5 years ago

Volume 24 Issue 2 - October 2018

  • Text
  • October
  • Toronto
  • Arts
  • Choir
  • Jazz
  • Musical
  • Concerts
  • Performing
  • Orchestra
  • Theatre
Presenters, start your engines! With TIFF and "back-to-work" out of the way, the regular concert season rumbles to life, and, if our Editor's Opener can be trusted, "Seeking Synergies" seems to be the name of the game. Denise Williams' constantly evolving "Walk Together Children" touching down at the Toronto Centre for the Arts; the second annual Festival of Arabic Music and Arts expanding its range; a lesson in Jazz Survival with Steve Wallace; the 150 presenter and performer profiles in our 19th annual Blue Pages directory... this is an issue that is definitely more than the sum of its parts.


WE ARE ALL MUSIC’S CHILDREN October’s Child PAT LABARBERA MJ BUELL NORM JOHNSTONE Pat LaBarbera grew up in Mt. Morris NY, the eldest of three musician brothers: the other two are drummer and composer Joe LaBarbera, and John LaBarbera, a trumpet player, composer and music educator. An award-winning soprano, alto and tenor saxophonist, flutist, clarinetist, composer and jazz educator, LaBarbera was a member of the Buddy Rich Big Band from 1967 to 1974, and also Woody Herman’s band, before moving to Canada in 1974. A well-loved member of the music faculty at Toronto’s Humber College, some of his former students, now colleagues, are Alex Dean, Vern Dorge, John Johnson, Mike Murley, and Kirk MacDonald. Every September for over 25 years, Toronto jazz audiences anticipate Pat LaBarbera and Kirk MacDonald’s Annual Birthday Tribute to John Coltrane. This year’s fine celebration was standing room only at the Rex Jazz and Blues Bar (Sept 20 to 22) with an additional show at the Jazz Room in Waterloo on Coltrane’s birthday (Sept 23). LaBarbera and MacDonald, with Neil Swainson on bass and Brian Dickinson on piano, were joined by Joe LaBarbera, who flew in for the occasion. And finally, in response to years of requests for a Coltrane Tribute record, they made live recordings of this year’s Tribute for release sometime next year. Working musicians in your family? My father told me a childhood memory of his mother taking him to a fortune teller in Sicily where a bird picked paper fortunes out of a box – his said he would be a musician. My father was a stationary engineer for the state of New York who started out working for the railway and then ran a power plant for a hospital. My mother was a nurse at the hospital – I think that’s how they met. But my father was also a musician who conducted and played in bands. We had all these instruments in our house: tubas, three pianos, an upright bass, violins, all the saxophones, trumpets. He learned to play first the piccolo and then the baritone horn in a Catholic orphanage band. He wasn’t an orphan but when his father died he and his brother went to this orphanage where boys were taught a trade. My father learned to be a tailor but then he got into the band – and after the horn came the clarinet, piano, accordion… What’s your earliest memory of hearing music? That would be students coming to the house to take lessons with my father who also taught music in the house. Young people would come to the house with instruments and they’d go down to the furnace room where the lessons happened, and I’d sit at the top of the basement stairs to watch. I’d have been about five maybe. I guess he charged about 50 cents … What was your first instrument? The clarinet, and then the alto sax. Your early experiences of making music with other people? We had a family band – in the 50s and into the 60s. We played at weddings and parties and talent shows. The focus wasn’t jazz – that came later. We played pop music from the time and a lot of ethnic music: Mt. Morris was pretty much half Sicilian and half Irish. There are pictures of me playing shows as young as eight and a half or nine, around 1953. The family band LaBarbera family band, circa 1955. Joseph at the keyboard, Josephine on bass, with Joe, Pat, and John in the frontline. “My mother learned bass because she felt left out of family events. She learned by putting a fingering chart above the kitchen sink and memorized the fingerings as she did the dishes. It was very unusual for a woman to be playing bass but my mother was ahead of her time and very independent before she met my father.” finished when I started high school where we started forming our own jazz groups and bands. My mother and father went on to work together in a country band, and my mother eventually stopped playing. My father continued playing drums with a German band into his 80s until he didn’t want to drive late at night. What about music at school? It was my high school music teacher who really got me interested in jazz. He was a bass player – playing dance bands. The school band played for Christmas and spring concerts but then got some of us to perform in a small jazz group, my brothers included. He had this record collection which he brought to school and he’d allow us to take records home, or go to a listening room instead of a study hall. He had Miles Davis’ Someday My Prince Will Come. We’d save lunch money and take a trip to Rochester to buy a record – so one of those was On Green Dolphin Street. I will always remember sitting in that listening room and Coltrane soloing – really affected by that.… For Pat LaBarbera’s full interview, visit A NEW CONTEST WILL APPEAR IN NOVEMBER CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS! On Thursday October 18 at 7:30pm Pat LaBarbera will be the special guest of JIM GALLOWAY’S WEE BIG BAND, in a toe-tapping tribute to the music of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and more, under the leadership of Martin Loomer. A food and beverage service will be available to help keep guests who like to dance swinging for the whole evening, at 720 Bathurst Street. This event is co-produced with The WholeNote by the Ken Page Memorial Trust Fund. Tickets are at the door where a pair of tickets will be waiting for CAROL MOFFAT and for SUZANNE DE GRANDPRÉ. SILENT VOICES is a recording made in 2017 by the Pat LaBarbera and Kirk Macdonald Quartet with Adam Nussbaum (drums) and Kieran Overs (bass). A feast of outstanding tenor and soprano saxophone artistry, these 12 generous tracks swing beyond bop in originals from each of the band members with just a delicious hint of Coltrane. We’ll be sending out a copy each to JOAN SAYER and CHRISTIAN MUELLER. 64 | October 2018

DISCOVERIES | RECORDINGS REVIEWED DAVID OLDS I begin this month with a hot-off-thepress solo violin release on the ATMA label. Solo Seven (ACD2 2748 features works by seven Canadian composers including several written for the soloist, young scion of one of Atlantic Canada’s most respected musical families. After initial studies with his father, renowned violinist Philippe, Marc Djokic continued his studies in the United States at the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Young Artist Program, the New England Conservatory, and with Jaime Laredo at Indiana University. Winner of the 2017-2018 Prix Goyer, a Prix Opus and a former Instrument Bank recipient from the Canada Council, Djokic is currently artist-in-residence at CAMMAC (the Canadian Amateur Musicians association) and was recently named principal violin of the McGill Chamber Orchestra. Solo Seven marks his recording debut. The disc begins with two virtuosic, moto perpetuo movements from Richard Mascall’s Sonata for solo violin & Digital FX. The first movement, Labyrinth for amplified violin and digital reverb, which Mascall wrote in 1992 at the age of 19 while a first year undergraduate student, went on to success at the CBC Young Composers’ Competition. In 1993 it was chosen to represent Canada at the International Rostrum of Composers and that same year Mascall completed the five-movement sonata. At The Corner House, a reference to a chic Toronto restaurant where the composer worked for a time, is the final movement and it culminates with a blazing cadenza-like “guitar solo,” actually a transcription of an infamous passage from Eddie Van Halen’s iconic Eruption. I must say that it translates effectively to violin, especially in the hands of this young master. We are also presented with selections from Noncerto RR3, Noncerto Notre-Dame-de-Grace by Matthias Maute. I was familiar with Maute as the director of Ensemble Caprice and as a flute and recorder soloist, but this was my introduction to his work as a composer. The opening Sparkle – Andantino is a warm and gentle movement where the sparkle is more reflective than effervescent. Chopin – A tempo giusto juxtaposes ebullient arpeggiated sections with contemplative melodic moments. Casareccia – Chaconne Prestissimo, is as you would suspect, primarily boisterous although not without some elongated double-stopped melodic passages, providing an exciting finale. Vincent Ho’s brief Morning Song, evidently begun and finished while watching a single sunrise, gives respite from the whirlwinds that precede it, somewhat reminiscent of The Lark Ascending. Serbianborn Ana Sokolovic is also represented by excerpts, in this case two movements from Five Dances for Violin Solo which the composer tells us, although modelled on the Baroque suite are actually imaginary dances based on the rhythmic improvisations that are characteristic of the folk music of the Balkans. There are echoes of the Baroque in Kevin Lau’s Tears as well, which he says draws inspiration from Bach’s Chaconne in D minor, “whose dramatic three-part arc influenced the architecture and tonal centre of my own piece”; but also from Berio’s Sequenza VIII, “whose searing narrative made a stunning impression on me as a student.” Lau wrote the piece while a student at U of T in 2006, but revised it in 2017 for the purpose of this recording. Murray Adaskin’s Vocalise No.1 was composed for clarinet solo in 1989 and adapted three years later for violin and dedicated to Andrew Dawes, founding first violinist of the Orford Quartet. Throughout this work, the composer uses a melody which reoccurs in undulating variations, gradually rising in pitch and giving the impression of moving from darkness to light. Incidentally, it was Andrew Dawes who performed Mascall’s Labyrinth during the CBC Young Composers Competition. This in effect brings the disc full circle, but wait, there’s more, in the form of an “encore” piece Dystopia by Christos Hatzis. Hatzis tells us that, “Hidden behind the hyper-virtuosity and relative brevity, this piece is a meditation on the causes of religious intransigence, disenchantment and, ultimately, jihad. The literal meaning of the title (a ‘terrible plac’) refers to the current conflict between narrowly defined religious creeds, particularly the conflict between the Moslem world, and the so-called Western civilization, or modernity.” It provides a timely and fitting coda to this fine recording. I look forward to further releases from Marc Djokic, and to hearing the other movements of Mascall’s, Maute’s and Sokolovic’s suites on some future occasion. One of the first works I ever heard that integrated electronics with live performance was American composer Leon Kirchner’s 1966 String Quartet No.3 with electronic tape. It was an epiphany for me and an introduction to a brave new world. On Into the Light (Centaur CRC 3651, the Telegraph Quartet performs an earlier work by Kirchner, the String Quartet No.1 from 1949, a gnarly modernistic composition, that while lacking any electronic extensions of the sound world manages to push the envelope in its own ways. The third movement Divertimento seems to foreshadow the world of Schnittke’s “ghost waltz” and the Adagio final movement anticipates late Shostakovich. Another revelation to me, or more accurately a reminder, as I know I have this piece in my vinyl collection and first heard it nearly half a century ago, of how forward-looking Kirchner was in those early postwar years. This new disc pairs the Kirchner with Anton Webern’s Funf Satze (Five Movements) for String Quartet, Op.5 from 1909 and Benjamin Britten’s Three Divertimenti (1936). I will borrow from Kai Christiansen’s note about the Webern because “I couldn’t have said it better myself!” He tells us in part that the music is “atonal, exquisitely colourful, shockingly brief and so mysteriously evocative. Like five epigrammatic character pieces from outer space, they conjure eerie landscapes, fantastic atmospheres as well as ineffable inner spaces.” The Telegraph Quartet’s realization of these “jewels” (Stravinsky) is crystalline and thoroughly engrossing. The Britten miniatures – although relatively epic when compared to Webern’s haikus – provide a dramatic contrast: an angular and majestic March, lilting Waltz and playful presto Burlesque. All in all, a welcome addition to my string quartet collection (with apologies to Terry Robbins). Some Consequences of Four Incapacities (new focus recordings FCR205 features extremely esoteric – I would say old school new music – chamber compositions by American composer Douglas Boyce. The disc opens with 102nd & Amsterdam, performed by members of the Aeolus Quartet. The work honours the composer’s father and his love of October 2018 | 65

Copied successfully!

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)