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Volume 10 Issue 4 - December 2004

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • December
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  • February

Taking a Chance on Love

Taking a Chance on Love Jane Mooheit Son) Classical K 92495 ii is imeresting to note that the la1- est jaz1 singing phenomenon . Jane Monheit. cites one of her big influences as being Ella Fitzgerald. Ella wa often cri1icized for her lack or -soul . . . despi1e her abundant talent. and Jane Monhei1 suffc!rs from the same shom:oming. She has a lovely voice. huge range and spot-on pit

When musicians decide it is time to flex their muscles and vemure imo new musical territories, the results may vary. When the musical superstars take a jab at new horizons. they have the clout behind them to release and market the product regardless of the quality. Both Yo-Yo Ma and Elvis Costello are great musicians in their own right and I have admired, respected and been inspired over and over by their artistry. musicality and vision. When they have expanded their musical boundaries in the past· of note Ma's Silk Road Project and Costello ·s work with the Brodsky Quartet - they continued to amaze me. Maybe that is why I am more disappointed here than I expected. "Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone" features the cellist as the soloist in Morricone's own orchestral arrangements of his film scores. These "suites·• highlight utS from his prolific film-composing career. The Good. The Bad and The Ugly segment from the Sergio Leone Suite is the strongest, with a moving symphonic accompaniment to Ma's emotional playing. The rest of the release lacks this depth even though rhe lush cello quality is consistently aurally pleasing. Elvis Costello composed the music for Il Sogno as a commission for a dance adaptation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by the Italian dance company Aterballeuo. Rearranged for this record ng. this is his first composmon for orchestra. The performance here is admirable and the detailed liner notes clearly support and explain his musical choices. But as Costello writes in the liner notes, "I'm just using common sense and writing down what I wanr to hear." This is exactly what comes across. Even with his changes, the dance element is still apparent in the fragmented riting. II is neither classical, pop; Jazz nor rock but the composer utilizes these genres freely throughout. I'm inrerested in hearing what future compositional ideas will develop from Costello's experience here. Both recordings niay not be each musician's best work, but certainly consider them if you are looking for a holiday gift with a lighter touch. TiinaKiik SundaSong Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan Naxos World 76061-2 This latest CD by the Evergreen Club is part of an eclectic world music series now out on the Naxos label. "Sund a Song·· is a collection of pieces from West Java (Sunda), arranged by members of Evergreen for their degu11g gamelan ensemble of keyed me1allophones. gongs/gong chime. drums. xylophone. flute, and zither. The songs. arrangements and playing are all quite wonderful - just as we have come w expect from Evergreen. The musical texture is gentle, finely blended sometimes sparse but more ofte ornate. As one would expect in this music, the bamboo flute's delicate. mellifluous embellishments and the c isp brightness of rhe plucked Zither stand out against the underlying percussion patterns and deep. warm cones of various ·gongs. Of the eight tracks. three are by one of West Java's most prolific composers of pop S1111da, Nano Suratno. The rest are drawn from classical and traditional repertoire. The excellent liner notes include background iqformation, title translations (except, curiously. for track 4, Arang Arang), and Lhe essence of the beautiful, though melancholy, lyrics about lost or nrequited love. One minor regrec is that there is no singer on "Sunda Song", and yet five of the tracks were riginally designed to include a vocalist. Admittedly a suicable singer would be a rare find in North America, but it may be a onsiderati n for a future project m the ongomg musical evolution of this dynamic ensemble. Book of Life Maryem Tollar Independent Annette Sanger (www.maryemtollar.com) Maryern Hassan Tollar's CD "Book o _ f Life" is a personal and impas­ 1oned exploration of themes significant to her as an Arab-Canadian woman. Sung in Arabic or English, some of the songs reflect the painfuJ realities of our troubled times. The opening track Shalam Salom [plays with che words (Salam, Shalom) for greetings and peace in Arabic and Hebrew, and is a plea for mutual recognition of the other's humanity on boch sides of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Rachel is a tenderly sung tribute to American activist Rachel Corrie who died while trying to defend a Palescinian home from demolition by an Israeli army bulldozer. Baghdad 1258 compares the contemporary bombing of that city to its l3th century destruction by the Mongols. This tune is in a lively triple meter, with relentless percussion and jazz saxophone accompaniment. The Tallis Choir presents SpCencfours of the H191i Renaissance Other songs are non-political: Ya Habibi, dedicated to a departed family friend, opens with a prelude in Arabic which best displays the silken beauty of Maryem 's voice and the beauty of the language itself. There is also a song in Arabic about September in Montreal, from a poem by llya Abu Madi who visited the city in the early l 900's, the earliest known Arabic poem about Canada. As on her previous release with the band Mernie (featuring husband Ernie Tollar). "Flowers of Forgiveness", this rec9rding ends with a playful sono to Tollar's daughter Omneya. wh makes a cameo appearance. Back-up vocals are provided by long-time colleagues Jayne Brown, Sophia Grigoriadis and Yvette Tollar, and a well-known cast of mulri-insrrumentalists representing a variety of middle-eastern traditions lend their talents to this highly accomplished, soulful recording. Karen Ages Concert note: Maryem Tollar's CD release concert is December 18 at Glenn Gould Studio. Now available for gift giving A two CD set of your favourite Renaissance masters taken from the Tallis Choir's first two recordings - now on CD Information: 416-536-9022 or www.tallischoir.com Great gi/t suggestion! A subscription to Wholenotew See details on page 92 DECEMBER 1 2004 ·FEBRUARY 7 2005 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM 87

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