The eclectic astounding and sometimes mystifying Ratchet Orchestra continue to attract attention with the release of their third recording Hemlock. Recorded by Godspeed you! Black Emperor bassist Thierry Amar and released on the Vancouver label Drip Audio, The Ratchet Orchestra is a who's who of Montreal's edgiest musicians. Director Nicolas Caloia's compositions provide a structure to showcase fierce talents like Tom Walsh, Jean Derome, Lori Freedman, Sam Shalabi, and Christopher Cauley. The Ratchet Orchestra has existed since the early 1990s when Caloia started experimenting with improvised chamber jazz. In 1998 the size of the band began to swell for a legendary birthday tribute to the inspirational SunRa and it has continued expanding to it's current membership of 30 strong. This band makes a powerful sound but is not designed to be a demonstration of force, rather, it embraces human frailty. The Ratchet Orchestra does not resemble a sports team or an army, it's members do not have to march in perfect formation. They are pirates, not the navy. The group defies reason.
Since 1990 Nicolas Caloia has worked at creating a contemporary music generated by using accurately composed textures to channel collective improvisation. The goal is a music that erases the lines between improvised and composed, pop and avant-garde, good and bad. He hopes this music will satisfy the body, the mind and, above all, the heart. He has worked as a performer, composer, and organizer in Montreal and has toured in North America, Europe, and Asia. He has performed and recorded in a vast array of contexts with the most important members of Montreal's creative music community as well as with internationally renowned musicians like Marshall Allen, John Butcher, Joe McPhee, Steve Lacy, Hassan Hakmoun, Tristan Honsinger and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. His concerts and numerous recordings have been critically acclaimed both at home and abroad. Currently, the majority of his work as a composer and improviser finds a voice in: The Ratchet Orchestra – a 30 piece bigband; Tilting – the Nicolas Caloia Quartet, Ring – a sextet, Spell – a 10 piece marching band, Trephining a quintet, Mercury - a duet Lori Freedman as well in solo performances.
Jean Derome (Bass Flute, Piccolo et Flute), Craig Dionne (Flute), Lori Freedman (Clarinet), Gordon Krieger (Bass Clarinet), Cristopher Cauley (Soprano Sax), Louisa Sage (Alto Sax), Damian Nisenson (Tenor Sax), Jason Sharp (Bass Sax), Elwood Epps (Trumpet), Philippe Battikha (Trumpet), Tom Walsh (Trombone), Scott Thomson (Trombone), Jacques Gravel (Trombone), Thea Pratt (E flat Horn), Eric Lewis (Euphonium), Noah Countability (Sousaphone), Gabriel Rivest (Tuba), Joshua Zubot (Violin), Guido Del Fabbro (Violin), Brigitte Dajczer (Violin), Jean René (Viola), Gen Heistek (Viola), Norsola Johnson (Cello), Nicolas Caloia (Bass), Chris Burns (Guitar), Sam Shalabi (Guitar), Guillame Dostaler (Piano), Ken Doolittle (Percussion), Michel Bonneau (Conga), Isaiah Ceccarelli (Drums), John Heward (Drums)