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Torbert and troupe 

Jazz improviser Jeff Torbert launches his new album, The Weather Honest, with a little help from his friends.

Music and food have always co-existed in Jeff Torbert's life.He busked for several years at the Farmers' Market. "I had long hair and a beard," he recalls. "I was in the corridor near the fish guy."

A childhood friend took over his family's farm near Windsor. Torbert has visited to hang and to help out. He's seen firsthand the effort, pressure, responsibilities and rewards of a life lived working the land.

Two bucks from each copy of his new album, This Weather Honest, goes to the Ecology Action Centre's Musicians for Farmers fund. Torbert's been principally performing and recording with a trio, TFC, whose Adam Fine (bass) and Doug Cameron (drums) both play on the album, which Torbert hesitates to call a solo project.

"I found my people," he says, including David Christensen (alto sax/bass clarinet), who co-produced, Glenn Austin (drums/percussion), Matt Myer (trumpet/organ), Gina Burgess (Gypsophilia's violinist) and Lukas Pearse (sharing bass duties with Fine).

The album's eight tracks bring together jazz, funk and folk. "It isn't limited to one genre, but it still comes from the one intention," says Torbert, who describes himself as "definitely an improviser."

On the album Torbert plays guitar, piano, melodica and sings. He's always sung, going back to the busking and including "vocalizations" as part of TFC's music. But there are two vocal tunes on This Weather Honest that seem immediately personal, sweet and simple offerings: "Esbörjn," a tribute to a fallen musical hero, and "Mountain Valley," about the place he got married. The album was recorded at Common Ground, a stroll away from the Common, where Mat Dunlap shot the cover photos: a tree from the public space, under two kinds of sky.

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