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Volume 27 Issue 6 | April 15 - May 27, 2022

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  • Thewholenotecom
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  • Theatre
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  • Jazz
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  • Toronto
  • April
Vol 27 No. 6. Here’s some of it: “Growing up in a house full of riches” – the Kanneh-Masons; “As if the music knows what it is doing” – J.S. Bach; “Better experienced than described” – Women from Space; “Stories set in prehistoric times are notoriously difficult to pull off without invoking nervous laughter” – Orphan Song; “To this day when I look at an audience, there’s some part of me that sees a whole bunch of friendly teddy bears wearing bow-ties” – Boris Brott. …. etc


MAINLY CLUBS, MOSTLY JAZZ KAROLINA KURAS Guillaume Cote and Greta Hodgkinson in CRYPTO The project began with Coté’s desire to “tackle a fairy tale of some kind. I love the original darker tales that have deeper meanings about our lives and coming of age,” he told me. While this is not going to be a story ballet with a clear straightforward narrative, the bare bones of the story will be clear. “There is a couple who are very clearly unhappy. The wife sends the husband out to find a mythical creature which will solve all their problems and make them happy again. He goes out and finds the creature, but they cannot tame it and so turn to a surgeon to morph it into a human being; and then everything goes wrong. The action,” he says, “is very clear, but the intentions and meaning behind all of the intentions are very abstract.” There are three actors voicing the recorded text but, as Coté explained, “I needed the text to be a way of enhancing the already abstract action, as opposed to giving it a direction, so often what the text will do is give you imagery in words that adds to the imagery you will see in the dancing, but it is not as if the characters are talking to each other or as if we are dancing on top of the text.” From the beginning of the creation process in Banff, every element played a part. A specific choreographic language for each character was developed to existing music by composer Mikael Karlsson, who then took those experiments away and wrote the score as the work developed, incorporating the spoken words. “We began,” Coté says, “with the obvious ideas of music and movement but very quickly we decided why not start with poetry in some moments, multimedia in other moments? We were aiming to fuse all the elements, making the whole experience something greater than the parts, rather than trying to reduce it to one art form.” A dark look at humanity’s attempt to subvert nature, Crypto promises to be a shining evening of music theatre at its risk-taking best. May 5-7, Serious Bandleading and DROM's “Safe Journey” COLIN STORY new page tk There are many pleasant aspects to writing this column: going to cool shows, getting to think about jazz professionally, having an editor who excises my most egregiously constructed jokes. One of the most pleasant, however, is developing an ongoing knowledge of the ever-changing activities of musicians who comprise Toronto’s vibrant jazz scene. New names start to become familiar as you see them pop up as side people with a few different bandleaders; established musicians start to play in different styles and their distinctive sound starts to grow in exciting new ways; veteran players undertake new projects and begin to collaborate earnestly with younger generations. A scene, as much as any individual performance, band, or song, is a multifaceted cultural text that invites spirited engagement, appreciation and criticism; one of the joys of Ontario’s reopening has been watching the local scene reconstitute itself. Ewen Farncombe: to those readers who regularly attend live jazz shows in Toronto, is a name that will likely be familiar. A pianist and keyboardist, Farncombe won a prestigious DownBeat Jazz Instrumental Soloist award in the Undergraduate category when he was still a second-year student in the music program at Humber College. At Humber, Farncombe studied with the celebrated pianist Brian Dickinson, who characterized him as “definitely among the finest” pianists to have passed through the program during Dickinson’s tenure as head of the school’s piano department. QUICK PICK APR 19, 8PM (To MAY 29): Boy Falls From The Sky This one-man autobiographical musical was a sellout hit at the Fringe in 2019, as well as a great deal of fun. Not only is it a story of “local boy makes good” but the show itself is switching venues from the originally scheduled intimate CAA Theatre to the larger and more elegant setting of the Royal Alexandra. Jake Epstein has the charisma to fill the new space, and I look forward to seeing the new incarnation. Jennifer Parr is a Toronto-based director, dramaturge, fight director and acting coach, brought up from a young age on a rich mix of musicals, Shakespeare and new Canadian plays. Ewen Farncombe NIKI PREKOP 24 | April 15 - May 27, 2022 24 | April 15 - May 27, 2022

Sarah Thawer Trio - with Caleb Klager bass & Ewen Farncombe keyboards Since his time in school, Farncombe has quickly become an invaluable part of the Toronto jazz scene. Audiences are as likely to see him playing in fusion settings with artists such as Sarah Thawer as they are to see him in more conventionally traditional jazz settings, as with the crooner Alex Bird. (He has become a great favourite of singers, and can regularly be found in duo settings throughout the city.) Through it all, Farncombe has cultivated a confident, musical approach to the piano, which feels simultaneously personal and deeply communicative. Though he is a highly accomplished technician, his playing remains rooted in elegant phrase-building, even at the fastest of tempos. In March, I had the opportunity to see Farncombe play live at The Rex, during a weekly residency. It was one of the first times that I’ve seen him leading a band, which, on the evening I attended, included the trumpeter Kae Murphy, saxophonist Ted Crosby, bassist Ben Dwyer, and drummer Davide Corazza. Farncombe “wanted to play with these guys,” as he told me, “primarily because there is a previously established understanding between all of us on the energy we want to bring and present in performance.” “This residency is,” he continued, “a vehicle for us to try out different material, play some of our favourite music as well as some of my own compositions, and get comfortable with each other and see how we work together in these different formats. I love being able to put different people together to make some music, especially folks who don’t know each other who I know will just vibe well. It’s one of the great pleasures of being a bandleader.” Bandleading is an activity that Farncombe takes seriously. It is generally recognized that being an effective sideperson requires a set of skills that are no less challenging than being an effective bandleader. To be a good bandleader, however, requires having an intimate understanding of how to work with other musicians; in a style of music as improvisatory as jazz, in which individual musical voices are privileged, having a solid connection to your fellow musicians is of paramount importance. “As a bandleader,” Farncombe said, “your energy is, by the very nature of the job, infectious. In general, people you hire will try to fulfill your vision and follow step and that inspires me to be the best I can be. It’s a more important role in a band and it comes with a lot more responsibility.” His own experiences working as a sideperson has led him to a unique understanding of this process; throughout his career thus far, he has had “the chance to experience many different band-leading styles and its taught me a lot about how I want to lead and what is important to side-musicians.” “Drom’s Safe Journey,” page 34 April 15 - May 27, 2022 | 25

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