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Volume 22 Issue 3 - November 2016

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  • November
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segment opening to individual solos, until the piece climaxes with a collective improvisation thematically anchored by Mitchell’s forceful left hand. That combination of distinctive structures and strong group interplay continues throughout, with Wollesen’s loose drumming and Mitchell’s varied approaches continually shaping the music’s flow. It’s particularly apparent on Complimentary Opposites, as the two shift the ground from Binney’s fluid invention to Nachoff’s edgy, broken lines filled with vocalic shifts. Nachoff’s creativity has been evident since his debut, and Flux is his most developed statement to date. Stuart Broomer Concert Note: Quinsin Nachoff and this group will be at The Rex Hotel on Thursday November 17 and Friday November 18 and The Jazz Room in Kitchener-Waterloo on November 19, and will give an afternoon workshop at Humber College on November 18. Flux Quinsin Nachoff; David Binney; Matt Mitchell; Kenny Wollesen Mythology Records MR0012 (quinsin.com) !! Like a Paralympian who triumphs in a contest despite lacking something usually deemed fundamental, tenor saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff has composed a set of seven well-balanced creations with a quartet missing one jazz necessity: a double bass. But so skillfully are the tunes affiliated and so sophisticated are his musical associates that it’s almost unnoticed. A former Torontonian, now based in New York, Nachoff, who also composes for big bands and string ensembles in North America and Australia, makes sure Flux’s flow is maintained by relying on three of New York’s nonpareil improvisers: alto saxophonist David Binney; Kenny Wollesen on drums and percussion; and Matt Mitchell who stretches his hands over piano, Fender Rhodes, organ, Wurlitzer and Moog synthesizer, sometimes synchronously. Like a generic drug compared to an original, Mitchell’s bottom notes and Wollesen’s faultless beat remove the need for a bassist. More crucially through the drummer’s animated clatter or hard backbeat plus Mitchell’s harmonic judgment – his crinkly, slurry electric keyboard fills are as arresting as his cultivated romanticism on acoustic piano – fit perfectly jigsaw puzzle piece-like depending on the circumstances. On its own, Binney’s sculpted-out-of-stone tone can be heard at its flinty best on a tune such as Astral Echo Poem. Elsewhere he and Nachoff chew up or caress phrases like conjoined twins. Alternately stinging or smooth, the tenor saxophonist can angle out weighty Coleman Hawkins-like storytelling on Mind’s Ear I then turn around to spit out triplet snorts on Mind’s Ear II backed with thick piano extensions. Most indicative of Nachoff’s writing and playing is Complimentary Opposites. Built up from a hide-and-seek game between the composer’s Hawkins-like timbres with rococo-like snarls and split tones from the other saxophonist, the harsh interface takes place on top of calliope-like bounces from Mitchell’s Wurlitzer plus silky cymbal swishes and tap-dancing snare taps from Wollesen. If there’s anything lacking in Flux it’s that this just released CD was recorded in 2012. Imagine how well the quartet must sound today. (See concert note above.) Ken Waxman Duopoly Kris Davis Pyroclastic Records PR 01/02 (krisdavis.net) L/R !! Since leaving Canada to settle in New York, pianist Kris Davis has extended her creative vision as both an improvising pianist and as a composer. Duopoly (two plus many?) is her first extended exploration of the duet, and it’s a genuine exploration, combining multiple duo partners and methods in a large-scale work. Choosing to work only with musicians with whom she hadn’t previously recorded, Davis enlisted eight different partners to record two duets each. The first time through, Davis and her partners each explore a composition (five by Davis; one by Angelica Sanchez; two jazz standards); the second time through the order of partners is reversed and each duet is wholly improvised. Her partners also appear in pairs: the first two duets are with guitarists Bill Frisell and Julian Lage; then pianists Craig Taborn and Angelica Sanchez; then drummers Billy Drummond and Marcus Gilmore; and finally reed players, alto saxophonist Tim Berne and clarinetist Don Byron. Even the release is dual: the 16 duets are presented as both a music CD and a DVD, the two performers seen in split screen. The music constantly reveals different facets, from Davis’ muffled prepared piano blurring into Frisell’s guitar on Prairie Eyes through the rhythmic dialogue of Thelonious Monk’s Eronel with Drummond to the dense web of Trip Dance for Tim with Berne and the liquid grace of Ellington’s Prelude to a Kiss with Byron. The wholly improvised segments, each named for the partner, are just as diverse. The intertwining continuous piano and percussion of Marcus Gilmore invoke Cecil Taylor and Bud Powell; Sanchez sets a reflectively Monk-ish mood in her pairing; the resonating tones and clusters of Craig Taborn suggest Morton Feldman; Davis and Lage create continuous harmonic surprise. It’s a fine introduction to Davis’ work and the cutting edge of contemporary jazz as well. Stuart Broomer Jigtok Darren Sigesmund DS0004 (darrensigesmund.ca) !! Toronto composer and trombonist Darren Sigesmund has been crafting his own distinct idiom for a decade now, a kind of pan-historic cool that emphasizes subtle timbres, often floating rhythms and a keen harmonic imagination that can recast a melody with fresh inferences. This is his second recording in two years with a quintet that includes New York-based violinist Mark Feldman and keyboardist Gary Versace (here he plays piano, organ and accordion), a group that draws a line from the 1930s French café sound of Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt through 50s cool jazz to the mid-60s music of Wayne Shorter to the present. It’s Sigesmund’s acute consciousness of instrumental makeup that sings through here, from the different meshes of characteristic overtone patterns to attacks and decays. The frontline is matched by the orchestral colourings of bassist Jim Vivian and percussionist Ethan Ardelli. The result is a tonal richness that goes beyond the usual jazz quintet. There’s a special resonance to Machautnations in which Feldman’s eerie droning melody is set against Versace’s understated organ and the broad sonic washes of Ardelli’s cymbals. The ultimate entry of Sigesmund’s wailing upper-register trombone creates a kind of pan-cultural spell, a ceremony, seance or invocation that stretches from Northern Europe to the Far East. The more mainstream Now or Never highlights the unusual combination of violin and trombone along with Sigesmund’s mature instrumental voice, at once brusquely authoritative and finely nuanced, arching across Versace’s harmonic fields and inflected rhythms. Stuart Broomer Concert Note: Darren Sigesmund and the Strands Quintet perform at The Rex Hotel on November 20. Moons Myriad3 Alma Records ACD52062 (almarecords.com) !! The collective musical spirit is alive and well in Moons, the third release by Toronto-based jazz trio Myriad3. Like the group’s name, 80 | November 1, 2016 - December 7, 2016 thewholenote.com

a myriad of traditional, experimental and popular influences are quoted and/or superimposed while masterfully performed by pianist Chris Donnelly, bassist Dan Fortin and drummer Ernesto Cervini. Each member is a composer too which makes for an eclectic listening experience. Donnelly’s Skeleton Key abounds with minimalism and new age melodic influences, with a flamboyant drum part and a surprise sudden stop ending adding welcome contrast. His Unnamed Cells is driven in a funky direction by speedy repeated notes in conversation between instruments. In contrast, Fortin’s appropriately titled Stoner is a slow and meditative journey that aches for the resolution of the chord changes while his Exhausted Clock ticks away gently to dreamland in a calming acoustic trio performance. The title track, Moons by Cervini, is a tranquil and reflective work with the subtle use of percussion colours creating a memorable space-age effect. The more traditional jazz acoustic stylings of his Ameliasburg make this exercise in simplicity a highlight. The trio really knows how to rock too, especially in Cervini’s morein-your-face tune Brother Dom, and their feisty cover of Counter of the Cumulus by electronic whiz Disasterpeace. Myriad3 is a strong trio no matter what style they tackle. From traditional to hybrid, their take on modern jazz is intelligent, groundbreaking and satisfying. Tiina Kiik Beyond the C Steve Koven Trio Bungalow Records SK 010 4 (stevekoven.com) !! Established in 1993, the Steve Koven Trio is a wellrespected, internationally renowned Toronto-based jazz trio. This new release reinforces their professionalism, musicality and improvisational skills as pianist/composer Steve Koven, bassist Rob Clutton and drummer Anthony Michelli perform Koven’s compositions with precision, drive and the overwhelming sense of delight that comes from playing together for a very long time. The title track, Beyond the C, is an upbeat playful jazz tune with a bouncing groove. The almost-stadium-anthem sing-along quality of the two tracks Brooklyn and Bathsheba form a solid backdrop to Koven’s improvisational stylings. The Learned is a more lyrical work embellished with piano runs and trills, and a surprisingly dense virtuosic drum part by Michelli which builds excitement until the final gentle chord. Cymbal washes and broken-chord-flavoured lines evoke programmatic sonic images in Mist-ic. More programmatic touches in Swamp Water Bullfrog as Clutton’s brilliant colourful bass playing resonates with rhythmic and melodic expertise. The closing waltz-like Moments is a reflective lyrical treat. Koven and Michelli are also producers here, along with co-producer Roman Klun, so it comes as no surprise that all the trio’s group and individual musical nuances, idiosyncrasies and teamwork are captured in the recording. Check out the cover design by Hugh Syme with smart touches of the sea and birds flying in C-formation. Listen and enjoy the Steve Koven Trio here as they play every note beyond and including the C! Tiina Kiik Concert Note: The Steve Koven Trio performs at Jazz Bistro on November 18 and 19. Super Petite Claudia Quintet Cuneiform Records Rune 427 (cuneiformrecords.com) !! Acclaimed long before he joined the faculty of McGill’s Schulich School of Music last year, American composerpercussionist John Hollenbeck indicates with Super Petite one of many reasons why a Donald Trumpobsessed United States’ loss is our gain. Each of its ten tracks, which are meticulously crafted as if shaped by a master diamond cutter, manages to convey a flowing simplicity, but includes enough worldly sonic jolts to stave off placidity. Tunes such as JFK Beagle and Newark Beagle for instance, use accordionist Red Wierenga’s tremolo shimmers to replicate a canine’s exuberance, while their serious airport-sniffing work is characterized by a stringent tone conveyed by tenor saxophonist Chris Speed. Alternately, if Drew Gress’ walking double bass grounds the movement of those on the A-List, then squeeze-box surges lustily underlie the swing in the step of the participants. Although the titles are evocative, tracks aren’t really programmatic but are there to balance the players’ interpretative skills. For instance Speed’s clarinet line that stretches outwards like a fire hose defines the near-static mood piece that is mangold as effectively as melded vibes-accordion ripples atop percussion pops. Although uncompromised animation buoys the majority of the tracks, the most remarkable are those which buttress contemporary jazz smarts. Peterborough – named for the city in New Hampshire not Ontario – is reminiscent of a Benny Goodman-Lionel Hampton duet via Speed’s clarinet tone and Matt Moran’s spangling vibes. But once the stop-time theme kicks in, introduced by Gress’ duple rhythms and the reedist’s turn to aviary sibilance, 21st-century musical orientation is evident. Philly is a deconstructed bebop line that honours Philly Joe Jones, one of Hollenbeck’s drum influences from that city. Yet while the vibe rattle and percussion splatters relate to more formal sounds, Speed’s gutty saxophone flutters and Wierenga’s organ-like tremolos reflect Philly’s soul-jazz heritage. With none of these gently swinging tracks lengthier than six minutes and most in the three-to-four minute range, not one wears out its welcome. If he keeps turning out discs like Super Petite Hollenbeck won’t wear out his welcome on either side of the border. Ken Waxman POT POURRI A Luz (The Light) Louis Simão Independent (simaomusic.com) L/R !! On this fine debut recording, gifted Portuguese-Canadian multi-instrumentalist Louis Simão (accordion, bass, guitars, vocals and percussion) has not only presented a sumptuous collection of (primarily) original compositions steeped in Brazilian, Portuguese and North African musical traditions, but has also surrounded himself with a gifted group of collaborators. These include co-producer and percussionist/vocalist Luis (Luisito) Orbegoso, vocalists Patricia Cano and Jessica Lloyd with Wagner Petrilli on acoustic guitar, Michael Occhipinti on electric guitar, David French on saxophones, Rich Brown on electric bass, Bill McBirnie on flute, Marito Marques and Roger Travassos on drums and Maninho Costa on percussion. At its heart, this song cycle is a profound meditation on the nature of duality, particularly brought into salience by the title track, inspired by the juxtaposition of the passing of Simão’s father just previous to the birth of his daughter. Gems also include Um Cantador (A Troubador) – which features splendid guitar work, lilting flute lines and Brazilian percussion motifs intersecting with the luscious vocals on this charming samba. Also, Passaritos Fritos (Little Fried Birds) has layered, vigourous accordion and string work and is a serious tip of the hat to the iconic Hermeto Pascoal, and also the unforgettable Trés Anos (Three Years) is rife with skilled string work accompanying Simão on this deeply moving ballad as he explores and transcends his profound grief at the loss of his father. This recording is of such a high level of artistic, cultural and musical authenticity that it stands as a tribute to the talented Portuguese and Brazilian musicians who have enriched our country and our lives. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Concert Note: Louis Simão launches A Luz thewholenote.com November 1, 2016 - December 7, 2016 | 81

Volume 26 (2020- )

Volume 26 Issue 1 - September 2020

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Volume 25 Issue 9 - July / August 2020
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