Charles Spearin: Nursing Home Improv

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Monday's Pick

  • Song: "Mrs. Morris"
  • Artist: Charles Spearin
  • CD: The Happiness Project
  • Genre: Pop-Rock
Charles Spearin 300

In "Mrs. Morris," Broken Social Scene's Charles Spearin records a neighbor in Toronto as she talks about her life and counts her blessings. Norman Wong hide caption

toggle caption Norman Wong

Audio verite recordings of people conversing are almost as old as recorded sound: Remember "Voices of Old People" on Simon & Garfunkel's Bookends? Guitarist Charles Spearin, one of about a zillion members of the Canadian collective Broken Social Scene, takes the concept one step further with The Happiness Project.

Over a period of months, Spearin recorded his neighbors in Toronto as they talked about their lives and counted their blessings. He then recorded music to accompany the voices, playing off the cadences and rhythms of their speaking voices. The result, heard in "Mrs. Morris," feels more like jazz than documentary. "I'm feeling happy to know somebody cares — and that's a big love!" Mrs. Morris exclaims as Leon Kingstone's sax circles around her, both accompanying her voice and mimicking her tone. Forget bingo: This is improv night at the local nursing home, from those with plenty of spunk left in them.

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