POINT SERIES - Composition

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ODD JOBS & ASSORTED CLIMAXES An eclectic collection of new music compositions


John Korsrud




Girl on the Grass (2001): Ron Samworth, guitar; John Korsrud, trumpet.


Glurp (1997): Combustion Chamber (Amsterdam).


Xs & Os (2001): John Korsrud, programming.


VAP DIST for orchestra (2000) including Francois Houle, Peggy Lee, Dylan van der Schyff.


Swing Theory Mvt IV (1998): Tony Wilson, Ron Samworth, guitars; Adrienne Park, piano; David Carlysle, percussion.


Hastings (2001): Ron Samworth, guitar.


Zippy Pinhead (1995): Squeezeplay Ensemble.


You Look Like an Angel (1996): Hard Rubber Orchestra and Joe Keithley.






John Korsrud is a composer, trumpet player, and bandleader. In 1990 he formed The Hard Rubber Orchestra. Their debut CD, Cruel Yet Fair (Victo 059), was nominated for a Juno Award for Best Contemporary Jazz recording.




What the critics are saying:


"John Korsrud is a composer in the truest sense. He may play jazz trumpet, and he may lead a big band (Vancouver's redoubtable Hard Rubber Orchestra), but like any real composer, he'll not be limited by instrument or instrumentation. Accordingly, Odd Jobs, Assorted Climaxes brings together 10 pieces dated 1995 through 2001 for eight settings, from a single, multi-tracked guitar (Vancouver's Ron Samworth) and to large ensemble (Amsterdam's Combustion Chamber). The common thread here is Korsrud's freedom from idiomatic constraints and his curiosity about the way elements of pop, jazz and New Music and improvisation can fit -- and flow -- together. Flow is key, onward and usually upward. The music's quite stirring that way, all motion and colour. It's abstract, yes, but compellingly so.**** (4 stars out of 4)"


—Mark Miller, Globe & Mail


"But he is quirky, a word so often used to describe his work. On Odd Jobs you'll find "Zippy Pinhead," a Xenakis-inspired homage to Vancouver's '70s punk scene, but you'll also find "Glurp," something composed for Holland's Combustion Chamber, a 14-piece new music ensemble.

Indeed, Amsterdam remains a useful reference point for understanding his work. He lived there for three years in the mid-'90s and he's been going back regularly. That city's easy intermingling of contemporary music scenes with their oddball ways and rigorous methods is a touchstone for him still. His mature composition style was born there -- the sweeping, painterly gestures, the driving repetitive figures and a commitment to write as quickly and as dramatically as he can.."


—Greg Buium, Vancouver Sun


"Every scene has its overlooked figure whose importance is not fully grasped by the media. Given his sheer talent and the scope of his music, however, it is nothing short of amazing that composer-trumpeter John Korsrud remains pretty much in the background in discussions about the Vancouver creative music scene, or the Canadian national scene for that matter. A cross-section of pieces penned between 1995 and 2001 for ensembles as large as chamber orchestra and as small as a programmer, the frequently astounding Odd Jobs, Assorted Climaxes should change that.


Even listeners with no prior exposure to Korsrud will quickly catch on that he is truly being beyond category. As a trumpeter, he combines 'legit' technical polish with strong improvising instincts. Compositionally, he is all over the lot: he can write tension-filled chamber orchestra pieces, hard-hitting off-center charts for big band, and engaging electro-acoustic pieces. Perhaps the real strength of the album is that each facet of Korsrud's aesthetic has sufficient space. 'Glurp,' performed by the Amsterdam-based Combustion Chamber, has the clean formal bearing one would expect from studies with Louis Andriessen. The trenchant humor of 'You Look Like An Angel' could easily and mistakenly be attributed to Dutch sources, as well (imagine John Zorn and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown deconstructing Elvis, and you're in the ballpark). Conversely, his use of samples and overdubbing can be oddly soothing.


Korsrud's repeatedly makes smart personnel choices. He enlists great readers like clarinetist Francois Houle and cellist Peggy Lee for 'VAP DIST,' a bristling orchestra score. He brings on the twin guitar juggernaut of Ron Samworth and Tony Wilson for a teeth-rattling excerpt from 'Swing Theory.' And, Hard Rubber Orchestra brings the album to a crashing halt with 'You Look Like An Angel.'"


—Point of Departure


"The subtitle of this album reveals the whole plot:"an eclectic collection of new music compositions." The material included on Odd Jobs, Assorted Climaxes was composed and recorded between 1995 and 2001. It features a number of performers and settings, from solo pieces for guitarist Ron Samworth to works for Combustion Chamber, the CBC Radio Orchestra, and the Hard Rubber Orchestra, the latter being John Korsrud's longstanding creature. An HRO album this is not, but fans of the avant-garde brass band will feel in familiar territory. The main novelty here is the presence of strings, which opens up the composer's sound palette. Nonetheless, Korsrud is first and foremost a maximalist composer. He just loves to mass musicians, give them a part that will drain all their energy, and see what happens. There are a few quieter pieces here, namely the opener Girl on the Grass, a duet between Samworth and Korsrud (on trumpet) written for a TV documentary, but most of the music features at least six musicians. Glurp is written for (and performed by) the 14 musicians of Combustion Chamber of Amsterdam. An interesting blend of classical clich�s and avant-big band tendencies, it provides a challenging yet quite entertaining listen. But the true highlights are found elsewhere, as in VAP DIST, a work in three movements for orchestra, in which Korsrud applies his maximalist views to the string section with striking results. The fourth movement of Swing Theory (the only one included here) is an orgiastic 10-minute piece that has all the drive of a typical Hard Rubber Orchestra number, except that it is performed by only five musicians, with samples by Paul Dolden; it swings, rocks and sweats. The album concludes with the Hard Rubber Orchestra performing You Look Like an Angel with special guest vocalist Joe Keithley, aka Joey Shithead from the Vancouver punk band DOA. A funny blend of jazz (quoting (You're The) Devil in Disguise), punk, noise and hot avant-funk licks, it serves as a reminder of Korsrud�s unique sense of humor. Odd Jobs, Assorted Climaxes may be eclectic in nature and lacking recent material, but its carefully selected material makes it a welcome addition to Korsrud's recorded output."


—Francois Couture, All Music Guide