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Volume 14 - Issue 7 - April 2009

JAZZ AND IMPROVIZEDTV

JAZZ AND IMPROVIZEDTV TrioJohn StetchBrux Records BRUX 14112(www .johnstetch.com)John Stetch was born in Edmonton, Albertaand was exposed to the sounds of jazz at anearly age through his father's record collection.He began as a reed player beforeswitching to piano, earned his Bachelor ofMusic degree in Montreal and built a reputationtouring across Canada before re-locatingto New York in 1993.For this CD John has chosen a dozen themesfrom TV shows and transformed them into jazzperformances. I have to make a confession.I was only familiar with six of them, (a prizeif you can guess which six), but that certainlydidn't prevent me from enjoying the music.John is extremely imaginative in his conceptsof the various themes and has techniquein abundance withwhich to express hisideas. Of the dozentitles only "TheFlintstones", whichJohn chose to put intothe minor, givingit a somewhat darkcharacter, has beenfrequently played by jazz musicians althoughon listening to this album it seems to methat, for example, "The Waltons" and "BugsBunny" and "The Mighty Hercules" couldwell be adopted by others.With the exception of" All My Children",which is a brief but beautiful solo piano performance,Stetch is ably supported by DougWeiss on bass and Rodney Green on drums.Jim GallowayLive at the Orbit Room - The Ultimate JamTony Monaco & his Toronto TrioChicken Coop CCP 7012(www.b3monaco.com)According to any dependable jazz cookbook,the recipe for a tasty live recording requiresan appetizing artist, a hungry audience and avenue that allows for passion to sizzle. Establishedin 1994, the unpretentiously hip OrbitRoom in Toronto's Little Italy is a happeninghang frequented by avid music lovers andmusicians alike. The upper level performancespace is armed with a B3 organ and offersnightly live acts including roots, R&B , rockand reggae, as well as jazz.On June 22nd of 2007, critically acclaimedColumbus, Ohio native jazz organist TonyMonaco played the Orbit Room as part ofthe TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival,joined by two of our city's extraordinaryresident jazz musicians: guitarist Ted Quinlanand drummer Vito Rezza. Supported generouslyby both Torontonians on this particularnight, Monaco's playing is rich with meatymusical chops and incontestable enthusiasm.The sidemen consistently listen, react and- ---- -------------------58enhance the musicalexperience. Quinlanis quintessentiallyon top of his game,delivering spiritedsolos that tell excitingstories and Rezzais not only supportive,but soulful. Onevery track, especially 'Sbout Time and SlowDown Sagg, the trio grooves contagiouslyand the audience eats it up. From appetizer todessert, "The Ultimate Jam" follows the liverecording recipe flawlessly. Let it be a modelfor capturing some of the delectable jazzentertainment served regularly in Ontario'scapital.Ori DaganAll'opera Profumo di ViolettaGianluigi TrovesiECM2068Emphasizing the streak of romanticism whichcharacterizes nearly every Italian instrumentalist- no matter how avant-garde - multiwoodwindplayer Gianluigi Trovesi interpretsa series of familiar operatic airs. Backedby the wind and percussion FilarmonicaMousike, the veteran improviser fashions anoriginal take on 17th, 18th and 19th Centurythemes by Monteverdi, Cazzati, Pergolesi,Verdi, Puccini, Rossini and Mascagni withoutjazzing up or burlesquing them.Making full use of the luscious crescendosand cushioning timbresavailable fromthe 54-piece orchestra,the only additionsare cellist MarcoRemondini andpercussionist StefanoBertoli to enhance therhythmic impetus.Taking the role of operatic vocalist, Trovesiproduces a fantastic series of glissandi, portamentoruns and just plain beautiful playing,using at different junctures all his horns -piccolo and alto clarinets plus alto saxophone.Nearly always playing legato, he emphasizesthe emotional and melodic undercurrents ofthese pieces without ignoring their poignantroots.Mixing world famous and obscure partsof the opera repertoire, these arrangementsinterweave the popular airs - which the clarinettisthas loved since his childhood near Bergamo- with improvisational freedom . Listenersfamiliar with standards such as Verdi's EPiquillo un be! gaglardo and Rossini's Largoal factotum will marvel at how Trovesi's reinterpretationsrefresh them. More remarkableis how well Trovesi's own compositions- such as Salterello amoroso with himspluttering smooth Johnny Hodges-liketimbres atop contrapuntal orchestra lines, orVesponse, a big-band swing piece enlivenedwith reed split tones and shrills - fit amongthese traditional tunes without disruption.Ken WaxmanWWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COMPaco PacoBill McBirnie Duo/QuartetIndependent EF04( www.myspace.com/billmcbirnieextremeflute)Anyone who has heard him knows that BillMcBirnie is a wonderfully gifted flautist. ThisCD finds him in the company of three of hisfavourite players on six of the twelve tracks,the others being duo performances with BernieSenensky.It is one of those CDs where I find it difficultto choose favourite numbers. The entirealbum is a joy to listen to, not only for Bill'sbeautiful playing, but, as one would expect,the musicality and sensitive contributionsfrom pianist Senensky, Neil Swainson onbass and drummer John Sumner.As is his wont, Bill has shown a preferencefor playing standards, ranging from KeithJarrett's My Song to Bright Mississippi,Thelonious Monk's variation on the changesof Sweet Georgia Brown via the hymn StandUp, Stand Up ForJesus which becomessomething of a marchfor Jesus! The oneexception to familiarmaterial, althoughfans of the Moe KoffmanQuintet mightremember it, is thealbum's title piece, a tour de force calledPaco Paco, composed by Bernie Senensky.I don't know how widely distributed thisrecording will be, but if you have troublefinding it you could send an e-mail tobillmcb@idirect.com. Say that Jim sent you!Jim GallowayEXTENDED PLAY:The "Other" Peggy LeeBy Ken WaxmanEstablished in Vancouver for nearly 20 yearsfollowing extensive musical study in her nativeToronto, Peggy Lee has become one ofthe most in-demand cellists in both improvisedand New music. Occasionally workingwith her husband, drummer Dylan van derSchyff, but more frequently on her own,Lee's string prestidigitation is prominent inmeetings with Canadian, American and Europeanmusicians.Recent discs show the range of her talents.Spiller Alley (RogueArt ROG-0016 www.rougart.com) features her as part of a triocompleted by Bay area saxophonist LarryOchs and New York koto player Miya Masoka. Meanwhile Escondido Dreams (DripAudio DA00206 www.dripaudio.com), is atrio with other Lower Mainlanders guitaristTony Wilson and saxophonist Jon Bentley.Wilson, Bentley and van der Schyff are alsoon the cellist's New Code (Drip Audio DA00318 www.dripaudio.com) along withother West Coast luminaries - trumpeter BradTurner; guitarist Ron Samworth, trombonistJeremy Berkman and electric bassist AndreAPRI L 1-- M AY 72009

Lachance. On Continuation (CryptogramophoneCG 140 www.cryptogramophone.corn), percussionist Alex Cline gathered asimilar group of California-based improvisers- violinist Jeff Gauthier, pianist MyraMelford, bassist Scott Walton to play histunes. Lee is the only non-American.Alex Cline's writing has an Asian feelto it. Scene-setting gong resonations colornearly every track, with Mel ford's winnowingharmonium drone sometimes adding tothe Far Eastern emphasis. Eclectic in execution,most of the compositions bounce fromnear-syrupy melodies usually advanced by thefiddler, to modern swing propelled by thumpingbass and the pianist's dynamic patterning.In between, Lee's malleable timbres joinwith Gauthier's brusque lines for thematicelaboration, or add staccato runs and spiccatojumps to advancethe rhythm. Onthe Bones of theHomegoing Thunderis the mostspectacular tune. Itmanages to wrapan exposition andrecapitulation oftemple bell peals and mournful cello runsaround walking bass lines, kinetic pianoruns plus string-clipping and triple-stoppingfrom cello and violin.Lee's octet CD is less formalized, thoughno less eclectic, but democratic in its soloing.Both guitarists are partial to folksy twangs aswell as Hard Rock-like distortions; the hornsproduce R&B-like vamps plus processionalharmonies; Turner on flugelhorn is the languidmelodist; and van der Schyff constantlypumps parts of his kit. Meanwhile the cellistpersonalizes the material. On Tug her angledsweeps tug apart into spikier runs the horns'ceremonial grace notes. On Not a Wake UpCall flanged and distorted guitar licks shatterinto jagged and ricocheting slurs as Lee'sspiccato multiphonics help gentle the themeso that it runs into the calming Floating Island- complete with muted trumpet - whichfollows. Dealing with a tune as familiar asBob Dylan's All I Really Want To Do, hermordant modalinterjections halta conventional,C&W-styledreading, andencourage agitatohorn shrills ontop of Byrds-likeguitar strummingand a vocalizedsaxophone obbligato.Bentley's woodwind arsenal has morespace on "Escondido Dreams", provingadept at both speedy and languid tempi.Man and Dog plus Monkey Tree/Just Storiesdemonstrate this. On the first, the saxophonistdefines the Impressionistic theme, alongwith Lee's cello obbligato. After descriptiveunison passages first with the cellist, thenAPRIL 1 - MAY 7 2009with the guitarist,sax trills dovetailinto slurs as Wilsonstrums mandolinlikechords and Leesweeps across thesound-field. Tougherand animated, the latteris a roller coasterof a tune built on contrapuntal reed bites andelectrified guitar interjections. Following araucous call-and-response section, the guitarist'schromatic patterning and Lee's spiccatoruns reintroduce the note-dangling theme.Veteran Ochs uses more advancedtechniques than Bentley on "Spiller Alley",while the multi functions of Masaoka'smany-stringed koto negate the need fordrums. Ironically, despite the textures of thevenerable Japanese instrument, and unlike"Continuation", this CD has almost no Asianreflections. Expert in rasgueado and chromatics,Masaoka treats her koto as if it is acombination harp, 12-string and six-stringguitar. Bringing out node striations as wellthe sounds of the notes struck - as does Lee- the string duo attaches and detaches timbresto mutate the program as Ochs enlivenshis work with wide octave jumps, staccatoblasts and circular breathing. Climaxing thesession during the 18 minute title tune, thethree criss-cross each other's lines and runs,off-setting or cushioning when needed. WithOchs peeping and shrilling arpeggios, Masaokaunleashes a torrent of cascading tones andLee exposes multistringruns. Thecumulative consequenceshowcasesimperfectly formed ~l'ILtEII ALLE\but not unpleasant,textures from each.Operating in triplecounterpoint, blurryinteraction comes into focus, with theend result trilled, swept and resonated into astripped-down mutual rapprochement.While each musician's skill melds toproduce these notable CDs, each would beunthinkable without Lee's talents and interactiveexpertise.POT POURRIBataclan!Denis Plante; Mathieu Lussier; CatherinePerrinATMA ACD2 2581I almost fell off my chair when I began tolisten to the opening track from this newrelease. Astor Piazzolla's Libertango is afamiliar work - I've heard the late great bandoneonist/composerperform it, I own his recordingof it, I've played it and a number ofmy students play it - but I have never heardit like this! Harpsichordist Catherine Perrinplays the familiar melody with such aplombthat my interest is tweaked though I'm aWWW. THEWHOLENOTE .COMlittle confused about the instrumentation.Gradually the other two instrumentalistsbandoneonist Denis I 'Plant, and bassoonist/earlymusicspecialist MathieuLussier join in, andthe stage is set forsome fascinating albeitat times totallyodd tracks of Latinflavoured originals and covers.The experimentation with instrumentationis the key here. Both Plante and Lussierare composers too. Their contribution ofpieces here are the most successful tracks.Lussier' s Fantaisie is a strong, wistful workthat walks the thin line of popular and classicalmusic in its contrapuntal writing. Tangoa los Nisenson from Plante's "Le tombeaud' Astor" is a comically tongue in cheek takeon tangos. Both composers act as arrangerstoo, with their takes on Piazzolla, Villa­Lobos, Ayala and Falu respectable though notas intriguing as their own works.Even though the performances and productionqualities are superb, the instrumentalgrouping results in an odd timbre,and the occasional thin sound. This aside,"Bataclan!" is worth a listen to hear smartmusicians experiment intelligently.Tiina KiikOLD WINE IN NEW BOTTLESFine Old Recordings Re-releasedBy Bruce SurteesThanks to the readers who wrote about lastmonth's column in which I said WBEN-FMis the choice of musical lovers in our area.I meant WNED-FM at 94.5 or on their website.A pleasant surprise on Great Voicesof the Golden Age (Medici Arts DVD,EDV1333) was the opportunity to see Dutchsoprano Gre Brouwenstijn (1905-1999) singingWagner. Two songs from the Wesendonck-Liederare followed by Isolde's Liebestod,recorded live in 1969 during a concert inParis conducted byCharles Bruck. Shepossessed a rich voice,an Ingrid Bergman-likecountenance and a stagepresence that togetherattracted conductorsKlemperer, Karajan,Beecham and others. Iwish there were morefrom her on this discwhich includes Gundula Janowitz, IrmgardSeefried, Galina Viishnevskaya, Rita Streichand Christa Ludwig.Christa Ludwig has an excellent DVDcontaining Die Winterreise and part of a MozartMaster Class (Arthaus DVD 102147).Schubert's song cycle which is set to the twocycles by Wilhelm Millier is an astonishing59

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