Not what you’d expect from a percussion ensemble, and that’s high praise

Paddle to the Sea: Third Coast Percussion – Music by Third Coast Percussion, Philip Glass, Jacob Druckman – Cedille Records CD CDR 90000 175 TT: 78:52 (2/9/18) *** 1/2

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a CD that is all percussion music. I’ve listened to many such selections, and most left me cold and nervous.

Not so with Paddle to the Sea, a new CD from the Third Coast Percussion ensemble.

The main tracks are from the title tune, conceived as a live soundtrack to the Oscar-nominated 1966 film of the same name, based on a classic children’s story about a Native Canadian boy who carves a wooden figure called Paddle-to-the-Sea and launches him on a solo canoe voyage to the ocean.

It’s a very interesting and emotional work, with each track describing different events from the boy’s journey. At times energetic, at times contemplative, the tracks hang together as a really compelling listening experience.

Other works on the CD are arrangements the Third Coast Percussion group did for music  of Philip Glass and Jacob Druckman. I thought the Glass pieces translated especially nicely to pure percussion works.

From an audio standpoint, the disc has terrific dynamic range, and wide frequency response. It sounded brilliant on my planar speakers in my listening room, and really quite good on my KEF LS50s in the bedroom where I often listen from a comfortable chair. Separation is really good, with the ensemble providing a very 3 dimensional image across my front speakers. Of course, I would love a high resolution surround version of this disc, but nothing in that format is on offer.

Even if you shy away from percussion ensembles, I can recommend this disc. It’s something different and interesting. I think most of our readers will enjoy it.

—Mel Martin

Link to more info and track samples here: