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Volume 10 Issue 6 - March 2005

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  • Toronto
  • Jazz
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vision, has produced the

vision, has produced the reference John. At nearly 19 minutes, with a ed in this 4CD boxed set. all, not just musicologists. recording among the eight perform­ reaI sense of forward propulsion, this Disc 1 has Torrie Zito (singer The rest of Disc 4 is drawn from ances captured on LP or CD since work seems to end all too soon. Helen MerriU's husband) in charge a jazz jam session at Buffalo's Statler 1972. Umo the Hills joins a folk Sound of Sound is an unusual duet of the orchestra, and while the actu­ Hilton "Downtowner Room" in singer, voicing largely intact tradi­ for clarinet and percussionist. The al jazz content is nearly-nil, it's su­ 1977. Two LPs were released, with tional melodies, with a percussion multi-phonic playing of Amici's perior pop music including standards Bennett joining up on one of them orchestra employing a hybrid of new Joaquin Valdepeiias is intriguing, like As Time Goes By, Lost In The with Jimmy and Marian McPartland music and Asian materials. Ann never overbearing, as he is joined Stars and There'll Be Some Chang­ and jazz masters like Vic Dicken­ Crumb sings here, as she did in here by John Rudolph. es Made. Rarer is Duke Ellington's son, Buddy Tate, Herb Hall and Toronto for New Music Concerts in With production by David Jaeger beautiful 1953 composition Reflec­ Charlie Byrd. There are two straight­ April, 2003. This has every potential and David Quinney, the sound can­ tions In D, here called just Reflec­ ahead Bennett performances with his to be a cutesy pastiche. ln the Crumbs' not be faulted. Even the Glenn Gould tions, with Milt Raskin lyrics. A trio, Watch What Happens and While hands however, it is seizing. Studio Steinway seems to have been 9-track, 14 minute Cole Porter We're Young (composer Alec Wild­ The two piano pieces in Volume 8 cured of its tendency to thump. The medley is an added bonus. er in attendance) and he appears on are different beasts. Makrolwsmos (I 972-73) for solo piano exploits all the instrument's sonic possibilities enclosed book.let has the usual bilingual doubling, no photograph of musicians playing (a rather stiff for­ The reaI meat for jazz lovers starts to show up on Disc 2 as Bennett joins with a working jazz group, The the band's In A Mellow Tone. The rest is instrumental, and fun. Ted O'Reilly that one can imagine, plus many that mal portrait of the composer must Ruby Braff/George Barnes Quartet. one hadn't. It lasts 66 very demand­ suffice) and the predictable colour­ Bennett and Braff/Barnes had pre­ Double Time Jazz Collection Vol.1 ing minutes. Oberlin's Robert Shannon, the pianist in the George Crumb Ensemble, can obviously climb this mountain. Otherworldly Resonances (2002) for two pianos is sparse, stately, and short. It's a Zen statement of three decades' learning on how Crumb expanded his love affair with the piano. Phil Ehrensaft Majestic Flair: Music of Chan Ka Nin Amici Chamber Ensemble CBC Records MVCD 1169 Professor Chan Ka Nin made a big splash with his massive opera The Iron Road, just a few years ago. Now his chamber works fill this new CD, with nothing larger than a quintet. With Amici's confident playing, it must be heard to be believed: such instrumental virtuosity is little short of miraculous. The opening Among Friends, Chan's first commission from Amici, dates back to 1989. Punning on the group's name, the piece strikes you immediately with its humour. Cellist David Hetherington plays the unaccompanied Soulmate for five electrifying minutes. The Disquiet from 1990 is a very fine work, with violinist Scott St. John and violist Steven Dann augmenting the Amici line-up. Pianist Patricia Parr plays the title track, a colourful two-movement work. Our Finest Hour, a quartet in the composer's familiar angular style, once again includes Scott St. ful abstract image. John S. Gray Concert Note: Chan Ka Nin will have a new piece performed by the combined forces of the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan and the Ensemble contemporain de Montreal at the Montreal/New Music festival on March 7, a concert that will be repeated in Toronto on March 13. Chan's choral work Monastery Behind the Mountain will be performed by the Viva Youth Singers on March 23. JAZZ AND IMPROVIZED 1be Complete lmprov Recordings Tony Bennett Concord Records CCD4-2255-2 Tony Bennett is a survivor of some sixty years in the harsh world of popular music. I think Tony's love of jazz has had a Jot to do with his longevity. He has never claimed to be a jazz singer, but works with jazz musicians and takes on projects with jazz sensibilities. In the '70s Bennett had sold a lot of records for Columbia and Polygram but wanted more musical control, so he joined with Buffalo businessman Bill Hassett to form lmprov Records. Even the name suggests jazz, and jazz was certainly strong in the mix. Of the ten or so records the lmprov made, Bennett himself appeared on four, and all are includ- pared a concert tribute to Rodgers & Hart which Bennett wanted to preserve. In September 1973 they taped 20 of the best of the Great American Songbook, performed with such grace and intimacy - to say nothing of lyrical interpretation and rhythmic surety - that you are not likely to find better interpretations of Moumain Greenery, Spring Is Here, Blue Moon or My Romance. To hear them is to understand what the songs mean. For some reason, Lorenz Hart's cynicism works best when someone finds the sunny optimism in his words, as Bennett does. As to Rodger's music, no one has ever caressed a melody more than cometist Ruby Braff (unless it was his idol, Louis Armstrong). If Disc 2 reaches jazz/popular Everest, Disc 3 takes Bennett into Art Music. With one of jazz' greatest artists, Bill Evans at the piano, Tony Bennett reaches a high point in his career. Evans was as serious a jazz artist as there ever was, and he loved the best of American popular song. He had done a fine release with Tony (now on CD as Fantasy OJC 439) in June 1975, and I believe the material here from 15 months later is even better. The dozen tracks are definitely Desert Island material, with Bennett's impeccable lyricreading, and Evans' deep and thoughtful understanding of the music and his role as accompanist as well as soloist (The Bad And The Beautiful). Highlights are A Child Is Born and Evans' own The Two Lonely People, and Dream Dancing which begs comparison to the orchestra version on Disc One's Cole Porter medley. Fifteen previously unavailable takes of ten of the tunes are included, some spilling onto Disc 4, and are of interest to Carmen McRae Live in Tokyo; The Manhattan Transfer Vocalese Live Double Time EE 39074-9 (DVD) B o t h events t 0 0 k place in Tokyo in 1 9 8 6. Carmen McRae's career began in the early 50s. Now in Japan, backed by a piano trio, her voice is a mellow Stradivarius, a gliding bullet train, a bit smoky, still capable of bluesy growling, still with many great stories to tell. Her distinctive phrasing reveals her intimate familiarity with the repertoire. She accompanies herself on ballads, That Old Devil Called Love and As Long as I Live, and her love of Brazilian and Latin flavours brings Dindi, and Upside Down to her list. Visually, her performance is easygoing and relaxed, certainly more static than the "fuUy-staged" Manhattan Transfer, but it doesn't detract from fine music-making. The Manhattan Transfer, founded in 1972, was on their 4th tour of Japan at the time of this recording. Singers Cheryl Bentyne, Janis Siegel, Tim Hauser and Alan Paul were smooth and slick. This "Vocalese" tour promoted their album of high-energy jazz tunes by Count Basie, Quincy Jones, Miles Davis, and others, adapting lyrics (by Jon Hendricks) to songs that were originally purely instrumental. At times, there was an unbelievable (and unintelligible, yet impressive) verbal velocity. WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM MARCH 1 - APRIL 7 2005

They eventually got back to a cappella Doo-Wop in Duke of Dubuque, Hean's Desire, and Gloria which featured the heart-throbbing voice of Alan Paul. Tim Hauser, as the cool hipster Eldorado Caddy, worked the stage with the others in choreographed movement (not easy, remembering that the microphones had cords!). Predictably, their hits, Birdland and Boy from New York City, got the audience up, dancing and clapping; and the band was rocking. The intricate on-stage camera work brought one almost inside this hot vocal ensemble and beautifully captured this magic moment of musical history. My only disappointment: There are no on-screen notes, biographical details or extensive background information as promised. Frank Nakashima Double Time Jazz Col lection, Vol. 2 Kenny Drew Trio (Live at The Brewhouse) Diane Schuur (& The Count Basie Orchestra) Double Time EE 39075-9 (DVD) anced group that could dip into familiar material like Brubeck's In Your Own Sweet Way, a wide-ranging It Might As Well Be Spring or the traditional Danish folk tune Hushabye. Th.is is top rank stuff ... The second programme, from 1987, has Diane Schuur singing with the Frank Foster-led Count Basie Orchestra. I've always found Ms. Schuur to be an artificial singer, selfindulgent, often shrill at top volume, and not much of a verse-interpreter. ("Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?") The band sounds good here, with veteran guitarist Freddie Green less than a week from his death, and the recording and presentation is top quality. If only Ella, or Sarah or Carmen were there ... (As was the case with Vol. 3 last month, the picture and sound are just slightly out of synch, with visuals ahead of sound). Ted O'Reilly This 2- part DVD release shows that Kenny D r e w was the real thing, but Diane Schuur works on the periphery of jazz. The late Kenny Drew (he died 18 months after this 1992 concert) was an under-recognized American pianist who came to full flower in Europe after moving there in the early sixties. A boppish swinger, his work in the '50s found him working with masters like Pres and Hawk, Coltrane, Johnny Griffin and Buddy Rich, but Europe was where he proved just how good he was. Paired in Copenhagen with bassist Niels-Henning 0rsted Pedersen, his broad-minded mature talent continued to develop within the jazz tradition. With NH0P he delved into Danish folk music for great releases "Duo", "Duo II" and "In Concert". With drummer Alvin Queen added, the trio toured and recorded all over, save North America, much is the pity. This release shows us what we missed: a hard-driving, equally-bal- MARCH 1 - APRIL 7 2005 Home in No Time David Shaw Toreador TRCD 024-2 ( www. toreadorrecords .corn) The recent addition to Toronto-based Timothy Minthorn's Toreador Records catalogue features British pianist, composer, producer, and songwriter David Shaw. The liner notes state that Shaw has scored numerous film soundtracks, has won awards for his original works, and has written three top ten hits. But success doesn't seem to have tempted this artist to rest on his laurels, and he can now add solo jazz piano recording artist to his resume. lo a genre pioneered by Art Tatum and expanded upon by the likes of Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea, ample room for creativity still exists. David Shaw's airy, spacious approach to tried and true standards such as Cole Porter's All Of You, Here's That Rainy Day, Invitation, and Miles Davis' Nardis reflects his extensive film-scoring experience. He avoids rapid-fire right hand technique and traditional left-hand walking bass patterns for almost the entire CD. By the ninth track, When WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM

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