8 years ago

Volume 15 Issue 1 - September 2009

  • Text
  • September
  • Jazz
  • October
  • Toronto
  • Symphony
  • Musical
  • Colours
  • Trio
  • Orchestra
  • Theatre

eat by beat: jazzThe

eat by beat: jazzThe “Fall” of 2009By Jim GallowayIt’s not as bad as it sounds. It is, of course, the start of a new season.Goodbye to the festival merry-go-round and hello to September Song.It is interesting, albeit somewhat disheartening, to observe thedownward spiral in Toronto – and you can substitute almost all thecities in North America that had a reputation for being “jazz” centres– since the glory days when there were touring bands and a circuit ofclubs within driving distance which made it possible to go on the roadwith a group. There were places for musicians to hone their skills,and a recording industry in which the major labels at least paid lipservice to leaders such as Horace Silver, “Cannonball” Aderley andThelonious Monk, to name only a few. I can remember when TheCav-A-Bob, a club at the foot of Yonge Street, actually hired bandsfor a month at a time – bands that included such great jazz players as“Doc” Cheatham, Vic Dickenson, Rudy Powell, Red Richards andBuddy Tate!But the cutbacks kicked in, and a group which normally wouldhave been a sextet became a quintet, and the first musician to be leftat home would invariably be the bass player, unless, of course, hehappened to be the leader. Not much point in going to see the Mingusband if he wasn’t there! The economics of the business becametougher and eventually, instead of an organized group touring, individualartists would come to town and play with a local rhythm sectionfor a week, sometimes two weeks, until the week became maybeThursday through Saturday.Eventually all of those venues fell by the wayside and we are nowin a situation where a week-long engagement in a club just does notexist in this city. Today, the concert hall or festival stage has becomethe only way of seeing and hearing “name” performers. It is a fact oflife, and we have to accept it.So what is in store for Toronto jazz audiences this fall? Quite a lot,as a matter of fact, given the above realities. One of the big events isthe opening of Koerner Hall at the Royal Conservatory of Music, andon September 26 their first jazz concert will feature the Chick Corea,Stanley Clarke & Lenny White Trio with Sophie Milman opening forthe main attraction. This new venue is something the city has neededfor a long time, a custom-designed performance space with a capacityof just over 1,000 seats. It is beautifully designed, and if the acousticssound as good as the hall looks it will be a winner.Located across the street from the Roy Thomson Hall, Quotes Bar& Grill will get underway on September 18 with a new season ofFriday evening jazz from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. It’s the fourth year of presenting“Fridays at Five,” featuring the Canadian Jazz Quartet witha guest instrumentalist each week. Saxophone great Pat LaBarbera isthe featured guest for the launch. This club has really caught on withfans who like their jazz straight ahead and swinging and it’s a greatway to start the weekend.Looking ahead a little farther, on Thursday September 24 RoyThomson’s sister venue, Massey Hall, will present Ornette Coleman.His revolutionary musical ideas have been controversial and hisunorthodox manner of playing changed the way of listening to jazzfor a lot of people. His primary instrument is the alto saxophone,although he is also a violinist and trumpeter and began his playingcareer on tenor sax in an R&B band in his native Texas. He hasinfluenced almost all of today’s modern musicians and some of hiscompositions, such as Lonely Woman and Turnaround have becomeminor standards.The Home Smith Bar at TheOld Mill is becoming a littleoasis of jazz in the West Endof the city. Starting September11, a jazz vocal series calledFridays to Sing About! willrun every week from 7:30 to10:30 pm. Carol McCartneykicks it off with John Sherwoodon piano and Dave Young,bass. The following weeks willfeature Melissa Stylianou andHeather Bambrick. Meanwhile,the Piano Masters Series willcontinue on Saturdays, with thecream of local pianists in solo,duo or trio settings. It is a pianoplayer’s heaven because TheOld Mill, showing an admirablecommitment to their jazz policy,The Jazz Performance and EducationCentre presents A Tribute to LincolnAlexander on October 1.recently installed a new Yamaha C3 grand piano – and the musicianslove it!The Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander’s career is well documented:Canada’s first black Member of Parliament, observer to theUnited Nations, a Companion of the Order of Canada and LieutenantGovernor of Ontario from 1985 to 1991. But perhaps less publicizedis his great love of jazz. The Jazz Performance and Education Centre,(JPEC) is presenting A Tribute Evening to Lincoln Alexander onOctober 1 in the Glenn Gould Studio, featuring some of our leadingCanadian artists, including Archie Alleyne (drums), Peter Appleyard(vibes), Guido Basso (trumpet and flugelhorn), Russ Little (trombone),Joe Sealy (piano), and vocalists Arlene Duncan, Michael Dunstan,Molly Johnson and Jackie Richardson. Full details can be foundat It is a fitting tribute to a great Canadian.So you see, there is quite a lot of live jazz to hear in the comingweeks – and I’ve only mentioned a few of the venues in town.It’s true: “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be,” but “Nevertheless,”“The Music Goes Round And Round,” and even although Ican’t truly say “It’s All Right With Me,”“I Can Dream, Can’t I?” Ihope “Autumn Leaves” you with a good feeling, and that you willenjoy some jazz listening in the coming weeks. Just make sure thatsome of it is live. See Jazz Listings on p. 39.26 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM September 1 - October 7, 2009

eat by beat: bandstandStriking up the BandBy Jack MacQuarrieAs I return to the keyboard after my summer hiatus it was suggestedthat the WholeNote columnists focus on the significant new developmentswhich were anticipated for their beats in the coming weeks.In my case that meant what interesting musical happenings were onthe horizon for September and perhaps into October. After a briefand very unscientific survey of the community bands and orchestrasI came up cold. Not a single communiqué reached my mailbox to tellof an exciting musical event to herald the advent of the fall season.Similarly, telephone queries drew blanks.This doesn’t mean that our community groups are languishing insome sort of apathetic stupor. On the contrary, almost without exceptionthey are busy planning for a new season. However, for most,that season does not include any significant performances until wellinto the autumn, when leaves on the trees have started to changecolour. It’s the start of a new rehearsal season. That is the big event.By now, most ensembleswill have established theirschedule of regular concertsand may have come up witha basic framework of the sortof repertoire. In the comingmonths they’ll undoubtedlyadd extra performances as theyare invited to perform for aUxbridge Community Concert Band:Cecil Vanderwal, conductor SteffanBrunette and Baylee Wolfesberger.variety of functions. What isthe process of selecting the repertoire?Does the music directorperform that function in isolationor is it a committee decision? Are all members invited in on theprocess, or are they in the dark until the music appears in the concertfolders? In music selection how does one strike a balance betweenappeal to audiences and appeal to band or orchestra members? Weknow of one community group where those decisions rest almostsolely with the librarian. Who should decide? Why not establish arepertoire and programme committee for your group?Yes concert performances are important, but for most members,rehearsals fulfill an important social function. Rehearsal night is anevening out to make music with like-minded friends. This brings upthe matter of difficulty level. What difficulty level is appropriate forthe majority of group members? Should a rehearsal be simply anentertaining evening out to make music with friends or a challenge tothe musical abilities of the members?Should every concert have a distinctive theme, or just consist of abalanced, pleasing musical experience? While I have participated insome “themed” concerts, many, in my estimation, have fallen flatwith a jungle of disjointed works that don’t provide the audience withthe sense of a pleasant integration.Are guest performers desired? Certainly they are, if they enhancethe quality and variety of the experience for both the audience andthe band or orchestra members. To not have soloists would removefrom concert programmes a vast array of wonderful music featuringinstrumental and vocal soloists. On the other hand, what about visitingensembles? It’s not uncommon for community ensembles to inviteother groups to perform as guests. If this enhances the musical experience,that is fine. However, I know of more than one such occasionwhere the principal motive was to fill more seats with the familiesand friends of the visiting group. Musical merit was secondary.On the subject of rehearsals, my personal preference is for rehearsalsthat provide both a performance challenge and some pleasantmelodies to remain in my head as I wend my way home. I have someanecdotal memories of rehearsals in which I was involved coveringthe spectrum from excellent to appalling. Let’s start with two in theappalling category.The first occurred many years ago in a community symphonySeptember 1 - October 7, 2009 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM 27

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