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Volume 27 Issue 7 | May 20 - July 12, 2022

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Schafer at Soundstreams; "Dixon Road" at High Park, Skydancers at Harbourfront; Music and art at the Wychwood Barns; PODIUM in town; festival season at hand; Listening Room at your fingertips; and listings galore.

In This Moment Sam

In This Moment Sam Kirmayer Cellar Music CM030422 (cellarlive.com) ! Sam Kirmayer, a Montreal-based jazz guitarist who has gained a lot of notoriety playing with famed musicians nationally, has been and remains one of the most in-demand sidemen within the genre. Already quite a feat on its own for someone under 35, Kirmayer can add his third and latest release to that quickly growing list of accomplishments. The prolific musician’s newest record features a track list of all new, original pieces that showcase not only his talent as a guitarist but also as a great composer. With renowned musicians such as Sean Fyfe on piano, Alec Walkington on bass and Andre White on drums, Kirmayer’s already stellar compositions reach new heights aided by this fantastic backing band. If there’s a common theme or element that could be pinpointed throughout the record, it would be the guitarist’s clean and precise style of playing that is just a pleasure to the ears. The Turnout features a driving bass line that keeps the song moving along at a pleasing pace, grounded by a constantly moving drum groove. Sleight of Hand takes us to a more down-tempo setting in which we hear a mellow piano riff underpinning melodious trombone and tenor saxophone solos, bringing to light Muhammad Abdul Al-Khabyyr and Al McLean’s talents on their respective instruments. Soliloquy completes the terrific album with a meandering pizzicato bass line and soaring saxophone melody, leaving the listener awaiting what this young talent will release next. Kati Kiilaspea Song Within the Story James Brown; Clark Johnston; Anthony Michelli; Mike Murley NGP Records (jamesbrown.ca) ! Based out of Oakville, renowned jazz guitarist James Brown has returned from a 13-year hiatus to release a much-awaited new album. And what an album it is; chock full of original tracks penned by Brown himself, and two covers of well-known Canadian folk-rock songs that he’s put a unique spin on. Helping breathe life into the pieces is an all-star lineup of musicians, featuring Clark Johnston on bass, Anthony Michelli on drums and Mike Murley on tenor saxophone. A pleasurable and relaxing musical journey, this album will appeal to jazz lovers, both old and new, looking for a modern jazz staple to add to their collection. Igor starts off the record with a nod to classical composer Stravinsky, one of Brown’s influences in his classical guitar pursuits. Within the guitar melody are hints of phrases akin to what you’d hear in a Stravinsky piece; Brown once again masterfully mixes the musical realms of classical and jazz into one pleasant whole as he is known to do. Mbira Kids has its own unique flavour, with sections of the bass line and the rhythmic setup of the piece evoking elements of African music, “specifically those of Zimbabwe’s Shona people.” But perhaps most captivating is a beautiful and melodious cover of Joni Mitchell’s A Case of You, closing out the album on a hopeful yet slightly melancholy note, leaving the listener to peacefully contemplate a truly satisfying and fantastic album. Kati Kiilaspea Concert note: James Brown performs at The Rex every Monday in May from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. g(o) sol(o) Bernard Falaise Ambiances Magnétiques AM 267 CD (actuellecd.com) ! Using no overdubs but minimal looping and timbral effects, the seven selections on Montrealer Bernard Falaise’s solo guitar tour de force are completely improvised, while pivoting to other instrument-reflecting sounds for greater variety. The attraction of G(o) sol(o) is how Falaise – part of local bands such as Quartetski – uses all parts of his instrument to suggest wider textures while creating miniature sonic tales. Prime instance of this is the extended 320003, where string shakes and slurred fingering means the staccato introduction on flattened strings is succeeded by bell-pealing shakes, double bass-like low-pitched resonations and organ-like tremolo pulses. These sway the exposition forward into a single line to a buzzing conclusion. Slogan, the slightly longer first track, sets the scene, as bobbing fuzztones and high-voltage shakes rumble along before splitting into pressurized sound loops on the bottom and single-string stings on the top. Both tones are audible as they intersect and slide into one another for a percussive climax. With pointed stops and starts, Falaise uses varied motifs to define the tunes, including string rubs that drone across the sound field for warmer expositions, or pointillist belowthe-bridge scratches for tougher interface. Galop does just that as well, with knobtwisting and effects-pedal-pressure launching tones every which way until all subside into a connective drone. Sol – G in English – is the fifth note of the C Major scale. Yet G(o) sol(o) cannily treats all of the scale’s notes in a unique fashion. Ken Waxman Cherished Possessions Steve Boudreau; Adrian Vedady; Jim Doxas Independent (steveboudreaumusic.com) ! Gifted Ottawabased pianist/ composer Steve Boudreau has just released his first trio recording of primarily his own music, and has also realized his dream of recording with two of Montreal’s finest jazz musicians: bassist, Adrian Vedady and drummer, Jim Doxas. Boudreau had just completed a five-volume solo piano recording project, when he was compelled to begin this exciting trio album. There are ten intriguing tracks here – including two contributions from the diverse artists, Wayne Shorter and Björk. The recording was completed in a single remarkable day – as so many of the finest jazz recordings have also been made. The resulting energy, creativity and spontaneity are palpable in every track. The title track is imbued with contemporary lyricism, expressed in Boudreau’s exquisite piano sound, attack and ideas. Doxas and Vedady are nothing short of luminous – engaging with each other and Boudreau on a psychic and spiritual level. Vedady’s solo here explores the many tonal colours of the bass, and Doxas impeccably uses his kit and cymbals as an extension of his emotional expression. Other stand-out tracks include Words of Hope – a sensuous, laconic ballad, filled with warmth and delicious chord progressions; For Staff Only – a Monk-ish trip into the free zone; and Rolling Oil – an up-tempo cooker where the trio shines again. Boudreau’s technical chops are quite breathtaking here, inciting every nuance to feel effortless and natural. Of special mention is the trio’s masterful take on Shorter’s Go, framed by Doxas’ exquisite percussive choices, and the potent closer, Charlie’s Family Reunion, which captures the pure joy of making music with skilled, like-minded souls. This project is one of the finest trio jazz recordings that I have been privileged to experience in many a moon. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Concert note: Steve Boudreau will celebrate the launch of Cherished Possessions at Woodroffe United Church in Ottawa on May 25. 56 | May 20 - July 12, 2022 thewholenote.com

Open Skies Tom Reynolds Trio Zsan Records (tomreynoldstrio.com) ! With the release of this emotionally and spiritually profound recording, noted pianist / composer/arranger Tom Reynolds has fashioned a musical contribution of special beauty. His noted collaborators here include two uber-skilled and versatile artists: bassist George Koller and drummer Lorne Nehring. Co-produced by the trio, there are 13 original tracks – all composed and arranged by Reynolds throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The music itself is a meditation on the depth of our isolation and loss, tempered by faith in the human spirit, and in the words of Reynolds, “we wanted to contribute something hopeful and reflective of the possibilities for resilience, kindness and social change during a challenging and emotional time”. The program begins with Far Away Lands, a gentle, Latin-infused ballad with fine performances by the trio, and exquisite piano work from Reynolds. Next up is Butterflies – a gossamer-like work, literally calling out for a Marilyn and Alan Bergmanesque lyric! A real stand-out is Spring Will Come, which is a jaunty and uplifting tune, replete with a superb bass solo from Koller as well as dynamic, succinct and complex drum work from Nehring. Other fine offerings include Hold On, which has some palpable Gospel-infused motifs, and Prism. The trio literally shines here – moving like a single-celled organism, reflecting the prismatic spectrum of light through their instruments. One of the most psychoactive tracks is Guidance, which has been arranged with an esoteric intro (defined by Koller’s arco work), which segues into a lilting, melodic expression of joy. Also, of special note is the deeply moving Ode to Nova Scotia, which invokes ancient spiritual presences and heady remembrances of home. The lovely title track reminds us all of the joy of life and art, the delicious taste of freedom and our deep connection to all that is. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke The Alberta Lounge Deanne Matley; Taurey Butler; Paul Shrofel; Steve Raegele; Morgan Moore; Richard Irwin Barbette Records BBR224 (deannematley.com) ! This is Dianne Matley’s first album since she bared her soul in 2018 on When I Loved. But although that music was born of sadness, we always had a sense that there was much hope in her questing voice. On The Alberta Lounge, she picks up where she left off, with the ebullient lyricism and joyful swing of this repertoire, which is a proverbial doffing of the hat to Oscar Peterson. Matley is an artist of the first order; her silken voice, perfect pitch and gentle vibrato at the top of her range bring a touching vulnerability to the lyrics of the ballads The Land Was White (When Summer Comes), If You Were Here Today and Hymn to Freedom. Meanwhile her control of tone and pitch are on full display on the swinging charts, where she makes adventurous vocal leaps. Everywhere on this album her interpretive responses come in primary colours, tempered by a steady stream of vocal tone which imbues the music with a tricky combination of ethereal and concrete imagery. The fact that Matley is bilingual enables her to shine on the English fare as well as the funkified French version of Lionel Hampton and Jeri Jones’ Je Ne Sais Pas, re-christened here as Merci Pour Ça!. Her Portuguese version of Mas Que Nada also gets a passing grade. Matley saves the best for last: a gloriously spiritual vocal version of Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom. Raul da Gama Black Lives – From Generation to Generation Various Artists (including Oliver Lake; Marcus Strickland; Jacques Schwarz-Bart et al) Jammin’colorS (jammincolors.com) ! It is usually difficult to judge albums that contain repertoire by various artists simply because single songs – while representing the best music by a particular artist – may, on the other hand, not suggest consistent artistry on a long-playing album. However, in the case of this Black Lives album, concept trumps compilation not only because the concept of the album is a strong one but because each track is loaded with both artistry and message. Credit must, de rigueur, go to the album’s executive producer Stefany Calembert. She says in her booklet notes that she wanted “… to give black lives a voice and to listen to what they have to say in 2021…” something that stemmed from being “…deeply disturbed by the air of superiority and hypocrisy of white people.” Calembert is white and does herself enormous credit for giving voice to these artists. Moreover, she has a discerning taste for Black music. There is a subliminal suggestion that Black music – born in Africa – has spread and been reimagined forever thanks to the blues, jazz rap and hip-hop music of Black American artists. Artistic excellence is uniformly evident among the strident voices on both discs. Thus, it would be unfair to single out a select few artists and their songs for appropriate praise. Unrelenting intensity drives every song. The inclusion of African-born artists at the beginning and end of discs one and two was an inspired choice… and an enthralling tone, from end to end. Raul da Gama #Cuban American Martin Berjerano Figgland Records FR-003 (martinbejerano.com) ! Cuban American is how I would describe many aspects of Miami, and South Florida in general. A true melting pot deeply influenced by Cuban culture, due to Florida’s proximity to the island and the waves of immigration that have occurred from the 1980s onwards. Pianist Martin Bejerano has been a staple on the Miami music scene for decades now – born and raised in the Magic City – possessing an impressive résumé from a career that has taken him across the US and abroad. Bejerano’s fourth album #CubanAmerican is an eclectic yet unified collection of compositions and sounds. I was shocked to read that the veteran musician “insists he is not a great Latin piano player.” But this statement may come from a combo of modesty and a desire for authenticity. Jazz and improvised music tend to be broad umbrella terms, and much of the “Latin jazz” one hears on the radio would sound foreign to someone who inhabits the lands this music borrows rhythmic content from. After listening to #CubanAmerican, it seems Bejerano has chosen a very wise path by collecting ample influences and creating something original. The results are exciting! The group performs Cuban rhythmic material at a level that is surgically accurate, without losing their sense of heart or vulnerability. Improvised solos are all on par with the cutting edge of modern jazz music, and the album is recorded beautifully at North Miami’s Criteria Studios. #CubanAmerican offers something for everyone, whether your tastes are rooted in traditional jazz, fusion or Latin-based music. Sam Dickinson thewholenote.com May 20 - July 12, 2022 | 57

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