I had the freedom to scream at the top of my lungs when we play it," Freeman-Fox said in an interview with New City Notes.

"The common thread is walking around somewhere far enough away from other humans I had the freedom to just holler into myself at the top of my lungs," Freeman-Fox said.  "I do really hope that sense of unencumbered freedom translates into the music, even when it even when it ends up being on a song that is instrumental and has no singing and is played quite softly."

Joining Freeman-Fox on stage at The Jazz Room will be Daniel Stadnicki on drums, Alan Mackie on double-bass, Frank Evans on banjo and Edwin Sheard on saxophone  They will have a lot of material to choose from as Freeman-Fox has produced or played on more than 40 CDs. He has studied, toured and collaborated with musicians around the world.

The day after his gig at The Jazz Room, the Toronto-based violinist is off to Sweden for a collaborative project with a modern-dance company.  The piece will be premiering at a festival in Zimbabwe.

"Then I am flying straight back. I have a house-concert tour through Northern Manitoba, which should be really fun," Freeman-Fox said.  "Then I am going to be doing gig on the West Coast, a double bill with I think my favourite classical violinist in Canada."

He will perform with Marc Destrube at the Vancouver Early Music Festival.  Destrube will play Bach's Partita for solo violin.  Freeman-Fox follows him on stage and plays a modern version of Bach's music on his five-string violin. It will be a happy reunion. At 17, Freeman-Fox attended music school in Vancouver studying jazz, composition and classical performance under Destrube.

Freeman-Fox plays the instrument that belonged to his teacher and mentor, the late Oliver Schroer. Freeman-Fox is from the West Coast, but at 14 he began a close apprenticeship with the five-string-fiddle pioneer who was based in Toronto.

In 2007 he travelled to India to study Indian classical music with some that country's top violinists.

"It was great - quite a mind bender. A very humbling experience. Absolutely life changing," Freeman Fox said of his studies in India.

In 2008 Freeman-Fox learned that Schroer's illness was terminal.  Freeman-Fox was on the first plane back to Canada.  That was the day he moved to Toronto. Schroer had leukaemia and died in July 2008.

"I was his apprentice. It really felt that way. I would just go live with him for periods of time ever since I was 14, in the same way of old-school apprenticeships in all walks of life. It wasn't so much that we were just playing fiddle together all the time, just living life," Freeman-Fox said.

He only spends about six weeks a year in Toronto.  The rest of time Freeman-Fox is on the road.

"I have to really make time to just play music for fun, and just maintain that feeling of joy and not just work with it," Freeman-Fox said.  "So I have been getting together and jamming with my favourite musicians in town over the last couple of weeks I have been home, and it's been awesome."

The band that recorded the CD "The Opposite of Everything" is not the same band that plays The Jazz Room Friday night.  The banjo player Frank Evans and drummer Dan Stadnicki both played on the CD, and will be playing in the Friday gig.

"I am actually pretty obsessed with the banjo," Freeman-Fox said.  "To be honest with you when I am on the road I probably spend more time playing  banjo than fiddle now.  It's pretty awesome for me.  Frank, I really believe his is probably the best fiddle player in Canada."

Some members of the Grand River Jazz Society may have heard The Opposite of Everything at the world music festival in London --- Sunfest --- last July.   The band plays three folk festivals for every jazz/world music festival.