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Volume 9 Issue 1 - September 2003

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POTPOURRI Kiosque 1900

POTPOURRI Kiosque 1900 le Kiosque a Musique - Alain Trudel ATMA Classique ACD2 2293 An ensemble consisting solely of violin, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, double bass and percussion might not normally catch my eye. I'd prqbably expect something that sounded like a low budget pit orchestra. My expectations of what can be accomplished with such a small ensemble have been raised substantially by Alain Trudel and le Kiosque a Musique. Originally formed to perform Stravinsky's "The Soldier's Tale", the players enjoyed the experience of working together so much they decided to maintain the group and develop a repertoire to perform. Trombonist/artistic director Alain Trudel is the big name here, but it's percussionist Jean-Marie Zeitouni whose arrangements deserve a large amount of the credit for the success of this project. The quality of the writing and performance offers such a full sound that I kept having to remind myself there are only seven performers involved. The material ranges from popular overtures from the turn of the last century, marches, rags and a suite from Carmen to a Stravinsky scherzo. The standout on the CD for me though is Trois Mouvements du DebuJ du Siecle by Simon LeClerc, which makes excellent use of the full resources of the septet. The opening movement "Charleston" actually swings; it's a credit to both the composer and the performers to get a credible feel on a piece like this from performers who work mostly in the classical field. It should also go without saying that Trudel's trombone artistry alone is worth the price of admission. His cadenza on the Lavallee overture la Rose Nuptiale is spectacular. I'm truly regretting the fact that I missed the chance to hear this group live this summer. Merlin Williams SalifKeita The Best of the Early Years Wrasse Records Wrass 083 (distributed by Sony Canada) Mighty Popo Ngagara CBC Records TRCD 3005 Mali, landlocked between Niger, Algeria, Mauritania and the West African countries that make up the nape of the African Afro, was founded in the 13th century by a Mandingo warrior king, Soundiata Keita. Salif, born to the same powerful family, was twice outcast in Mali. Once for being an albino, and again for loving to play music, an activity considered beneath his family's class. Undaunted, he persisted and with the aid of a wise seer who tried to enlighten his dad, Salifbecame a well-respected singer. On Soundiata (translated as Lion prince), tribute is paid to his proud ancestry. The tradition of praising leaders inspired his biggest hit in Africa, Manjou . The track is long, relaxing and delightful in its diversity. The unmistakable excitement of Cuban brass, Motown inspired organ doodling and guitar noodlings reminiscent of Carlos Santana, grab you first, the warm harmonies and mournful vocal hold you in sway. The first sounds on the CD take you back to believing you may be hearing the dawn of creation. Shortly thereafter the repetitive regularity of musical life commences, with an electric guitar providing the key to a lot of western memory. N'tolin evokes a place where trumpeters with hats on their trumpets lead the parade laughing. The liner notes explain a Seinfeldian story line: giving huge gifts just to show how little you think of the recipient. Also from the continent of all mothers, comes the Mighty Popo. He learned his native sounds in Burundi alongside refugees from the Congo and Rwanda. You can't blame him for moving to Ottawa, where combat is merely verbal and ritualized. Popa' Murigande tells a far tenser story with his songs, than does Salif Keita. The tradition he honours is much less laudatory and more accusatory. Barred from spontaneously understanding the lyrics, you pick up cues. Popo's songs often take the call and response form . When you hear the progressively faster beats, you feel that physical space has been claimed during the time it takes for Popo' s voice to win the chorus' approval, proven by their repetitions. Beware of false impressions, though. The roving hunters and shimmering horizon evoked by Urugendo are part of a song that is dedicated to Canadian landscapes. Funguka Macfwlopen your eyes leads to a complete party mood but is about the illogic of violence. Since Popo fuses freely with a Caribbean beat, dancing while listening is distinctly possible. On the best track, Turaje, the restless funkiness of James Brown and Wycleff Jean are summoned to the call of justice. You might find you are up on your feet shaking your booty to a song about the equitable distribution of cassava. Not that you wouldn't want to if you knew. Deborah Rosen Smiles and Chuckles The Royal City Saxophone Quartet CBC Records MVCD 1160 have liner notes that run through a capsule history of the invention of the saxophone, then try to impress on you the saxophone's "legitimate" musical credentials. The problem is that the saxophone didn't get wildly popular because of its use in classical circles. The saxophone craze in the first part of the twentieth century was sparked by a now nearly forgotten vaudeville act called the Six Brown Brothers. And the topper. .. the Browns hailed from Lindsay, Ontario! Part of the reason their music is glossed over now is that it was recorded acoustically; that is to say, before the development of electric microphones. As such, the original recordings are very limited in dynamic range, and quite noisy. I was delighted then to see the release of this CD by the Royal City Saxophone Quartet. The twenty-four tracks on this recording are recreations of the rags, fox trots, marches and classical novelties that made up the repertoire of the Six Brown Brothers. The playing of the Royal City Saxophone Quartet on "Smiles and Chuckles" is wonderfully buoyant, and in my opinion is of a higher standard than the original recordings. The Guelph-based group has made its name performing and recording Ragtime music and this is its third CD. I'm keen to see what they will come out with next. Merlin Williams DISCS OF THE MONTH Illuminations - Music by Canadian Composers Judy Loman and friends Marquis Classics 77418129727 With the exception of Ravel's Introduction and Allegro, I tend not I have a considerable number of to fill my days with harp recordings. classical saxophone recordings in my collection, and probably 803 of them CONTINUED ON PAGE 62 60 www.thewholenote.com Se pte mbe r 1 - Octobe r 7 2003

CIJ' s available Tiles. Sept. 9th DVD Box Set available Tiles. Sept.)Oth

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