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Volume 10 Issue 3 - November 2004

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FIRST First X's Free

FIRST First X's Free Chris Hunt Tentet + 3 Independent CHT 2 This seems to be the decade of the mid-sized band. By that I'm referring to the appearance of bands in the 9-12 member range as an outlet for jazz composers. Writing for large groups has an appeal in terms of pure sonic variety and power, but getting enough work to keep 18 + musicians working is difficult, not to mention the logistics in organizing rehearsals. There's also something to be said for the fleetness of a mid-sized group GOLD RECORDS JUNO AWARDS STUDIO 92 2" analog/24 bit digital recording & mastering Great live room in old movie theatre Yamaha Grand Piano Hammond M3 & Leslie Milestone Drums per hour 416.467.9597 Call for a coffee and tour compared to a full big band. Trombonist/composer Chris Hunt has chosen to go the mid-sized route with his Tentet. The group is made up of three saxes (usually soprano, alto and tenor), two trumpets, two trombones and a three-piece rhythm section. The plus 3 refers to the addition of two more rhythm section players and a vocalist. This recording's eight tracks are original music my Hunt and saxophonist Allan Gaumond. The compositions are melodic and accessible and use motivic development rather than discordant harmonies to make their impact. All of the featured soloists are notable in their use of melodic material from the compositions in their solo statements. Saxophonist Tara Davidson, vocalist Melissa Stylianou and keyboardist Dafydd Hughes all contribute strong performances to the recording. This thoroughly engaging recording can be purchased directly from the band (check them out at their regular appearances at the Rex), or you can swing by Chris Runt's website - Merlin Williams f".1'/l/.I' I I/I I I/I/I/I I/I/I l/l/l,l'-'11'/ 'I 314 Church Ill Ave Toronto, Ontar i o M2R 1 ET Canada Tel: 416-224-1956 Fax: 416-224-296 4 MIKIOKOS M OS ,,' We buy your classical LP collection (classical, su ch as Beethoven, Mozart, ' Stockhausen) I ; for good colle ctions we travel anywhere '# I/I/I I/I/I/I I/I/I I/I/I/I I/I/I I Paul Hodge Design • Recording • Editing • Live Sound phone 416-409-1081 web email Cecil Taylor - Algonquin Cecil Taylor, piano; Mat Maneri, violin Bridge Records 9146 Composing or performing at the Library of Congress is a pinnacle of the chamber music world. Cecil Taylor became the first jazz composer/ musician to receive a prestigious commission from the Library's McKim Fu nd. When Taylor's percussive, atonal keyboard upended jazz, the mainstream regarded him as a madman pariah. Think Ives through early Cowell and the New York Bad Boys, combined with formidable technique polished at the New England Conservatory and a proud African-American mastery of jazz. Simultaneously, Taylor became an underground icon in experimental music and radical Black culture. It's been a long, arduous journey to a McArthur Genius Award and the like. "Algonquin" is one of the most captivating of a long line of outstanding Taylor recordings, beginning with "JazzAdvance" in 1956. While unpredictable on stage, Taylor's albums are mainly excellent or better. The few "off" albums are merely very good. This 1999 live performance catches the then 70 year-old grand lion of experimental jazz with a principal young lion of New York's Downtown scene, the 30 year-old jazz violinist Matt Man- RECORD YOUR CD Recording facilities (spec1;il1zinJ 1n record1nJ Cl;iss1c;il ensembles & soloists) eri. Matt's father Joe taught composition at the New England Conserva· tory, authored a seminal book on microtonal theory, and was frustrated because he set out to be a jazz musician, damn it. As Matt's talents and microtonal jazz innovations were quickly recognized, Joe joined him on-stage and finally received his due in jazz. Algonquin has four movements. Taylor and Maneri take two movements exploring how they will improvise around composed kernels, and how Taylor will balance his force-of-nature keyboard with Maneri' s violin. In movements three and four, they're in gear and onfire. It's all that jazz can be. Phil Ehrensaft POT POURRI Kay Swift - Fine and Dandy Aaron Gandy, conductor PS Classics PS-9419 (Available from PS Classics aJ This is the first recording of the musical by Kay Swift that scored a big hit on Broadway in 1930 - and hasn't been heard since. It's thoroughly delightful. With catchy tunes and imaginative harmonies, Swift's music sets the clever lyrics of Paul James, who was in life her husband at the time, James Paul Warburg. The songs, which range from ballads like Nobody Breaks My Heart to the Gilbert and Sullivanesque Etiquette, are colourfully varied. But each offers a special twist, which, if not Gershwin, certainly shares his wit and charm. In fact Swift's complicated relationship with Gershwin, who is mentioned in the title song, broke up her marriage and dominated her professional life. PS Classics has put together a terrific cast. Gavin Creel, Mark Linn-Baker and especially the appealingly forthright Carolee Carmello are stand-outs. Mario Cantone (aka Anthony from Sex and the City) is stylishly clever in the repartee with Carmello in the familiar, much-recorded title song. 82 NOVEMBER 1 • DECEMBER 7 2004

This is an outstanding production all around. The comprehensive booklet includes the libretto, as well as a touching essay by Kay Weber, granddaughter of Swift and Warburg. The orchestra, conducted by Aaron Gandy, is scintillating. Four extra songs from Swift and Warburg, including the lovely Up Among the Chimney Pots, exquisitely sung by Natalie Douglas, are welcome bonuses. Swift is just too memorable a voice, and Fine and Dandy is just too good, to be overlooked. Thanks to this terrific recording, they needn't be. Pamela Margles Editor's Note: A new biography of Kay Swift by Vicki Ohl, published by Yale University Press, is reviewed this month in the Book Shelf column. Acclarion Acclarion: David Carovillano, accordion; Becky Sajo, clarinet Acclarion Records ACClOOO This recording is indeed a labour of love, or more accurately a celebration of 'amore'. Sajo and Carovillano are partners off stage as well as on, and their intimate musical connection is readily apparent in the performances on this disc. The reedy combination of accordion and clarinet blends beautifully in a variety of colours in repertoire ranging from Handel, Faure and Puccini to Piazzola, Bucyznski, and three pieces by Carovillano, who also does much of the arranging himself. The playing is energetic, flexible, and polished, and Sajo's tone and intonation in all registers is smooth and secure. The program notes accurately describe this music as "after dinner sweet treats that will tickle your ears", and my favourite bonbons are Handel's "Harmonious Blacksmith" variations, a very stylish Tico,Tico, and Carovillano's wistful Flight of Fancy. The tangos and cabaret style pieces are contrasted with meditative tone poems such as the final movement from Faure's Requiem and Puccini's emotional Nessun Dorma. There are a couple opportunities missed: I would have loved to hear more of Sajo's rich bass clarinet playing; there is no mention in the notes of where and when the live version of Buczynski's Fast Fingers was recorded (a spectacular performance!); while the notes give us a good sense of the genesis of Kenonango and of Acclarion itself, there is no information on the other living composers featured (Cozens and Buczynski), and no bios of the performers themselves. These small caveats aside, this is a most enjoyable recording, and I hope to hear more from this talented duo. Colin Savage •UlHO AIRC "'.ADAIGAl AIGUHIM1 1,tu•c:;o .. lfAUAJt "'-"'•A•GAI\ Buenos Aires Madrigal Argentine Tangos & Italian Madrigals La Chimera; Furio Zanasi; Ximena Biondo M-A Recordings M063A So here's the concept - take some Italian madrigals and .Argentinian tangos (both highly endearing musical forms) and organize and perform them according to such "places of the soul" as migrations, solitude, conflicts, absence, dance, dreams and death. With excellent musicians in a superlative quality recording, this is in theory a great idea that, unfortunately, in reality doesn't quite succeed. My problem is the frequent and jolting transitions between two types of music I hold dear to my heart. Kind of like a dish combining pickled beets and chocolate - I may enjoy both immensely separately, but together, I just don't know. Unfortunately, the order of pieces, which includes jumping without a break from a tango into a Monteverdi madrigal, creates a musical indigestion that even the greatest performers and performances cannot cure. The group La Chimera, with its roster including bandoneon, strings, lutes, guitar, and harmonica, consists of versatile musicians able to successfully interpret both styles. Of note is bandoneonist Gabriel Rivano whose musicianship is a joy to behold. Vocalist Ximena Biondo has a breathtaking voice and smooth musical gesture that should be heard on every CD player in the world. I know I can play the tracks in any order I wish but my impression is the pieces have been carefully linked in the order the performers would wish them to be heard. It is really sad then that this so greatly disturbed my listening because with music by composers from Monteverdi and Piazzolla to Carlos Garde!, there really is a lot of great material here in fine performance. Tiina Kiik French Horn sans frontieres James MacDonald ALOFT0412 Harnist James MacDonald has racked up some pretty impressive credits over the years. How many musicians can you think of who've played with both Tafelmusik AND Rob McConnell & The Boss Brass? The material included on this disc focuses primarily on small group jazz performances featuring Mac­ Donald's horn, the tenor sax of Mike Murley, pianist Craig Harley, bassist Jordan O'Connor and drummer Nick Fraser. They are joined on some of the cuts by jazz vocalist Lynn McDonald. Several of the pieces date back to jazz horn recordings made by pioneers Julius Watkins and David Amram in the fifties. There are also two horn ensemble works by Benjamin Britten and Frederick Delius. This may well be the only album I have that includes music by Britten, Horace Silver and Lennon & Mc­ Cartney! The one track that really knocked me out was a Don Ross composition entitled Meanwhile Road. The composer accompanies MacDonald's horn on 7-string guitar, and the combination is stunningly beautiful. I'm surprised I've never heard this pairing of instruments before. Be sure to check out the website www - James and Lynn program jazz concerts in the town of Sonya and appear there together as well. "French Hom sans frontieres" can be ordered onJine case of East meets West. More spefrom the site. Klezmerovitz Featuring Allan Merovitz Independent KLEZ062004 Allan Merovitz, former singer with Toronto's Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, is well known to local audiences. Now living in Calgary, he has a new band aptly named after him. This, their debut CD, features an assortment of songs which fall within the broader rubric of "klezmer" - Jewish-based music (and dance) which, in its traditional context accompanies celebrations and rites of passage, but which has now moved into the realm of popular entertainment in the booming world music market. This CD has much to interest listeners from all backgrounds. Most of the song texts are in Yiddish, though the title translations and spoken introductions are helpful. More importantly, on one level the music transcends linguistic barriers - there is never a dull moment. Even the unaccompanied song My Uncle Elye captivates the listener in this impassioned rendition by Allan Merovitz. And the Calgarian band of strings, winds and percussion is versatile and sensitive, providing just what is needed - whether it be a rollicking oompah-pah beat, a jazzy-blues feel, or eloquent heartrending melodies. The songs are drawn from a number of sources. Three are by Merovitz himself, including a country-style number reflective of his new home in which he sings "I'd sell my boots just to be with you". Several songs are traditional, including two with a Turkish/Oriental quality, while others are attributed to various klezmer composers/poets from the first half of the 20th century. A great klezmer compilation, this CD can be purchased at Rui-Shi Zhuo Compositions Artifact Music 029 Annette Sanger The music of conductor and compos­ Merlin Williams er Rui-Shi Zhuo is, simply stated, a NOVEMBER 1 - DECEMBER 7 2004 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM 83

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