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Celebrating Eldon Rathburn: Exciting Concerts, Album Launch, and MQUP Book on slate for 2018-19

Eldon Rathburn (1916-2008) was ONMC's first honorary member. A few important events regarding Rathburn are happening during the next few months: 

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(1) In March 2019, McGill-Queen's Press will release a new book by Dr. James Wright of Carleton University on Eldon's life and work; 

(2) Concerts celebrating Rathburn's compositional work will feature at Chamberfest 2019;

(3) In November 2018, Justin Time Records (Montreal) will release a new and exciting recording of Rathburn-inspired jazz.

A description of this new recording, follows, excerpted from Dr. Wright’s forthcoming MQUP book:

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An ambitious Rathburn-inspired jazz recording project was undertaken just prior to the publication of this monograph. The core musical materials for the project were drawn from three of the films discussed above: The Romance of Transportation in Canada (1952), Fish Spoilage Control (1956), and Police (1958). Working with themes from Rathburn's scores, producer/arrangers Adrian Matte and Allyson Rogers created a series of jazz charts that were designed as a springboard for the improvisatory skills and imagination of the five leading Canadian jazz artists who accepted the challenge and participated in the project.i The Romance of Improvisation in Canada was recorded in February 2018 at the NFB’s historic Chester Beachell studio in Ville St-Laurent (north Montreal)ii – the very studio where Rathburn had worked and collaborated so frequently during his career – and the album, titled The Romance of Improvisation in Canada, was released by Montreal’s Justin Time Records in November 2018.iii The album’s versatile all-star combo takes the listener on a voyage though lively bebop to free jazz, tango and mambo, and brings the recording to a touching conclusion with a sentimental rendition of a jazz ballad (“The Rockies”) from Rathburn’s score for The Romance of Transporation in Canada. Released ten years after his death in 2008, The Romance of Improvisation in Canada is a fitting tribute to Rathburn. In its look back at these extraordinary NFB film scores from the 1950s, it is a ground-breaking Canadian creative project, one that plays between a tender nostalgia and the best of forward-looking 21st-century jazz.

i Petr Cancura (saxophones), Kevin Turcotte (trumpet, flugelhorn), Marianne Trudel (piano), Adrian Vedady (bass), and Jim Doxas (drums).

ii The Romance of Improvisation in Canada is one of the last recordings made in the Chester Beachell studio of the NFB’s expansive headquarters in Ville St-Laurent. The facility opened in 1956 when NFB staff were moved from the modest Ottawa facilities they had occupied since 1939. It closes in 2019, when NFB staff will move to their new downtown facility, beside La Place des Arts, home to l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and the city’s most central concert hall.

iii The Romance of Improvisation in Canada (Montreal: Justin Time Records, 2018).


Curtis Perry