Ken Aldcroft's Convergence Ensemble The Great Divide

Guitarist Ken Aldcroft leads an excellent ensemble through an interesting amalgam of compositional and improvised music. The first of a three-part suite, "Mister, Mister” is playful and open with each musician mischievously complementing another. "From the Hart-land” segues pensively into the improvised flurry of "X Marks the Spot,” whose sudden swells of energy are engrossing. Led by the subtle ingenuity of the rhythm section of bassist Wes Neal and drummer Joe Sorbara, "A Refreshing Night/A Union Theme” takes a deceptive, yet inventive musical route. The title track lumbers forth, with Aldcroft’s guitar floating in and out of sax stabs from Evan Shaw and there’s great interplay between Scott Thomson’s exploratory trombone and Sorbara’s expressive use of percussion. On "Retreat-Advance/Stuffed Turkey,” the entire ensemble seems tentative to break into a groove, despite the insistence of Aldcroft and Neal. Instead they are self-involved, their improvisations ricocheting off each other until a blast of guitar sparks a hint of cohesion. The final suite is a fine composition that bubbles along pleasantly and then pushes forward thanks to Aldcroft’s dizzying lines. Rather than find their footing, Ken Aldcroft’s Convergence Ensemble do a wondrous job of provoking compositions to go in new directions. (Ikonowerk)