7 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 5 - February 2005

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listening; a curious and

listening; a curious and beautiful record of two decades of fascination with a literary puzzle that was never " meant to be solved. Robert Tomas David Amram - Symphony Songs of the Soul RSO Berlin; Christopher Wilkins Naxos Milken Archive 8.559420 Leonard Bernstein chose David Amram as the New York Philharmonic·s first resident composer. BMl has ranked him among the top twenty living composers in terms of works performed by U.S. orchestras. But citing his name in jazz circles evokes memories of Amram's pioneering collaboration with Jack Kerouac that established the jazzpoetry nexus. Jazz fans view Amram as a brilliant jazzman who also composes classical music. This CD illuminates two more dimensions or the gifted musical polymath: a composer or Jewish music. both secular and sacred; and a leading-edge figure in world music. Amram's father was likely the only Jewish dairy farmer in Pennsylvania. Despite the ethnic isolation, he ensured that Jewish culture was transmitted to the next generation. David carried on in compositions like Tile Final Ingredient, a televised Holocaust opera centred on concentration camp inmates· organization of a Passover Seder. Several scenes are performed here. Half the disc is devoted to a symphony, Songs of the Soul, which brilliantly integrates diverse melodic and rhythmic elements from both the Oriental and European Jewish Diasporas. Above all, we hear Amram as a master of orchestral colouration. We are also presented with excerpts from his major foray into liturgical music: a sening of the Sabbath eve service. New York's Park A vt:nue Synagogue commissioned liturgical works by major American composers, including Amram. Imagine their surprise when Amram's premiere attracted crowds of jazz musicians from Greenwich Village and Harlem. Listen to this beautifully recorded disc and you'll understand why. Phil Ehrensaft Plirt - Berliner Messe Elora Festival Singers; Noel Edison Naxos 8.557299 Plirt - Berliner Messe Moscow Virtuosi & Choir of the Academy of Choral Art; Vladimir Spivakov Capriccio 67 079 What both these CDs have in common is Arvo Part's Berliner Messe. Beyond that the Elora Festival Singers explore Part's choral music and the Moscow Virtuosi his orchestral chamber music, although both include Summa, performed in its original 1977 version for SA TB chorus on the Elora disk and on the Moscow Virtuosi disk in the corn po er's 1991 arrangement for string orcht:stra. This work also appears on both as the Credo in the Mass. Arvo Piirt 's Berliner Messe, written in 1990-91, was commissioned for a performance at Berlin's St. Hedwig's Cathedral for the 90th Catholics' Day. It consists of seven movements, the five from the ordinary of the Mas , Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, an Alleluia and the twelfth century Pentecost text. Veni Sancte Spiritus. The Elora recording's Alleluia text is related to Pentecost, while the Moscow Virtuosi include texts for both Christmas and Pentecost. The Alleluia and Veni Sancte Spiritus transform this mass from liturgical music to a poignant prayer for the transforming divine energy of the Holy Spirit. The fourth (Vent) movement, the middle of the seven movements, is the longest and the most powerful. Here alternate responses from the four vocal registers, reinforced at times by the upper strings, unfold over a pedal in the lower strings. The Moscow Virtuosi's reading of it is riveting. Not only is the pedal electrifying in its intensity and presence, but conductor, Vladimir Spivakov, builds a crescendo throughout the entire movement, magnifying the significance of both text and music. The Elora Festival Singers' performance excels in the phrasing, which conductor Noel Edison uses to good effect, to bring out the lyricism of Part's writing. The Elora Choir's intonation in the beautiful Magnijicat is breathtaking, as the singers navigate effortlessly through probably every interval considered dissonant by traditional harmony. They are rocksolid and then some! The way the Moscow Virtuosi build the intensity of Camus in memory of Benjamin Britten to an overwhelmingly powerful climax is awe-inspiring. To all for whom the musical art of the 20th Century is important I highly recommend both of these recording . Allan Pulker Concert Note: Soundstre'ams presents ··sacred & Secular" includ- ing Arvo Part's Miserere and the ·world premiere of Omar Daniel's The Passion of Lavinia Andronicus with Sarah Leonard, soprano, The Hilliard Ensemble and Tafelmusik Gene Ramsbottom's umptuous clarinet tone, one might hope for a future Chatman work for tenor, clarinet and strings. Of note is that Crimson Dream is actually a British production with Gunther Herbig and the BBC Symphony, recorded in Royal Festival Hall. The orchestras are well-matched in their tuning and the hall ambiences don't clash - although the Chan Centre of Vancouver gets my vote. John S. Gray JAZZ AND IMPROVISED MUSIC Double Time Jazz Collection Volume 3 (DVD) Tribute to John Coltrane "Live Under the Sky" I A Tribute to Bill Evans "Live at the Brewhouse" Chamber Choir at St. Andrew's Double Time EE 39076-9 Presbyterian Church on March 5. Proud Music of the Storm - Music by Stephen Chatman UBC Symphony Orchestra; Vancouver Bach Choir; Bruce Pullan Centrediscs CMCCD 10304 Centrediscs has brought out something wonderfully big with this new Chatman disc. By this I do not in any way mean to denigrate their many excellent releases in the chamber music field, but our troubling times make us pine for big gestures from artists who can. And Chatman certainly does just that. The opening title track bursts upon us with all the forces necessary for Carmina Burana, with words by Whitman. Chatman is well represented here, including the award-winning Tara's Dream and Crimson Dream. But 1 return time and again to the haunting Over Thoms to Stars with its intriguing offstage tenor, and the 1998 work Prairie Dawn, for clarinet and string orchestra. Chatman's command of the orchestra is breathtaking; there is much to discover. The musicians of the UBC Symphony play with subtle grace, the Vancouver Bach Choir display customary discipline, and tenor Matthew Stephenson shows every sign of filling the shoes left vacant with the exit of Peter Pears. And with As deserv- B!\!!'!'\'! ing as Coltrane and Evans may be, it's a bit of a shame that these great players who deserve an aud ie nct: of their own are squeezed into a Tribute Fo'rmat. Be that as it may, there's some fine playing here, slightly marred by a DVD flaw that has the picture slightly ahead of the sound. It's disconcerting to see a close-up of a piano player who's always behind himself, so to speak. The 1987 Tokyo concert tribute to John Coltrane (57 minutes) is a spirited (if sometimes shrill) all-star affair with Dave Liebman and Wayne Shorter on soprano saxes; Richie Beirach, piano; Eddie Gomez, bass; and Jack DeJohnette on drums. The Coltrane pieces featured are Mr. P. C.; and medleys of After The Rain/ Naima (a Leibman/Beirach duet) and India, brought on by a lengthy Gomez solo intro, and linked to Impressions by an heroic De Johnette solo. This is an outdoor evening concert, so the picture is determined by the stage lighting man. On some tracks, notably the duo and the bass intro, the stage was so dark, so you can put it on and just listen. (It wa released as a CD, Columbia CK45136). The 53 minute Bill Evans tribute by Gordon Beck and friends is a studio session, assuring a smoother presentation overall. Also, it's not 60 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM FEBRUARY 1 - MARCH 7 2005

slavish in playing only Evans tunes, including material from within the band. (There's no audio version of this 1991 performance that I'm aware of, though almost the same group made the LP "Seven Steps To Evans" MPS G68248). These great European musicians are not well-known on this side of the Atlantic, excepting Canadian flugelhorn player Kenny Wheeler. Pianist Gordon Beck updates the Bill Evans tradition and is a wonder as player and composer (Not The Last Waltz); reedman Stan Sulzmann shines on tenor, soprano and flute; the fine German bassist Dieter Ilg gets display room on an untitled Bass Solo; and drummer Tony Oxley, who played and recorded with Evans, gives a wonderful drum olo (Combination) which shows off his dynamic work and partly-homemade drum set. (This is really the only time you should see, rather than just hear, the concert). The Evans compositions are mostly familiar: Peri's Scope, misspelled here; Blue in Green played as a trio; the ballad Orbit; and Waltz For Debby which becomes a brisk 4/4 closer with bristling trumpet work by Wheeler, and impressive Beck piano. Deep Cove Ryga/Rosnes Quartet CBC Records TRCD 30U Ted O'Reilly The cover of The Ryga/Rosnes Quartet's CD "Deep Cove" shows a picturesque spot in North Vancouver close to where pianist Renee Rosnes grew up. As many people know, she is now a highly sought after jazz musician living in New York City. The other half of the quartet's marquee, saxophonist Cam Ryga still lives in Vancouver, yet previous collaboration between the two inspired them and producer Claire Lawrence to re-unite in order to record with two other former British Columbians, bassist Neil Swainson and drummer Rudy Petschauer. If a signature Canadian West Coast sound exists, it is contained on this disc. Like the photo on the cover, the music evokes feelings of tranquility and beauty. Of the three compositions contributed by Cam Ryga, Not Yet Home, provides the ideal soundtrack for the album cover, with his lyrical soprano sax and Rosnes' piano finesse creating a glowing musical alchemy. Rosnes' composition Manhanan Rain, still within the parameters of the recording, persuades l.isteners to re-locate their imaginations to New York City in order to understand Rosnes' source of inspiration. Three of the record's nine pieces are covers, including Thelonious Monk's We See and a straight ahead number entitled While We're Young. Two days was all that it took to record "Deep Cove", but that's usually all you need with uch accomplished musicians. Eli Eisenberg Lilac Wine Helen Merrill Gitanes Jazz Productions 067 566-2 Helen Merrill was born in New York City and started her career at the 845 club in the Bronx while still in high school. During her. formative years she worked with the likes of Earl Hines, Charles Mingus, Thad Jones, Clifford Brown, Gil Evans, Marian McPartland, Jim Hall, Elvin Jones, Bill Evans and Stan Getz. Helen lived for a number of years in Europe, and recorded jazz albums in Italy, France and Norway. She made a number of trips to Japan, recorded for Japan Victor and eventually moved to Tokyo in 1967. She returned to New York in 1972 where she now lives, making annual concert tours in Japan and Europe. Some 50 albums since her first, "Lilac Wine" is a very low-key, pensive set of superior and, for the most part, lesser known ballads. These include How Sweet You Are, originally sung by Dinal1 Shore in a '40s movie called "Thank Your Lucky Stars", One More Walk Around 771.e Garden from "Carmelina'', a 1979 Broadway flop with a good score, and an unusual pairing of Elvis Presley's Love Me Tender with How Sweet You Are. Ms. Merrill is accompanied by pianist Torrie Zito, her son Alan on guitar, bassist George Mraz, and a 32 piece orchestra, recorded in Prague. On four of the songs trumpeter Lew Solof gives added beauty to the music. This is late-night listening designed to put you in a pensive frame of mind. Bick's Bag Jim Galloway Bill Mays; Neil Swainson; Terry Clarke Triplet TR1013-2 This 'equal members' trio recording shows the spontaneous side of its very professional musicians. These fine players all have many associations which are more fonnal (such as Mays' own trio, Swainson with George Shearing, Clarke with Jim Hall) but this live recording at Toronto's Montreal Bistro & Jazz Club captures them tossing ideas back and forth, jousting, trying to hit the high hard one in the pure joy of challengejazz. Each player listens and contributes, ready to go where the music itself leads. ln this sort of contributory music, the actual compositions played are of less value than what is done to them, but there's a lot of ground covered here: originals by Mays (the exuberant Bick's Bag written for retired guitarist Ed Bickert and once recorded by those two) and Swainson (Paradigm, quiet and thoughtful); standards like Laura, On The Trail (featuring Swainson) and even Paul Simon's I Do It For Your Love. Jazz tunes are Bean And The Boys by Coleman Hawkins; Frank Rosolino's waltz Blue Daniel; and the session's wrap-up Hallucinations, Bud Powell's bebop burner. The music is well-recorded and naturally balanced but, having spent many a night at the Montreal Bistro, it seems to me that more than a little post-production enhancement has happened when it comes to the audience response, as it sounds like an attentive, enthusiastic 400 or so WHOOPEE fans are there. So, if you don't mind that many folks in your listening room, be sure to invite Mays, Swainson and Clarke. They make a special trio. Ted O'Reilly Sur une balanoire FEBRUARY 1 - MARCH 7 2005 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM Joelle Leandre; Gianni Lenoci Ambiences Magnetiques AM l26CD French bassist Joelle Leandre is a very important performer of contemporary music, both composed and improvised, on both sides of the Atlantic. She has performed with the likes of Anthony Braxton, Marilyn Crispell, Georges Lewis, Evan Parker, Steve Lacy, and John Zorn, is a member of Pierre Boulez's Ensemble lntercontemporain, and an accomplished composer in her own right. Like Leandre, the Italian pianist Gianni Lenoci is at home both in jazz and composed music. His mentors in jazz were Mai Waldron and Paul Bley, and he shares Leandre's passion for the music of John Cage and Morton Feldman. Lenoci teaches at Italy's Nino Rota Conservatory. He invited Leandre to give a clinic there, and also proposed a free improvisation recording session, and approached the Belgian radio presenter John Rottiers to handle the production end. Sur une balanr;oire translates as "on a teeter-totter," and it's an apt term for tlle interaction between these two master musicians. There are fourteen beautifully crafted improvisations ranging from one-anda-half to just under five minutes in length. The pace varies from intense to stately. Each performer employs the entire stretched range of contemporary techniques that are available for their instruments. They are so well attuned to each other that it's hard to believe that they are not longterm collaborators. As of late, Montreal's Ambience Magnetiques label has been quite successful in the export market. Albums like Balanr;oire are the reason. Phil Ehrensaft Montreal Jesse Cook POT POURRI EMI 7243 8 63853 2 1 Guitarist Jesse Cook has the ability to lull you with his beautiful songwriting and melodic playing one minute, and then make your jaw drop with his scorching solos the next. This collection of tunes recorded live in, you guessed it, Montreal, is no exception. Although all of the 14 tunes on Montreal are from Cook's five previous CDs, the special guests and

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