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Volume 12 - Issue 6 - March 2007

  • Text
  • Theatre
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • Arts
  • April
  • Musical
  • Symphony
  • Orchestra
  • Choral
  • Violin

(by photographer

(by photographer Michelle Johnston)and the exq uisitely performed takeno-prisonersmusic made this expatriateNew Yorker incredibly homesick.Lesley Mitchell-ClarkePolar BearsGeordie Haley TrioIndependentThe Green Suite andOther StoriesGeordie Haley's EveryTime BandIndependent(geo_ha@hotmail.com)Quickly becoming a mainstay on theever-flourishing Toronto improvisingscene, guitarist Geordie Haley hasjust amassed a couple of new, independentlyreleased discs. Each ofthese shows a different aspect to hisplaying and each has something entirelydifferent to offer.Haley's trio is made up ofunusualinstrumentation to say the least.How many times do you recall melodicismand improvisation gellingwith a combination of drums, tromboneand guitar? Joined by percussionistNick Fraser and trombonistScott Thomson, Haley is hell-bent onexploring the finer niches of jaggedmusic. Only one piece is credited toNick Fraser - the angular laptop affectedIn Walked. For the others,all three members share writingcredits which means the music waseither rehearsed ahead of time or thismay have been an instantaneous improvisedsession. Thomson's tromboneblasts are nothing short of spectacular.Listen to the way he counter-pointsHaley's angular playing onthe title track or as he takes outrightliberties and plays above the othertwo player's heads on the livelyBlueski. Fraser is heavy on the hihats,while Haley orchestrates thesession with his warm playing. Reminiscentpartly of an earlier Bill Frisellwith a more skewed slant thrownin, he's never one to shy away froma risky confrontation of three creativeminds. Even on a slower piecesuch as New, the band stretches outand shows a common, musical languagein development. An excellentrelease through and through.While Haley doesn' t shy awayfrom his improvising roots on "TheGreen Suite and Other Stories", thisis a more concisely composed effort.Creating a rhythm section withpercussionist Jean Martin, bassistPaul Donat, adding saxophoni stEvan Shaw, vocalist Christine Duncanand Eugene Martynec on laptops,The Every Time Band is onerocking affair. Quite literally so.As an ensemble, they attempt tobe an improvised music group but inthe end, everything is tightly controlledby Haley. The ensemble is infiltratedwith "foreign" forces - suchas a rarely heard vocalist and a laptop.Fair enough, Haley is takingrisks and this is a big plus. Musically,they present a variation on moreadventurous jazz territory while allowingthick improvised passages topeek through. On Oligarchy , Duncanshowcases a strange vocal successionof non-syllabic owl-I ike warbI es, accompani ed by Haley'ssparse guitar motions. All of themass seems to be processed by Martynec.Weirder sti ll, on the followingpiece, Gloves and Goggles, shesounds li ke a more alive KarenManlier and the band returns to amore sedate form of music creation.It's on the longer pieces - Icebergand Tree Hugger - the band trulygets a chance to stretch out. Everyonegets play with and scrapeagain st one another, allowing anumber of good moments of frictionAcrobat Music ~ / .-~ECO I{ D~NG ~T~IJ:I ,/ \ ,. "1''-

Concert Note: Queen Mab 's MarilynLerner and her Ugly Beauties Trioperform music ofThelonious Monk atTwo-Tone Thursdays: Jazz at the BataShoe Museum on March I.StreamingMuhal Richard Abrams; GeorgeLewis; Roscoe MitchellPi Recordings 22(www.vergemusic.com)Summit meeting among three veteransof Chicago's Association for theAdvancement of Creative Musicians(ACCM), the five elongated, spontaneousimprovisations showcase theempathetic interaction only availableto mature players who know intimatelyeach other's idiosyncrasies.This is no exercise in nostalgia however.AACM founder Muha! RichardAbrams, 74, utilizes percussion implementsand bamboo flute along withaggressive pianism; Roscoe Mitchell,63, vibrates and rattles hollow-soundingpercussion as well as tracingunique paths with soprano and altosaxophones; and George Lewis, 52,spends as much time triggering pulsationswith his laptop computer as vibratingchromatic trombone lines.Thus hair-trigger sonic reactionscan as easily involve a contrapuntalduet between malleable rhythmtones and sequenced electronics asportamento keyboard slides, dog-likeyelps and animal squeaks from thereedist and the trombone 's brayingtriplet slurs. Abrams' timbre commandis such as well, so that atpoints he appears to be trading doublecounterpoint licks with himself.Most notable track is the 18minute Dramaturns, a Lewis/Abrams duet that encompassesblues and baroque acoustic inferencesplus blurry electronic pulsations.Rococo trombone grace notes joinmetronomic piano colouring at the top,until clouds of dense choir-like laptopsurges meet staccato, double-quick,repetitive note clusters from Abrams.Broken chord interface turns to polyphonicharmonies by the finale.Allowing separate musical agendasto simultaneously evolve duringthese trios and duets confirms thatrisk-taking impulses still predominatefor these veterans. The palpable excitementlies in hearing the threeshape the dissonant tones into distinctivesound sculptures.Ken WaxmanM ARCH 1 - APRI L 7 2007DialogueHisato HiguchiFamily Vineyard (www.familyvineyard.com)Having released a couple of excellentEPs a couple of years ago - "She"and "2004 11 2005 4" - Japanese guitaristHisato Higuchi now releases hisfirst State-side record, simply entitled"Dialogue''. As with the previous tworeleases, the proceedings are kept toa bare 36 minute length. This is somethingthat works highly in his favour.Higuchi 's pacing is morosely slow.When he picks at the strings of hisguitar, you feel he 's straining hard tofigure out his own way. It's improvisationby force of nature. The whispershe exhales are quiet and heavilyrestrained. In fact, each single notehe strums is discreet and has a singularpurpose attached. Make no mistake,this is mood music. Ifthere werea reference point to be found, it wouldbe Loren Connors, though Higuchi iseven more restrained in his delivery.The only time he tends to get awayfrom his atmospheric sedation is duringGuitar #3, when he lets some electricityout of the bag. Otherwise, thisis as slow and purposefully sad as itgets. Wonderful landscapes are craftedfrom thin air and everything happensas if by magic.Rarely do you hear someone withthis much unspoken power in their instrumentas you do on this disc. Intimateplaying with an abundant degreeof reserve, this is guitar music forthose with an aversion to the guitar.Tom SekowskiPOT POURRIStroll in the CoolJesse Read, bassoon; MichaelStrutt, guitarSkylark SKY0604I have a confession to make. I am alapsed bassoonist.That in itself is hardly much of arevelation but it feels good to get it offmy chest, especially when reviewingthis very pleasant CD featuringVancouver bassoonist Jesse Readand guitarist Michael Strut!.Bassoonists have been busy expandingtheironce slim solo and smallensemble repertoire over the last fewdecades. For instance, Toronto 's CalibanQuartet of bassoonists has beenexploring new bassoon repertoiresince 1993 by commissioning composersand adding percussion, violin andsingers to their quartet. Jesse Readhas contributed to this seemingly globalfagott-istic project, championinglesser-known composers and commissioningnew works.Now these fine Vancouver musicianshave claimed new ground onfrontiers where the bassoon has nevergone before: Fado, that most Portugueseof musical genres, in additionto Brazilian and Cuban compositionsin evocative arrangements by theguitarist of the duo, Michael Strutt.If that wasn 't enough, to completethe album, the California-based composerGerry Long has provided deftarrangements of guitar works bythree composers well known in theclassical guitar world and active inthe 19th century: Spaniard FernandoSor, Italian Mateo Carcassi andthe French Napoleon Coste.Despite the disparate sources ofthese 30 individual pieces, the albumflows easily with musical good humour,charm, keen melodic sense anda remarkable consistency of mood.This of course is a tribute to the bassoonmastery of Jesse Read, whocarries the solo voice over the 64minute program with the virtuoso 'strump card - technical brilliance in theservice of heartfelt emotion. Can youtoo hear a hint of saudade in the firsttrack, a Facto by Moniz Pereira?I have listened to "Stroll in the Cool"a number times now and it has neverfailed to brighten an otherwise overcast,cold winter day.Andrew TimarSongs of GeorgiaZariIndependent Allowable Musics011 (www.zari.ca)WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COMComposed of Georgian-born ShalviaMakharasvili, Andrea Kuzmich andReid Robins, Zari (meaning 'bell ' inGeorgian) is a Toronto-based triowhich specializes in the traditionalchoral music of the various regionsof the Republic of Georgia. Only togetherfor a few years before recordingthese tracks, Zari has alreadydeveloped a timbrally andrhythmically cohesive and polishedensemble. This is even more remarkablefor the fact that one oftheir "tenors" is a woman: AndreaKuzmich.The music ranges from the crunchyhannonies typical of the Gurian people,to soft, floating liturgical songs, andencompasses the vigorous dance songGandagana from the S. W. Georgianprovince of Achara, with its morewestern-style harmonies and jauntyguitar strumming. No need to Googlethe CIA map website to track theGeorgian provinces whence each songoriginates, because the I iner notes helpfullyprovide it - very handy to cart-ophilessuch as myselfThe final selection, Chven Mshvidoba,categorised as a 'table song 'from Guria is a masterpiece of fastmoving three-part polyphony, eachvoice exhibiting extreme independence.It is hard to believe for a non­Georgian that such a complex musicaltexture is part of the oral folktradition, created and recreated withidiosyncratic florid variations each timethree or more Gurians meet to feast!Having reviewed Trio Kavkasia'sCD "The Fox and the Lion" here afew issues ago, and being wellaware ofToronto's first communityGeorgian choir, Darbazi, we wonderwhy the music of Georgia's on somany minds in recent years? Is itsomething in our Niagara wines?Andrew Timar

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