8 years ago

Volume 13 - Issue 9 - June 2008

and includes drummer Tom

and includes drummer Tom Rainey andtenor saxophonist Tony Malaby. On StrangeUnison (Radio Legs RL 013www, while the threeinterlock instrumentally, Helias' bass neverthelessset the pace, with resonations rangingfrom traditional slap bass to staccatissimoruns. Master of understatement, Raineyblunts the backbeat, relying on cymbal cracksand cross-pulsating drags. Skirting atonalitywith flutter tonguing and pressurized overblowing,Malaby digs into each composition.Silent Stutter, for example, finds him masticatinghard and heavy slurs into clusterswhich are subsequently expelled as foghornblats. In contrast, Blue Light Down the Lineis taken mid-tempo. As the bassist's walkingis succeeded by mercurial stopping, Malabybuilds concentrated phrases. Soon physicalityis replaced by moderato coloration as timbrespuffed by the saxophone are doubledwith arco swipes.Another vibrant improvisedmusic scene isChicago's, spearheadedby reedist Ken Vandermark,a frequentCanadian visitor. Likeother established players,Vandermark mentorsyounger players,one of whom is bassclarinetist Jason Stein.A Calculus of Loss(Clean Feed CF 104 CDwww, demonstrateswhat Stein can do on his own, backed byKevin Davis's cello and Mike Pride's percussion.As cohesive as the other groups here, oneof the trio's advantages is that Davis takeseither the front-line guitar or rhythm-sectionbass role. The other is that Pride's percussionincludes resonating vibraphone tinctures,cantilevered cymbal patterns plus standarddrum beats.Compositions such as Caroline and Samand That's Not a Closet confirm the three areas comfortable with New music as newSwing. Balanced on vibraphone reverberationsand scratched cello strings, the formerconnects a near-madrigal melody with extendedtechniques as Stein sounds an intractablephrase in his body tube ignoring keymovement. Based on mood, rather thanrhythm, the result is contemplative withoutsinking to lugubriousness. On the otherhand, That's Not ... is sprightly enough tosuggest mainstream swing, although Stein'sroistering coloratura lines alternating withjagged runs aren't a standard scenario. Melodious,variations moderate the pace so Davis'plinks and Pride's cymbal pops are audiblein its resolution.Some of these players may be on stagethis month; others may take a while to visitthe area. All are worth hearing.Concert Note: The Evan Parker Trio (withBarry Guy and Paul Lytton) plays the Music58Gallery on June 27.POT POURRIWingsNEXUSIndependent NEXUS 10915(www contemporarymusic fans,NEXUS has longbeen considered oneof the world's premierepercussionensembles - andthey have beenmaking music of thepercussive persuasionfor an astonishing 37 years.I think I just may be dating myself whenrelating that I attended some of their earlymemorable all-improvised concerts of theearly 1970s, but skimming through their 25item discography serves as a reminder ofNEXUS' insatiable musical appetites. Itreveals an astonishingly wide range of musicalinterests: from orchestral works, to early20th century novelty tunes, to an album withjazz pianist and composer Gil Evans.The music on Wings, the newest additionto their CD catalogue, yet again proves tocover much intriguing musical ground.At the heart of the album are seven songsin popular Western idioms composed by theprolific Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu,and arranged for percussion ensemble byvarious Nexus members. The fascinatingTakemitsu (1930-1996), created hundreds ofworks for the concert hall, movies and itseems more than a few pop songs. Accordingto conductor Seiji Ozawa "Toru Takemitsu.. . is the first Japanese composer to writefor a world audience and achieve internationalrecognition." He also found time to writea detective novel, plus he must be one ofvery few serious composers who have appearedfrequently on Japanese television as acelebrity chef!The NEXUS song arrangements and performanceson Wings are deft, warm andaffecting. By turns infused with acousticlight: delicate and resonant bells (in Sakura);and darkness: funerary drumming in All Thatthe Man Left Behind When He Died, they runthe gamut of human experience and emotion.The CD closes on an ecstatic note with itsmost substantial composition, RussellHartenberger's two-movement Telisi Odyssey.I'm not sure how, but the composermanages to mystically merge Ghanaian withSouth Indian musical rhythms and melodicelements.Andrew TimarTango NotturnoIsabel Bayrakdarian; Serouj KradjianTango EnsembleCBC Records MVCD 1176WWW, THEWHOLENOTE, COMThe musical partnershipof SeroujKradjian and IsabelBayrakdarian embodiesthe marriageof musical genius,virtuosity, passionand a diverse andeccletic and highlyengaging range ofstyles. Here they celebrate Tango music inall its dark and glorious sensuality, danger,drama and bittersweet sentiment in a recordingwith standard favorites as well as somesurprising and exotic offerings. They includeselections by the famed masters CarlosGarde! and Astor Piazzola, Jacob Gade (theDanish composer of the classic Jealousy) aswell as Egyptian Fareed El-Atrache, andArmenian Arno Babadjanian.While some selections reflect traditionalstyles and the development into forms suchas the milonga, others illustrate not only thespread of the tango internationally, but alsoits influence in film and cabaret. Kurt Weil'sYoukali and Piazzola's Rinascero share similarthemes: a longing for escape and renewal.Bayrakdarian handles these transitions fromplayfulness to brazenness to despair andlonging with her great range of expressiveness,while the ensemble, led by Kradjianwhose arrangements along with bandoneonplayer Fabian Carbone's are superb, offersthe intelligence, virtuosity and complexitythat this music embodies.Dianne WellsThe Art of Early Egyptian QanunGeorge Sawa; Suzanne Meyers Sawa; RaymondSarwehIndependent(www is a thoroughlylovely compilation/tribute album to theqanun, featuringmusic that spansover two centuriesdating back to Ottomon's court, andincluding EgyptianSufi sacred dancesas well as early 20th Century Egyptian dances. Local Arab music veteran and singularauthority, George Sawa performs on a restoredperiod psaltery dating back to the late1800's. He is deftly accompanied by RaymondSarweh and Suzanne Meyers Sawa.They complete the soundscape with a consortiumof percussive instruments made of animalsskins, wood, clay and brass.The qanun has an unusually impressiverange, spanning three and a half octaves.The last track on the ablum, Khamsa Sa 'idi isa set of five traditional Upper Egyptian songsand dances. They showcase the versatility ofthe instrument while at times allowing thelistener to reflect with the punctuatedjinglejangleof tambourines centre stage.j UNE 1 - J ULY 7 2008

Track three, Tribute to Mohammed AliStreet Composers, includes a spell-bindingmelange of Sawa's own improvisations andadaptations of anonymous traditional tunes.My favourites are tracks 4, 6, and 8.These pieces harken to 17th century instrumentalpreludes. Their neatly structuredsequences recall the intricate patterns andmathematical geometry of a mandala. Youcan hear the contrast to the later works intheir measured pace, and the melodies seemto confine themselves to the soothing lowerregisters. All of these pieces literally mademe want to get up and dance - in fact, I diddance, and I hope you will too!Heidi McKenzieEXTENDED PLAY - The One Percent SolutionBy Cathy RichesHow does the saying go? "Genius is onepercent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration"or something like that. But when itcomes to creative pursuits, that little onepercent can be what elevates a work from themundane to good craft or even, dare I say it,art. This month, we have several fine examplesof what a muse can do .Karrin Allyson isone of the finestjazz singers workingtoday, and alongwith a handful ofothers - like CassandraWilson andHolly Cole - shelooks beyond thestandard songbookfor repertoire. Her innovative 2004 release"Wild for You" drew on pop and folk musicfrom the 70s and for this latest disc, Imagina- Songs of Brasil (Concord Jazz CCD-30428), Brazil is the inspiration. She appliesher soft, appealingly gravelly voice to a collectionof lesser-known Brazilian tunes, mostlybossa novas written by the master, Jobim.But other styles and composers are coveredhere too, and being a sucker for an accordion,the standout for me is the title track, withits European feel. Her usual stellar backingcrew, featuring Gil Goldstein on piano andaccordion and Rod Fleeman doing gorgeousguitar work, once again plies its jazz sensibilityto add freshness to well-established musicstyles without veering too far from the essenceof what makes Brazilian music socompelling. Mario Ochoa looked to his Cuban heritageand heart for Momentos Cubanos(LMOCD-3 is bestknown for his ninepiecedance band/?J,tc,,.,u;~,£:-­Cimarr6n, but for~,,{;,_,."Jthis disc he roundedup just a handful ofhis compafieros -la crema de la cremaof Cuban-Torontomusicians - tomake a more intimaterecord. For this outing Hilario Duranjoins Ochoa's quintet: David Virelles onpiano, Paco Luviano on bass, the ubiquitousLuis Orbegoso and Jorge Luis Torres onpercussion, with Ochoa handling the guitarwork and adding his strong, emotive tenor tothe vocal tunes. A handful of the tracks areinstrumentals - the most notable being thebreezy title track - and are classic Cuban(no hip hop or other urban styles here), with afew nods to Brazil and Peru. With the lyricsbeing sung in Spanish, English-speakers mightanticipate feeling a little in the dark, butOchoa is such an expressive singer, no translationsare necessary. We get it.www America andparticularly the 50thanniversary ofbossa nova, are thesources of inspirationfor Riding onthe 65 brought tous by the talentedbunch of peopleknown as Shirley,.!{i;li,l 1111 ill" 6SEikhard (Shirley Eckhard MusicSEM2008). Lyricist, composer, singer, guitarist,keyboardist, bass player, percussionist,producer - Eikhard has once again doneit all on this disc. As amazing a feat as thatis, the lack of other musicians means songsare sometimes not given the treatment theydeserve. Specialists can add expertise andvariety that is especially needed here onpercussion, given the Afro-Caribbean bent ofthis record. But no matter. Eikhard's warm,throaty vocals and strong songwriting transcendthe shortcomings, especially on thebeautiful Following Your Footprints, So Beginsthe End of the Affair, and the fun Crazyfrom the Heat. would havethought Robert LouisStevenson, the 19thcentury poet, wouldbe the source for a2008 jazz recording?Mandy Lagan,that's who. Lagan isa Toronto-basedsinger, composerand educator who collaborated with a numberof other composers, chiefly David Occhipinti,to produce Verses (ML06CD) . Occhipintialso co-produced much of the album and hisstunning guitar work is a strong presencethroughout the disc. Many of the musiciansare from the jazz world - Nancy Walker onpiano, Andrew Downing on bass, cello andharmonium, Kevin Turcotte on trumpet, RossWooldridge on clarinet - but there are alsotouches of folk , classical, Celtic, and perhapseven a little Bartok, so it all adds up to anoriginal and category-defying album. Forsome composers, setting to music poems thatweren't originally intended to be songs wouldbe a big challenge. But Lagan, Occhipinti andcompany have seamlessly wedded the twoforms, devising tunes that artfully evoke theideas in the poems. This is grown-up, harmonicallyrich and complex music that doesfull justice to the imaginative poetry it'sbased on. RichesConcert Notes: Luis Mario Ochoa playswith the quintet June 23 at the Pilot Tavernand July 17 at Hotel Le Germaine. MandyLagan plays the Markham Jazz FestivalAugust 17.Insert your brochure,flyer or rack card intoWholeNote ...Get your promotionalmaterial into the handsof the people whomatter. Call for rates:advertiser discountsavailable.416-323-2232 x28] UNE 1 - ] ULY 7 2008WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE. COM59

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