8 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 4 - December 2005

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • December
  • Theatre
  • January
  • Jazz
  • Choir
  • Symphony
  • Musical
  • Orchestra
  • Ensemble

Combine that front I ine

Combine that front I ine with the rhythm team of Dave Holland and M~vin "Smitty" Smith and you have a wmmng combination. Holland may be a virtuoso musician but he's also a team player who never hogs the spotlight. The same can be said for "Smitty_" Smith whose rhythmic pulse 1s mfectious. The sound recording and camera wor~ are_ both first rate. The only possible improvement might have been the inclusion of interviews with the musicians. Don Brown Stride Doug Riley; Tyler Yarema; John Roby Marshmellow Records MMR031 In about ten year's time, stride piano will be celebrating its I OOth birthday, but whether or not any grand production will be made commemorating its emergence from early ragtime roots remains to be seen. That doesn't mean that credit isn't given where credit is due. With piano guru Doug Riley's latest release on Marshmellow Records, aptly titled "Stride", the art form pioneered by Fats Waller James Johnson, and Willie 'the Lion; Smith is authentically represented and is mercifully devoid of any trendy neo-swing hype of recent years. Riley brings keyboard counterparts_ John Roby and Thunder Bay immigrant Tyler Yarema on board for an album of solo piano, duets and two numbers featuring all three piamsts a_nd al I six hands. Although the album 1s ostensibly under Doug Riley 's name, the trio format could have been taken further as youth and experience work well together when the opportunity arises. Six Fats Waller compositions are on the disc including Crazy 'Bout My Baby, Gonna Sit Right Down and the ubiquitous Jitterbug Waltz'. . Riley, Yarema, and Roby all contnbute original pieces and local vocal legend Jackie Richardson makes a guest appearance on the final 80 track, Spring Song, a tune composed by Doug Riley and Keith Whiting. Whiting, incidentally, wrote the play "Stride" which is the basis for this CD. (Future Whiting projects include Stride ff, The Empire Strides Back and The Bride of Stride) ' Eli Eisenberg Shu rum Burum Jazz Circus David Buchbinder Monkfish Records CDOIOS David Buchbinder is no newcomer on the scene, but this is the first CD under his own name and it is an ambitious undertaking, drawing on music ongmally written by Buchbmder for several of his previous film and broadcast projects. It is a blend of many musical influences including Middle Eastern and Klezmer _ he also heads up the Fly ing Bulgar Klezmer Band - but with a strong contemporary jazz content. From the opening overture and throughout the entire album the writing is adventurous, colourful and dra­ ~atic - not to mention formidably difficult~ and the playing is of a very high calibre, featuring some ofToronto 's finest musicians. Buchbinder: on trumpet and flugelhorn plays with fire and intensity and there are equally intense and impressive contributions from Perry White Peter Lutek and Pol Cousee 0 ~ reeds, Stephen Donald on trombone and Levon lchkhanian on guitar. The hard driving rhythm section of Greg de Denus on piano. Rob Clutton and on a couple of n~mbers, Robert~ Occhipinti, on bass, plus Barry Romberg on drums, propels things along with a matching impetus as we ll as contributing some rewardmg s_olos. In addition a string section is effectively added to the mix on some of the tracks. It makes for demanding listening, not for the fa111t of heart, but gives the listener a consistently reward- 111g and emotional musical adventure. Jim Galloway WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM Raincoat Lake Runcible Spoon Independent ( Many of us first heard the word "runcible" in Edward Lear's famou~ 1871 poem, "The Owl and The Pussycat", and according to Webster's dictionary, a Runcible Spoon is a "kind of curved fork, often used for eating pickles" - no doubt a piece of cutlery reserved for the most archaic of place-settings. The musical ensemble Runcible Spoon may have chosen their moniker in order to describe their timeless and whimsical nature. The group has a reputation for tight acoustic arrangements classically infused original works (some of 1t b~rdering on 12-tone experimentat10n) and clever re-workings of established material from a plethora of influences, embracing the worlds of jazz and cabaret, as well as material from the so-cal led "Great American Songbook". . The mainly original compositions (111cluding contributions from local musicians bassist Andrew Downing and guitaristT_im Postgate) are presented with an innocence that is tempered with a kind of runaway melancholia. The members ofRuncible S_poon include Pamela Bettger on v10la_, Monica Fedrigo on cello, Tanya GJ!I on piano, Julia Hambleton on clarinet and jazz vocalist/lyricist, Leah State. Ms. State's smoky timbre and vulnerable delivery is at the very heart and soul of this beautifully produced CD, as are the arranging, technical skills and composmg contributions of all the members Highlights of"Raincoat Lake" in~ elude an evocative rendition of Kurt Weill's Youkali. Leah State's sumptuous vocal ( en franr,:aise) captures the drama of high German Cabaret and also brings this gem of an ar~ song kicking and screaming into the 21st century. The title track, Raincoat Lake is a disarming and witty com_position, arranged to perfection by its author, clarinetist Julia Hambleton. Another stand-out is the original, Elephant, which features both lyrics and vocal performance by State. Her essential loveliness transcends the music, and goes right to the heart of the listener, bringing the rest of the exquisite ensemble along with her. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke The Ballad Artistry of Pat Lacroix Pat Lacroix Independent ( Pat Lacroix is a Toronto singer who has had an "on again, off again" musical career, and he has recorded this CD after an extended "off' period. Frankly, it shows. His singmg, from a technical standpoint, is not strong .. His pitch is wonky at times and his tone is weak. However, what he lacks in technical finesse he makes up for in delivery. Age and experience count for a Jot when putting across these types of songs - all ballads, mostly of the "loved and lost" variety. The average 20- year-old just wouldn't be able to bring the same depth ofunderstand- 111g that Mr. Lacroix brings to these songs. He a_lso has a very straight delivery, which allows the lyrics and the_ melodies to come through on their own merits. It's refreshing to hear a singer who has sufficient faith 111 the material he's chosen to deliver it_ as written. It's not in the jazz trad1t1on, but it is musical. The fourteen tracks on the disc have a certain sameness to them not just because they're all ballads' but because a similar format is fol~ lowed on all of them, and there's very little variation in tempo, dynamics, or mstrumentation. So songs like A Cottage for Safe, f 'ff Be Seeing You, and When Joanna Loved Me end up blending together in a pretty melancholic wash. ' Excellent local jazz musicians veerthis record away from the middle of the road it's heading down however. Frank Falco and Charles Mountford on piano and Mike Downes and Pat Collins, bass, carry most ?f the supporting duties, while guitarist Reg Schwager and the flugeller of choice, Guido Basso, guest on three tracks. Cathy Riches D ECEMBE R 1 2005 - FEBR UARY 7 200&

Michael Scl1ade I I I. t~ .,' 1 111 I 1 ~ Dll: WiNTERRElSE I L I l I Q 1, l " :t, 1 I '1 ·, 11 .-1. ~ I !. MVCO.Jl:?'l MVCD 1170 SMCD52-2 ;w;:w:,v1t~c b creco rd.s. ca D~ .tdbution Canada • Universal Music Group ~ ~.

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