8 years ago

Volume 12 - Issue 1 - September 2006

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  • Jazz
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Exceptional vocalist and

Exceptional vocalist and composer,Ann Hampton Callaway has chosena collaborative effort with drummerSherrie Maricle and the long-standingall-female "DIVA Jazz Orchestra"as her debut CD for the Tel arcrecording label. Ann has said that"Blues in the Night" is "the feistiest,gutsiest, most let-your-hair-down CDthat I've ever recorded ... " and indeed,with the full throttle big bandarrangements and exquisite materialdrawn from the likes of Richard Rogers,Harold Arlen, Stephen Sondheimand Cole Porter, this may indeed bethe case.Her stunning vocal instrument isfully featured, as well as the skillsof top-flight musician/arranger/composersTommy Newsom, Matt Catinguband Bill Mays. Also shining onthe session is a rhythm section ofA-List "ringers" including TedRosenthal on piano, Christian Mc­Bride on bass and Lewis Nash ondrums.Of particular note is the title track.Those familiar with her signature, crystalline-purevocal style will be surprisedat the soulful and gymnasticrendering of this Harold Arlen classic.Ann's witty, original l'm-Too­White-To-Sing-the-Blues Blues, asumptuous and languorously slow renderingof Cole Porter's It '.s All RightWith Me and Sondheim's harmonicallysophisticated No One is Alone arealso standouts.Ann Hampton Callaway's overwhelmingmusicality and interpretiveskills make this CD a delight, and minimizewhatever flaws are evident inthe instrumental performances ofDIVA, including the slightly fluctuatingrhythm of time-keeper Maricle. Butone can't help but imagine how thesecharts would have sounded if interpretedby "The Boss Brass" or thebig bands of John Clayton or FrankieCapp.Lesley Mitchell-ClarkePOTPOURRIfree improvisation meshes with knowledgeof notated New music. Architecturallyorganized, the nine originalsand two "covers" make up an exceptionalversion of chamber music thatavoids fussy inversion and directionlessjamming.One indication of the trio's fearlessnessis that the "covers" are ofcompositions by Bela Bart6k. Here,the composer's Bulgarian Rhythmtakes on a Latin tinge courtesy ofRobbie Kuster's percussion andends with a section of double-tonguingby alto saxophonist PhilippeLauzier, and double stopping frombassist Miles Perkin.Confirming their innovative thinking,the three follow a clarinet-pluckedbass-and-drum reading of Bart6k'sMelodie Pentatonique with an improvthat flows from it. Reharmonized,the tune incorporates distinctive tonguestops and intense vibrato from Lauzier,reverberating strings from Perkinand a modified march beat on woodenblocks from Kuster.Probably the best example of theirmature talents is Perkin's BrokenGlass, divided into sonata-like sections.Near the top, a sliding bass inventiongives way to buzzing sul ponticelloaccompanied by squealing saxophonesplit tones and contrapuntaldrum pummelling. After a side-slippingobbligato from the altoist is matchedby a walking bass line, the penultimatevariation harmonizes reed notes withthe bassist's wordless vocalizing. Echoingsax runs plus answering arcoswipes from Perkin form the spaceyfinale.A 21st Century advance on jazzchamber music, "Today is a SpecialDay" more than lives up to the inferenceof its title.Ken WaxmanDesert SongHamar Erez and theAdama EnsembleIndependent IE2006music, trained as a composer, guitaristand pianist in his native Israel aswell as in Europe. The other main influenceson his music are from jazz,flamenco, the Middle East and India.As the composer on this CD, Erezgracefully blends these differentsounds and traditions into eleven quitebeautiful and distinct pieces.At least two of the other three musicians- Tony Nickels (bass clarinet,English horn, oboe, flute) and LaurenceMollerup (bass) - are alsostrongly based in Western art music.This definitely comes across inthe music and gives it an unusualquality and character. Perhaps youcould say it is more refined, polite,or constrained than your averagefusion or world music.We hear some very fine and movinginstrumental playing from Erez,Nickels and Mollerup- sometimessolo (e.g. the bass clarinet at the beginningof track 3, and guitar on track6) but more often in a small ensemble,though each part is still transparent.The fourth musician is percussionistand tabla player Stefan Cihelka whogenerally has more of a "background"role in the musical mix.For more information on the groupand to purchase the CD, check on lineat SangerAl Asha Bi Daha, TraditionalSongs of the Eastern Black SeaLeigh Cline;Nikolas MichaeilidisScimitar Records srd 0601The Fox and the LionTrio KavkasiaTraditional Crossroads780702-4331-2These two very different CDs ofmusic originating in adjacent geographicregions reveal the musicalMusical fusion, or "East meets West", passions which led the musicians faris the best way to describe this rela- afield from their Toronto homes.tively new Vancouver-based group "Al Asha Bi Daha" is a PonticToday is a Special Dayand its first CD, "Desert Song". All Greek call to the dance. The PonticPhilippe Lauzier; Milestracks (except one which is a tradi- people, in case your historical geogtionalJewish song) are composed and raphy is a little rusty, are descendantsPerkin; Robbie Kusterambiences magnetiquesarranged by the group's leader, lsrae- of the ancient Greeks who settled onAM 149 CDIi-born Canadian ltamar Erez. Erez, the south eastern shore of the BlackAudacious as well as artful, this Mon- who has come to world music from Sea, in present-day Turkey. Featuringtreal disc shows what can result when a background in Western classical the rhythmic virtuosolyra (an ancient68 WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COMfiddle) playing and incisive singing ofNikolas Michailidis, the CD purveys16 dance tracks, essential for any oldschoolPontic dance party.While none of the selections is morerecent than the 1970s - and the rootsof most are lost in the mists oftimethereis hope for the survival of thisancient acoustic music in the currentsea of superficial electro-pop whichseems to pervade the popular Greekand Turkish musical landscape,thanks to musicians like NikolasMichailidis who are taking their heritageconfidently into the 21st century.Between his cultural roots andmusical depth, and producer/guitaristLeigh Cline's dedication, the future ofPontic music seems in capable hands.Also in excellent hands - and voices- is the ancient tradition of choralmusic from the eastern Black Searepublic of Georgia, thanks to Toronto'sAlan Gasser and Trio Kavkasia.For a small country, Georgia is blessedwith a dazzlingly rich diversity oflanguages and types of polyphonicvocal music, arguably its primarymusical treasure. This three-partchoral music can be traced back atleast as far as the first millenniumCE, which predates even the firstpolyphonic masterpieces premieredat the Notre Dame cathedral!On "The Fox and the Lion" threeeloquent voices and Georgian instruments(also played by the singers)blend exquisitely in unusual tunings andthrilling harmonic modulations. Forexample, listen to the surprising, shiftingvocal chords on Tsmindao Ghmerto(Holy God), track 7. What's goingon here? Apparently, the tuning of thevoices relies on a series of 'stacked'intervals of pure beat-less fifths, insteadof relying on the tonal subdivisionof an octave used in most westernmusic. This musical vocabularyresults in a dense three part texturereplete with various dissonances andso-called 'neutral thirds' (nothing neutralabout them!). All the songs ultimatelyresolve on a peaceful unisonor on one of those pure ringing fifths.Just don ' t expect this sophisticatedthree part folk music to abide by therules of conventional western harmony-or to sound like Mozart!I hope I haven't made this remarkablemusic sound forbidding, for it canbe gentle and melancholy as in thehomesick song Sada ts ... track 12.This is music for liturgy, work, weddings,the recounting of epic deeds and,perhaps most importantly, for day-longfeasts called supra-s. Luckily for allof us, this impressive choral traditionthat remains a part of daily life, especiallyin rural Georgia, is being championedlocally by Trio Kavkasia.Andrew TimarSEPTEMB ER 1 - O CTOBER 7 2006

Dmitri Shostakovich, perhaps the gre~test composerof the 20th century, was born m St. Petersburgon September 25th 1906 and died onAugust 9th 1975 in Moscow. He lived his creativelife in a climate of tumult, conflict andquite literally, in a reign of terror. He subsistedfor many years with a packed bag ready inthe event that he wouJd be taken from his home"in the middle of the night" . How he surviveddecades of trepidation and uncertainty is thesubject of many accounts of his personal andpublic life written by his contemporaries andby foreign biographers.OLD WINE IN NEW BOTTLESFine Old Recordings Re-Releasedb Bruce SurteesYThat Shostakovich was a perfectionist is alreadyapparent in his first symphony written in1926 when he was 19 years old. This precociousand agreeable work, already his opus 10,was both academic and modern, performed and Gidon Kremer. RudolfBarshai is heard conaroundthe world and became part of the rep- ducting the four chamber symphonies he orchesertoire.His second opera, Lady Macbeth of trated from four string quartets. Also included isMtsensk debuting in January 1934, immediate- the cantata, Song of the Forests, the two Jou Suitesly brought him great popularity until Stalin, via and many excerpts from ballets and film music. IPravda, attacked the work as being unquestion- could cite example after example of the pleasablyanti-Soviet. Disfavoured, he was de- ures listening to the wide variety of works in thisnounced by many of his colleagues. At that time set which, in many ways, is the least demandingand for decades later it was required that all of the ofart must reflect un-remitting optimismin the communist regime. Everyone was fright- The vocal collection includes ten song cyclesened of Stalin. Actually, not quite everyone. sung by Luba Orgonasova, Natalie Stutzmann,Stalin was superstitiously wary of pianist Mar- Ilya Levinsky, Sergei Leiferkus, Elena ZaremiaYudina who stood up to him and was able to ba, Elizabeth Soderstrom, and others. Supportedby distinguished accompanists these versionsmay well be the first choices for many. Theopera, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, is conductedby Myung-Whun Chung. With full translationsincluded, this is veritable feast for those whoenjoy this repertoire.The piano and chamber music album containsthe 24 Preludes, opus 31, 24 Preludes andFugues, opus 87, the two piano sonatas and othersolo works, the cello sonata, the second pianotrio and, of course, the piano quintet opus57. Insightful playing Vladimir Ashkenazy,Lilya Zilberstein, The Beaux Arts Trio, TheFitzwilliam String Quartet, and others are intuitivelysympathetic to the composer's wishes.The String Quartets are by the Emerson Quartet,a set much touted upon its release a fewyears ago. Recorded live in 1994 (Late Quartets),1998 (Middle Quartets), and 1999 (EarlyQuartets) they are sharp edged and articulate,ideal for today's critical audiences. Nevertheless,my very first choice for these works remainsthe original Borodin Quartet recordings(1 through 13 only as 14 and 15 had not beenwritten) recorded in the early 1970s while RostislavDubinsky, founder of the quartet in 1946,was still their first violin (ChandosCHAN10064, 4 CDs).All these treasures occupy only 12 centimetresof shelf space. Amazing!criticize and rebuke him without fear. Ironi- --------------------------------,cally, perhaps, as he lay dying in 1953, the lastsounds Stalin heard were from his recordingofYudina performing Mozart's 20th piano concerto.A most comprehensive collection of Shostakovich'smusic has just been issued by Universalcomprising 36 CDs in five compact boxes, sellingat budget prices. Under the Decca labelthere are the 15 Symphonies (475 7413, 11discs); concertos, orchestral suites, and chambersymphonies (475 7431, 9 discs); song cyclesand Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (475 7441, 5discs); Piano and Chamber Music (475 7425, 6discs); and finally on DG the 15 String Quartets(475 7407, 5 discs).For the symphonies, Haitink's distinguished cyclewas chosen. Symphonies 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10,& 15 are with the London Philharmonic andthe balance with the Concertgebouw. Russianconductors who were contemporaries of thecomposer may treat the scores as largely biographicalbut Haitink, whose background isquite different, lets the composer speak for himself.Over the last few weeks I have listened toan abundance of versions of most of the fifteenand I must say that, taken as a whole, theHaitink yields to no-one . His are never disappointinginterpretively and the sonics are Decca'sbest in both perspective and dynamics. Atop choice.The concertos and orchestral suites box containsboth cello concertos by Heinrich Schiffwith Maxim Shostakovich conducting and thetwo violin concertos with Viktoria Mullova (1)S EPTE M BER 1 - O CTOBER 7 2006Travel is more than just A to B. Travel should help you hit all life's high notes.Introducing Tundra's Pre-Theatre Express Menu, a gourmet experiencesteps away from the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.Enjoy a two-course opera-themed menu in 59 minutes or less. (A la carte. menu. andvalet parking option also available.) Tundra Restaurant offers award-winning cu1s1neand an extensive wine list from 5 to 10:30 p.m. daily. Tundra Bar offers cocktails andtapas until 11 :30 p.m. daily. For dinner reservations, call (416) 860-6800.145 Richmond Street West, Toronto, Canada M5H 2L2Tel: +1-416-869 3456 Fax:+1-416-869 3187®HiltonTorontoTravel should take you places'"TUNDRAWWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM 69

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