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Volume 20 Issue 5 - February 2015

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Volume 20 Issue 5

elishing in the

elishing in the complexity of notated beats, which are at times reminiscent of Bill Bruford on the Yes Fragile album. For the DVD, Lizée brings film into the mix. Hitchcock Études (for piano and “glitch”) works with the Lissajou-inspired credits from Psycho, excerpts from The Birds and other middle-period Hitchcock films, looping them and jarring perception of the familiar into the strange and sometimes menacing. Paradoxically, the glitches are a by-product of digital sound techniques, whereas the film sources she’s working with originate from the silver (analog) screen, meaning the glitch element is obtained by imposing new tech on old media. Bookburners is staged footage of turntablist DJ P-Love and cellist Stéphane Tétreault performing in a freight elevator/ loading dock. Like the other pieces in this set, it’s a bit longer than the material suggests, yet achieves its goals more tamely. Without exception, these are excellent performances, artfully combined to express a fresh remix of North American musical mannerisms. Paul Steenhuisen Tetraktys – Contemporary music for string quartet by young Mexican composers Cuarteto Latinoamericano Urtext Digital Classics JBCC239 A tetractys is a triangular figure in geometry consisting of ten points arranged in four rows. With tracks such as Fibonacci on the Beach and Triple Point, the term tetractys appropriately represents the ten young Mexican composers featured. Further, common threads intersect each piece stylistically as clear references to popular Latin grooves, rhythms and harmonies are heard throughout. While each work on the disc deserves mention, three of the ten were particularly successful. First, in the piece Chandrian, composer Mateo Nossa makes excellent use of novel bowing techniques to evoke skeletal tiptoeing amid strong rhythmic play. Use of Col legno bowing conjures a rather danse macabre mood. The title seems to reference a group of seven fairly evil chaps created by American author Patrick Rothfuss in his fantasy trilogy, The Kingkiller Chronicle. Next, in Ciudades Suspendidas by Jean Angelus Pichardo, glissandi and natural harmonics pass around the quartet creating a seamless ethereal cloud. We are quickly swept into punchy groove-oriented sections with angular melodies. This feature of the nebulous taking shape into a crunchy groovebased section seems to permeate each piece on the disc, a stylistic feature the quartet seems to enjoy. Lastly, in Roberto Sarti’s Echoes from the Past, we hear a work that is clearly the most adventurous in terms of texture, harmony and form. Sarti’s use of virtuosic explosions makes for a serendipitous shattering of expectations. The strong imaginative palette of this composer leaves a visceral and pleasantly disturbing atmosphere in the mind of the listener. It is clear that the members of the quartet thoroughly enjoyed the demands each piece had to offer. This joy of the process can be heard in the bright, crisp and confident expressiveness the quartet offers in this recording. Adam Scime Between Carthage and Rome John Kameel Farah BRM BRM6328 ( Canadian composer, pianist and visual artist John Kameel Farah, currently based in both Toronto and Berlin, calls this album a “book of fugues, fantasies for piano and electronics, and synthesizer landscapes.” It is all that, and then some. Unfortunately, I have space to touch on only a few aspects of this important culture-bridging work. Showcasing his adventurous, sophisticated stylistic mash-up of 17th-, 19th- and 20th-century European and Middle Eastern musical timbres, and melodic, textural and performance sensibilities, Farah’s album seamlessly mixes his acoustic grand piano performances with sounds from electronic sources and sound field treatments. It is all presented in his signature hybrid manner, imbued at times with the ethos of ambient minimalism. There is another salient element: Farah’s unique composer voice. Particularly convincing is his sure-handed shaping of overall form, adventurous harmonic movement, counterpoint, rhythmic vitality and sheer melodic inventiveness. The latter comes to the fore in the monody-centred works evoking a Middle Eastern modal landscape, as in parts of Sama’i Point and Between Carthage and Rome. A transcultural historically informed narrative, suggested by the title, is manifest in the vigourous interaction between the European and Middle Eastern musical vocabularies employed here. It argues for the exploration of, as the composer put it, “ties and intertwining developments of many civilizations on both sides of the Mediterranean.” Throughout, Farah’s sensitive, brilliant touch on the piano keyboard, as well as his plucking and muting its strings with fingertips, is a luxurious listening pleasure. Andrew Timar Myth, Legend, Romance – Concertos of Elizabeth Raum Various Artists Centrediscs CMCCD 20615 Three orchestral concertos telling stories ancient, old and modern by Canadian composer Elizabeth Raum are featured in this gorgeous release. Raum has won numerous awards, grants and accolades throughout her career. Here her compositions may not be the most adventurous but her romantic-infused melodies and harmonies and storytelling programmatic ideas result in lush colours, challenging virtuosic soloist parts and clear orchestral writing. Persephone and Demeter is a tone poem based on the ancient Greek legend. The mother and daughter are musically represented by violist Rivka Golani and the composer’s violinist daughter Erika Raum. Both soloists are touching in their performances of their relationship, especially when the daughter is stolen to the Underworld. The tuba and horns of the Regina Symphony under Victor Sawa are menacing as Hades and the Underworld. The liner notes describe Sherwood Legend as “movie music without the movie.” And so it is! In this extremely uplifting, amusing piece based on Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood, French horn soloist Kurt Kellan’s performance hits the bull’s eye in tone, touch and technique, with a fine performance by the Calgary Philharmonic under Sawa. Concerto for Violin (Faces of Woman) is less programmatic figuratively speaking but the writing brings out a tour-de-force performance by violinist Erika Raum and the Sneak Peek Orchestra under Victor Cheng. Using snippets from her daughter’s own compositions, Elizabeth has created the best musical gift a mother could give! No myths here – this is music to be enjoyed! Tiina Kiik JAZZ AND IMPROVISED MUSIC Turboprop Ernesto Cervini Anzic Records ANZ-0047 ( Expanding his Turboprop quartet by adding the breezy Desmondesque alto and soprano saxophone of Tara Davidson and trombonist William Carn’s mellow harmonies, local drummer Ernesto Cervini is able to buttress still further his sophisticated arrangements of standards and originals. With wider breadth the sextet interprets lines by Charlie Parker, Keith Jarrett, Debussy and a song from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in its program. Admirable as that is, the compositions 62 | February 1 - March 7, 2015

– mostly by the drummer – as well as the playing by fellow Torontonian pianist Adrean Farrugia plus New Yorkers, tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm and bassist Dan Loomis, are strong enough on their own to move without extra impetus. Taken as a group in fact, the speedier cover tunes are a little fluffy and the slower ones overly enervating. On the other hand, Jarrett’s The Windup, with concise jittery piano chording and this-side-of-R&B tuneful slurs from the saxes, gives the CD an appropriate bouncy finale; and the cover of Parker’s Red Cross showcasing slippery slides from Farrugia produces some of his best playing on the date. Yet overall the originals, with Cervini’s Fear of Flying and Three Angels particular standouts, are far superior. Both are based around the breathy flutter tonguing of Frahm – whose spiky swiftness is further showcased on his own De Molen – though Cervini’s lines better integrate Frahm’s reed work within the expositions. Fear of Flying, for instance, contrasts a floating cool jazz-like head with enough tough beats from the composer to preserve a robust narrative. More sombre and ethereal, the second tune moves forward with a swinging undertow, but this flexibility never upsets its mood of profound sadness and distance. Here too the elusive balance between Frahm’s expressive soloing and the backing horn choir creates an expressively memorable narrative. A member of many Toronto-based aggregations, Cervini demonstrates his additional skills as an arranger with this beefed-up ensemble. Notable as this CD may be, tying up the few loose ends remaining with additional work portends even higher quality sounds on future sessions and in person for this sextet. Ken Waxman Concert Note: The Turboprop sextet plays the Jazz Bistro February 19 to 21. Kissing You Barbra Lica Independent BLM-1401C ( It’s encouraging to see good, young singers emerge in the jazz realm. It’s even more encouraging to see them thrive and grow as Barbra Lica has with Something in the Air Revolutionary Records Redux About 40 years on, so-called “free jazz” and “free music” from the late 60s, 70s and early 80s doesn’t sound so revolutionary any more. The idea of improvising without chord structures or fixed rhythm has gradually seeped into most players’ consciousness, with the genre(s) now accepted as particular methods for improvisation along with bop, Dixieland and fusion. Historical perspective also means that many sessions originally recorded during that period are now being released. Some are reissues, usually with additional music added; others are newly unearthed tapes being issued for the first time. The best discs offer formerly experimental sounds whose outstanding musicianship is more of a lure than nostalgia. The most spectacular physical example of this is the Frank Lowe Quartet’s Out Loud (Triple Point Records TPR 209 Thoroughly old school in that the release consists of two LPs, the session is brought up to date with an LP-sized 38-page booklet that puts the music into historical context, plus an internet link to video footage of the band in action. Tenor saxophonist Lowe (1943-2003) was part of the second generation of free jazzers, following vanguard revolutionaries like Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane, and the quartet is his working group of the time (1974) – trombonist Joseph Bowie, bassist William Parker and drummer Steve Reid. The material consists of what was going to be Lowe’s second LP plus another LP recorded live in an East Village loft adding trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah. The fascination of Out Loud KEN WAXMAN is how perfectly matched improvisers are forging a group identity. Memphis-born, Lowe mixes an R&B-influenced tone that often soars into altissimo, with extended nearhuman cries encompassing split tone and cacophonous glossolalia. Trombonist Bowie, who produces a distinctive hunting hornlike resonance, introduces the Midwestern idea of adding small instruments like congas, balafon, whistles and harmonica plus primeval vocalization to the program. Parker’s sul ponticello asides add taut vibrancy to the improvisations; and when his power strokes lock in with Reid’s floating rumbles, they strengthen a groove that moves the improvisations chromatically. The live tracks are more bellicose and aggressive. Paced by the drummer’s irregular ruffs and rolls, however, calming solo interludes alternate with frenetic upturned yelping. Whew! – almost the only titled track – reaches a bouncing boogielike ending, after the trumpeter’s fluttertongued triplets extend a plunger trombone and wheezing harmonica face off. Hearton-sleeve emotional throughout, Lowe’s tenor saxophone joins slides and slurs into a solo that’s part Coleman Hawkins’ mellow and part John Coltrane melisma on the final track. Subsequent dot-dash flutters from Bowie extend this near-mainstream context until plunger trombone tones and vocalized squeals from Lowe’s soprano shudder and shake the tune into a joyful and jagged concluding sway. Mixing joyfulness with jagged edges also characterized the playing of pianist Don Pullen (1941-1995), who in 1975 recorded Richard’s Tune (Delmark/Sackville CD2-3008, his first-ever solo release, in Toronto due to the suggestion of producer Bill Smith of CODA. Known for his stint in bassist Charles Mingus’ band, Virginia-born Pullen was a keyboard anomaly. Fully conversant with the clashing dynamics of the so-called “new thing,” his grounding in blues and gospel music gave even his most advanced compositions a lilting rhythm. Case in point is Big Alice, heard in two versions – the second of which is one of the CD’s two previously unreleased tracks. Almost danceable and certainly funky, the versions demonstrate the propulsion that can arise from a single keyboard. While the original mates bravura glissandi with thrusting theme variations, the alternate encompasses a harder touch that emphasizes the blues base without weakening the distinctive theme. Kadji, the other discovery, demonstrates Pullen’s mastery of pacing as he cascades a skipping childlike theme. The kinetic Song Played Backwards spills out a multitude of notes in a headlong rush, while maintaining a directed flow. Overall, the more than 15-minute Suite (Sweet Malcolm) is a major statement that demonstrates Pullen’s duality. Slithery splatters and moderato pacing bring in inferences from gospel, stride, blues and work songs, while later sharp and percussive timbres inhabit the area between Cecil Taylor-like percussiveness and Thelonious Monk-like angular diffidence. For other issues from saxophonist Steve Lacy, trumpeter Ted Daniel and a free music supergroup of guitarist Derek Bailey, bassist Joëlle Léandre, trombonist George Lewis and saxophonist Evan Parker see the continuation of this column at February 1 - March 7, 2015 | 63

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