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

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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

On the Town – Pete

On the Town – Pete Malinverni plays Leonard Bernstein Pete Malinverni Planet Arts 302124 (petemalinverni.com) ! Pete Malinverni is a highly respected New York Citybased pianist/ composer, widely known for his technical skill as well as for his swinging and lyrical interpretations. It was a bit of propinquity – the kind that can only happen in New York City – that kick-started the idea for this truly exceptional recording, on which Malinverni also serves as producer. While on a gig at a prestigious private party, Malinverni met Leonard Bernstein, and he was so moved by Bernstein’s passion for music, as well as by his New York City-infused compositions, that eventually this recording became fully manifest. This CD is not only a tribute to Bernstein, but it is also a love letter from Malinverni to his beloved New York City. Malinverni’s collaborators here include noted jazz luminaries Ugonna Okegwo on bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums. The cheeky opener, New York, New York, comes from the Broadway/film hit, On the Town. The trio moves like one, swinging organism and the expertly recorded instruments draw the listener into a profoundly intimate jazz experience. Malinverni’s soloing is inventive, and easily segues in and out of deep grooves. Okegwo is both solid and facile and Hamilton propels everyone down the pike with his energy and skill – as only a New York drummer can do. With a stirring percussion intro and outro by Hamilton, Cool from West Side Story is a stellar track that lends itself perfectly to a pure jazz format… which makes one wonder if Bernstein wasn’t a bit of a jazz musician himself! Simple Song from Mass is presented here with such heart and soul, that it feels as though each musician was singing the lyrics in his head. I have a feeling that if Lenny were here now, he would be thrilled with this masterfully conceived and performed project. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke The Shape of My Heart Jami Templeton; Andy Langham; Edwin Livingston; Charles Ruggiero; Joel Frahm Independent (jamitempleton.bandcamp.com) ! Los Angeles-based classically trained jazz vocalist Jami Templeton has a story to tell, and through the eclectic and emotional nature of her new recording, her story leads the listener through an auditory banquet of diverse material from the worlds of country, pop, rock, musical theatre and the Great American Song Book. Templeton’s voice is compelling, moving and a delight to the ear. Skilled producer Andy Langham also performs here on piano and melodica, along with first call L.A. musicians Edwin Livingston on bass, Charles Ruggiero on drums and the masterful Joel Frahm on tenor saxophone. First up is Willie Nelson’s moving country ballad, Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground, rendered here with a swoon-worthy romantic treatment, as Langham expressively uses innovative chord substitutions and technical skill to bring forth every last drop of empathy. Templeton’s voice is sumptuous, controlled and pitch perfect – reminiscent of (and technically superior to) Julie London, Chris Connor or Joanie James – perfectly capturing the mood of the arrangement. Also of note is a singular, creative interpretation of Sting’s Shape of my Heart, in which Templeton’s evocative voice and Sting’s melancholy/dystopic vision are perfectly underscored by strong arco bass lines, fine drumming and the sonic treat of Langham’s melodica. Of rare beauty is Templeton’s take on Tom Petty’s Room at the Top. Her warm, mezzo voice is diaphanous and haunting, and also intuitively rhythmic, with a profound jazz sensibility. David Mann’s 1950’s cinema noir-ish ballad, In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning is a total standout, replete with Ruggiero’s sensitive use of mallets, the thrilling coalescence of the trio, and the brilliant lyric, which all join together as one, wrapping themselves around Templeton’s balmy, knowing, lovely pipes. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Late Night Fernanda Cunha; Reg Schwager Independent (fernandacunha.com) ! With the release of this new recording, there can be little doubt that the creative pairing of the gifted Brazilian/Canadian vocalist Fernanda Cunha and eminent Canadian guitarist Reg Schwager is a match made in musical heaven. All of the fine compositions here were written by Schwager, with lyrics by Cunha. Schwager (also wearing producer and arranger hats) performs on guitars and electric bass along with his equally eminent colleagues Tom Szczesniak on piano, keyboard and accordion; Allison Au on alto saxophone; Masashi Usui on tenor saxophone; Pat Collins on acoustic bass; Michel Lambert on drums and Edson Chilardi on drums and percussion. The eight superlative tracks here are luminous in their beautiful construction, performed with breathtaking technical skill and rendered with such emotional resonance that the term “awe-inspiring” is more than apt. Dança Do Amor is a sensual, intimate glimpse into pure romance and Szczesniak’s keyboard work is perfection itself, reminiscent of the great Manfredo Fest. Cunha’s velvety alto weaves a web of eroticism and Schwager’s solo is the perfect, crystalline appurtenance. Quero só Viver em Paz is a joyous, lilting samba with intriguing chord changes and facile accordion work from Szczesniak while Cunha’s rich vocal sound evokes the great Leny Andrade. The lush title track boasts a thoroughly lovely alto solo by Au, and captures what it must feel like to walk on Ipanema Beach following a transplendent night in Rio. Novo Amor opens with a vocal/ bass intro followed by a masterful acoustic bass solo by Collins and Vias Paralelas has an internal, chordal and rhythmic tension that solders the genres of Brazilian music and contemporary jazz. The sumptuous closer, October Song features Cunha singing in English and displaying her indisputable talent for fine lyric writing and lyrical interpretation in any language. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Neon Andrew Boudreau; Neta Raanan; Simon Willson; Eviatar Slivnik Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT-634 (andrewboudreau.com) ! The liquid pianism of Andrew Boudreau is a treat for the connoisseur’s inner ear. His debut disc Neon is launched in irrepressible fashion with vivid original compositions that appear to come at you from very interesting, oblique harmonic and rhythmic angles. Both complementary and contrasting colours and tone textures nestle cheek by jowl. They spring from a single source: the questing mind of a young composer and pianist who thrusts his music off the beaten path. Boudreau makes a proverbial splash on his first outing as a recording artist. He brings his prodigious musical gifts to these songs. He plays with intuition and intellect; with elegance of form, generous lyricism and tumbling fantasy. This makes the program eminently beckoning. The tunes Neon, Ghost Stories and Hopscotch are extraordinarily eloquent and seductive, and the pianist, justifiably shines through them. But this riveting musicianship is not the sole purview of Boudreau. He plays with equally intriguing bedfellows. The bassist Simón Willson and drummer Eviatar Slivnik are fully attuned to the pianist’s vision and artistry and – together with tenor 54 | April 15 - May 27, 2022 thewholenote.com

saxophonist Neta Raanan – these artists have formed an elegant musical relationship. Boudreau – a talent worth watching – goes for unforced clarity rather than the nth degree of excitement. It won’t matter to you that his fresh, spacious and airy interpretation of this piano-driven repertoire lacks the kind of celebratory noise that many debutants go for on their first outing on disc. Raul da Gama Jump Julieta Eugenio; Matt Dwonszyk; Jonathan Barber Greenleaf Music GRE-CD-1092 (julietaeugenio.com) ! Many musicians today put out what may be called mixed compilation programs on their debut discs. It’s almost as if they are testing the waters, so to speak; playing in a variety of styles and personas. However, it is a healthy sign when the program makes intrinsic musical sense from start to finish, revealing not simply a mature program, but a near-fully formed musical voice. This is exactly the case with Jump by tenor saxophonist Julieta Eugenio. The smoky syntax of Eugenio’s music speaks to a rare kind of maturity that is rooted in a deeply reflective psyche. Her compositions seem made for a molten, meditative saxophone voice that tumbles out of the bell of her horn in parabolic glissandos forming profound melodic lines born of tender phrases ending with sensuously whispered vibrato. Mostly original work by Eugenio fills this album – except for two standards – revealing a musician who mines her tenor for all the tonal purity that it can offer. Nothing is overly mannered; everything seems poised, balanced and intuitively right. For You, Another Bliss, Tres, and the exquisitely paced standard, Crazy He Calls Me are gleaming gems. Finally, if trio music is an intimate conversation among friends, then Eugenio, bassist Matt Dwonszyk and drummer Jonathan Barber parlay with the familiarity of old friends. Yet their playing retains the gracious etiquette associated with musical noblesse oblige, which comes from being musicians of a thoroughbred sort. Raul da Gama The Next Step Roberto Occhipinti; Adrean Farrugia; Larnell Lewis Modica Music (modicamusic.com) ! The curiosity engrained in bassist Roberto Occhipinti’s personality has allowed him to wear many hats in the music industry, all while avoiding the “master of none” trap that often accompanies “jack of all trades.” Equally at home in a jazz quartet, perched on a stool in an orchestra or writing notes in the booth of a recording studio, the man does it all. This versatility kept Occhipinti busy through periods of the COVID-19 pandemic where even the most passionate of us were twiddling our thumbs. How? With his own recording studio, and Modica Music. The Next Step was recorded there, released on Modica and features a who’s who of Canadian musicians, although fewer than you might expect. Occhipinti opted for a piano trio on this release, consisting of Adrean Farrugia on piano and Larnell Lewis on drums, with the addition of vocalist Ilaria Crociani gracing the fifth track. This is the type of band one could expect to hear musical pyrotechnics from, but this recording comes off as cool and subdued instead. “Subdued” certainly doesn’t imply any lack of energy throughout the album, as the trio gives their all to even the slower and more introspective tracks. Jaco Pastorius’ Opus Pocus and Occhipinti’s A Tynerish Swing are both on the edgier side, the latter featuring a great bass solo after the catchy melody. The album is unified by overdubbed arco additions from Occhipinti, which makes it feel like a larger ensemble is present without taking away from the interplay of the trio. Sam Dickinson are you here to help? Aaron Dolman; Sarah Rossy; Eugénie Jobin Independent (aarondolman.com) ! On the back cover of drummer/ composer Aaron Dolman’s Are You Here to Help? a set of brief poetic liner notes mentions “the gentle potency of silence.” This resonated with me after several listens to the album. In the paireddown setting of vocals, drums and occasional vibraphone, artists are left with a choice to either try and fill every space, or to embrace the subtlety of the ensemble. The first option has potential for more showiness, but the second, which Dolman opts for, allows silence and space to become a fourth member of the band. Vocalists Sarah Rossy and Eugéénie Jobin (Jobin contributes the vibraphone playing on tracks 2, 4 and 8) are not afraid of the avantgarde, but are always perfectly in tune and rhythmically confident when the music asks for it. This is no easy feat on an album largely devoid of harmonic accompaniment! Dolman’s drumming is not without its fair share of contrast to keep listeners entertained. The sections of his compositions with a steady groove are made even more poignant by the free and open improvisations that surround them. This is especially the case on the album’s title track, which features a great deal of groove as a contrast to relatively abstract harmonic and melodic ideas. Juxtaposition might just be the theme of this album, as it contains enough abstraction to amuse tired ears and enough cohesion to pull in more conservative listeners. Something for everyone! Sam Dickinson Night’s Quietest Hour Gordon Grdina’s Haram with Marc Ribot Attaboygirl Records ABG-3 Oddly Enough – The Music of Tim Berne Gordon Grdina Attaboygirl Records ABG-4 (gordongrdinamusic.com) ! Guitarist/ composer Gordon Grdina leads several ensembles, from home-based Vancouver bands to various international collaborations, each representing different aspects of his broad musical interests. These two CDs on his recent Attaboygirl label may be his brightest achievements so far, the first as a bandleader, the second as a guitarist. Among his hometown groups, Haram, formed in 2008, focuses Grdina’s interest in traditional and contemporary Middle Eastern music. There are ten other musicians in the band, including Grdina’s frequent rhythm section of bassist Tommy Babin and drummer Kenton Loewen with an array of other distinguished Vancouverites, among them clarinetist François Houle, trumpeter JP Carter and violinists Josh and Jesse Zubot. Expatriate Syrian singer Emad Armoush is an essential and prominent component, bringing focus and a keening intensity to the melodies in the midst of tremendous rhythmic energy. Grdina plays oud here, bringing an idiomatic mastery to the Middle Eastern lute, while featuring guitarist Marc Ribot, whose distinctively sparse, edgy lines have marked collaborations from Tom Waits to John Zorn. The compound rhythms and essentially modal underpinnings support everything from delicate dialogues thewholenote.com April 15 - May 27, 2022 | 55

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