written June 1, 2011…
In 2001 Lars Jensen asked me to play a cello track for a song he’d just written. One in a long long line of songs he’s just written. This first cello one was called Remembrance, written in honour of his recently departed dog. Wish I had a picture of said dog, who will now never be forgotten.
At the time I was working on a series of large paintings about music, all seven under the conceptual title of Sea Hear.
These were good paintings – I worked very hard on them, and sold all but 2. Conceptually though, the whale/dolpin imagery was stronger than the idea of music. I shall have to do another art show about music – without the whales….
Lars had his store above the Bean Cellar, and by then I’d known him for, oh…20 years….? The number doesn’t matter- I’ve always known, and loved Larry. I said, sure thing, and came over to run through it with him. The sound we made, guitar and cello, was really really good – “all that wood”, says Lars, humming with pleasure.
After that we played Lars’ stuff every week, adding new tunes almost every time, going over the older ones again and again. Every once in a while he would come to rehearsal with a new-minted song from that morning’s ritual playing session. We’d play around with it, then perform it at the next benefit/gig/house concert. It was a world separate from all else, for me – my internal battery charger, my music therapy session. At that point I was deep in visual art mode, and it felt so very good to dive into music regularly with Lars as my good friend and fellow explorer, my teacher, partner-in-therapy. Those tunes are now embedded – I hear the cello even in Lars’ solo shows. What a gift.
Larry is a very specific player – master of finger picking, master of the flow between lyric and musical line, master also of internal rhythm. In retrospect I see that we were impaired by my relative lack of technique at the time (my chops were super rusty, my memory of each song’s chord progressions & rhythmic details shaky). For this reason, and because I was less experienced, my playing tended more towards improv – never the same twice – which drove him nuts, I know. But the cello sound – the rich, deep bass & flowing mid-range voice – worked extremely well with his material, and his Morgan (Guitar).
We did a very good show together in 2004, at the Library. Art & music, all the tunage, all those happy, appreciative people. Steve Ritchie opened & talked for us, Brian Davidson recorded.
Four years later, Richard Mascall, then composer-in-residence for the Georgian Bay Symphony expressed interest in arranging Larry’s tunes for a small orchestra, and did so, using the Library recording as a starting reference.
in June 2009, the first Larry Show with GBS happened at the Roxy Theatre. From the middle of the cello section, I watched my dear friend play his own material, this time with 25 very good players to back him up, sing with him, answer his melodies. All that wood, humming together. Here’s a link to how that sounded: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wi-HDhMYMmc
Richard’s arrangements are incredibly beautiful, tasteful and resonant with the specifics of Larry’s music, and Larry. A pleasure to play, and a double-gift to the audience.
This Saturday coming, June 4, we’re doing it again. This time it’s at Division Street United Church (Richard loves the Divided-United part), at 7:30 pm. Here’s a link to the fb event page: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=193870023991662.
It’s now Wednesday morning, 8:22 am. I write beside the 6-foot window, so as Chromatica plays it is accompanied by the big wind, the blue sky, the cacophony of bird, the sun through a billion newly-minted leaves. We rehearse tonight for Saturday’s concert, and I’m looking forward to it. Saturday will be incredible.
So, whoever is reading this, I think you should come to Division Street this Saturday night. I think you should tell ten people, and bring them with you. Come to hear Larry Jensen’s great music, which is specific to us here. Come, and hear the sound of all that wood.