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Bassist and multi-instrumentalist David Woodhead is hands down one of the most accomplished Canadian musicians only those “in the know” have heard of, and his genre-defying (mostly) instrumental supergroup Confabulation is a thrill-ride for players and audiences alike.
Audience-members will marvel at its musical eclecticism: harp-like fingerstyle ukulele picking, a little country-style two-step, some klezmer-like horns, a few intriguing time signatures and some unexpected chord changes, to name but a sampling of sonic “moments.”
Those moments quickly rise to the fore then make way for others, blending seamlessly together into riveting compositions that range from the quirky to the kick-ass to the contemplative.
Not surprisingly, the Confabulation is also a showcase for Toronto’s hottest musical innovators, counting among its 20-odd alumni artists such as Jaron Freeman-Fox, Rich Brown, Anne Lindsay and the Shuffle Demons’ Richard Underhill.
The current line-up features keyboardist Doug Wilde, drummer Rich Greenspoon, reeds player Colleen Allen and guitarist Bob Cohen.
Wilde has performed with Leonard Cohen and Jane Siberry, played on a couple of thousand TV commercials, and is director of the seminal Canadian world/jazz/fusion band Manteca. Allen has performed with Anne Murray, Rita MacNeil, Gino Vannelli, Ani DiFranco, Holly Cole and Cirque du Soleil. She’s currently a member of Molly Johnson’s band. Greenspoon is known for his work in the African music scene, notably with Njacko Backo. He was a member of Oliver Schroer’s Stewed Tomatoes and performs with Woodhead in the Toronto outfit Betty and the Bobs.Cohen is best known for his six-year tenure touring and recording with Jesse Winchester, but he also spent years as a session player in Montreal earning credits with Felix LeClerc, Diane Tell and the late legendary songwriter Tim Hardin. He received a Felix Award for his work with Quebec artist Jean-Pierre Ferland.
Together, the quintet lets loose on a repertoire that combines Woodhead’s sophisticate-yet-accessible compositions with the odd dramatic interpretation of Rudyard Kipling and nod to Peter Gabriel. Their shows combine outstanding musicianship with spontaneity, whimsy, and the musical chops to take them in whatever direction they’re moved to go.