Coat Cooke


April 24 @ 1067 with Allison Cameron and Lee Hutzulak

I'm excited to be playing with electronics musicians

Allison Cameron and Lee Hutzulak

The gig is at the new 1067 loft @ 1115B East Hastings

(entrance on Glen Drive).

Here's a little info on Allison.

Allison Cameron is a composer of chamber works that have

been performed throughout Europe and North America;

she is also an experimental performer.


Her works have been performed at numerous festivals and

numerous ensembles have commissioned her. She co-founded

the Drystone Orchestra in 1989 and founded the Arcana

Ensemble in 1992, both dedicated to the performance of

experimental music in Toronto. During 2000-2005, she

was the artistic director of the Arraymusic ensemble where

she created the Scratch! festival for experimental music.

Her chamber music has been released on XI records, CRI,

Spool, Donemus, Hevhetia, Musicworks and Rat-Drifting.

Allison is also a member of the Association of Improvising

Musicians of Toronto (AIMT) and since 2000 has been

improvising with small, amplified objects in collaboration

with many of Toronto’s finest musicians and internationally

respected performers. In 2007, Allison Cameron was awarded

a prestigious Chalmers Arts Fellowship to explore compositional

methods and indeterminate notations used in art rock, jazz,

free-improv, contemporary and folk musics. Since that time

she has formed the group known as The Allison Cameron

Band (with Eric Chenaux and Stephen Parkinson) that rehearses

regularly on new compositions. In 2010 their first CD was released

on the Rat-Drifting label, Toronto.


Recent projects include: a CD recording of the trio c_RL with

Germaine Liu (percussion) and Nicole Rampersaud (trumpet),

along with performances at the Tone Deaf Festival in Kingston,

Ontario, The Cameron House and Somewhere There in Toronto;

a digital release of a new piece Mach Shorn for the Allison

Cameron Band engineered by Sandro Perri; solo performances

at The Stone in New York City and the Tranzac in Toronto; and,

a future recording project of experimental music with

singer/songwriter Thom Gill of Is This Thomas.

This is her first solo tour (April 2012 - Canada Council for the Arts)

at six venues across Canada.

Web info:

Review of VICO show March 31, 2012

Exotic Sounds in your own Back Yard

as published in Plank Magazine

Kedrick James
April 5th, 2012

In welcoming the audience to Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra’s production Imagined Worlds: Intertwined, VICO founder Moshe Denburg made reference to the tremendous variety of musical worlds that arise out of this “uniquely Canadian” musical setting, where master instrumentalists of diverse musical heritage foment bonds that run deeper than political and geographic differences. This is not an easy task, even for highly trained musical specialists. Music comes out of our deepest sensibilities, and, like language, it resounds in our identities in profound ways. For the intrepid musical explorer, there are few better ways to experience the world—apart from physical travel—than to hear the various musical styles and instruments that speak of foreign places and exotic timbres.

There was a time, not so long ago in dog years, when exoticism was the target of many cultural critiques. The love of something that appealed purely because it was something new to the listener, something other from elsewhere, unbesmirched by global pop culture, was questioned along the lines of cultural tourism. Then Paul Simon went to South Africa, recorded Graceland, and Peter Gabriel and WOMAD and the Realworld label came, and exotic became popular, with all that diverse talent given the studio production stamp of Western approval. It became the multicultural mainstream, and World Music started sounding familiar, no matter where it originated. And eventually it passed into fad-dom, as all Western fashions do: World music today is little more than the shadow cast by Lady Gaga.

Studio production eradicated the rawness of the ethnic soundscape from world music and from ethnomusicological sensitivity—a rawness that is vivid in the pioneering field recordings carried out by the likes of David Lewiston and Moses Asch of Nonesuch Explorer Series and Smithsonian Folkways labels respectively. Listening to these recordings is like tourism, it’s like being there, listening in person. There is a fine line that divides the appreciation of diversity from the love of exoticism with all its native soil, dirt and grime in the background sound; a line so fine it’s imperceptible to my naked ear. When the indigenous sounds of particular places travel, make contact, and settle in a new field, we get backyard diversity. Diversity grafts traditions, generates new species of music—hybrids, mutants, an entanglement of cultural left-overs that embody fecund possibility. Diversity propagates emergent varietals; it fosters new strains, rather than, as exoticism does, clinging to traditional motifs and melodies valued for their authenticity, or conversely, succumbing to the World Music mainstream, which achieves, despite its geo-political differences, an impressive conformity.

What I heard at “Imagined Worlds: Intertwined’, seemed to go one continent further, it took elements of ethnomusicology and World Music, tradition and hybrid, anthropology and musical tourism, and blended these into a profoundly diverse evening’s entertainment. Were it not for the talent of the players this concert could have been an intolerable cultural gongshow. In an evening that premiered three commissioned works by Joel Bons (Amsterdam), Stephen Chatman (Vancouver) and Coat Cooke (Vancouver), using up to 25 musicians and the 23-member Laudate choir, along with traditional pieces by played by pipa soloist Guilian Lui and a small ensemble Persian musicians led by Hossein Behroozinia, VICO took us on a guided listening tour of a new world of composition. It was a lot for one evening, a bit like watching the world by peering through a keyhole at a passing Olympic parade.

Wei Shui Qing, a tradition piece for solo pipa, placed us in the drama the Orient, with Guilian Liu’s stunning technical mastery full of almost bluesy interpretive gestures, bending notes until almost broken, weeping, all fingers plucking strings in cascades of notes that seemed to conjure a Classic Western movie chase theme, of galloping horses that pause for the resonance of a single sustained tone to appreciate stunning vistas before galloping off again. This was followed by the second traditional number, Baad, meaning Wind, played by an ensemble featuring two drums, two bowed-string kamanches, and two lute-like instruments, the tar and oud. This piece varied from a sweet, calm breeze emphasized by stroking the drum skins, wafts of melody from the bowed strings, to a driving sandstorm with both hand drums thrumming the 17-beat rhythmic structure, all musicians turning a trance-inducing dynamo that made the heart race to hear it, an adrenalin rush, that would just as abruptly drop down to a whispering draught again.

Those two numbers summed up the traditional aspects of the evening before we began to hear hybrid musical forms take shape. We immediately transitioned to the world of Western Art Music, heavily influenced by the European avant guard. Bons’ composition “Green Dragon” extolled the virtues of the diversity of instrumental sounds VICO encompasses, choosing paired string instruments of different traditions. While introducing his composition, Bons had each musician strike or hold a note, thus comparing the Western violin and cello sounds with the Persian tar, santur, the Chinese zheng, pipa and erhus. With my eyes closed, Bons’ “Green Dragon” was reminiscent of Sequenza-era Berio, or Stockhausen, and it was odd to open my eyes and see the multicultural assortment of musicians on stage. Very little trace of the Near and Far Eastern traditions remained when brought together by Bons. I found the piece hauntingly even-tempered, constrained, calculated, and deliberate: it was exciting and arresting to hear the Western avant guard conjured with such an exotic assortment of instruments.

Moshe Denburg also contributed a composition that evoked the classical Western worldview, with an older piece titled El Ginat Egoz (Into the Walnut Garden) based on the text of the biblical Song of Songs. Denberg’s composition, a gentle, melodic piece for three instruments including erhu, zheng, and marimba, seemed a delicate structure to support the large choir that sang the words. Indeed, at times, the voices drowned out the three traditional instruments that accompanied them, in swells of passion that sought rapturous release. Although it was earth hour, Denburg had the house lights brought up so that we could read along, which was an unnecessary gesture—perhaps we should care for the world we have and enjoy the piece with our ears only, I thought, rather than bring our same old problems and habits into an imagined world. However, the composition did not lack in de-light, even with the lights on.

The second half of the program began with Coat Cooke’s composition Invocation for S’Unduda, a reference to the composer’s youthful discovery of musical joy and the source of his name, Coat. S’Unduda, he explained, means the best of all possible worlds—friends, feasts, and freedom to follow one’s own path through the world. Much of this spirit of the piece came through in his conducting (Cooke was the only composer to also conduct his own piece), which looked like he was playing and having fun with the musicians, encouraging them to improvise with a sense of irreverent joy. The piece had a number of different parts, some scored, some improvised, and featured a central solo by Bie Hoang on the danbau. While there were moments of cool fusion-phase Miles Davis / Teo Macero moods throughout, Hoang’s solo turned the temperature up, and propelling the sentiment invoked in the piece, the danbau solo had the power of Jimi Hendrix’s crying, left handed guitar licks to invigorate and expand musical consciousness.

S’Unduda transitioned from chilling spaces, to cool interplay of parts, to hot-tempered, even irascible moments of pure ecstasy. Although incorporating elements of improvisation, this composition seemed to move from section to section with precision and never strayed into free jamming. Taking a trick out of the experimental jazz tradition from which Cooke hails, he had the musicians occasionally dispense with the normal way of playing their instruments. According to Denburg, Cooke’s composition pushed VICO’s players out of their comfort zones and off in new musical directions. It was, overall, the crowning achievement of the evening and brought the traditional habits of the musicians and their instruments into a fresh space of spontaneity and connection, working a new magic spell to produce chimerical effects: Wondrous, strange, yet reminiscent of jazz before it, too, became over produced and saccharine as Kenny G and mochachillos. My only regret is that Cooke’s composition, like Bons’, did not have the opportunity to make use of the choir. While not too out of the ordinary for Bons’ influences, the freeing jazz influence might also have moved the Laudate choir to new musical sensitivities.

The final composition for the night was an intercultural musical treatment based on the text of Omar Khayyam’s Ruba’iyat composed by Stephen Chatman of the UBC School of Music. While ultimately sounding like a movie musical, Chatman’s approach was a bit like a mash-up of all traditions. In one movement, he prepared us for a ragtime rendition of the sufi text, at other times it took on a Broadway-esque modality and gave full vent to the magnificent voices in the choir, featuring soprano soloists Heidi Ackermann and Catherine Crouch. Even with the full cohort of VICO musicians, the choir’s presence took over. All styles and individual traditions seemed to fold into the thick, taffy-like consistency of Chatman’s compositional style. What we gained from Cooke, the freedom to enjoy each stringed, skinned, or blown thing swirling around in its own sound, we lost with Chatman’s big sound, which swallowed up distinction and difference, it was at times fanfarish, not meditative, which seemed an odd choice for Omar Khayyam’s famous poem, which was chosen as tribute to a elderly friend (who was in attendance) for whom the Ruba’iyat has been a lifelong inspiration, rather than because of a special affinity that Chatman saw between the musical opportunity provided by VICO and the poet’s words. Chatman introduced his piece saying that this was the greatest compositional challenge of his life. He must have worked very hard to have all those disparate elements fuse into something that was the melting pot to Cooke’s mosaic version of the intercultural society.

By the end of this two-hour concert we had covered nearly 20,000 Earth miles. I had supersonic jet lag, but also the sense that I’d not just traveled, but had also discovered something unexpected, a new world of possibility. VICO, now in its tenth year as an organization, is a marvelous project not only because it encompasses such diverse talent among the cadre of musicians, but because, under Denburg’s guidance, it is going to undiscovered places and imagining new worlds. It is astounding that this re-imagined art has roots in our local backyard. It is Vancouver’s soil and noise that gives rise to this rare and spectacular species of entertainment. If you ever start feeling tired with contemporary, mass, over-produced culture or feeling a lack of optimism with the direction the good old Earth is heading, VICO has just what you need to see the cup as half full again, with room for sumptuous music, the possibility of discovery—exploration without the imperialist overtones that have made homebodies of high-seas orchestral adventurers.


Circle of Sleep @ Western Front/Jan 21 video

Here is a wonderful excerpt from a show at the Western Front in January of this year.

I am playing the tenor sax and having my improvisation electronically manipulated

by Navid Navab. It is part of a larger work called Circle of Sleep conceived by Montréal

composer Sandeep Bhagwati. It was performed at Vancouver's illustrious Western Front

in January 2012.



Music Improvisation Workshops at Prussin Music

Did the first workshop at of a series of four last night.

It was really wonderful. A great and interesting group of musicians.

I'm looking forward to more

We talked about the idea of non-idiomatic improvisation and did duo

playing. Really musical evening.

Busiest week of the year!

Finally finished my piece Fukushima Breakdown for the Orkestra Futura: Phoenix Rising concert on November 12

Very excited to be working with the band again: Chad MacQuarrie/guitar, Chris Gestrin/keys,

JP Carter/trumpet, DB Boyko/voice, Tommy Babin/bass, Lee Hutzulak/electicity, Skye Brooks/drums,

Special Guests Rainer Wiens and Joane Hétu.


My workshops at Prussin Music on Sundays in November is almost full. Two more spaces to fill.

The NOW Improv workshops at the Western Front going great. Come on down and check them out

on Mondays from either 4 - 6 pm or 7:30 - 9:30 pm. They're free. Full up but lots of fun to come and

observe the proceedings. I hope we can do them more than once a year.


Still working away on my piece for the VICO to be played at the end of March 2012.

I'm pretty excited about that.

My duo CD with drummer Joe Poole is mixed and we're just working on the packaging and

plans for marketing.

A week Sunday I record a duo CD with guitarist Rainer Wiens while he is in town.

Music Improvisation Workshops at Prussin Music


I'm doing workshops at Prussin Music in November.

Call 604.736.3036 to register. There's only space for 15 people.



New CD to come!

I just did some recording yesterday with the amazing drummer Joe Poole.

Had a quick listen to a rough mix of about ten minutes of it last night.

I'm very excited, I must say.

Joe and I clicked from the first time we played at Presentation House Salon series last year.

We're planning a release and tour for next year.

El Barrio and the DIY ethos

Played El Barrio with Swanvista last night. I really find that playing with Chad, Tommy and Skye to be a great experience.

I just wanted to note the Cole Schmidt has been booking El Barrio for some time and want to say how appreciative I am

of his efforts. He's consistently giving Vancouver players another much needed venue to play their original music.

It's really important that players adopt the DIY ethos and make things happen.

Also in this regard, I have to give a shout out to Poib Fehr for his Audio Hallucinations series at the Nyala Restaurant

on Main St. and Jared Burrows and Clyde Reed programming the Presentation House Salon in North Vancouver.

We can't support these efforts enough.

Playing with Swanvista tonight!

I'm really excited to be playing with Chad MacQuarrie's band Swanvista tonight.

Chad on guitar, Tommy Babin/bass, Skye Brooks.

2270 East Hastings St. in Vancouver

9 pm start

Meta 5 - 1 @ The Railway Club Feb 15

We had a great gig at El Barrio last Thursday.

This Tuesday we play at the Railway Club in Vancouver (579 Dunsmuir).

Should be different without JP Carter there.

Chad MacQuarrie on guitar

Tommy Babin on bass

Skye Brooks on drums

me on saxophone.

Come check it out.

It's a triple bill starting at 9:30 pm.

We're on 2nd at around 10:30 - ish.