The weightless feeling of release when an airplane’s wheels leave the pavement; the moment in a concert when time suddenly slows to a halt, transporting the listener to another dimension; an out of body experience that leaves a performer feeling as though they’re in the audience, watching themselves improvise on stage. These experiences – simultaneously otherworldly and familiar – helped inspire Lift Off, the second recording by the Mark Segger Sextet.
Founded in 2008, Segger’s group features a top shelf selection of Toronto’s most accomplished improvisors. The project has been a common thread in the output of bandleader Mark Segger, who is currently based out of Edmonton where he is a doctoral Killam Scholar in composition at the University of Alberta. Segger has performed in jazz rooted scenarios with the likes of Allison Au, Lina Allemano, Jane Bunnett, Dave Burrell, Steve Swell, and Nate Wooley, among many others.
Much of this music was written in the two weeks leading up to the recording session, after a tour playing improvised music in Europe. Segger’s music reflects a wide range of creative interests, from the swing of Mel Lewis and his jazz orchestra to the genre expanding string quartet writing by composers like Bartok and Ligeti (heard clearly on For the Bees.) Bees also nods to the “insect music” of the 1960’s British Free Improvisation scene. An affinity for Berlin’s Echtzeitmusik tradition is apparent on the piece One Note.
Lift Off is a giant leap forward for Segger’s group, and is sure to become a touchstone recording in Canada’s jazz and creative music history.