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Volume 10 Issue 8 - May 2005

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Hommage a Andre Mathieu

Hommage a Andre Mathieu Alain Lefevre Analekta AN 2 9275 Pianist Lefevre might well be unstoppable in his one-man quest to revive late-romantic Canadian music. Not content with the release of the hot-selling Concerto de Quebec disc just months ago, he has returned with this stunning new piano record. As if to prove a point, Hommage opens with the solo piano piece derived from Mathieu's sketches for Concerro de Quebec. Eleven more Mathieu works form the main body of this collectidn, including the evocative Ere canadien and Dans la 11uit. Mathieu's writing is virtuosic in the post Lisztian style, more akin to Rachmaninov than anyone else, and his childhood nickname "the Canadian Mozart" was an unfortunate misnomer. If you do appreciate that bravura romantic idiom, you'll be enchanted with Boris Petrowski 's Fantaisie "Hommage a Andre Mathieu", commissioned. by Lefevre and recorded here for the first time. Petrowski's work is very mature, considering his relative youth. It's a very enjoyable piece. Composer Walter Boudreau rounds out the collection with his Valse de l'Asile, originally written as incidental music to a Claude Gavreau play. The backward-looking octave tremolando passages are almost startling. The recorded sound is very good, emanating from the Salle Franoys-Bernier in Domaine Forget. The Yamaha CF3 piano seems equal to the demands, and tuner Marcel Lapointe is credited in the notes as well. Arty posed photos of Lefevre only hint at the power "in the music. John S. Gray Silvestrov - Silent Songs Sergey Yakovenko, baritone; Ilya Scheps, piano ECM New Series 1898/99 Silent Songs is a cycle of twentyfour songs by Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov, set to mostly Russian and Ukrainian verses. 66 Right from the first, Song can tend garden, a lesser man might have the ailing spirit, Silvestrov makes rested on well-earned laurels. But it clear he is exploring the 'mystic here is the St. Lawrence Quartet's power' of song. Many of these new CD on EM!, and !just want to songs, with their insistently repeated verses, subtly shifting consonant Quartet No. I (The Awakening) listen to it repeatedly. harmonies, lilting rhythms and arpeggiated piano accompaniment, da's indigenous cultures. This is ev­ is powerfully connected to Cana­ do sound 'half-familiar', like the ident from the opening, where the coachman's song in Wimer Journey. The poignant love-song, I met recorded accompaniment of sounds four players are accompanied by a you, highlights Silvestrov's exquisitely personal blending of romantive throat-singing. Somewhat out of from a steam locomotive and· natic nostalgia and modernist subversivenessis stays in one key signature step with his contemporaries, Hatz­ This recording was made in 1986 throughout the 22 minutes of this in Moscow. It has never before work. The mood is one of exaltation and lamentation, and it achieves been released. in spite of its signif-' icance. Silvestrov has certainly had a great deal in the process. exposure in the West, including two Quartet No. 2 (The Gathering) Grammy nominations, but his work is also a lament, in this instance remains enigmatic. directed at the conflict in Kosovo. Baritone Sergey Yakovenko · s The notes tell us that part of this magnificent voice blooms in the was written during the Iran-Iraq extremities of its range, where Silvestrov frequently leads it, and in during the horrific bombardment war and subsequently re-worked the severely restricted c;lynamic of Belgrade. levels which he imposes. Endlessly imaginative, Yakovenko treats themselves masters of the scores, The quartet members show Silvestrov's souo voce marking for with fiery verve. The Banff Centre is once again revealed as a tru­ each song as an invitation for colour and shade, rather than an expressive limitation. the ten photographs, three actually inspiring recording venue. Of Sensitive pianist Ilya Scheps creates a resplendent palette for the instruments. Top marks! ly show the musicians playing their composer's eccentric vision, especially in the exquisite postludes John S. Gray which end almost every song. Scheps says in a brief program JAZZ AND note that the time spent preparing this work was 'one of the happiest IMPROVISED MUSIC moments of my artistic life'. Happiness - the kind that comes from Live at Montreux 1969 encountering such strange and Ella Fitzgerald beautiful music - is one of the EE39048-9 many wonders this memorable disc offers. Pamela Margles Hatiis - A wakening St. Lawrence Quartet EMI 5 58038 2 Legend has it that Christos Hatzis val in Switwas a wandering soul until arriv- · zerland. I ing in Toronto. It is undeniable that think this his work here in past decades has DVD is the been nothing short of stupendous, first release in beauty and sheer audacity. Af- of the event ter Constantinople and Orbiting (I've never Ella Fitzgerald was in her early fifties, at the peak of her career, when she debuted at the 1969 Montreux Jazz Festi­ WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM heard a recording of it), as shown in black and white on Swiss tt;levision. It' a straight-ahead 65 minute document of a typical performance by traveling musicians, and while that may not sound like much, the realism, the 'factuality' of it, is a perfect reflection of the 1 i fe and personality of Ella Fitzgerald. Here's the best-known jazz singer in the world, yet she shows herself to be shy. almost uncomfortable on stage despite the nearly forty years in front of audiences. Most of the time her eyes are closed or downcast while singing, and her open-hearted 'little girl' qualities come to the fore when she introduces the tunes and her band. Quite a trio it is: drummer Ed Thigpen, Frank De La Rosa on bass and the marvelous Tommy Flanagan at the piano back Ella on a time- 1 y mix of jazz and pop and bossa novas, from Ellington to Bacharach, Jobim to Cream. The in-the-round performance space looks like about a 300 seat bowl, with patrons sitting at club tables an arms' length away from the players. And smoking! The TV folks must have been peeved at having to shoot through the nicotine fog that rolls in through the show. Camera work is basic and non-intrusive, just recording a solid performance by top rank artists. The monaural sound is good. I had the good fortune to see Ella in various settings over the years, and this DVD shows her doing what she did best: singing intimately, and charmingly. Dancers, light shows and fireworks not needed. Nor bare midriffs for that matter: just talent. NORMAN GRANZ' JAZZ AT MoNTRE x DVDs: Dizzy Gillespie Sextet '77 EE39065-9 Ted O'Reilly Jazz at the Philharmonic '75 EE39067-9 Tommy Flanagan Trio '77 EE39068-9 The late Norman Granz produced these concerts in Montreux in the 1970s. Since they were taped for broadcast on Swiss TV it's not surprising that the technical quality is excellent. (Yes, Virginia, in Europe at that time real jazz was aired on TV in prime time.) The production values are high, with MAY 1 - )UNE 7 2005

dis gives his mentor a run for his money throughout the concert, and Jackson and Brown impress even more here than during the glory days of the bebop revolution. In the 1940s Norman Granz made a name for himself producing jam sessions on stage for a paying public. His first concert was excellent camera work and sound and the original tapes have bee remastered in PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5 .1, and DTS Surround Sound. The 1977 concert by Dizzy Gi!lespie's sextet has Dizzy's protege, Jon Faddis, on second trumpet, Milt Jackson, vibes; Monty Alexander, piano; Ray Brown, bass, and Jimmie Smith on drums. The opening selection, a coy Girl of My Dreams, begins with both trumpeters tightly muted, Faddis showing just how much he's learned from the master. Get Happy reprises a head arrangement from 1945 yet still manages to sound fresh. Following ballad features from Diz, Milt Jackson and Jon Faddis there's a fire-breathing version of The Champ, then the closer, a funky Here 'Tis. Jon Fad- held at the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles. hence the label Jazz at the Philharmonic. By the 1970s JA TP was basically a thing of the past. but every now and then Granz would pull together a group of famous jazzmen and send them onstage for an . impromptu jam. This 1975 concert has Roy Eldridge on trumpet, Clark Terry, trumpet and flugelhorn; Benny Carter, alto sax; Zoot Sims, tenor; Tommy Flanagan, piano; Joe Pass, guitar; Keeter Betts, bass, and Bobby Durham, drums. The standout soloists are Zoot Sims, Clark Terry, and Joe Pass, but no one embarrasses himself. A most enjoyable way to pass 90 minutes. Tommy Flanagan, the "poet of the piano", is stunning in his trio set. He's accompanied by Keeter Betts on bass and Bobby Durham on drums. Flanagan plays a beautifully balanced program of jazz originals and standards. His medley of Billy Strayhorn's Star Crossed Lovers and Duke Ellington 's Jump For.Joy offers a superb example of his sensitive artistry. The man's taste is exquisite, and what a touch. Flanagan seems to caress the keyboard. I always thought of him as a latter-day Teddy Wilson, another pianist whose taste and technique raised this music to new levels. A must have set for anyone who loves great jazz piano. Don Brown Mary Lou's Mass Mary Lou Williams Smithsonian Folkways SFWCD40815 This is a reissue of Mary Lou Williams' Music For Peace album with some welcome additional material. When the original LP was issued back in 1975 Newsweek Magazine called the score ··an encyclopedia of black music, richly represented from spirituals to bop to rock". That's a pretty fair assessment of the work but I find 1 that Mary Lou, in her attempt to cover all the bases, is perhaps a little too self-effacing. Sure, there are moments here and there where one hears the genius of this most sadly neglected of jazz pianists. but far too often Ms. Williams takes a back seat in the proceedings. Mary Lou had to struggle to get this work performed in the church. She'd taken an earlier version to Rome in 1968 but was disappointed when a Vatican City official campaigned successfully against the performance because of her use of drums. A revised mass was later performed in a church in New York City. Mary Lou contended that the work was not "really jazz", but she'd certainly broken tradition with her nontraditional rhythms and harmonies. Also, many of the players and singers in the recordings have strong jazz credentials. While I'm not in a position to know how well the work succeeds as inusic for a mass, I understand it's been very well received. And, according to his notes, Father Peter O'Brien (Mary Lou's manager) certainly holds it in high regard. Don Brown No Funny Hats Buddy Rich with the Killer Force Band Lightyear/Lobitos Creek Ranch 546662 Buddy Rich's 'No Funny Hats' is a posthumous release on New York's Lightyear Records of a live performance in a Sacramento, California high school on March 3, 1-978. The CD's title was derived from a Buddy Rich interview in which he declares jazz is "an American classic ... without funny hats and DISCOVERIES, CONTINUES ...

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