" two of Canadaís most gifted and creative improvising musicians... Christine Duncan is without peer as a vocal art explorer.... Jean Martin is dizzyingly adept at spontaneouslycomposing both musical structures and sonic textures.... intriguing, mysterious and hilarious...Barnyard Drama can take you into worlds you didnít know exist." Glen Hall, Artistic Director, 416 Creative Improvisers Festival, Toronto
"The music of Barnyard Drama is spawned from the same gene pool as Sophia Loren meets Leadbelly in the dark, covered with Corn Huskerís hand lotioní." Ron Gaskin, Curator "Whatís Next Series" Music Gallery in Toronto"
.....provocative performance..... engaging ..... Duncan and Martin work with songs, sounds and storylines.She's the narrator, with a thousand wonderful voices and he fills in the backdrop using drums, cymbals, turntables and electronics ... subtle...intriguing..." Review / Distillery Jazz Festival Performance, Marc Miller - Globe and Mail.
11th Annual Guelph Jazz Festival & Colloquium
Guelph ON, 8-12 September 2004
by Matthew Sumera
Standouts were many, but the honors tended to go to the lesser-known acts. A blistering set by the group Barnyard Drama (with the twinned guitars of Justin Haynes and Bernard Falaise) featured the almost exclusively non-linguistic vocals of the phenomenal Christine Duncan. Her range is extraordinary, and she benefited from the sensitive support of Jean Martin on drums and electronics.
The entire set was an early highlight with the last track morphing into a freaked-out country tune, complete with Pentecostal glossolalia, degenerating into the festival's first standing ovation. Another highlight was the voice/drums duo of Theo Bleckmann and John Hollenbeck. Focused on prepared kit (made to sound almost electronic), repetitive rhythms, and heavily processed vocals, it was a hypnotic affair, moving toward electronica at times.
Some lesser lights who shine brightly
Courtesy The Globe & Mail by Mark Miller
Friday, June 20, 2003 - The Globe & Mail,
It hardly seems fair. A Canadian musician goes to the trouble of lining up a tour of the country's jazz festivals, no mean feat, only to find himself or herself competing for audiences and media attention with American stars who are playing the same cities at the same time. Here are six Canadians worthy of more notice than they'll likely receive as they make their away around jazz events this summer.
The Toronto twosome Barnyard Drama may be the most provocative Canadian act on the festival circuit, what with Christine Duncan's five-octave, cast-of-thousands voice and Jean Martin's setup of snare and bass drum, cymbals, electronics and turntables.
She's a former gospel singer who apparently went to the devil by stages in Vancouver during the 1990s: folk, R&B, jazz, New Music and now this. (She still sings with the Vancouver Ensemble of Jazz Improvisation.) He's a modernist jazzer, originally from Ottawa, whose credits include Chelsea Bridge, the D.D. Jackson Trio and another of this year's festival attractions, Jazzstory.
Duncan and Martin have described what they do together in this flight of adjectival fancy: "Jazz, fairy tales, musique actuelle, songs, nursery rhymes, electro-avant-garde-new-acoustic-tuvan-primpram-ambiant music . . ." Their repertoire ranges from old standards, including definitive re-takes on The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise and Miss Otis Regrets, to small explosions of pure gibberish. Whichever, it's cannily over-the-top in a nicely understated way.
This exciting group takes a fresh look at improvising. They are an improvising duo that combine elements of song and soundscape. Christineís five octave range and extended voice techniques combined with Jeanís use of drums and sounds from various sources (vinyl lpís and digital loops) make for a challenging and exciting performance.
Jazz, fairy tales, musique actuelle, songs, nursery rhymes,electro-avant-garde-new acoustic-tuvan-primpram-ambiant-music...These genres are combined to create what you might hear during a performance. Think Mahler and Wagner, slow it right down, add radio Istanbul and the tooth fairy Ďcause you know itís got to be sweet and creepy.