It may not be necessary to fully appreciate its majestic sweep, but those who find themselves seduced and culturally and spiritually uplifted from the get-go by Ain’t Got Long, the Art of Time Ensemble’s soulful and multi-faceted sixth album, should probably know a little something about the groups’ nearly quarter century history as they engage in the pin drop perfection of the collection’s exquisite and colorful arrangements of Great American Songbook and other classics and the gorgeous vocal showcases of jazz great Madeleine Peyroux (Robert Johnson’s “Love in Vain,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “What’ll I Do”) and renowned Canadian performers Gregory Hoskins (“Calling All Angels,” “After Mardi Gras”), Jessica Mitchell (Radiohead’s “Exit Music (For a Film),” Joni Mitchell’s “River”) and Sarah Slean (“Sad Song”).
But just to offer some context, Art of Time Ensemble was founded by Moscow born pianist Andrew Burashko – who made his solo debut with the Toronto Symphony at 17 – to produce genre/discipline transcendent concerts and open audiences to fresh creative possibilities, musically and otherwise. Over the course of five previous albums (including a 2013) ode to Sgt Pepper, a popular annual concert series in Toronto and numerous North American and international tours, the ensemble has become a Canadian mecca for artists working in music, dance, theatre, film and literature.
Burashko’s ongoing mission to explore the intersection of classical with other styles manifests mightily yet tenderly on the ten tracks of Ain’t Got Long, which leans decidedly in a jazz direction throughout – starting with the tense and expansive, vocal echo and string driven experimentation of the offbeat title track (a composition by group member Jonathan Goldsmith) and rolling on through the lively and soaring, dynamics filled “Sad Song.”
While most of the arrangements have a lyrical flow and a stark haunting ambience, the one vibrant exception is the percussive and exotic, high energy take on “The Boy in the Bubble” a shining moment for vocalist Hoskins which captures all the organic-exotic magic of Paul Simon’s original but enhances its power with jumpy piano and symphonic twist. Playing on the name, this album is all about the art of timelessness.
Listen to Ain't Got Long here: Ain't Got Long - Album by Art Of Time Ensemble | Spotify