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Volume 18 Issue 4 - December 2012

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he is highly regarded by

he is highly regarded by his peers and hisfellow musicians. Tom Hazlitt and KevinCoady provide a sympathetic and tastefulaccompaniment.Like many CDs today this is an independentproduction so if you are interested inpurchasing it please contact harvemuse@yahoo.ca.—Jim GallowayThe Golden YearsTrapistStaubgold Digital 19www.staubgold.com!!Although no onewould ever confusethe improvisationson this CD withecclesiastical plainsong,the fact that thisCanadian/German/Austrian trio’s namesuggests the Trappistorder, implies the deferential skill it bringsto the music. Not only do the three playerscunningly negotiate the boundaries betweenjazz improvisation, rock beats and electronicinterface, but like monks in that order whichdiscourages speech, this compelling programincludes as many lucid and protracted pausesas measured instrumental timbres.Over the course of four mesmerizingtracks, Vancouver-born bassist JoeDavid Virelles arrived in Toronto in2001 at 17, the protégé of Jane Bunnettwho has helped in so many ways totake Cuban music to the world. Virellesreceived the first Oscar PetersonPrize at Humber College fromPeterson himself, then wonthe Grand Prix de Jazz award atthe 2006 Montreal Jazz Festival.Since moving to New York in2009, he’s been studying andworking with adventurous musicianslike Steve Coleman and HenryThreadgill. Virelle’s first Americanrelease as a leader, Continuum(Pi Recordings 46 www.pirecordings.com),is a brilliant stepforward — an exploration of Afro-Cuban ritual elements in whichhis sometimes pensive, sometimesexplosive improvisationsare framed by poet and percussionistRomán Diaz, whose poems are inSpanish and African-derived ritual languages.The music is rooted by bassist Ben Street andgiven further dimension and sonic potencyStuart BROOMERWilliamson’s steadying thumps are advancedwith the same sort of electronic delays andmodulations as German-born guitarist MartinSiewert brings to his slurred fingering, whichis already distorted and processed. Plus theinventive slaps, flams and drags from Austrianpercussionist Martin Brandlmayr are only aspronounced as needed to keep the programbalanced. Ambidextrous or overdubbed, heexpands the basic tripartite sound generationwith piano riffs or vibraphone reverbwhen needed.Filtering out extraneous timbres throughout,Trapist reaches a climax of sorts on TheSpoke and the Horse when perfectly timedtwanging guitar licks, a juddering bass lineand emphasized drum rolls blend with thecrackling and grinding voltage undercurrentfor a satisfying rhythmic exposition.Meanwhile, bass and drums harmony isexpanded with sensitive vibe colouration anddense, signal-processed buzzing. Finally, afterfolksy guitar strums and metronomic bassstops are paired with processed sequencesthat could be telephone dial tones or aviarytwitters, the final track incorporates theintimation of waves lapping against the seashore.A similar resonance was heard on thefirst track, bringing the program full circle.Additionally this CD confirms how wide asonic spectrum can result when electronicsare put in the service of intelligent interminglingof a minimum of instrumental textures.—Ken Waxmanby the great drummer Andrew Cyrille, whobrings both Haitian ancestry and jazz lineageto the sessions. In a world where merepiano chops are common, Virelles’Continuum demonstrates real depthand vision.Al Henderson rarely pusheshis bass out front but it’s hardto overlook his presence as abandleader and a composer,creating music withindependent harmonic structures,a keen sense of voicings, memorable linesand real passion. His latest CD Taiga(Cornerstone CRST CD 138www.cornerstonerecordsinc.com), named for the Northernboreal forest, is steeped in thetraditions of Mingus and Monk(Martian Jump is pure Monk)whether it’s hard-driving or weirdlyatmospheric — like Croaking Ravenwhich comes with Newfoundlandbird tapes, eerie bass clarinet and a recitationof Poe. Henderson is armed with A-listsaxophonists — Pat LaBarbera on tenor andAlex Dean on alto, tenor and bass clarinet,and there are appearances on some tracks bybaritone specialist David Mott — and the threemake up a superb Ellingtonian reed choir onHenderson’s Portrait of Billy Strayhorn.Brandi Disterheft is another standout bassist,with a deep resonant sound of her ownand a deft hand at constructing supportivelines and emotionally direct solos. She alsohas a knack for creating good groupchemistry and well-craftedCDs, beginning withthe Juno-winningDebut in 2006. OnGratitude (Justin-Time Just 247), she’sassembled a first-rateNew York band thatshe uses to excellenteffect. It’s a group withsoulful depths, withtransplanted Canadianpianist Renee Rosnescoming to the foreon Disterheft’s Bluesfor Nelson Mandelaand the horns — altosaxophonist VincentHerring and trumpeterSeanJones — soundingterrific on Rosnes’anthemic postbopMizmahta.Disterheft also singson a couple of tracks,including the soulclassic Compared toWhat, in a light,musical way that’sa fine complementto her instrumentalabilities.First formedas a sextet in1998 and now anoctet, the PeggyLee Band has analmost magical capacityfor musicalsynthesis, movingseamlessly betweenthe cellist-leader’scompositions,jazz improvisationand freely improvised solos thatoften explore alternative techniques. On theirfifth CD Invitation (Drip Audio DA00853www.dripaudio.com) the title track has theclear harmonies of a folk song, while othertracks will pick up the moods of hymns,1930s swing and the elegies and landscapesof Samuel Barber or Aaron Copland, with frequentintroductions and interludes of almostinterior monologue — the cello sings in whistling,tumbling harmonics, a trombone soloby Jeremy Berkman in which several trombonesseem to mutter together, or a passageby guitarist Tony Wilson that might springfrom African strings.80 thewholenote.com December 1 – February 7, 2013

Kate Hammett-Vaughan can be Canada’smost adventurous jazz singer — she’s turnedthe writer Jane Bowles’ post-stroke notebooksinto art song (on Conspiracy from 2006) — butshe’s also explored more conventional repertoire,revealing at every turn a talent that’s asinspired and skilful as it is daring. Whateverthe material, Hammett-Vaughan is one of ourbest singers, with a rich contralto, an abilityto sing with the clarity of speech and a hostof subtle, expressive techniques from alteringpitch to shifting vibrato. A sense of conversationalease permeates Sanzaru (S/R www.katehv.com), a live recording devoted to standards.She’s joined by Bill Coon, a guitaristwho plays very few notes, just the best ones,and bassist Adam Thomas who sings as well,with such ebullience and musicality thathe recalls Louis Prima. Come Rain or ComeShine and ‘S Wonderful are highlights.Vancouver saxophonist Coat Cooke maybe best known as the leader of the NOWOrchestra, a brilliant aggregation of 16Vancouver improvisers that set a nationalstandard for such ensembles. He’s heard ona very different scale on two new releases,each featuring a duo. Cooke’s free-jazz sidecomes through on Conversations with drummerJoe Poole (Now Orchestra CLNOW006www.noworchestra.com) with Cooke workingthrough the saxophone family in a seriesof dialogues ranging from the intensity ofFeeling Feint to the puckishly vocal Dancingthe Night Away, all of it enhanced by Poole’ssubtly complex drumming. There’s a very differentside of Cooke to be heard on the freeimprovisation of High Wire with Montrealguitarist Rainer Wiens (Now OrchestraCLNOW007). The emphasis is on texture andtimbre, eerie whistling saxophone tones movingthrough layers of bowed and scratchedguitar strings. There’s something uncannilyinvolving about these fragile, evolving drones,a kind of tensile strength and focus thatrewards sustained attention.Find Stuart Broomer’s take on the year’sBest Jazz Box Sets featuring ColemanHawkins, Charles Mingus, Bill Evans,Keith Jarrett and Wadada Leo Smith aswell as a “perfect collection” from Sony atthewholenote.com.Something in the AirMultiple Disc Sets for the AdventurousKEN WAXMANDefying doomsayers who predictedthe death of the LP, the CD’s disappearanceappears oversold. True musiccollectors prefer the physical presence andsuperior fidelity of a well-designd CD packageand important material continues to bereleased. Partisans of advanced music, forinstance, can choose any one of these sets.Theonly saxophonisttobe part ofsaxophonistJohnColtrane’sworkinggroup,tenoristPharoah Sanders is celebrated for hisown highly rhythmic Energy Music. In theBeginning 1963-64 (ESP-Disk ESP-4069www.espdisk.com), a four-CD package, highlightshis steady growth. Besides Sanders’first album as leader, very much in the freeboptradition and as part of a quintet of nowobscure players, the other previously releasedsounds capture Sanders’ recordings in theSun Ra Arkestra. More valuable is a CD ofunissued tracks where Sanders asserts himselfin quartets led by cornetist Don Cherryor Canadian pianist Paul Bley. The set is completedby short interviews with all of theleaders. Oddly enough, although they precedehis solo debut, Sanders’ playing is mostimpressive with Bley and Cherry. With moreof a regularized beat via bassist David Izensonand drummer J.C. Moses, Cherry’s tracksadvance melody juxtaposition and parallelimprovisations with Sanders’ harsh obbligatocontrasted with the cornetist’s feisty flourishes;plusthe dartinglines andquick jabsof pianistJoe Scianniprovide anunheraldedpleasure.Bley’s economicalcomping and discursive patterninglead the saxophonist into solos filled withharsh tongue twisting lines and jagged intervalleaps. With Izenson’s screeching assentand drummer Paul Motian’s press rolls, thequartet plays super fast without losing themelodic thread. Sun Ra is a different matter.Recorded in concert, the sets include helpingsof space chants such as Rocket #9 and NextStop Mars; a feature for Black Harold’s talkinglog drums; showcases for blaring trombones,growling trumpets; plus the leader’spropulsive half-down-home and half-outerspacekeyboard. Sharing honking and doubletonguing interludes with Arkestra saxists PatPatrick and Marshall Allen, Sanders exhibitshis characteristic stridency. Enjoyable for SunRa’s vision which is spectacular and jocular,these tracks suggest why the taciturn Sanderssoon went on his own.Partially in reaction to vocifeous Americanplayers like Sanders, by the 1970s Europeaninnovators developed a spacious and subduedtake on improvisation. This can besampled via the solo work of Swiss percussionistPierre Favre, a model of taste andrestraint on Drums and Dreams (Intakt CD197 www.intaktrec.ch). Overall it’s 1972’sAbanaba which is the defining masterwork,with 1970’s Drum Conversation and 1978’sMountain Wind, the buildup and elaborationof maturity. Favre has such commandof the sonorous properties of his expandedkit that he can use approximations of tonesfrom unusual sources such as guiro, conches,unlathed cymbals and thunder sheets plusa regular kit without bombast or showiness.A track such as Kyoto is a fascinatingduet between kettle drum and tuned gongs,expanded by theremin-like resonations; whileGerunonius is an essay in abrasion, as texturescreated by sawing with a bow on drumrims are integrated with shakes, pops andpulls. Roro fastens on triple sticking at supersonicspeeds, producing ringing tones fromlog drums, cymbals and gongs, while the finaltrack demonstrates how aggression can bepaced as bell trees ping and snares sizzle. CD1establishes a framework for juxtapositions,with silences integrated with kinetic paradiddlesand ruffs. Sounding at times like multipleplayers, Favre’s distinctive sounds are as likelyto arise by twisting mallets on aluminum barsas from blunt whacks on oversized gongs.By 1978, his rhythmic palette had expandedso that he could replicate the sound of a telephonebell ring or Chinese temple bell withequal facility and without any loss in power.This mixture of delicacy and strengthis expanded to its pianistic limits onSpontaneous Suite for Two Pianos (RogueartR0G-037 www.roguart.com). These four CDscapture an entire recording session beginningwith the evocative acceleration from featherychording to anvil-like kinetic pressure onCD1, track one, and conclude with key-clippingnear-player piano continuum on CD4,track seven. Anyone who follows dual keyboardistslike Radu Lupu and Murray Perahiaor Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson willbe staggered by the work here. Completelyimprovised, the nine interlocking suitesexpose almost all variations of what can beextracted from 176 keys. Technical wizardryplus jazz inflections are apparent in the playingof Connie Crothers and David Arner, yetfocussed reductionism as well as spontaneityis also on tap.See the continuationof this column atthewholenote.com forreviews of other extendedCD collections.December 1 – February 7, 2013 thewholenote.com 81

Volume 26 (2020- )

Volume 26 Issue 1 - September 2020
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