Colin Cannon’s new Intermission (Farewell) doesn’t sound like any jazz album out there. It’s not even really jazz, in any straightforward sense of the word. But midway into the sounds of this three-part show, you’re not gonna care.
Originally from Rochester, N.Y., the Berklee-trained, multi-instrumentalist set the tone early on in his introductory liner notes — an oversized, three-fold CD package made up like a theater program.
Written in Cannon’s handwriting (one would assume), the intro reads: “The basic concept for the project came about a few years ago in a town called Advocate, it’s in the hills of Nova Scotia. But as much as I’d like to say that all the music was realized there and then, that wouldn’t be true, there are ideas here that go back a long way. I’ve posted all your real life characters here, all you goofy, f*cked up oddities of human beings — and besides you people, I don’t particularly care who else listens to this — it wasn’t made for them. Like all music, this is just another self-absorbed attempt to make a story out of everything, to make everything seem connected and designed, when in reality maybe nothing is… Well, maybe everything is… I wouldn’t know, so quit buggin’ me.”
Everything is exactly how this album sounds.
Initially, you can’t quite make out what any of the tracks are about, where the artist is going, or even what he’s getting at. By “Intermission,” literally — dig the 1950s movie snack ad playing at the beginning — you let go of trying to label this album or box the artist in, sit back, and enjoy the show.
Cannon’s March 1, 2016 release is really a series of impressions in the evolution of a human’s life, all our lives, as several generations experiencing pop culture as we know it. Embedded in the snippets of familiar sounds, deja-vu conversation, and sometimes music of that pop culture, the listener will get a nostalgic feeling for the past, as well as a melancholy acceptance of having passed one’s prime, preparing for an eventual end.
It’s the kind of music you might hear at a funeral, if the survivors are hip to the natural cycle of life and death, and possess a healthy grasp of both.
Intermission is Cannon’s third album. A lot can be interpreted from the Farewell part. But according to the press release from Two for the Show Media, the album “marks a goodbye to the Colin Cannon Quartet (a band of seven-plus years) and a hello to something new.” Nothing fatal there.
There are over 20 musicians on this truly original record. Cannon himself plays several guitars, including a ukulele, synths, and sound effects, as well as vocals. He’s joined by four other vocalists, a mini-string section, some horns, vibist Yuhan Su, bassist Zak Croxall, drummer Tom Hartman, and keyboardist Manami Morita. Their unified and disparate voices lend credibility to Cannon’s theory of evolution, and provide surprisingly warm companionship — like spirits ascending toward a common light in the after-glow of mortality.
Cannon provided the musical ideas, wrote down his words, and fine-tuned the final pieces on his own arrangements, with an ear toward, well, everything.
The album is split into three parts. The most heartwarming is the last one, “P.S.,” loaded with unintended sentimentality in the voices of the children at play, in thought, interacting with each other and a silent sentinel of nature. The three “Recollections” somehow amplify the feeling we all get when we experience the best moments of our lives, coupled with the bewildered, entranced state of being following a very good dream about friends who’ve passed along the way.
This is the album you want playing at your birth, your prom, your graduation, your wedding, the birth of your first child, and your own funeral — the greatest, most terrific hits of being and feeling human.
Colin Cannon’s right. It’s everything.