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Volume 18 Issue 4 - December 2012

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • December
  • Theatre
  • Jazz
  • January
  • February
  • Arts
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  • Concerts

Emma Segalof the busiest

Emma Segalof the busiest nights of the year for musicians — New Year’s Eve. It paidat least double scale and very few musicians sat at home wonderingwhy they didn’t have a gig. Now most players do sit at home withtheir memories of gigs galore in days gone by. I have one funny, if atthe time a bit embarrassing, recollection of the night at the MontrealBistro when we had the count down to midnight and everybody wasready to sing Auld Lang Syne — and I launched into Happy Birthdayto You!New year is, of course also the time for New Year’s resolutions.Personally I don’t bother with them. If I’m going to resolve to try anddo something, or change certain habits, why wait until the end ofDecember? Do whatever it is no matter what time of year it is. Afterall it’s just as easy to break a resolution made in the middle of Julyas it is at the New Year when it might be made under the affluenceof incohol!But I have a couple of wishes for other people and I’m quite preparedto wait until January 2013 or even later:I wish that jazz audiences would resolve not to talk loudly in a clubwhile the music is being played. You are being rude and insensitive tothe musicians and the people around you.And I wish some wealthy patron would come along and donatedecent pianos to several of the venues around town. My heart goes outto the talented pianists in this town who, over the years, have had tostruggle with out of tune pianos, broken strings and keys. It’s a pipedream I know, but as the song goes I Can Dream Can’t I.Mind you, the latter isn’t a problem that exists only here. I rememberan occasion when I was touring with that wonderful pianist,Ralph Sutton. The town was in the north of England and the pianowas almost unplayable. Now Mr. Sutton for the most part was an easygoingagreeable character, but he did have a fuse which in certaincircumstances was on the short side and I could see his anger risingas he did his best on this terrible apology for an instrument. We struggledthrough to the end whereupon Ralph, who was physically a verystrong man, reached into the piano and pulled out handfuls of hammersand strings while saying with relish, “No other poor bastard willever have to play this piece of shit!On the subject of resolutions I’ll leave the last word to OscarWilde — “Good resolutions are simply cheques that men draw on abank where they have no account.”Have an enjoyable and safe festive season and may it continue intothe new year.Happy listening.Jim Galloway is a saxophonist, band leader and formerartistic director of Toronto Downtown Jazz.He can be contacted at jazznotes@thewholenote.com.Beat by Beat | In the ClubsFirst Bass?ORI DAGANThe fascinating thing about jazz — and life itself — is that onenever knows where it’s going. One of Toronto’s finest and mostestablished jazz pianists, Richard Whiteman is set to celebrate therelease of his eighth recording. The big surprise? This time, he playsthe bass.“My career as a bassist startedduring a photo shoot in my backyardin the summer of 2003 withBrandi Disterheft and drummerSly Juhas. I held Brandi’s basswhile she made a makeup/hairadjustment. Although I couldn’tplay the thing, I was fascinatedand said to myself, “This is cool!”Two weeks later I bought aninstrument at George Heinl andCo. and started taking lessons.”Whiteman’s greatest challenge?“Merely learning how to playthe instrument,” he says. “I havedone a lot of slow repetitivepractice over nine years to get areasonable technique. Playing intune is paramount.” (Charmingly,in the new recording’s liner noteshe thanks his life partner BevLegg “who has had to endure nineyears’ worth of daily arco practicing.Love is not only blind; it isdeaf.”) On that note: “Playing theRichard Whiteman.bass has improved my musical ear. Unlike a fixed pitch instrumentlike the piano where the player has merely to press a key and a soundwill be generated, a string player has to really hear a note before playingit and then stop the string at an exact spot on the fingerboard — notan easy task. My overall musicianship has improved.”The new album, On Course, is an enjoyable straight-ahead jazzaffair seasoned by tasteful choices not only in repertoire but also inpersonnel. Whiteman explains:“There is no concept for the CD except, perhaps, ‘Songs I like performedby musicians I like.’ I’m very impressed by Amanda Tosoff’spiano-playing and am pleased to showcase her. She gets a lovelysound out of the instrument, paces her improvisations intelligentlyand burns with a lot of fire when needed. Master guitaristReg Schwager is a brilliant soloist and the best possible accompanist.Morgan Childs plays the drums with great energy, spirit and musicaltaste. Tosoff is a prolific jazz composer and we recorded two of hertunes. The other songs, by writers like Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, DukeEllington and Billy Strayhorn, are timeless and beautiful. You’d haveto be deaf to the beauties of the Western tonal system NOT to likethis material.”Peruse our In the Clubs (Mostly Jazz) listings section (page 64)andyou will find that Whiteman still plays plenty of piano, leading a quarteton Monday nights at Gate 403; he also plays with the HogtownSyncopators at the Rex on Fridays from 4-6pm.“I don’t have the time to learn another instrument, but I would liketo take a few voice lessons so I can use an instrument that doesn’tinvolve gear, automobiles and heavy lifting,” says Whiteman, drollyadding, “I certainly have the ego for it.”Richard Whiteman’s bass quartet celebrates On Course by playingthe early evening slot every Thursday in December at the Rex at6:30pm.In the Clubs continues on page 6436 thewholenote.com December 1 – February 7, 2013

Beat by Beat | BandstandRing in the NewJACK MACQUARRIEIt’s that time of year again. As of this writing there has only beenone light dusting of snow, but the merchants have been promotingtheir super special Christmas offerings since sunrise on the dayafter Halloween. Unlike some other times of the year, when we are ona quest for community ensemble news, ourmail bag is filled to the brim with informationDaniel Warren, conductoron Christmas concerts and other initiatives. Byof the Wellington Winds.the time this issue is off the presses, alas, someof these will have already passed into the historybooks. Having said that, whether over orjust ahead, several of these offerings representa pronounced shift in the “same old” repertoireselected for the Christmas season, andare therefore worthy of comment.The Repertoire Bandwagon: While thereare still some Christmas carols and moremodern fare like Rudolf and Frosty theSnowman in these programs, there is muchmore depth in many, including transcriptionsfrom the baroque and classical periods. There are also featuredsoloists on less likely instruments. Here are three early examples ofthis trend, one just over, two just ahead: the Plumbing Factory BrassBand (PFBB) from London (November 28), the Markham ConcertBand (December 2) and the Wellington Winds from Waterloo (alsoDecember 2). If their offerings are any indication of things to come inthe community band world, they are most welcome. Bring on the seasonalconcerts.The feature number of the Markham Band’s December 2 concert is amodern concert band arrangement of The Nutcracker, complete withKate Kunkel as guest harpist. If you are in a band looking for new repertoire,this arrangement is worthwhile, but not for the faint of heart.If the band doesn’t have at least one competent bassoonist, don’t considerthis. The Markham Band also has the brass quintet from theNavy’s HMCS York Band as guests.Rather than produce a Christmas concert per se, The PlumbingFactory’s director, Dr. Henry Meredith, has continued with hisapproach of thematic programming with “Dances of Many Times andPlaces.” Like one of his previous offerings of marches through theages, this November 28 program featured a broad spectrum of dances.On the fast-paced side it included Smetana’s Dance of the Comediansand Manuel de Falla’s pyrotechnical Ritual Fire Dance, along withRossini’s tarantella, La Danza, Chopin’s “Minute” Waltz, and Bizet’sFarandole from L’Arlesienne Suite #2. For a totally different perspectiveon “the dance,” The Plumbers also premiered two Victorian eraCanadian dances with Ontario connections: The Burlington Polkaand the Cayuga Two Step, published as solo piano editions in 1851and 1906 respectively, and heard for the first time in over 100 years asarrangements for brass band by PFBB tuba player, Dave Pearson. Oneof their soloists was euphonium player, Terry Neudorf who broughthis well-travelled vogelJoy ensemble to accompany his variations onMy Grandfather’s Clock.For their program on December 2 at 3pm, Wellington Winds havedecided on a significant component of baroque music, but havechosen selections that are still seasonal. These include the AlfredReed arrangement of Bach’s Wachet Auf, Phillip Gordon’s version ofa Corelli Concerto Grosso, a Vivaldi Concerto in D major for Guitarand a Scott Amort transcription of Weber’s Concerto in F minorfor Clarinet. More contemporary seasonal works include Holst’sChristmas Day (original for brass), the Robert Smith arrangements ofHolst’s In the Bleak Midwinter and Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia onGreensleeves, and James Curnow’s Christmas Fancies.More than a concert: Although we are looking forward to a concertof excellent music, the Wellington Winds afternoon will be muchmore than a concert. It will be the launch of a major initiative; thefirst of its kind that we have heard of anywhere in Canada. The bandwill be previewing their DVD/YouTube channel/online teaching guideproject. Ultimately they hope to have as many as 100 Canadian bandworks on the site, some as full video, but most as sound only clips.The intent and hope is that this project will be a resource for all bandpeople in Canada. They hope that the whole project will be as usefulas possible for high school band teachers to engage their students inthe conversation about making music performance a permanent partof their lives.This project was achieved with the aid of significant public fundingfrom the Ontario TrilliumFoundation. Hopefully, in the nottoo distant future, the foundationwill see that not just the WellingtonWinds, but all of our communitybands, deserve similar funding fromthe foundation.Our hats are off to the WellingtonWinds for this remarkable initiative.I am looking forward to producing acomprehensive review of this projectin the next issue of The WholeNote,after I have seen the presentation atthe concert, watched the DVD, seensome of the YouTube content andbrowsed the teaching guide. In the meantime, ask Mr. Google to takeyou to the Wellington Winds home page, watch an interview withHoward Cable and sample some of the content already there.Of the other concerts planned for the holiday season, that of theFestival Wind Orchestra in Toronto offers another departure fromwhat we normally expect. Keith Reid, their conductor tells us that thetheme is “Russian Christmas Music.” Again we have Tchaikovsky’sDecember 1 – February 7, 2013 thewholenote.com 37

Volume 26 (2020- )

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