For Immediate Release
Award-winning composer and multi-reed man Rob Mosher releases The Tortoise, the debut CD of his 10-piece ensemble Storytime out September 30 on Old Mill Records
* Featuring ROB MOSHER, soprano sax, oboe, English horn; SAM SADIGURSKY, flute, clarinet, alto sax; PETER HESS, clarinet, tenor sax; BRIAN LANDRUS, bass clarinet, baritone sax; MICAH KILLION, trumpet, flugelhorn; RACHEL DREHMANN, French horn; MICHAEL FAHIE, trombone; NIR FELDER, guitar; GARTH STEVENSON, acoustic bass; ZIV RAVITZ, drums *
Heartbroken and with a song in his heart, Rob Mosher packed a pencil, his soprano sax and hopped on a bus for New York City. Fast-forward four years. The 28-year-old Canadian-born musician, who has received a Juno award as well as numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, added oboe and English horn to his palette, and formed a 10-piece ensemble called “Storytime” whose compelling debut CD The Tortoise shows that he is a force to be reckoned with.
A self-taught composer, Mosher began writing music in 2003 after studying jazz performance at the University of Toronto where he enjoyed exchanging ideas with classical composers. Since then, he has been steadily making his way on the New York scene as a leader and sideman. His “Storytime” ensemble includes a diverse group of musicians, who have a background in jazz, classical and improvised music, able to match his creative vision. “I’ve always felt this brewing sensation of music inside me that wants to make itself known,” he says.
Asked about the group’s name, Mosher explains, “I was searching for a band name that welcomed people into my music without creating expectations of what they’d hear. At first I was concerned the name sounded childish or non-serious, but hearing stories as a kid was easy fun, and the more birthday candles I had on my cake the more I appreciated the deeper messages underneath. My music is much the same way in that I create simple melodies that are supported by sophisticated musical structures.”
The Tortoise is a lushly scored musical odyssey that contains echoes of Wayne Shorter, Gil Evans, Kurt Weill, Darius Milhaud, Debussy and Bach, reflecting Mosher’s embrace of a wide range of influences which have coalesced to create his singularly independent compositional voice. The CD traverses many musical landscapes — all held together by Mosher’s multi-faceted orchestration and ingenious use of instrumentation (saxophones, oboe, English horn, clarinets, flute, trumpet, French horn, trombone, electric and acoustic guitar, plus bass and drums).
Recounting the creative inspiration for Twilight, one of tunes on the CD, Rob says, “Though I didn’t realize it until it was nearly complete, Twilight was inspired by a walk through Central Park. The color of the ground and sky, the temperature, the smell, everything was balanced in a way that wasn’t quite morning or night, dusk or dawn. It was a magical moment as the park transformed itself.”
Atmospheric and cinematic pieces like On A Clear Day, and Twilight are juxtaposed with jaunty Weill-esque romps such as The Tall Tales of Todd Toven, 1920’s Car Chase, and What Snowflakes are Plotting. Thrown into the mix are tunes like The Sands of Maundune, which swings with a decidedly Latin flavor, and Jupiter, a highly complex composition in which two completely independent musical themes appear to stand side by side on an audio split-screen. Mosher’s work is often grounded in visual narrative.
Mosher lets individual instrumentalists shine on tunes that seem composed just for them. On A Clear Day is a vehicle for Micah Killion, who plays gorgeous flugelhorn here while the ensemble shines around him. The poignant yet film-noiresque Silhouette of the Man in the Fog features Mosher’s lyrical English horn and a soaring and energetic solo from Brian Landrus on baritone. Guitarist Nir Felder wears many different hats on this disc; his sound ranges from Electric on What Snowflakes are Plotting, Jazz on The Sands of Maundune, Hawaiian slide guitar (Twilight) and beautiful acoustic guitar on Sleepless Lullaby. Mosher’s soprano sax playing is extraordinarily versatile, both ethereal (The Forgotten) and edgily swinging (Joy).
The Forgotten features Peter Hess in an extended tenor sax solo, which seems like a world unto itself. March of the Elephants provides trombonist Michael Fahie with a vehicle that aptly portrays the nobility of these majestic animals and also features gorgeous wind ensemble playing from flutist Sam Sadigursky, Mosher on oboe, and Peter Hess on clarinet. Sleepless Lullaby finds bassist Garth Stevenson in a moving arco duet with Felder on acoustic guitar. Ziv Ravitz solidly holds it down on every tune, no matter the style, finding countless sounds from his kit and other percussion instruments (such as rain stick and sleigh bells), which are infinitely imaginative. French horn player Rachel Drehmann expertly weaves her sumptuous tone into the fabric of the ensemble.
Interestingly, there is no tune on the disc named “The Tortoise.” When asked what the tortoise signified, Mosher responds: “The tortoise represents three things; being myself and coming out of my social shell, riding life’s currents, and the importance of taking my time with things instead of rushing like the hare. I had been trying to get all my projects going at once, but if living in New York has taught me anything, it’s the importance of following one idea through to its completion.”
Indeed, Mosher has many vehicles for his creative pursuits, including his jazz quartet, a string trio with soprano sax, a duo with an operatic soprano, and other chamber works. He has received another grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to compose the next album with “Storytime,” which will feature various soloists on banjo, violin, cello, tuba, classical piano, and operatic baritone. The story of this musical ambassador continues…