“Wow, that opening track sure grabs you and holds you tight,” I thought, throwing on BC violinist Jaron-Freeman Fox’s self-titled album with his band The Opposite of Everything.
The uptempo verbal punch set up by looped archival recordings of fast-talking auctioneers in “Auctioneering Everything” is matched by Jaron’s mad lines on the violin, not a note out of place in the bhangra-klezmer frenzy that kicks off this album. This is a suite of tunes where great technique, virtuosic playing, and a sense of excitement and unexpectedness abound. There’s the idea that you don’t know where the tune will go next, and I love that feeling of surprise in music.
Jaron considers the late fiddler/composer Oliver Schroer to be a mentor, and the eclecticism and virtuosity that defined that folk statesman’s career have been passed down here in spades. Freeman-Fox himself shows great ability on the instrument – the pizzicatos in the opening of “Pyrite Pirate” and the bouncy “Flabbergasp” are clean as whistles, as are his harmonics. Freeman-Fox is at home in old-tyme as he is in klezmer or even the salsa grooves of “The New Ruckus.” His mentor should be proud.
Just listen to this track and tell me you don’t want the whole album:
Oh, and did I mention the band? Freeman-Fox declares that these players are his “absolute favourite musicians in the world,” and they play like they agree with their bandleader. Chops abound here (notably John William’s lovely clarinet lines on the aptly-named Clarity), but these guys don’t just play. Rough vocals (with overtones!) in “Back to the Boonies” and “The New Ruckus” proceed to a full-blown cover of The Doors’ “People Are Strange.” Just strange enough to be interesting, I’d wager.
This is a band and an album that can pick you up and spin you around the world, making you dance the whole time. The Opposite of Everything is nothing. Don’t be left out.
This is a suite of tunes where great technique, virtuosic playing, and a sense of excitement and unexpectedness abound.