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Volume 19 Issue 9 - June/July/August 2014

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classic supper clubs of

classic supper clubs of the 1950s and featuresten original compositions, co-authored byengaging vocalist/lyricist Beverly Taft andJUNO award-winning guitarist and arranger,Nathan Hiltz. The recording has a refreshing“live,” organic quality – and no auto-tuneor obsessive over-dubbing will be foundhere... in fact, just as a great actress eschewscosmetic surgery, every nuance and imperfectionof Taft’s vocal interpretations is full of lifeexperience, truth and beauty. Additionally,the CD is set against the musical canvas ofa swinging and skilled nonet, includingWilliam Carn on trombone, Shawn Nykwiston tenor, Richard Underhill on alto, JakeSomething in the AirTranslating a Singular Vision to a Large EnsembleReflecting one person’s imagination,musical composition is an intimate art.But, especially if the creation is widerangingand sonically multihued, sympatheticinterpreters are needed to expressthe composer’s vision. As this group of CDsdemonstrates, notable interpretations of acomposer’s singular vision can illuminate thecreators’ concepts.Of particular importance is the doubledisc set Luminosity – The Last Suites(Jazzcontinuum GCM 2014 Double bassist, bandleader, author andeducator, Graham Collier (1937-2011) wasone of the United Kingdom’s most accomplishedjazz composers starting in the late1960s. Serendipitously both of his final suiteswere initially composed for and premieredby Canadian orchestras: The Blue Suite for aUniversity of Victoria big band directed byHugh Fraser and Luminosity for Paul Cram’sUpstream Orchestra in Halifax. However,one indication of Collier’s musical stature isthat since he didn’t record these pieces, 15of the UK’s top jazzers who had played withhim over years convened to create this posthumoustribute. Each suite had a differentconception. Luminosity is Collier’s translationinto related sound pictures of someof Hans Hofmann’s abstract paintings. Incontrast The Blue Suite uses motifs expressedon Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue LP withoutever quoting those familiar themes. Makingfull use of Andy Panayi’s ethereal flute tonewith the often romantic interplay of pianistRoger Dean, The Blue’s tunes are orchestratedwith an exposition, narrative andsummation. But preciousness is avoided.Swing strength is especially apparent on AllKinds, as John Marshall lets loose with ashowy drum solo. Despite being mated withcascading trumpet triplets the effect doesn’tdisrupt the suite’s flow. Still, the individualityof Collier’s skills is pinpointed with Kind OfFreddie. A feature for guitarist Ed Speight’schordal style, moderato tutti passages piercedby string strums and brass yelps exposeKEN WAXMANWilkinson on trumpet, Artie Roth on bass,Sly Juhas on drums and special guest AdreanFarrugia on piano.Notable tracks include the lilting andsensual Clock Tickin’ Blues (enhanced byUnderhill’s funky alto solo) and Gay Reparteeat The Ski Chalet, the true love story of Taft’sown parents (with particularly groovy solosby Hiltz and Underhill). Of special mentionis the bebop-ish Bouncin’ Round My Brain– a superb band feature and a clear tip of thehat to the great Lambert, Hendricks and Ross’hit Twisted, as well as the cool, tromboneand guitar-driven cooker Travellin’ Alongand the closing tune, Izzie and Birdie (aboutanother sequence that is subtly revealed tobe the suite’s recurring, connective motif.Building excitement via brass shoutsand plunger work plus intensesax solos permeate tracks likeKind of So What as the blendedundercurrent remains. On theother hand, Luminosity reflectsthe tension implicit in Hofmann’sinfluential colour relationships byshading the tunes with variousmusical inferences. Marshall’sjazz-rock styled drummingappears in one instance, as doesa baroque-like pairing of fluteand guitar. Above Deep Waterfor instance showcases a duelbetween a Harlem Nocturnelikeline from Panayi’s alto sax andthe restrained gravitas of James Allsopp’s bassclarinet. Finally, before the descriptive finale,a series of polyphonic smears are displayedon Blue Monolith named for a late Hofmannabstraction. Pumping horn vamps, snappingpercussion and descending trumpetlines from Martin Shaw and Steve Watermancreate an opaque, accelerating theme thatreflects the orchestrator’s talents as well asthe painter’s.Another musician whose compositions areinfluenced by visual art as well as architectureand other sounds is British bassist BarryGuy. Amphi + Radio Rondo (Intakt CD, demonstrates how he uses his12-piece New Orchestra (BGNO) to framesolo concertos. Suggested by Elana Gutmannpaintings, Amphi places Maya Homburger’sstructured soloing on baroque violin withinthe context of polyphonic eruptions from theBGNO. While the initial sequences suggestthat violin interludes are trading off withband parts, by the final movements the stringpart is firmly embedded. Even before that,Homburger’s expressive spiccato sweeps andstaccato scratches are prominent enoughthat clusters of reed buzzing, brass lowing orclumping percussion appropriately commenttwo little girls at play) which showcases Taft’senchanting lyrics and the inspired pianowork of Adrean Farrugia.Lesley Mitchell-ClarkeFeldsparMatana Roberts; Sam Shalabi; NicolasCaloiaTour de Bras TDB9008cd ( after the rock formations found inthe earth’s crust, Feldspar is as rugged as it isremarkable. Naming each of the seven tracksfor terrestrial minerals, the tunes confirm notonly the attractive results but also the hardon her solos. Helped by a pulsed continuumfrom pianist Agustí Fernández, tubaist PerÅke Holmlander and Guy’s double bass, hertremolo string vibrations harmonize alongsidethe horn and reed section before theclimax, where every instrument’s timbresdeconstruct into multiphonic shards. Movingupwards from near silence to a crescendoof yelps, cries and trills, thefiddler’s centrality is re-establishedwith a coda of stridentscrubs. Fernández is the soloiston the slightly lengthier RadioRondo. Here though his passingchords and cascading runsface head-on challenges fromothers’ extended technique, includingEvan Parker’s circular breathedsoprano saxophone smears andspeedy slurs from trombonistJohannes Bauer. The keyboardist’shigh-energy key fanning andkinetic cascades inject more energyinto the proceedings plus emotionaldynamics. Confident, Fernándezmixes the physicality of a concertpianist with the close listening of a big bandsoloist like Earl Hines, as a series of ever-moredramatic crescendos solidify the ensembleinto as much pure swing as an experimentalensemble can muster, complete with blastinghigh notes from trumpeter Herb Robertson.With the structure of the piece finallyapparent, the final rondo could be the soundtrackfor an experimental war film, withagitated piano comping, plunger slurps fromthe brass and reed multiphonics as well aspounding percussion. Just when it seems thepeak can’t be heightened, the piece abruptlyends as if a radio has been switched off. It`san exhausting yet exhilarating triumph.To read how Montreal percussionistDanielle Palardy Roger, Hungarian saxophonistKristóf Bascó and Norwegian drummer PaalNilssen-Love communicate their compositionalideas to large ensembles, see the continuation ofthis column at | June 4, 2014 – Sept 7, 2014

work that goes into their production.Not that there is anything laboured aboutthe program. On it American alto saxophonistMatana Roberts, whorecently won a HerbAlpert Award in theArts for risk-taking,mid-career artists,turns away from herlong-term Coin Coinproject to interactwith two Montrealers: guitarist i t Sam Shalabiand bassist Nicolas Caloia. Playing together asif they have done so for years, the three evolvea strategy that could almost be a fancifulvaudeville routine between an exuberant andan unruffled comedy team. With Caloia fancifullystanding near the wings, only addingtensile thumps when needed for furtherdirection, the saxophonist spins out lightlyaccented, straight-ahead timbres, while theguitarist uses every manner of string, ampand knob distortion to vary the interface.At points Roberts responds to his sonicgoading with double-tongued or slaptonguedinterjections which challenge thenblend impressively with Shalabi’s crunches,buzzes and distended flanges. And with thereedist in perfect control at all times, theprogram works its way to unearth differentsparkling imaginary mineral formations toreach a climax with the final title track. Asbass string stopping becomes more prominent,Roberts’ previously long-lined flatnessturns to emotional altissimo at the same timeas Shalabi’s meandering timbres stabilize intorhythmic string clipping and a conclusivebanjo-like clang.A utilitarian rather than a trifling listen,concentrating on the sound production herewill yield the same multi-faceted rewards thatconcentrated hard-rock mining does in othersituations.Ken WaxmanOld Wine, New Bottles | Fine Old Recordings Re-ReleasedBRUCE SURTEESWhen Carlo Maria Giulini died in2005 the music world lost one ofthe last supreme conductors ofthe second half of the 20th century. Giuliniwas born in Barletta, Italy in 1914 andbegan violin lessons at the age of five, laterswitching to viola. In 1932 he auditionedand was accepted as a member of the violasection of Italy’s foremost orchestra at thetime, the Orchestra dell’Accademia di SantaCecilia in Rome. There he played under FritzReiner, Victor de Sabata, Pierre Monteux,Wilhelm Furtwangler, Richard Strauss andothers including Bruno Walter. In 1944 hewas appointed conductor of the Italian Radio(RAI) Orchestra. A performance of La Merimpressed Arturo Toscanini who had heardthe broadcast. The two met and formed afirm, lasting friendship and Toscanini recommendedGiulini to La Scala where he becameassistant to the great Victor de Sabata, whomhe succeeded as musical director in 1953.It is axiomatic that the first items in anyprogram should not be showstoppers but DGdoes that in this set (Giulini in Vienna 4792688, 15 CDs) with unmatched performancesof three Beethoven piano concertos, the First,Third and Fifth, played by Arturo BenedettiMichelangeli with the Vienna SymphonyOrchestra. Recorded live in 1979 in theMusikverein, Michelangeli is in winning form,magisterial, dynamic, probing and articulate,as is the orchestra.The next five discs are devoted to the fourBrahms symphonies, the Tragic Overture, theHaydn Variations and the German Requiem,all recorded in the Musikverein with theVienna Philharmonic. I was not lookingforward to the symphonies for, as somereaders may have intuited, I am weary ofhearing them. Listening to the First renewedmy enthusiasm for the work however. Thisis played not as a “Beethoven Tenth” but aBrahms First. It is quite formal and beautifullylaid out, with no deliberate emphasis on thisphrase or that or by retarding or acceleratingto make a point. This performance vividlyrecalled my unexpected euphoriaat first hearing the work so manyyears ago. His performance of theRequiem is right on the money,with a strong pulse drawingtogether the seven sectionsfeaturing soprano Barbara Bonney,baritone Andreas Schmidt, andthe choir of Vienna State Opera. Hisbalancing of choir, soloists andorchestra is exemplary, althoughone must acknowledge the artof the engineers at getting just soon this very impressive recordingof 1987. Three Giulini Brucknersymphonies, Seven, Eight and Nine,have had a devoted following sincetheir initial release and the soundon these reissues is of demonstrationquality. The two Liszt PianoConcertos with Lazar Bermanand the Vienna Symphonydeserve their inclusion as doesthe 1979 complete Rigoletto withDomingo, Cotrubas, Ghiaurov,Obraztsova, et al. and the ViennaPhilharmonic. The final workin this set is the 1973 cantataAn die Nachgeborenen (ToPosterity) by Gottfried vonEinem, his most important work.There are nine sections in thisunusual and moving piece withtexts from Bertholt Brecht, thePsalms, Hölderlin and Sophocles.Featured are mezzo Julia Hamari, DietrichFischer-Dieskau, the Vienna Singverein andthe Vienna Symphony, recorded in 1975.Without exception, all the interpretationsand performances in this collection are ofenduring stature, offered in the finest soundthat makes the repertoire doubly satisfying.I have enjoyed the following fine old winesin new bottles over the last little while andpass them along for your summer listening:Among the many collections issued tocelebrate the 150th anniversary of the birthof Richard Strauss is the DGcompilation of their recordingsof the composer conducting hisown works and others (Straussconducts Strauss, 479 2703,7CDs). Included are all theStrauss tone poems includingtwoDon Quixotes and waltzsequences from Acts II and III of DerRosenkavalier. He seems to ignorehis quoted advice to conductors,“Play everything twice as fast” and“Don’t look at the brass, it onlyencourages them.” Included areMozart’s last three symphoniesand Beethoven’s Fifth andSeventh; also overtures by Gluck,Weber, Wagner and Cornelius.From way back in 1921 Straussplays piano for fabled baritoneHeinrich Schlusnus in four lieder.The sound is bright and dynamicthroughout featuring the BerlinPhilharmonic, the StaatskapelleBerlin and the BayerischesStaatskapelle. Low price, highrecommendation.I was first aware of the Russianmezzo, Irina Arkhipova from the1963 recording of the Bolshoi’sBoris Godunov which I boughtfor George London’s Boris. Shesings Marina and the Act III duetwith Dimitri, building to her adoring andclose-to-sublime No, no Tsarevich, I beg you,which is unequaled. Melodyia has issued TheArt of Irina Arkhipova (MEL CD 10 2123) inwhich she sings songs by Tchaikovsky, SixFrench Songs, Op.65 and Six Romances,Op.73; seven songs by Rachmaninoff andMussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death.I do not understand Russian but I find sungRussian very pleasing and satisfying, hence Ihave no idea of the English translations but,regardless, I continue to listen to these songsfor the pleasure of hearing her voice. But, asthey say in the ads, your mileage may June 4, 2014 – Sept 7, 2014 | 83

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