Dark Side of the Moon

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Sunday January 22, 2012

Dark Side of the Moon: Orchestra London with Jeans 'n Classics
Red Hot Weekends; January 2012
Alain Trudel Conducting

by Brian Hay

Orchestra London's playing is always crisp with their Music Director Alain Trudel at the helm and this outing was no exception. 'Conquistador' opened with some tasty string playing beautifully punctuated by some sharp work from their principle trumpet. Jeans 'n Classics rhythm section of drummer Jeff Christmas and bassist Mitch Tyler asserted their presence quickly and stayed on top of things from then on. Lead singer Jean Meilleur delivered a broad and powerful vocal while guitarist Dave Dunlop and keyboardist Don Paulton made sure the house knew this was a night for some of Rock's greets moments to shine. Behind it all guitarist and arranger Peter Brennan directed his part of the proceedings with an air of quiet confidence.

The first half alone had enough highlights for an entire show. The group presented a stunning arrangement of Peter Gabriel's 'Red Rain'. Singer Leah Salomaa pushed her voice into another range (stratosphere actually) for a spellbinding reading of 'Wuthering Heights'. Flautist Margaret Voorhaar stepped forward and lent her expertise to an inspired take of 'Living in the Past'. Peter Brennan's arrangement of 'Lucky Man' was stunning. It opened with some tasty bits shared by him and Dunlop. Paulton entered with the keyboard and was soon joined by the rhythm players and singers. The orchestra entered with their wind players but weren't joined by the strings until the first instrumental break. It was a sublime effect and it was only a hint of things to come. Everything was going when the keyboard effects were unleashed and the weight of that was monumental. Paulton literally floored the house.

The respect for 'Dark Side of the Moon' was clearly coupled with a desire to do something with it. The musical pulse that famously opens the work was quickly augmented by delicious passages from principle clarinettist Graham Lord. Jean Meilleur slipped into the material as smoothly as if he'd been given an inside track on its every nuance. This was a fabulous showcase for him as he placed an indelible and highly individual stamp on every bit. Singer Katalin Kiss made the 'Great Gig in the Sky' seem positively ethereal. Saxophone player Aaron MacDonald came on stage and joined Dave Dunlop for the solos. Their work together soared through the hall. When the group played 'Money' and followed with the climatic section that leads to the finale this had stopped being Pink Floyd's work played by Orchestra London and Jeans 'n Classics. It was simply 'Dark Side of the Moon' in its fullest glory. The music had become the star and the performers, it's ambassadors. They had succeeded to the fullest. The show closed with a bravura encore of 'Comfortably Numb'.

This performance was a collaboration between to exceptional musical leaders. It's unusual (here anyway) for an Orchestra's Music Director to direct the shows that join rock with symphony. Alain did it because he loves this material and because he's a fan of Jeans 'n Classics. Peter Brennan's arrangements use all the pieces on hand because there's ways that are worthwhile, not because he knows how. The musicians who work with him are all top flight. Alain is happy to lavish extra attention to small details. The norm for shows like this is for the two groups do a single run through in the rehearsal. Alain, will stop them and take the time to backtrack through segments he's not quite satisfied with. It showed. The musicians responded to it with a gusto. Alain had an ear to ear smile on his face. And why not?

In his words, "This is a Masterwork!"

This show took place at Centennial Hall in London Ontario on Saturday January 21, 2012. This review was written to convey an impression of what it was like to be there.

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Vocalist Jean Meilleur
Photo Courtesy of Jeans 'n Classics

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Jean's n Classics:
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