6 years ago

Volume 15 Issue 7 - April 2010

  • Text
  • April
  • Toronto
  • Concerts
  • Choral
  • Choir
  • Quartet
  • Jazz
  • Orchestra
  • Programme
  • Musical

Basso and other Toronto

Basso and other Toronto jazz luminaries for aCD release event at Jane Mallett Theatre onApril 16.Blue Skies for LovedayChristopher PlockIndependent CP 002( multipleinstrumentsincluding varioushorns, clarinet,flute, guitar andpercussion, forthe most partmulti-talentedChristopherPlock’s second release as a leader emphasizesthe musician’s abilities as a singer andsaxophonist. On this recording he “limitshimself” to vocals, woodwinds and congas,backed by a sublime band that includesEric Boucher on piano, Jack Zorawski onbass, Chris Lamont on drums, WilliamSperandei on trumpet and a particularlymemorable Kevin Vienneau on guitar. Guestsinclude Marcus Ali and trombonist RJSatchithananthan, who also contributes twospirited arrangements. The program: a dozenselections that vary from familiar standards(A Foggy Day, Paper Moon, Stardust) tosurprising selections, including a groovyrendition of Kenny Burrell’s Chitlins conCarne and an instrumental version of NeilYoung’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart.One track that isn’t really jazz (not thatthere’s anything wrong with that) is a coverof John Hiatt’s Feels Like Rain, deliveredwith ample heart. On all other vocal tracks,Plock’s crooning is effectively simple andsimply effective; he sings with measuredsentiment, musical phrasing and a solid swingfeel. Confident and especially convincing,I’ve Got the World on a String is a standoutamong the vocal cuts. Of the instrumentals,the Jersey Bounce is a straight-ahead bouncerthat’ll swing you to good health!Ori DaganHeavy Falls the NightElizabeth ShepherdDo Right Music DR041CD( Shepherd has a roving musicalspirit that has seen her move from playingsaxophone, to classical piano, to jazz piano,then add singing and songwriting to herconsiderablearsenal of skills.With her thirdalbum she haslanded on what canmost closely bedescribed as jazzfunk,but thereare tinges of allkinds of genres here. “Heavy Falls the Night”- as the name implies - has a somewhatdark, pensive feel to it, owing largely toShepherd’s fondness for minor keys andtightly-voiced, dissonant vocal harmonies.The opening track, What Else, sets theserious tone as it describes the frustration andpain of having a suicidal loved one. But thereare lighter musical moments too, such as thebreezy retro feel of Seven Bucks - reminiscentof KOOP - and High with its drums ’n’ bassundercurrent. Shepherd has a pretty, breathyvoice with Rickie Lee Jones influences,especially on A Song for Dinah Washingtonwhich is based on a poem by James Strecker.Her longtime bandmate Colin Kingsmore,is an inventive drummer and percussionist,while the lyrical bass work is dividedbetween Scott Kemp and Ross McIntyre. Thefinal track, Danny’s Song – yes the AnneMurray hit – ends the album on a note ofsweet incongruity that gives us a glimpse intoyet another side of Shepherd’s multi-facetedmusical personality.Cathy RichesConcert Note: The Elizabeth Shepherd Trioplays April 29 at the Mansion House inKingston and April 30 at House of Jazz inMontreal.Ranee Lee Lives UpstairsRanee LeeJustin Time JUST 230-2( multi-talentedBrooklyn-born,Montréal-basedsinger, actor,dancer, authorand televisionhost Ranee Lee isa recent recipientof the Order ofCanada (2006).Notably, she began her musical careertouring North America in the 1970’s as adrummer and tenor saxophonist. Wearingthe vocalist hat, Lee has always exhibiteda fervent loyalty both to the jazz traditionand its regal torch-bearers; captured live atMontréal’s premier jazz clubs UPSTAIRS,her 10th release on the Justin Time label isno exception.Recalling both Ella and Sarah, she hasselected a very effective, sympathetic rhythmsection that always supports and neveroverpowers her: Richard Ring on guitar,John Sadowy on piano, Morgan Mooreon bass and Dave Laing on drums. Theprogram is comprised mostly of love-themedstandards such as Beautiful Love, In LoveIn Vain and I Just Found Out About Love,spiced up by unique choices such as JamesTaylor’s Fire and Rain and Pat Metheny’sCrooked Road. One of the highlights is amedley from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bessthat starts tenderly with I Loves You Porgyand concludes memorably with a beautifullyphrased Summertime. The latter is a testamentto Lee’s artistry, as she takes admirable risks,playing with the song’s musical possibilitieswithout ever compromising its meaning. Thatthe audience reacts most enthusiastically toher original blues The Storm is a genuinecompliment. This recording is rightfullyamong the nominees for this month’s JunoAwards in the category of Best Jazz VocalAlbum.Ori DaganSpectrumMuhal Richard Abrams; Roscoe Mitchell;Janáček PhilharmonicMutable 17536-2www.mutablemusic.comVeteran Americanimprovisers,pianist MuhalRichard Abramsand saxophonistRoscoe Mitchellget a rareshowcase for theirnotated workson this notableperformance by the Janáček Philharmonicof the Czech Republic, conducted by PetrKotik. Surprisingly enough for two soundexplorers identified with the avant-gardeAssociation for the Advancement of CreativeMusicians (ACCM), both commissions,Abrams’ Mergertone, and Mitchell’s threepartNon-Cognitive Aspects of the City, usethe full resources of the orchestra to addlush, impressionistic colouration to the manyharmonies and timbres exposed.A fantasia, Mergertone does exactly whatthe title suggests, layering and contrastingmultiphonics. Moderato, it exposes individualinstruments as the theme advances. Poundingkettle drums, insinuations of Ragtime pianoplus marimba and xylophone clatter sharespace with cushioning strings, a slinky oboeline, pan-tonal horn parts and a smooth andsoothing tutti finale.Featuring the cultured tones of baritoneThomas Buckner, the Mitchell piece, initiallycomposed for his Art Ensemble of Chicagogroup, gains added gravitas from Buckner’sparlando, which mixes outright recitationwith a suggestion of plainsong. As thebaritone uses melisma to alter the lyrical line,orchestra cadenzas sympathetically sceneset, embellish and subtly follow the tempochanges. Chromatic massed reed flourishes,string undulations, metronomic pianopatterning and grace notes from the Frenchhorns also turn repeated phrasing from mereaccompaniment to partnership.As a prelude to the extended philharmonicperformances, the two composers unite onRomu, the CD’s first track, a brief, low-keyimprovisation.Ken Waxman58 www.thewholenote.comApril 1 - May 7, 2010

IT’s OuR JAZZBy Geoff ChapmanCanada owes Nanaimo, B.C. for raisingartists like Diana Krall and the JensenSisters for its national jazz team, a thoughtunderscored by Christine Jensen’s newestrecording, Treelines - Christine JensenJazz Orchestra (Justin Time JTR The leader,known more forher composingthan sax playing,has been basedin Montreal forsome time andhere recruits atop-flight 17-piece Quebecois band for herfourth recording as leader and first withorchestra. Within seconds of the opening tuneof eight lengthy, thoughtful and stunninglystylishcompositions (Dancing Sunlight)you’re thinking here’s the nation’s answerto America’s vaunted Maria Schneider unit– and when Ingrid Jensen’s dreamy, lyricaltrumpet solos starts you might well exclaim“it’s Kenny Wheeler”. In short, this is anastoundingly good album, one that surelywill be a 2011 Juno contender, with sevenJensen tracks including four describing B.C.tree types. Charts are often striking, sectionwork is sharp, subtlety abounds in the thickharmonies and there’s acres of room foreffective soloing – Joel Miller on sopranosax (Western Yew), Ingrid (Dropoff) and theboss herself on Seafever and by pianist SteveAmirault throughout. Curmudgeons mightsneer that there’s excessive sameness to thesemini-epics - ignore them.Want to keep the post-Olympic spirit?The latest disc from The Happy Palswho’ve reigned for years at Grossman’s onSpadina every Saturday afternoon, is all youneed. Folk are in fine fettle here, band andaudience both, enjoying music played overthe 6th annual two-day Kid Bastien ForeverKick-Ass Jazz Festival – Bastien, who diedin 2003, was chief Pal for more than 30years. Moonlight Bay (New Orleans Northcd-010 has 14 tracks,good old stuffwith most of theheavy performancelisting falling toPatrick Tevlin’sbrash trumpet andesteemed NewOrleans guestMichael White’sthrusting clarinet,with big assists coming from trombonistKid Kotowich and drummer Chuck Clarke.Enthusiastic, erratic vocals are spread aroundbut the jollity index stays high, with upbeatslams on Je Vous Aime, Everybody LovesSaturday Night and Dinah while there’ssurprising sophistication in their spin on I’llNever Smile Again.Four things make Del Dako’s My NewHat ( particularlydistinctive: It’s therecording debut asleader of vibesmanDako as opposedto baritone saxiststar Dako; theliner notes by JackChambers are justabout the best I’veever read; thedetermination of Dako to renew his careerhere is front and centre; and the choice ofrepertoire is extraordinary – such as thepurloining of Beethoven’s 7th Theme fromthe Seventh Symphony and the two versionsof avant pianoman Don Pullen’s Big Alicewhich suggest Ornette Coleman is on board.Perhaps it’s best just to say this is fascinatingjazz with a vibes sheen that underlines theuniqueness of it all. The music’s drawnfrom two sessions, both with drummer JeffHalischuk, one with guitarist Reg Schwager,pianist Bernie Senensky and bass DuncanHopkins, the other with rising star guitaristNathan Hiltz, bass Tyler Emond and reedmanAlex Dean, whose bass clarinet work isterrific.Pianist Norm Amadio has been around forever, still happily tinkling after more than sixdecades as a pro and that’s just one reasonwhy he’s so comfortable on Norm AmadioAnd Friends (Panda Digital, a classy, stylishtreatment of adozen songs(remarkably, sevenof them originalsby producerAndrew Melzer).As well as vocalistsMarc Jordan andJackie Richardson,Amadio’s buddiesinclude elegant-as-ever Guido Basso, PhilDwyer, Reg Schwager, and RosemaryGalloway plus, on three cuts, a string section.The result is top quality jazz, ornamentedwith unexpected zesty freshness. Catchynewcomers include I Love You That Way,Out Of The Cool and She Smiled. One oddity:Why was it necessary to include three tunesrecorded in 1966?Hungarian-bornpianist Attila Fiasseems to havedone it all duringa long musicalcareer - includingplaying, teachingand organizingall types of music– except make ajazz record though his work is on more than80 discs. He’s remedied that with Stories(ESPCD-101, 10original compositions supported by bass PatKilbride and drummer Richard Brisco. Agraduate of U of T’s jazz program, Fias –who on occasion is as fiery as countrymanRobi Botos – hews close to mainstream’score but he incorporates rich, rollingrhythms, elements of rock, country, classicaland ethnic genres and sometimes dips craftilyinto free jazz. The intricate Growth Cyclethreesome is the best of a bright lot.ExTENDED PlAY: NEw METhODsOf DIssEMINATIONBy Ken WaxmanProliferation of CD burners, sequencingand editing software and the exponentialgrowth of the Internet have opened up newpossibilities for disseminating music. This isespecially germane for improvised and otherminority sounds. By avoiding the expensesof mass distribution and manufacturing musiccan reach more interested listeners. Formulaehave been developed to do so and each ofthese fine sessions uses one.Rimouski, Quebec-based bassist/audioartist Éric Normand, who performs atSomewhere There this month, allowslisteners to download sounds from hiswebsite One exampleof this is Une Règle de Trois (Tour de Brastdbouebe002). A hand-drawn CD cover canbe downloaded aswell. Recordedlive, this is asuper-session ofsorts featuringcollaborationsamong improvisersfrom Rimouski,Montreal andMontpellier,France. Most of the sounds balance on steadycrunches and crackles from three turntablists,with wiggling flanges and flying spiccatoreprises from fiddler Catherine Massicotteand guitarist Christophe Devaux, plus puffsand bellows from Robin Servant’s diatonicaccordion. Normand adds aleatoric andagitato smacks bringing the discursive themein-and-out of aural focus, as the motordrivenclicks and clatters create a pedal pointfoundation.A more sophisticated version ofdownloadable CDs comes from the FrenchSans Bruit label. Featuring improviserspianist NoahRosen, trombonistYves Robertand bassistDidier Levallet,Silhouette (SansBruit only capturesthe trio live, butApril 1 - May 7, 2010 59

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