Check your Peripheral Vision

Combining traditional jazz influences including Wayne Shorter and Charles Mingus, along with modern day jazz greats including David Binney and Chris Potter, Toronto group Peripheral Vision is one of Canada’s most innovative jazz quartets.

The group has released two records to date, including a selftitled album and Spectacle: Live!, and will make their New Brunswick live debut at Café Aberdeen, located inside the Aberdeen Cultural Centre on Tuesday evening. Formed at the end of 2008, Peripheral Vision is the brainchild of founding members and longtime musical collaborators Don Scott and Michael Herring. With fellow members Trevor Hogg and Nick Fraser added into the mix however, there is the sense that Peripheral Vision is very much a band as opposed to the baby of Scott and Herring.

In the world of jazz, artists are often backed by a capable but sometimes inconsistent group of players, meaning there is often a revolving door of musicians behind them. Both Don and Michael say that the chemistry shared among the members of Peripheral Vision has been a key component of their success to date.

‘One of my goals all along was to have a working band that consisted of the same group of people all of the time, as opposed to being a group with a leader with three different people rotating in and out of the band,’ Peripheral Vision’s Don Scott begins.

‘The goal was to have a group of people that had insight into the music and have people who were willing to commit to the idea of being in a band. ‘I think both Michael and I feel that having the same four guys comprise the band is something that is important to our music.’ ‘Having the same members in the band since the beginning has also been a crucial part of us finding our sound as a band. ‘As we progress further and further into our career, we are all contributing to the band and are all open to the feedback that we have to provide one another. It really feels like the right thing to do.’ Peripheral Vision’s 2010 selftitled debut album was hailed for its ‘lively counterpoint’ by influential jazz publication DownBeat Magazine. For the release of their sophomore record, the group took the somewhat unconventional step of releasing a live album as opposed to going back into the studio.

Spectacle Live was released in October 2011 and is an unedited, organic documentation of a show recorded at the Cellar in Vancouver during one of their first cross-country tours. Both Don and Michael insist that the group never set out to intentionally make a live record, calling Spectacle a ‘fluke’ more than anything else.

‘We were setting up for the show and realized that the club had recording gear on site so we simply figured we would record our show with the thought that we could use it as a demo,’ Michael says. ‘When we listened back to it, we realized that, at that point in our tour, the show tied together a lot of different things that we had been working. At that point in our tour, we had been reworking some of our music as a band, tweaking little things along the way. It was a night of inspired music to say the least.’ Since many musicians feel there is more pressure when recording in a studio as opposed to recording a live show, some might argue that the pressure was ‘off ‘ by informally deciding to record their Vancouver concert.

‘Whenever the red recording light is on, there is always pressure,’ Don laughs. ‘The great thing about that particular show in Vancouver though was the fact that we weren’t really feeling pressure at that point in the tour. It was nice to have a highenergy live show recorded; I think it really captured the dynamic interplay between us on stage.’ While Peripheral Vision con tinues to promote their latest record, Don and Michael share that the foundations of a new studio record are starting to come together.

Insisting they are very early in the process, Don says that the quartet hopes to expand the boundaries of their music with their next album.

‘Right now, we are interested in playing around in the studio, overdubbing and adding layers into the music,’ Don says. ‘I recall hearing stories of how Radiohead had to figure out how to interpret the songs on Kid A and Amnesiac for their live show, and that is something we are interested in perhaps pursuing for our next record as well.’

Article published in June 25, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript