8 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 6 - March 2006

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The mezzo-soprano Nancy

The mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby is the hard-working soloist in Leonard Bernstein's 1943 setting of verses from the Lamentation of Jeremiah from his First Symphony. Her interpretation struck me as excessively melodramatic and over-wrought, fighting a losing battle with a dreadfully unsubtle orchestral balance. The Atlanta orchestra seems far more at home with the spectacular effects of David Del Tredici's Paul Revere's Ride, a setting ofLongfellow' s well-known tale of the American Revolution. It is very much from the same rich vein de! Tredici has mined since the seventies in his series of Alice in Wonderland pieces, but tricked out with many, many more American flags and extra percussion including sirens, wind machines, and whips. Fabulous orchestration, and considerable help from mutant (i.e. amplified) coloratura soprano Hila Plitmann prevent this way over-thetop confection from sliding into kitsch - but just barely! Daniel Foley JAZZ AND IMPROVISED Count Basie Big Band '77 Count Basie Eagle Eye: Norman Granz' Jazz in Montreux EE 39062-9 (DVD) This production from Swiss television comes from the days when the Montreux Jazz Festival actually presented jazz music. And in 1977, most of it came from the recording stable of the prolific American producer/promoter Norman Granz. His Pablo Records label recorded every second of music his artists played that year, and in one way or another it has all been released on LP and CD, and now, on DVD video. I've been a Basie fan for over 50 years now. I love the quintessential, easy swing (easy to listen to, not easy to achieve) he brings out of any group he plays with . That he loved being on the stage is apparent in the glowing smile on his face as he connects with his players and the audience. 72 Calling the programme as he goes along, Basie's at the piano, with soloists such as Al Grey on trombone for The More I See You and I Needs To Be Bee 'd With (good long piano intro); flugelhornist Waymon Reed on Night In Tunisia and trumpeter Sonny Cohn on the lovely L 'il Darlin'. Tenorman Jimmy Forrest is hot on The Heat's On and seductive for Bag of Dreams. Eric Dixon leads off the tenor work on Whirlybird, later to be joined by Forrest for the classic two-tenor feature. A curious edit on that track (incorrectly called Fantail on the package) finds the upcoming drum solo by Butch Miles edited by a fadein/fade-out. I've known this event for years via LP and CD, and have long felt that it was Basie's last Real Good Band. Seeing them in performance only enhances the music, with the pictures revealing the onstage joy of the players, and the appreciation of the audience. Ted O'Reilly ' . "' Ella Fitzgerald and the Tommy Flanagan Trio '77 Ella Fitzgerald Eagle Eye: Norman Granz' Jazz in Montreux EE 39061-9 (DVD) Another in the continuing series of Montreux Jazz Festival concerts produced by jazz impresario Norman Granz during the 1970s, this one showcases his biggest star, Ella Fitzgerald. "The First Lady of Song" receives sensitive backing from pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Keeter Betts, and drummer Bobby Durham. As we've come to expect, both the sound recording and camera work are first rate. These concerts were originally broadcast on Swiss TV and the attention to detail shows. Ella's program includes standards such as Too Close For Comfort and Come Rain or Come Shine , as well as a couple of Ellington chestnuts, I Ain't Got Nothing But The Blues and I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart. There's even an "instrumental" - Charlie Parker's Billie's Bounce - which receives a bravura scat treatment. The real highlight for this viewer, WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COM however, is the singer's exquisite interpretation of the classic torch song , My Man . And, in spite of her well-known shyness and unease before audiences, you really have to hand it to Ella: she could be unflappable. After blowing a line in Too Close, the veteran trouper simply carries on as if nothing had happened. And we mustn't overlook Tommy Flanagan. One of the most creative of jazz keyboard artists, Flanagan also just happened to be a master vocal accompanist. Ella always had excellent taste in piano players. Flanagan follows in the footsteps of such giants as Hank Jones, Ellis Larkins and Lou Levy. Don Brown My One and Only Love Denzal Sinclaire Verve 0249884222 Ah Denzal. The cashmere-voiced crooner and piano player has graced us with another CD, just in time to warm our frozen Canadian hearts. The new CD, "My One and Only Love", is a collection of 10 tunes, recorded in New York. While this is a very mellow album of slow to medium tempo tunes, it is not dark or melancholic. The songs all have positive messages about life and love. Tunes like I Can See Clearly Now and For You, For Me, Forever More set the tone. The other notable trait of this record is that Sinclaire, refreshingly, relies less on the standard songbook of the 40's and ventures into more modern territory with Stevie Wonder's Happier Than the Morning Sun, Always on My Mind (made famous by Willie Nelson) and Genesis' Follow You Follow Me. But tribute is paid to the masters here too, with the Gershwins, Hoagy Carmichael and Jerome Kern all being given the Denzal treatment. Hearing Denzal Sinclaire live, we get a much stronger sense of his personality than what comes across on record. (He launched "My One and Only Love" at the Montreal Bistro in Toronto on Jan. 26th and will be back in Ontario at the Orangeville Opera House on April 7.) As a result, the CD is a little flat and not entire I y representative of what he can do. Once he harnesses some of that stage presence in the studio, look out! Players include the New York guitar god, Russell Malone, Reuben Rogers on acoustic bass, Gregory Hutchinson, drums and Seamus Blake, tenor. The multitalented fellow Vancouverite Brad Turner, plays trumpet and flugelhorn and also produced the record. Overarching all are Sinclaire's effortless style, impeccable diction and tasteful, inventive phrasing. Cathy Riches New Orleans Party Orchestra The Happy Pals New Orleans North CD-006 Saturday afternoons at Grossman's on Toronto's Spadina Avenue have been enlivened for more than three decades by the joyful Southern neighbourhood sounds of functional jazz music. It's true folk music: simple, and amateur in the purest sense, it exists to wash away the worries of the week, and have a good time. Until his passing three years ago, Cliff "Kid" Bastien led the Happy Pals, and his easy-going spirit remains on the band's new release, its first in a dozen years. Patrick Tevlin moved over from tenor/ clarinet to play trumpet, and carries on the tradition of mixing the music, whether it's blues or spirituals, rags or marches, or pop songs new and old. Here, the gumbo they proudly make includes Bob Dylan's Don't Think Twice, It's Alright and Folsom Prison Blues from Johnny Cash, along side Algiers Strut and Short Dress Gal (which comes from 1927, not 1967). Roberta Tevlin plays trombone, with Roberta Hunt at the piano, Toby Hunt on alto sax, and banjoist Rainer Runck. String bass is played by Philip J. Carney, and the drums are appropriately played by Chuck Clarke. It seems most everyone joins in with heartfelt vocals. This 'handmade' music was MARCH 1 - A PRI L 7 2006

well-recorded at Grossman's Tavern, a much lived-in watering hole that has just the right atmosphere. It's represented on the cover photo, but not with a shot of the outside: you'll quickly recognize that the object in the lower left of the photo is a urinal, and that the title is scrawled out as graffiti on the wall. If you're not at the pub to pick up this release next weekend, you can order it from the website www Ted O'Reilly -----··---···-- - ~ -·-·-- Calling for Rain Lori Cullen Maple Nationwide LC206 There is a new force to be reckoned with on the Canadian jazzpop scene in the form of Lori Cullen. Actually, calling Cullen "a force" is a little wrong given her quavery, little girl voice. (Think Kate Bush meets Norah Jones with forays into Blossom Dearie territory.) But her strength comes from her interpretive powers and her tune-picking abilities. Calling for Rain is Cullen's fourth CD and her second that dips a toe into the jazz pool. Cullen sings straight, so the jazz comes from the players and the arrangements. David Matheson, late of Moxy Fruvous, accompanies on piano, Dave Birston covers most of the bass duties and Mark Mari- ~,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, I f ~ 314 Chu rch ill Ave I I T o r o nt o, On ta rio ~ ; M 2R 1 E7 C anada , ~ Tel: 416- 2 24-1956 I Fax: 4 1 6-224-2964 ~ ; MIKROKOSMOS www.mlkrokosmos. com ; I I ; , I I : We buy your ~ ; ' ~ classical LP ~ ; , : collection ; f ; ' I ; , 1 (classical, such as ;' Beethoven, Mozart, , P I ; Stockhausen) , I I ~ we tra v e l an ywh ere ~ I I for good co llection s , ; ' ~,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,~ M ARC H 1 - APR IL 7 2006 I ' ash drums and co-produces with Cullen. The majority of the tunes are ballads that give the record a melancholic and wistful feeling. But there are touches of wit and whimsy too. Harry Nilson's Me and My Arrow with its clever horn arrangements by William Sperandei, is one of the lighter moments. As is the crackle box solo on Cy Coleman's You Fascinate Me So . (Crackle box sounds a little I ike electronic kazoo with static.) Cullen has found a few hidden gems from some very well known sources. Joni Mitchell's little-known Two Grey Rooms is a study in loneliness delivered with exquisite poignancy by Cullen with appropriate Joniesque guitar fills by Kurt Swinghammer. Other folk-pop picks are Pussywillows Cat-tails by Gordon Lightfoot and Fall by Bruce Cockburn. Although Moon River and Blue Skies are a little on the chestnutty side, Cullen's appealing voice is well-suited to jazz-pop from the 50's and 60's - she successfully covered another Cy Coleman tune The Best is Yet to Come on an earlier CD - and it would be great to hear her apply her gem-mining skills to more music from that realm. Cathy Riches Happening Fran~ois Carrier Leo Records CD LR 451/452 ( • • • • • • For the past fifteen years, alto saxophonist Franc;:o is Carrier has played live all over Canada and the world; presenting his music to diehard fans of new and improvised music varieties. With at least a half a dozen records under his belt, his new live double CD "Happening" has earned his way into the Leo Records stable of artists that include the likes of luminaries such as Anthony Braxton, Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Phil Minton and Sainkho Namchylak. This time around, he chose to use a number of players from previous collaborations: bassist Pierre Cote and drummer Michel Lambert; and supplement the line-up with new musicians: violinist Mat Maneri and multi-instrumentalist Uwe Neumann. The results are a mash-up between jazz, improvised, world and new musics. The first disc resembles a machination of styles that work Nadina Mackie Jackson & Mathieu Lussier, solo bassoons with Musica Franca Fraser Jackson, contra bassoon Kathleen Mclean, bassoon Sylvain Bergeron, theorbo Terry McKenna, baroque guitar Paul Jenkins, harpsichord&orgun Richard Pare, harpsichord &organ well . Along with a few blasting alto solos, the session turns out to have quite a smooth and pleasant flow . Nothing dangerous in these waters is found unti I we arrive at the second disc. Here, Mat Maneri gets into some free-wheeling duels head-tohead with bassist Pierre Cote and with Carrier himself. Michel Lambert tends to stay in the background more or less, with his light percussive work, while Uwe Neumann works out on a few tender anandolohori [Indian talking drum] solos. Personally, it's the second part of this recording that attracts. It seems to take more chances by allowing all players a democratic say in the music making process. It's enriching to hear just how much give-and-take interplay there is between all players of Carrier's ensemble. One drawback of the recording is the hollowed-out mix, which oftentimes doesn't allow for some of the instruments to come clearly into focus . Regardless, "Happening" shines as a beacon for Franc;:ois Carrier: a Canadian voice on the world jazz/new music scene to watch closely. Tom Sekowski 11,c 1lusic of Micl,cl CorrcHc &vbse pl1 Boclin clc Boismorlicr ~ :_J :-~ ,...~~~~ Available from MSR Classics, & WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COM 73

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