Album Review: Colin Cannon delivers a majestic tribute to daily life in ‘McGolrick’

If ever you wanted to impersonate your thoughts during lockdown, this is the album to listen to. Critically acclaimed jazz composer and guitarist Colin Cannon delivers an odyssey of collage sounds inspired by his daily lockdown life in the tiny neighborhood facing McGolrick Park. The sounds are the voices of his community, fused with the anguish of the diversity of Brooklyn’s musical testament. I don’t think I’ve ever heard an album like this before, beginning with how seamlessly Cannon blends a plethora of musical genres to how deeply moving each and every track inspires you to face yourself, then ultimately, release your anxiety unto music. A true masterpiece.

Joining Colin Cannon’s regular trio are Hideaki Aomori (winds), Gabriel Cabezas (cello), CJ Camerieri (trumpet), and Rob Moose (violin/viola). A wonderful choice of musicians, they clearly tapped into the Illiadic soundscape that Cannon was aiming for.

Cannon’s music is to say the least, compelling in it’s authenticity to is to capture the day to day struggle of Cannon , as a musician, educator, during the more freedomless days of lockdown. It’s no surprise that the few lyrics heard in all the tracks fall between repetition of ‘ Get up’ when is it ending’ and ‘go on home’. There’s a beautiful story here ,one of the time old tale of the struggling artist who makes the most beautiful art when in that state. The soaring crescendos of ‘ Get Up’ Radio’ and ‘Phone Break 1’ embodied that feeling of trying to come to terms with a forever changed world. It’s a brilliant move to draw inspiration on such a story from merely observing daily life in the loud but wonderful neighborhood of McGolrick Park. The string and wind section in particular remind me so much of a young Jethro Tull, except in Cannon’s time, it’s got jazz counterpoint all over it.

Canon’s musical style quite literally embraces every sound he hears, resulting in a cinematic collage of sounds. The frequent use of the track ‘You are my Sunshine’ ( Davis/ Mitchell) keeps coming in an out of the album, as if on purpose with an unapologetic and almost satirical note. Female chorus’ sweeps against a jazz infused- prog rock invasion in tracks like ‘Ing Right I’ are genius. The human chorus as it were doesn’t romanticise the past, nor obsess about the future, and after reading Cannon’s album liner notes my feeling was confirmed: he focuses on the absurd beauty of the here and now. Sure enough, just like any brilliant concept album, there is a slowing down of tempo. Canon delivers a highly classical acoustic guitar performance in ‘ I. The Scraps: Thirty Four. that almost sounds like it would be inspired by observing children in the part, their carefree nature despite the daily life of a human in lockdown . The follow up tracks ‘Thirty Five’ fuses loopy trumpets, synths , percussion and towards the end, amidst an ethereal chorus, police sirens, neighborhood kid yells and a frantic wind section. The lyrics of ‘ Near The Park’ , ‘ Kingsland and Driggs/ near the park of screaming kids /She sleeps in my bed shares my view/ and wonders too’ heartbreakingly paints the actual picture of a community often forgotten, of the lonely hearts that find solace in the solitude, gathering on benches to watch the world go by.

As if on purpose, Cannon picks up the frenetic energy again with his brilliant band in the final track, aptly named after the album. Musically earlier themes, melodic lines and ethereal chorus with sound collages are blended here to deliver a 7 minute summary to what Cannon discovered in this self residency as it were. Life is observed through the here and now, but understood by one’s own definition of the past and his desired future.

A force to be reckoned with, and an album for the wanderers.

You can buy McGolrick by Colin Cannon here

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