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Volume 19 Issue 5 - February 2014

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  • February
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
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Coleman, Sonny Rollins

Coleman, Sonny Rollins and Jimmy Giuffre,and influencing pianists like Keith Jarrett andBrad Mehldau.Much of Bley’s creative range and someof his key partnerships are apparent in this10-CD set that collects his work for the ItalianSoul Note label between 1983 and 1994. Hisspecial creativity as a soloist is apparent inTango Palace, including his deft reimaginingof tango and barrelhouse. His willingness tomap out a new music with fresh partners isapparent in the duets of Sonor with Torontopercussionist George Cross McDonald orthose of Not To Be a Star with saxophonistKeshavan Maslak. He seems just as happy,though, getting together with long term associates.The 1993 Conversation with a Goosewas the last recorded meeting of the trio withclarinetist Jimmy Giuffre and bassist SteveSwallow that first played together in 1961and whose understated style of closely interactive,free improvisation is still finding newadherents.There are a couple of propulsive, harderedgedNew York quartets with guitarists– Hot with John Scofield and Live atSweet Basil with John Abercrombie –while Bley may reach furthest on Chaos,an aggressive program of free improvisationwith Italian bassist Furio di Castri andThe large jazz ensemble is a specialpassion, one that has long outlived themass popularity and economic rewardsenjoyed by the big bands of the swing era.It speaks of an individual composer’s needfor a larger canvas for his vision, but it alsospeaks of community and the special pleasureof playing in a section, many musiciansregularly participating inrehearsal bands withoutenjoying the soloist’s spotlightor significant financial rewards.The now-formalized contrastof a single improviser playingagainst a harmonized sectionrecalls the essential tensionsthat arose when early jazzmusicians were first integratedinto more formal bands.While composers pursueda synthesis of jazz and evenclassical elements, linking theformal and the vernacular, somesoloists discovered the specialfreedom of improvising againstan excess of form.Mike Downes has repeatedlydemonstrated the harmonicshading and surprising voicingshe can draw from a trio orquintet, so there’s little surprisethat he can do much more whenhe has greater resources. OnIn the Current (Addo AJR 019addorecords.com), the bassist/composer leads an 11-pieceband that can recall the orchestrationsof other Canadian jazzcomposers like Phil Nimmonsand Gordon Delamont. It’s a bandconstructed for voicings: thethree woodwind players play atotal of 13 different instrumentswhile the four brass playersdeploy registers from trumpet totuba with trombone and assortedhorns (even a descant horn) in between.That spread of voices also suggests the MilesDavis Nonet and its alumni projects, like theGerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band and the GilEvans Orchestra. While Evans (a CanadianSTUART BROOMERcomposer who left in infancy) enjoyed theanagram Svengali, Downes pays specialtribute, managing an anagram for Evan’sbirth name, turning Ian Ernest GilmoreGreen into Re-emerging Linear Tones, themiddle movement of his title suite. BalancingDownes’ subtle abstraction, tenor saxophonistKelly Jefferson brings a contrarian fire tohis solo spots. Concert note: MikeDownes launches In the Current atGallery 345 on February 8.Many of the same sources mightbe cited as inspirations for theUniversity of Toronto 12TET, thestudent ensemble heard on Rebirth(uoftjazz.ca). Directed by TerryPromane, the band plays a repertoirethat mixes works by very advancedstudents as well as well-knownprofessionals like Promane andNew York tenor saxophonist DonnyMcCaslin, who provides the insistentlyswinging Claire. Perhaps themost striking work here is pianistNoam Lemish’s Rebirth, a workof continuous development thatserves as the springboard for a chainof quietly impassioned solos thatinclude trumpeter Tara Kannangara,alto saxophonist Matt Woroshyl,tenor saxophonist Landen Viera (theband’s stand-out soloist) and Lemishhimself. Along the way there’s astunning passage of cascadingcollective improvisation that’s asadmirable for its restraint as for itssense of liberation.Montreal’s collective JazzlabOrchestra was founded in 2003 asa venue to explore the expandedorchestral colours available with justa few more horns. The group celebratedits tenth anniversary withpianist John Roney’s project WorldColors (Effendi FND129 effendirecords.com),the commemoration ofhis own world travels. Roney makes the mostof the resources available, from his comicinvocation of Saskatchewan in The Rangeto the suggestions of mystery and majestyin Agadir, his invocation of the Middle East.While his compositions can be as simple andunaffected as the arpeggios of the openingOver Yonder, Roney brings great emotionalresource to Anatevka, inspired by the persecutionof Ashkenazy Jews. Throughout,the Jazzlab Orchestra mirrors and expandsRoney’s visions, with powerful solos fromtrumpeter Eric Hove and saxophonist SamuelBlais among others.While his group rarely reaches beyond aquintet, Mike Field is another musician whocolours his mainstream modern approachwith touches from other music. On RushMode (MFJCD 1301 mikefieldjazz.com), theToronto-based trumpeter leads a quintetthat’s set squarely in the hard-bop mode, butwith a lyrical emphasis that comes consistentlyto the fore. Field shares the front-linewith tenor saxophonist Paul Metcalfe, andthere’s clearly a special musical kinship,whether it’s in the punchy, unison themestatements (à la the Jazz Messengers) orthe ease with which they complement oneanother’s lines, Metcalfe’s soulful bluster afoil to Field’s coiling, clarion cool (heard tobest effect on the aptly titled Intersection).They receive resilient support from pianistTeri Parker, bassist Carlie Howell anddrummer Dave Chan. There are also effectiveguest spots from the veteran pianist MarkEisenman, whose hard bop credentialsare evident in Red Eye Blues, and acousticguitarist Kevin Laliberte, who bring a certainsense of flamenco drama to the title track.Sophia Perlman graces The Last of theSummer Days with a vocal that suggests aspotlight through smoke and fog.The veteran Toronto saxophonist KirkMacDonald leads a quintet without anyspecial trimmings on Symmetry (AddoAJR018 addorecords.com), exploring sometimesdense chordal extensions and scalaroverlays (his solo on Mackrel’s Groove aspiresto Coltrane-level convolution) on a series ofhis compositions that otherwise move effortlesslyon tranquil modal harmonies and arhythm section that seems to dance andfloat at once, anchored by the resonant toneand optimum note selection of bassist NeilSwainson, the gently propulsive drumming ofDennis Mackrel and the limpid, airy chordingof pianist Brian Dickinson. Adding specialdimension to the music is Tom Harrell, whosetrumpet and flugelhorn playing is consistentlyinspired and inspiring, nowhere more sothan on the silky ballad Eleven.60 | February 1, 2014 - March 7, 2014 thewholenote.com

English percussionist Tony Oxley. The bestmoments, though, seem to come with thelongest standing associations, with musicianswho share Bley’s profound sense ofsound and duration: the luminous trio ofMemoirs, with bassist Charlie Haden anddrummer Paul Motian, and Mindset withbassist Gary Peacock, a sublime exchange ofideas that seems continuous with the studio’sresonance.Stuart BroomerAs the strictures of advancedcontemporary musiccontinue to loosen, moreimprovisers are taking advantageof the freedom to experiment. Aparallel outgrowth is the numberof players of almost any instrumentwilling to nakedly exposetheir skills in all solo sessions.Commonplace doesn’t meanaccomplished however. Still thebest dates, such as the CDs citedhere, offer original perspectiveson the sounds of an individualinstrument.Montreal’s PhilippeLauzier used three studiosto record the 12 tracks which makeup Transparence (Schraum 18 schraum.de),as well as coming up with different strategiesfor different instruments. Heard on bassand half-bass [sic] clarinet, alto and sopranosaxophones plus motorized bells, he usesamplification, feedback and multitracking toexpress his unique ideas. Geyser for instancereimagines the bass clarinet as hollow tubeand percussion, swallowing and expellingpure air as he depresses the keys. Au-dessuson the other hand magnifies the sopranosaxophone’s usually ethereal qualitiesinto overlapping vibrations, with the nextcommencing before the previous one has diedaway. In contrast, alto saxophone feedbackon L’object trouvé literally does as defined,managing to direct the echoes back into thehorn’s body tube while making each fingermotion and breath transparent. The audacityof Lauzier’s skill is most clearly delineated onEn-dessous. Here the multitracking of fourbass clarinets creates more variety among thetimbres he exhales, but the intertwined andaffiliated trills produced relate without questionto the multiphonics he invented for aThe Laycock DuosChristian AsplundComprovise Records 20/304christianasplund.me!!High quality souvenirs of a uniqueImproviser Residencies program at Utah’sBrigham Young University, the five performanceson this CD not only demonstrate thecreativity of accomplished internationalplayers, but also the clever interaction of eachSomething in the AirOutstanding Solo SetsKEN WAXMANsingle horn.With only three valves insteadof many keys, the trumpet ismore difficult to put into a solosetting. But Natsuki Tamura doesso memorably on Dragon Nat(Libra Records 101-032 librarecords.com).During the courseof eight instant compositions hemanages to probe the farthest reaches ofthe trumpet’s range while subtlymaintaining a pleasing, nearlyricalcontinuum. Occasionallysounding as if he’s turning theinstrument inside out for maximummetallic vibrations, he also employshalf-valve effects and mouthpieceosculations. Rubato and agitated, hisglissandi are often further segmentedas they move from growling frog-like ribbitsto hummingbird crying flimsiness. Most characteristicof the tracks is the appropriatelynamed Dialogue where he vocalizes DaffyDuck-like nonsense syllables and infant criesand shakes bells for auxiliary colours. Beforea sodden, open-horn ending that relates tothe track’s folksy head, he sneaks in a referenceto Monk’s Dream. Elsewhere In Berlin,In September demonstrates Tamura’s perfectcontrol as the narrative becomes successivelylouder, softer, faster and slower withoutlosing its thematic thread. Within, its delicatestory telling references abound, not onlyto muted mid-1950s Miles Davis-like timbresbut to the Burt Bacharach melody for A HouseIs Not a Home.For a view of how solo strategies areapplied by drummer Günter Baby Sommer,violinist Emanuele Parrini and multi-instrumentalistJoe McPhee, see the continuation ofthis column at thewholenote.com.with pianist/violistChristian Asplund.A native of Kingston,Ontario Asplundhas taught at BYUsince 2002.Althoughthere’s conceptualrapprochement between Asplund and instrumentalistssuch as clarinetist Bill Smith andtrombonist Stuart Dempster whose expertiseis more on the new music side of thecontinuum, the less stiff and more sympatheticpieces here involve full-time committedimprovisers. Lengthier than any of the othertracks at nearly 20½ minutes, The SecretSubstance finds Asplund using extendedtechniques to complete British tenor saxophonistJohn Butcher’s staccato-to-mellowoutput. Strummed piano keys meld withcontinuously breathed timbres at somepoints; as do sprawling, sul ponticello fiddleslices with reed tongue slaps at others. Theend results produce dual resonations thatwiden the dynamic range as they meld.Even more closely bonded are Asplund’sviola strategies alongside Montreal-basedviolinist Malcolm Goldstein’s long-honedand novel string skills. Astoundingly able tosuggest the depth of intertwined communicationat the same time as their horsehairshreddingstring bounces produce jagged andnervy emphasized lines, the two eventuallyreach a harmonized dual climax.With an appeal to listeners of any stripewho appreciate well-played, brainy improvisations,The Laycock Duos from Provo, Utahproves once again that unprecedented adventuroussounds can appear from unexpectedlocations.Ken WaxmanPOT POURRILadom EnsembleLadom EnsembleIndependent 67-0295-1 (ladomensemble.com)!!Ladom Ensemble’sfirst self-titledalbum is an enjoyablelistening experience.The membersare four University ofToronto music graduatesof exceptionalmusical prowess. Pianist-composer PouyaHamidi plays a sparkling piano while incorporatingtraditional Persian musical elementsto his excellent compositions. AccordionistcomposerNemenja Pyanić’s colourful runsand rhythms add spice to the music whilehis Balkan flavoured compositions add acontrasting element to the ensemble’s sound.The equally soulful performers, cellist Marie-Cristine Pelchat St-Jacques and percussionistAdam Campbell, complete the ensemble.There is a wide-ranging original sound tothewholenote.com February 1, 2014 - March 7, 2014 | 61

Volume 26 (2020- )

Volume 26 Issue 1 - September 2020
Volume 26 Issue 2 - October 2020
Volume 26 Issue 3 - November 2020

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volume 25 Issue 9 - July / August 2020
Volume 25 Issue 8 - May / June 2020
Volume 25 Issue 7 - April 2020
Volume 25 Issue 6 - March 2020
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Volume 25 Issue 4 - December 2019 / January 2020
Volume 25 Issue 3 - November 2019
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Volume 23 Issue 2 - October 2017
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Volume 21 Issue 1 - September 2015

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