Nice But Slim Pickings

The pickPocket ensemble

Memory (the pickPocket Ensemble, 2010)

Their hands commit no acts of larceny in other people’s trousers. Rather, the pickPocket ensemble (punctuation theirs), use those appendages to play violin, accordion, piano, guitar, banjo, bass, cello and percussion. And instead of stealing, they borrow influences from the Balkans, the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America and French cafes to create a jazzy sound that honors the eclecticism of their Northern California home base and reaches out to points far beyond it.

The players come from array of backgrounds and are led by accordionist/pianist/composer Rick Corrigan, who got fed up with electronic music a few years back. His collaborators are likewise more enamored by the unplugged side of things and show it with a collection of swinging, waltzing, shuffling, twanging and entirely charming instrumentals. And the group truly is an ensemble, with no single player dominating the sound.

I first played this CD on a lazy Sunday afternoon when my wife, kids and I were engaged in various pursuits around the house. We were all entranced by it. You will be too, but one caveat must be brought into the light: Memory’s running time is a very brief 28 minutes and 24 seconds. That’s an EP, not an LP. First rate music to be sure, just not enough of it for a fully satisfying listening experience.

Perhaps these folks should have amassed more material or made what they had stretch further. Still, depending on what sort of a deal you can get in obtaining the disc (and assuming your pocket’s not actually picked in the process), it’s one to seek out.

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Author: Tom Orr

Tom Orr is a California-based writer whose talent and mental stability are of an equally questionable nature. His hobbies include ignoring trends, striking dramatic poses in front of his ever-tolerant wife and watching helplessly as his kids surpass him in all desirable traits.


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