Review in JAMM Magazine 2014
by Rick Jamm
Pianist and composer Canary Burton studied music at the University of Idaho at Moscow in the 1970's forming several bands both rock and jazz. After moving to Washington DC to listen to the musicians in the jazz scene, she moved to Cape Cod (Massachusetts) finding peace and a supportive environment for concentrated composing. Canary’s work has progressed through jazz, pop and sound art into classical music based on these roots. Canary Burton has released several albums, including her latest, “Jazz Bird”.
This effort is extremely lush and hypnotic. Jon Jarvis’s performance and Canary's compositions are unflawed. The ensemble work with the Jarvis Trio as well as the tracks featuring Mercedes Rossi, Row Twelve and Roxana Bajdechi, not to mention Canary’s solo expressions, all shine brilliantly bright. “Jazz Bird” is curiously inviting; its real jazz not the fake stuff. It’s the kind of music that triggers nostalgia. The stuff that makes you feel like you’re in a dream. Jon's technical abilities allow him to express, musically and artistically, what Canary is trying to communicate to the listener. The sonorities, colors and hues that she coaxes from her chord voicing’s are simply put, beautiful with a complex simplicity. Her music is mature yet playful and exciting. While this album is done for the major part in solo playing and in the traditional jazz trio format, you will not miss the ‘over produced’ recordings which so many less talented artists produce today. Canary and Jon say it all in their own styles and in their own unique way, which harkens back to the 50s jazz era.
I was late to discover Canary Burton, but I’m glad I found her. “Jazz Bird” is a wonderful album; original, inventive, nuanced, driving and beautiful. And oddly enough, this music is surprisingly accessible too. Solo or duet piano playing often presents a formidable challenge to even the most accomplished pianists. In most cases, as soon as the music begins, the listener’s attention drifts away as fast as the first few notes fade.
“Jazz Bird” is an exception to this malady. The opening strains of “Familiarity (feat. Jon Jarvis)” will catch your ears immediately, as if the song had been there all along, desperately wanting your attention. When Jon starts to improvise, the song takes flight. So to, do the other 13 selections in the album. My personal favorites are all the tracks featuring the Jarvis Trio, particularly “Tritone Subrosa”, “Companion2”and “Monkish”, but then again I’m a sucker for jazz trios. Overall, this album is a terrific introduction to the talent of Canary Burton. It’s all here; great technique, wonderfully variations, simple and playful melodies. Sometimes happy and exuberant, other times beautifully hypnotic, but throughout the album there is not a note out of place and not an instant where the playing is anything less than magnificent.