8 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 7 - April 2006

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  • April
  • Toronto
  • Theatre
  • Jazz
  • Musical
  • Arts
  • Orchestra
  • Symphony
  • Concerto
  • Choir

Concert Notes: Grzegorz

Concert Notes: Grzegorz Krawiec performs a number of concerts with the Penderecki String Quartet this month culminating in an April 22 appearance at Glenn Gould Studio. Other April dates include: 5 (London); 6 (Windsor); 7 (Stratford); 8 (Collingwood); 9 (Waterloo); 12 (Oakville); 19 (Deseronto); 20 (Ottawa); 21 (Guelph). Krawiec will also give solo recitals on April I (Rosemount) and 2 (St. Thomas) and duet performances with his brother Andrzej April 23 (Oshawa); 26 (Leamington); 27 (London); 28 (Deseronto); 29 (Milton) and 30 (Bayfield). as referring to this work as "fairly simple and obvious". So it is, and this in itself is no mean feat. The composer is in top form in this, the strongest composition on this release. The highlight of John Golland's Tuba Concerto, Op. 46 is the second movement Adagio where the tuba is heard against the vibraphone in an unusual example of musical colouring. Good musicianship, solid compositions and an excellent sound quality make " British Tuba Concertos" a great way to spend a musical hour. Tiina Kiik here, features a mysterious-sounding, muted and buzzing, pulsing pizzicato on the low strings of the (acoustic?) bass, unlike anything I've ever heard before. I like that. It's an enigmatically fitting ending to an album replete with multiple mysteries. Andrew Timar theme of the next tune, Rundle. Ian Froman's vigorous drumming a la Elvin Jones is appropriate here. Trane made a defining version of Harry Warren's mid- '40s song I Wish I Knew yet Murley puts his own stamp on it, as he always does. A minor cavil is with the live recording: it rarely seems live, as reaction is only heard in quickly-faded applause at the end of tracks, and ' way offmic at that. I've heard this band, and it's more exciting than it seems here. The producers should have used the audience to enhance the home-listening experience. Ted O'Reilly Performance Note: Mike Murley is among the featured artists who will perform at the National Jazz Awards at the Old Mill April 8. ll lU I !Sil ll Iii f o\c 1- I? I c,-., British Tuba Concertos James Gourlay; Royal Ballet Sinfonia; Gavin Sutherland Naxos 8.557754 In my recent unscientific survey, I 00 percent of respondents began to laugh upon hearing the word tuba. Why? Does the instrument sound funny? Does a favourite Monty Python episode come to mind? Or is it the recollection of one's first encounter with "Tubby the Tuba" . " British Tuba Concertos" is no laughing matter. This is an enjoyable release with a varied program of four concertos featuring the fine musicianship of James Gourlay. Scottish born Gourlay is a master of his instrument. His pitch, tone and intonation are perfect as he proves that the tuba can be more than just the bottom line in a brass band. He is able to balance his performance successfully with the orchestral accompaniment, illuminating that he is not only a good soloist but also a careful listener. Edward Gregson's Tuba Concerto ( 1978) is an exuberant work that focuses on the rhythmic strengths of the tuba. Based on his three pieces with piano accompaniment, Roger Steptoe's twelve-tone Tuba Concerto ( 1983) is more of a tuba solo with an orchestral background. Ralph Vaughan Williams composed his Tuba Conce1to in F minor ( 1954) at the sprightly age of 82. Vaughan Williams is quoted in the liner notes 72 Hui - and blue sparks burn Various Artists Centrediscs CMCCD 10605 I couldn' t possibly do justice to every one of Melissa Hui's seven compositions presented with style in this CD, so I must limit myself to a few highlights. To my ear, the over-riding musical signature of this composer is steady-handed, mature; an altogether distinctive musical voice. The title track, and blue sparks burn (2002) for violin and piano, the composer's personal response to the 9/l I tragedy, is a moving composition. At once succinct yet mysterious, it conveys both mourning and moments of eerie calm. Marie Berard's elegant violin playing often takes excursions into tricky overtone territory, yet Berard always maintains secure pitch and a gently lyrical, legato melodic line. Another quiet pleasure was Hui 's Come as you are (2000), a mysterious-sounding work for pipa (Chinese lute) and nine orchestral instruments. In part a very convincing evocation of aspects of Gagaku (the music of the Imperial Japanese court), l also hear the strong presence of Varese and other 20th century composers in this work. This stylistic melange makes for a uniquely satisfying musical experience. Gary Kulesha effectively conducts the fine chamber ensemble comprised of Toronto-based musicians in this and other compositions on the CD. The final movement of Changes, Melissa Hui's earliest composition Mnemosyne's March Murley Braid Quartet Cornerstone CRST CD128 I had only a vague thought of what it meant, sol had to look it up. Now, I'll save you the trouble: Mnemosyne (nih-MOSS-in-knee) is a Greek goddess, the mother of the muses. This new release, co-led by reedman Mike Murley and pianist David Braid, features mostly original compositions. They have called on Euterpe and Terpsichore, it would seem, for the music is lyrical and dancing. And whoever the Muse of Jazz is, has contributed 'swinging', or perhaps that's the work of bassist Jim Vivian and drummer Ian Froman. The first three tunes are by Braid, surely the most interesting young pianist in jazz. Say A Silent Prayer moves in and out of waltz time to lead us into the set (recorded live at Toronto's Montreal Bistro & Jazz Club). It's followed by the more driving Dream Recording and then the title tune, which is most certainly not a march. Vivian's out-of-tune area bass in the intro is quickly forgotten when Murley's soprano sax weaves a lovely musing (dare I say) melody. Then Vivian's plucked solo deepens the ethereally optimistic feeling. Mike Murley, half a generation older than Braid, brings a different angle to his compositions. It's lighter, more humourous, and often standards-based, as on Sheep Walking (from You - or 'ewe' - Stepped Out Of A Dream). Cascade has some of the qualities of John Coltrane, circa early '60s, unrolling out of tempo for its entire quarter-hour. Vivian 's bass solo leads into the WWW, TH EWHOLENOTE,COM Monk's Moods (4 CD set) Thelonius Monk Proper Records ProperboxlOl Pianist/composer Thelonious Monk was one of those artists who seemed to live in his own musical world, inspired only by jazz itself. Monk's music was never easily understood by the public, nor many musicians. His (relative) fame came years after his most important contributions weremade, andit'sthat 1947-1955 material from his first 13 sessions as a leader that is featured in this package. First recordings of seminal compositions such as Ruby My Dear, Well You Needn't, In Walked Bud, Evidence, Misterioso, Straight No Chaser and Criss Cross are included. There are two versions of his famous 'Round Midnight, which had already been recorded (by Cootie Williams' big band) as early as 1944. Equally fascinating are the pianist's interpretations of standards April In Paris, Willow Weep For Me, Sweet And Lovely. Monk seems to get deep inside them, and wash away all the unessential elements. The best-suited drummer for Thelonious was Art Blakey, and he's on most of this, with Shadow Wilson, Max Roach, Willie Jones and Kenny Clarke also heard. One of the other greatest interpreters of APRI L 1 - M AY 7 2006

Monk is vibraphonist Milt Jackson, heard on two sessions, and tenor man Lucky Thompson, who shines on Let '.s Cool One from a session where trumpeter Kenny Dorham is also effective. The great tradition of solo piano in jazz is highlighted in a l 954 Paris session, slightly marred by an inadequate instrument. Thelonious' trio tribute to Duke Ellington, his first LP for Riverside Records (with bassist Oscar Pettiford and Kenny Clarke on drums), brought Monk's name to a wider public. It successfully showed that the underappreciated musician had his roots in one of jazz' great artists. Proper Records has drawn from the catalogues of Blue Note, Prestige, a small French label Jazz Legacy, and Riverside for these 69 sides, and 'sides' they were, as most go back to the days of78 rpm releases. Alternative takes are included from some of the Blue Note sessions. Ted O'Reilly Ellis in Wonderland Herb Ellis Verve 80005930-02 Good Pickin's Howard Roberts Verve 80005931-02 Jimmy Raney featuring Bob Brookmeyer Jimmy Raney Verve 80005954-02 These days, the guitar is the most popular instrument in the world, as rock music is based on the amplified version, the "2 by 4 with strings and a pickup". In the early days of jazz, the acoustic guitar was heard mostly as a rhythm instrument, underpinning the rest of the band. It simply wasn't loud enough to be heard in most public performance. In the late ' 30s amplification brought it to equal status with horns and the essential influence of Charlie Christian spread the word, and the three guitar players heard on these re-releases heard the message. Blues-infused Herb Ellis came to prominence in the' 50s with Oscar Peterson, and the pianist, with trio mate bassist Ray Brown, join him on "Ellis In Wonderland" recorded in late 1955 and early '56. Rounding out the rhythm is Alvin Stoller, and the horns include Harry 'Sweets' Edison on trumpet, with Jimmy Giuffre on tenor, baritone and clarinet. Altoist Charlie Mariano joins in on the second session. The music is a sprightly blend of blues APRIL 1 - MAY 7 2006 and standards, including one written by Ellis (and others): Detour Ahead. Tidy arrangements lift this out of the jam session category. "Good Pickin's" was recorded in 1959 by Howard Roberts, a solid guitarist who virtually disappeared into the recording studios of Los Angeles. He'd make a record every few years, and appear on hundreds of others, but you'd be hardpressed to find many who know his work, and that's too bad, as this release shows. He uses the entire instrument, eschewing tricks, and plays with great clarity with the solid rhythm of Pete Jolly, Red Mitchell and Stan Levey. Tenorman Bill Holman is on half the record. Standards dominate the programme, with bop tunes like Godchild and Relaxin' At Camarillo and a nice lazy blues at the end. "Jimmy Raney featuring Bob Brookmeyer" is pretty much selfexplanatory, with the plectrist and the 'bonist sharing space on this originally-Decca album from the east coast, recorded in the summer of I 956. They each contribute two compositions to go with four classics by Gershwin, Rodgers, Kern and Burton Lane. Piano duties are handled by Hank Jones or Dick Katz, and Teddy Kotick is the bassist with the tasty drummer Osie Johnson moving things along. It's amazing how unchanged Brookmeyer's playing is after 50 years, proving that unique needs not fashion. Ted O'Reilly WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM DESIGNED BY STEINWAY & SONS®

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