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Volume 20 Issue 6 - March 2015

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SHLOMI AMIGAmixed family

SHLOMI AMIGAmixed family heritage directed meTova Kardonnealong the path of seeking connectionsthrough the differences.”Citing her studies of Cuban santeríabatá drumming, North and SouthIndian drumming patterns, and herparticipation in the Brazilian SambaElégua group, she conludes that“deep down, I’m driven by rhythm.”In The Lanka Suite this fascinationis reflected in unusual timesignatures and phrases, drawingfrom both South Asian and EasternEuropean folk idioms, thoughcouched in the instrumentation ofa jazz combo with its affiliated richharmonic field.I asked Kardonne for The LankaSuite’s back story. The four-partcomposition was “inspired by a tripwith my partner [the experimentalelectric guitarist] Nilan Perera to SriLanka in 2012. He wished to reconnectwith family for the first time since the end of the conflict in 2009and to talk to some of the generation of artists who had grown up inthe midst of conflict, not as he had, in the diaspora.” While Kardonnewas a complete stranger to the country, she recounts that “thosethings which were most new and strange nonetheless had parallelsin my experience.” Her first-hand observations elicited contrastingemotions of joy as well as confusion. She also encountered a societyin transition, rebuilding the fabric of families and institutions aftera devastating 30-year civil war. One music seed was sown whenKardonne heard a girl sing to entertain fellow bus commuters on theA9 highway to Jaffna, the northernmost city on the South Asian islandnation. She notated the girl’s song and it surfaced in the work’s firstmovement titled “A9 to Jaffna.”On returning home, her life-altering experience compelled her torethink her “own understanding of life back in Canada through thelens of what I learned from Sri Lanka.” The profound themes sheexplores in her lyrics for The Lanka Suite include Sri Lankans’ essentialconnection to the land and the importance of self-definitionthrough politics, even though this trust seems inevitably doomed tobe betrayed by the political class. The ravages borne by the abundantnatural world and the shifting role of women are also examined.When she first presented The Lanka Suite at The Rex Hotel last yearin its stripped down eight-musician version, the favourable audiencereception centred on perceptions of cultural familiarity, despite thescore’s vibrant mash-up of musical idioms. Various listeners “pickedup on what in the music seemed familiar to them” reported thecomposer, “but I certainly felt vindicated when people told me ‘I hearyou and that’s my music too.’” Infusing additional jazz sparkle to TheLanka Suite’s full airing at the Music Gallery, the multi-JUNO Awardwinning flute and soprano saxophone virtuosa Jane Bunnett joinsKardonne, her seven-piece band The Thing Is, and the GREX choir.Opening the evening is Khôra, the experimental music project ofToronto’s Matthew Ramolo. He performs his music on acoustic andelectronic instruments, as well as field recordings and analogue/digital processing, summoning “the spirit of Eastern modes, contemporaryclassical, avant and sacred minimalism, experimental rock andvarious forms of electronic music.”Other Picks:March 6 and 7, Tuvan singer Radik Tyulyush and Inuk diva TanyaTagaq, two masters of throat singing, split the bill at the Aga KhanMuseum, presented with the support of Small World Music. Thoughdrawing on musically distinct cultures over 6,000 kilometres apart,it’s a rare pleasure for Toronto audiences to witness these outstandingperformers on a single stage. The abundantly talented Tyulyush, amember of perhaps Tuva’s most successful music group Huun HuurTu, is not only a leading performer of the several types of indigenousthroat and “regular” singing, but is amaster of several Tuvan instrumentsincluding the igil, doshpuluur, shoorand khomu. He’s a Tuvan rock starto boot. His set opens the concert.Tagaq follows. I covered herPolaris Prize performance andreviewed her brilliant albumAnimism which sealed the win lastfall in The WholeNote. There’s nodoubt in my mind that she’s amongthe most musically, emotionally andpolitically compelling avant-gardevocalists working today. I’m not sureif I have ever deemed a performancea must-see in this column, buther live vocal confrontation, accompaniedby her band, of a screeningof the silent film Nanook of theNorth (1922) is such a show.March 12 at theSony Centre forthe PerformingArts, Japan’s KodoDrummers returnto Toronto, after afour-year absence,with their “KodoOne Earth Tour:Mystery.” I’ve seenthem before andthis taiko (JapaneseRadik Tyulyushdrum) groupwhich has beensetting the bar high for decades keeps improving, making theatricallyengaging, powerful music. For those who have never seen them live,they also incorporate various flutes and other Japanese instruments intheir precision shows. “Mystery” is the second Kodo program directedby the famous kabuki actor Tamasaburō Bandō, designated a NationalLiving Treasure in Japan. He became Kodo’s artistic director in 2012,and during his tenure has aimed to deepen Kodo’s theatricality andto give more prominence to women performers. Of special interest,the pre-show discussion at 7pm features members of Toronto’s NagataShachu Japanese Taiko and Music Ensemble examining the history oftaiko in Japan, the various drums used in performance, the costumesworn, how the music is taught and learned, as well as the developmentof the modern taiko movement led by groups such as Kodo.March 26, the Mississauga- based singer and songwriter VandanaVishwas presents a selection of her sugam sangeet songs at theMusideum. Songs in the ghazal, bhajan, geet, thumri, folk, Indojazzand light classical genres, often reflected on Indian film soundtracks,are collectively known as sugam sangeet. Vishwas, whoperformed for ten years as an All India Radio artist until she left India,is accompanied by George Koller, one of Toronto’s favourite bassand dilruba players, tabla maestro Ed Hanley and Vishwas Thoke onacoustic guitar.March 29 the Small World Music Society in association with BatukiMusic Society presents the Toronto debut of Tal National, Niger’smost popular group, at the Drake Underground. Drawing on regionalWest African music genres like highlife, soukous, Afrobeat and desertblues, Tal National has evolved a joyous dance-centric music driven bydrums, guitars and deep grooves. While at home they are known toplay till daybreak, bets are off that will happen at the Drake. One surething however: the relentless cyclical energy of their music will propeldancers far longer than even they thought possible.Andrew Timar is a Toronto musician and music writer. Hecan be contacted at | March 1 - April 7, 2015

Beat by Beat | Jazz StoriesThe AlmightySpotlightORI DAGANOn Wednesday March 18starting at 6:30pm at TheRex Hotel Jazz & Blues Barit will be difficult to find a seat.At the Spotlight on Israeli Cultureevent the bill will feature threeheadlining acts, each excitingfor different reasons. The biggestname of the three is Anat Cohen,a seven-time Jazz JournalistAssociation Clarinetist of the Yearand internationally acclaimedsaxophonist, known for her virtuosityon various instruments, therichness of her tone and an utterlyenchanting stage presence. It willbe Cohen’s first appearance inToronto as leader.Then there is the precocious GuyMintus Trio, of which two musiciansare America-Israel CulturalFoundation scholarship winners. Twenty-two-year-old Mintus is therecipient of ASCAP’s Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer award and afull scholarship student at the Manhattan School of Music. Followingappearances at the Kennedy Center, the Apollo Theater and theMetropolitan Museum of Art, the trio makes its Canadian debut.The third headliner is Kobi Hass, whose quartet will be opening theshow, and who is a wonderful recent addition to our city’s musicallandscape. Since moving to Toronto in 2010, the Tel-Aviv-born bassistand composer has mostly worked as a sideman, bringing many positivevibes to live music here with his emotionally charged musicalversatility. The original songs to be performed at The Rex have beendescribed as “soulful compositions” in the press release, to whichHass adds:“The people I will play with are local musicians with whom Iperform from time to time – Barry Livingston, pianist, who writesbeautiful and soulful tunes, Ernie Tollar, saxophones and flutes, whois in charge of the more experimental writing, and Paul Fitterer, whoturns keeping time into a very imaginative and surprising process.Each of us brings in his own tunes, we ‘try them out,’ and I feel thatwe’ve developed our own sound and atmosphere.“I find it hard to characterize the music, but I like what was writtenin the press release. Indeed the music is based on ‘soulful compositions’that each of us contributed to the quartet. The forms are relativelyopen, yet the compositions are very classically written. Thereis a certain harmonic colour that we all like and it helps the quartetdeveloping its own sound. The improvisations do not stay in the traditionaljazz idiom, and we try things as we go. Playing the acousticbass in this format is a very challenging process for me, being ane-bass pop-rock player for many years.”Hass got his break on the Israeli music scene soon after he pickedup the instrument:Kobi Hass“After my military service I moved to Tel Avivto study choir conducting in Tel Aviv University.Somehow I got a hold of an electric bass and startedplaying with a neighbour of mine, a jazz piano player.It was just for fun. However, not long after I startedplaying the bass I received a phone call asking me toplay a few gigs with Ofra Haza, a very well-knownIsraeli singer. One thing led to another, people startedhearing about me, and in no time I played in thebiggest shows of those days – Yossi Banai, Gali Atari,theatre shows and more. I was a lucky guy!”If the name Hass rings a bell, a few years back youmay recall that at the age of 15, cellist Daniel Hass (sonof Kobi) won the Marta Hidy prize among other prestigiousawards; turns out the apple doesn’t fall farfrom the tree.“It was a family decision to move to Canada and weare very happy here. It seems to me a lot is happeninghere musically, and I am happy to have met somepeople that I enjoy making music with. The cityseems to be very vibrant and there is a lot of musichappening. I played in a Toto Tribute Band and got to know some ofthe rock scene, and I played some jazz music, experiencing what thejazz scene is like.”Robi Botos: There’s another very exciting event happening thismonth, which I personally believe will be a historic night of music.On Thursday, March 26 at 9pm incomparable pianist Robi Botos willrelease his new recording, Movin’ Forward, at Jazz Bistro with musiciansthat one simply must hear to believe, and for which words cando little justice. Says Botos:“Drummer Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts is one of my heroes. I also play drumsand I admire him greatly, so it’s extra special for me to have him onthis record. Both him and bassist Robert Hurst played with Wyntonand Branford Marsalis whose music I grew up on, and seriously RobertHurst has everything you would ever want from a bass player. I usedto listen to this band with Kenny Kirkland on piano, who’s one of myearly main inspirations to play piano.”Produced by the artist in collaboration with Scott Morin, the albummarks the first time Robi Botos records with American musicians,with the addition of saxophonist Seamus Blake, born in March 1 - April 7, 2015 | 21

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