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Volume 20 Issue 3 - November 2014

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  • November
  • Toronto
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an extended passage of

an extended passage of rattling percussionin Lake Michigan might simply be a consequenceof natural movement. Similarly adialogue of bass and drums suggests all thecreaks and activities of a dockside. There isnever any sense here of imitative sound, butanalogues keep arising for Smith’s compellingsubject matter.Like his other recent works, Smith’sGreat Lakes Suites explores correspondingprocesses in music, history and geology.By finding musicians who can also sustainthis extended meditation, Smith succeedsbrilliantly.Stuart BroomerSeveral Toronto musicians haverecently released projectsthat play creatively withgenre expectations. BassistMichael Herring and guitaristDon Scott formed PeripheralVision in 2008 as a vehiclefor their compositions and acontemporary fusion style thatincorporates jazz elementswith sometimes rock-derivedrhythms and a full complementof guitar pedals. They’rejoined on Sheer Tyrannyof Will (peripheralvisionmusic.com)by tenor saxophonistTrevor Hogg anddrummer Nick Fraser. Theinterest in composition is real andthe concentration on the music’stotal effect extends to the judicioususe of studio resources:both Herring’s “Wiretap” and thetitle tune develop complex moodsthrough contrasting segments andScott’s overdubbed guitar parts.Peripheral Vision may be at its best, though,on simpler material: “Charleston Heston”has a tremendous buoyancy, with Scott andHogg floating aloft on the rhythmic verve thatHerring and Fraser can generate.Since emerging in the group Chelsea Bridgetwo decades ago, Nova Scotia-born singerTena Palmer has not just welcomed new challengesand repertoire but sought them out,whether it’s an expedition into free improvisation,an evening of bossa nova or her ownblends of jazz and Celtic music. Holy Heartof Me (TLP 002 tenapalmer.net) is a collectionof original songs recorded in Iceland witha band called T.I.N.T., or There Is No Them. Itwould be difficult to corral it into any singlegenre, whether some subset of folk, rock, popor jazz, but it’s all imbued with an expressiveintensity in which the sensuous and spiritualblur into one another. The frameworks,created largely by guitarist Hilmar Jenssonand percussionist Matthias Hemstock, tendtowards almost hypnotic, minimalist electronica,spare fields that set Palmer andher songs in stark relief. While Palmer andJensson might easily carry it all, there aresome wonderful guest appearances, amongthem New Brunswick cornetist RolandBourgeois on “Golden Rod” and IcelanderOmar Gudjonsson playing burbling sousaphoneon the title track.STUART BROOMERNamed a “trumpeterof the future”by DownBeat magazinea few years ago,Lina Allemano hastouched many ofthe usual bases,from playing withbig bands like NOJOto a host of small bands.Her best vehicle hasundoubtedly beenher own quartet Four,releasing five CDs ofincreasingly distinguishedand distinctivefree-bop over the pastdecade. While that bandcontinues – joyouslyso – Allemano is alsotaking other paths,exploring free improvisationin Europe andstudying extendedtrumpet techniqueslike multiphonics and circularbreathing. The fruits of those explorationsare apparent in the first release by her newgroup Titanium Riot. On Kiss the Brain(Lumo Records LM 2014-6 linaallemano.com), Allemano is a central organizing intelligenceset free in imaginative soundscapescreated by the bleeps and whistles of RyanDriver’s analogue synthesizer, Rob Clutton’schurning bass and Nick Fraser’s randomizingpercussion. She emerges as a trumpeterof the future more clearly than ever before,a probing, thoughtful improviser who cancreate form with a few well-placed blasts. Themusic is as surreal as the names of the pieces,the muddy antique organ tones of “Nose-Coloured Glasses” as oddly compelling as thepiece’s title.Meanwhile in Montreal, bassist NicolasCaloia is responsible for one of the great institutionsof current Canadian jazz, the RatchetOrchestra, a sprawling ensemble of up to 30musicians that for more than two decades hasbeen defining its own identity while payingtribute to the exotic space music of Sun Ra.It’s hard to imagine Caloia’s vehicle reducedto an all-star quartet, but that’s precisely thecase with Tilting in which the bassist is joinedby Jean Derome on baritone and alto saxophonesand bass flute, pianist GuillaumeDostaler and drummer Isaiah Ceccarelli.When guests arrive – bass clarinetist LoriFreedman and alto saxophonist Yves Charuest– they too are members of Ratchet Orchestra.On Holy Seven (Barnyard Records BR0336barnyardrecords.com), Tilting approachesjazz from an oblique angle, from its devotionto low frequency horns, insistent ascendingpatterns, moderate tempos andlumpy rhythms, all highlightedand exaggerated by Dostaler’spiano which seems to presentevery chord as equal part speculationand dare. The musicis filled with rare emotion,whether it’s a haunted blues ora listing joy, testament to theband’s strong sense of communicationand purpose as well asDerome’s singular power onbaritone.The Montreal mainstream iswell represented by two verydifferent pianist-composers’new releases on the Effendi label.On Essences Des Bois (EffendiRecords FND131 effendirecords.com), Yves Léveillé puts compositionand orchestration solidly inthe foreground, crafting strongmelodies and moods for a septetthat features a quartet of differentwinds, most of them high pitched.With Roberto Murray on sopranoand alto saxophones, François Richard onflute and alto flute, Marjorie Tremblay onoboe and English horn and Simon Aldrich onclarinet and bass clarinet, Léveillé developsensembles that are both light and distinctive.His work often has the character of chambermusic (Les Six come to mind), enhancing itscool jazz dimension with more current modalharmonies. Each of the players is an accomplishedsoloist, evident here in individualfeatures. While it’s often pleasant enough todrift toward the background, sudden inspiredbursts keep a listener engaged.Working in a more conventional quintetformat on Tome 3: Errances (Effendi RecordsFND132), Vincent Gagnon brings greatenergy, drive and spontaneity to his work,whether exploring extended ballads or denseup-tempos, often with a Middle Eastern tinge.He has a powerful rhythm section in bassistGuillaume Bouchard and drummer MichelLambert and a fine saxophonist in the smooth-tonedAlain Boies, but it’s really tenorsaxophonist Michel Côté who draws the mostattention other than the pianist. Côté has adistinctive sound, a rough gauze-like qualitythat’s especially effective on Gagnon balladslike “Ce qu’il reste de la nuit” and “Parfoisl’aube.” Gagnon uses repeated phrases inhis solos, building tension and a cumulativeenergy that presses this music forward. It’sparticularly effective on “Baltique Karma. ”82 | November 1 - December 7, 2014 thewholenote.com

Clarity – Music of Clare FischerRoseanna VitroRandom Acts Records RAR1016CD(randomactrecords.com)With the passing of gifted Los Angelesbasedcomposer/arranger/keyboardist ClareFischer, not only did El Lay lose one of its topcreative innovators,but the internationalmusic communityalso lost an artistwho, since his 1962LP Bossa Nova JazzSamba with the lateBud Shank, hadconsecrated himself to the genres of Afro-Carribbean, Brazilian and a wide variety ofCentro/Sul American Musics – notably representedin his 1981 GRAMMY-winning ClareFischer and Salsa Picante Present 2 + 2.With the release of her latest recording,NYC jazz vocalist/educator/composer/arranger Roseanna Vitro (along with producerPaul Wickliffe) has not only framed agorgeous tribute to the work of Fischer, buthas successfully expanded the jazz canonby deftly mining the exquisite, harmonicallycomplex music that is Clare Fischer’slegacy. The CD includes six of Fischer’s neverpreviously sung compositions (some withnew original lyrics), and is also the first andonly vocal book developed by a solo singer ofhis music.Accompanying Vitro on this remarkablejourney are her longtime collaborators,including pianist/arranger Mark Soskin aswell as Weather Report percussionist MinoCinelu. Standout tracks include a fresh,percussive, scat-filled take on “Morning”and also “Life’s Journey,” which features acomplex, rhythmic arrangement and dynamicwork by violinist Sara Caswell and pianistSoskin. One track stands alone in its perfection– the deeply moving ballad “Sleep MyChild,” a flawless musical diamond aroundwhich Vitro wraps her rich, luxuriouscontralto.Vitro is not only a consumate jazz vocalist,but through the auspices of this importantartistic project, she has also emerged as a trueconservateur and curator of jazz.Lesley Mitchell-ClarkeOverheard ConversationsGlen Hall; Bernie KoenigSlam Productions CD 552(slamproductions.net)A reflective andcomfortable musicalconversation betweenreeds and percussion,the dozen brief duetsby Toronto saxophonist/flutistGlenHall and drummer/vibraphonist BernieKoenig from London, Ontario have all thehallmarks of overheard dialogue. Some interjectionsare predictably of paramount interestto those involved; others, which stretch thecapacities of the instruments and musicians,are as insightful as discussions frommore formally organized sessions. Seeminglyrecorded in real time, luckily the discourseintensifies as it evolves.While Hall gradually defines his parameterswith tenor and soprano saxophone slursand smears via John Coltrane’s influence,Koenig’s drum pulses are a bit more rigid, notreally coming into strong focus until – andperhaps because of – “Time for a Stiff Drink.”Mixing martial-like ruffs with supple rolls,he meets Hall’s mellow elaborations head onand effectively. From then on sound snatchescapture a wide-ranging conversation. Snakybass flute timbres countered by off-centreplops suggest Arabic music on Trust Me,while rugged reed split tones attain screamingheights on “Things Are Looking Up” thoughthe drummer’s carefully paced beats keepthe theme chromatic. Additionally the whapof sticks on Mylar and wood during “Look atHer!” insinuate two percussionists at work asHall’s altissimo snarls create a fanciful verbalizationof overbearing Buddy Rich strokesbacking “Caravan” played by Albert Ayler.Like old friends winding down theirconversation before they part, the reedistand percussionist save their excursionsinto chamber jazz for the last few duets.With Koenig’s sparkling vibraphone strokesattaining sonorous swing, the unique multicoloursHall sources from his flute on tunessuch as “I Understand Why You Are SoMelancholy” reflect the skills of these sophisticatedcommunicators who can comfortablyexpress emotions instrumentally.Ken WaxmanConcert Note: Glen Hall’s Rub out the Word:A William S. Burroughs Centennial Event is atThe Music Gallery November 7.POT POURRISanata: StillnessKiran AhluwaliaIndependent MTM-CD-930 (kiranmusic.com)The release ofIndian-Canadiansinger and songwriterKiran Ahluwalia’ssixth album Sanata:Stillness, providescopious confirmationthat her songsare “one of global music’s most interestingadventures.” Ever since Ahluwalia‘s first CDin 2001, it seems each new album marks newregions of personal musical growth, accompaniedby evolving instrumentation andstylistic components. Recorded in Toronto,Sanata, as does her touring group, featuressome of the city’s top world musicians.Among them number percussionist maestroMark Duggan and bassists extraordinaire RichBrown and Andrew Downing.In my September 2014 WholeNote coverfeature on Ahluwalia, I observed that hergeo-musical expansiveness is a result “ofher careful listening to yet another [geocultural]zone of our world. She has [further]shown a continued eagerness to contest theborders of her musical comfort zones in liveperformance.”Sanata provides ample proof of thatprocess of exploration and synthesis at work.We hear Ahluwalia’s signature masala ofher unique interpretation of Indo-Pakistanighazal and Punjabi folk song, rendered in herexpressive yet unstrained vibrato-less voice.It’s hung on a solid backbone of years of classicalHindustani musical training. Her giftfor crafting catchy melodies is evidenced inher songs; I’m guessing a key feature in theiraudience appeal.Another significant strand is the additionof pungent echoes of Saharan blues guitar, asin her award-winning 2011 CD Aam Zameen:Common Ground. It grounds the title trackand also propels “Hayat” with a swaggeringgroove at just the right tempo. The superblysupple electric guitar accompaniments areprovided by her American husband RezAbbasi, who is also the album’s arranger andproducer. Abbasi gets a chance to show hisample jazz guitarist cred in his “Tamana” soloand elsewhere.While the album is carefully woventogether with jazz-forward and sometimesrock-infused arrangements, “Jhoom” and“Lament,” the two songs in the qawwali tradition,return the album’s musical topographyand transport the listener – via many transcontinentalbyways – to the Subcontinent.Andrew TimarAnimismTanya TagaqSix Shooter Records (tanyatagaq.com)This album is aprofound explorationof transculturalconfrontation andtransformation asexpresed throughthe magical qualitiesand healing power ofsound. Featuring thebrilliant vocalism of Inuk avant-garde throatsinger Tanya Tagaq, Animism synergisticallymerges her indigenous rights activism withthe expressive force of her art. Not simply atypical “wordless protest album” however, itsrelease promptly caused significant criticalacclaim. To cap it off, Tagaq won the 2014Polaris Music Prize, presented annuallyfor the “best Canadian album regardless ofgenre or sales,” becoming its first indigenousrecipient.To be sure, the involvement of the polishedimprov-based musicality of her regularaccompanists, Toronto drummer Jean Martinand the B.C.-based violinist, producerand arranger Jesse Zubot, is essential toevery track.Tagaq’s vocal art lives in zones of layered,thewholenote.com November 1 - December 7, 2014 | 83

Volume 26 (2020- )

Volume 26 Issue 1 - September 2020
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Volume 25 Issue 9 - July / August 2020
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