Artist Profile: “The Thing Is”

The Thing Is - CD Art

From the first few bars of any given recording on music group The Thing Is‘ debut release, it is apparent that predictability is off the menu. Winsome, coquettish turns of time signature and melodic intervals provoke and wink at the listener, suggesting something slightly mysterious and always alluring is about to unfurl.

While certainly informed by jazz tropes, this collection of songs extends into many other palettes and creates an engagingly playful salve for today’s multitasking mind.

The Thing Is was formed in 2006 to play the compositions of Tova Kardonne while she was still studying Jazz composition and voice at college in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was there she found musicians who took to her compositions’ risk-taking – her music influenced by her background in Eastern European and South African music – leading to rhythmic twists and turns and unlikely vocal choices; she further brought her experience as a violist into the arrangements.

The release of the resultant band’s eponymous album in April 2012 was a Toronto Dominion (Bank of) Canada Trust Jazz Festival Special Project, that in parallel featured a graphic art exhibit of Kardonne’s concert posters for the band.

She studied with Cuban drumming master Mike Marcuzzi, viola with Talisker Players’ Mary McGeer, Voice with Shannon Gunn, Christine Duncan, and, Fides Krucker, and Composition & Arranging at Humber College under John Macleod and Brian Dickinson. Kardonne’s compositions have taken her to the National Arts’ Centre Summer Music Institute, the Banff Centre for the Arts Creative Music Residency, the ARTerra artist residency in Portugal the Isabella Freedman Jewish Music Festival, and virtually, around the globe with New York-based New Music 60×60 project presented by Vox Novus. Additionally, Kardonne’s compositions have making their way into an ever broader catalog of uses.

Tracey Nolan - The Thing Is - live photo

We had the opportunity to conduct a brief interview with the busy ringleader of the small orchestra and here is what more we learned:

MusicZeitgeist: Who?
“I’m Tova Kardonne, the composer and lead singer of The Thing Is. It’s a large band, full of delightful people who, in the beginning, were classmates in music college. But not any more! People flew this way and that, and new(-er) personnel has come from across a crazy range of scenes. To wit: Amy Medvick (flute, backup vocals), Mike Wark (alto sax, flute), Christian Overton (all trombone), David Atkinson (piano), Ted Quinlan (electric guitar), Chris Kettlewell (upright bass), and Trevor Falls (drums).

MZ: What is The Thing Is?
“World/Fusion music is our game, which sounds really broad, and it is. There’s odd-time Brazilian-clave surfer-rock; there’s West African-inspired funk; there’s South Indian/ Jazz balladry, and Klezmer Prog. But there’s lots of other stuff, too, that’s harder to place. So we’ll just call it Music, for the time being, and if really pushed, I’d admit that there’s non-Music hiding in there as well.

“We’re based in Toronto, Canada, though our band members hail from British Columbia, Quebec, Far-Flung Towns in Ontario, and the East Coast of Canada. We perform mainly in Toronto, with occasional excursions. [We’re] touring the West Coast this summer, and still writing the compositions that were inspired by my trip to Sri Lanka last summer. Those ones are monsters to get down on paper.”

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