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Volume 12 - Issue 10 - July/August 2007

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  • Festival
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... continuedAndre Hamel

... continuedAndre Hamel - La Triologie du PrestoVarious artistsATMA ACD2 2396Andre Hamel is oneof the most audaciouscomposersCanada has produced.I think of himincreasingly as Vivier'slogical (or illogical,as may suit thecase) successor.While large staged spectacles like Jn Auditoriumand La Quete show him at his most robust,this disc of smaller intimate works is a fascinatingview into this creative force.The major work A Huit has an opening saxophonepercussive sound that will grab your attentioninstantly. Scored for eight saxophones,most playing multiphonics for extended passages,it relates to Hamel's earlier large works withspecific staging directions. The saxophone quartetsQuasar and Quatuor Arte do the honours. Amasterpiece.La Trilogie du Presto is a work in three sectionsthat took Hamel eight years to complete.Deux baguettes dans un Presto, for percussionsolo, purportedly was inspired by soundsfrom dinner cookware. Julien Gregoire gives aperformance that is a tour de force. Interferencessur le crin, an unconventional solo violoncellowork, is admirably handled by CatherinePerron. Etude No. 4 for solo piano, roundsout the set, with some thematic material re-statedfrom the other two works. Angela Toshevadoes the work proud.L 'Heu re Bleue arose from ideas suggestedby a microtonal harpsichord recital by VivienneSpiteri, but Hamel shaped the work on his ownterms, for harpsichord and active signal processing.Catherine Perrin is the soloist here.Production and photography is first-rate. Recommended.John S. GrayJAZZ AND IMPROVISEDThe One And OnlyMaynard Ferguson and his Big BopNouveau BandIndependent (www.maynardferguson.com)The 20-year-old Maynard Ferguson first appearedon recordings in 1949, though at 13 hehad been performing and broadcasting in his nativeMontreal. In August last year, he made thislast recording just three weeks before his suddendeath at 78.Ferguson's specialty right to the end was powerfulhigh-note trumpet work, but he was alwaysa capable improviser and ballad player as well.58Even at 78 (an advancedage for abrass player) hissound is quite solidand secure .Maynard loved bigbands, at least oncegiving up secure studioand sideman workto lead his own orchestras, and it's appropriatethat this last session is with an alumni band. I'lladmit being less fond of the "Big Bop Nouveau"recordings, as they were (to my ears) top-heavyand brittle-sounding, given the instrumentation offour trumpets, one trombone, three reeds andthree rhythm. But here, clever arrangementsbalance the bright and the ballads, and while thecrowd pleasers are still a bit piercing, the soundis more musical than I remember from earlieralbums. Indeed, the slower tunes are the mostmemorable for me, including Vita Bella, DarnThat Dream and Lost Horizon, and the lopingDays of Wine and Roses.Solos are generously spread around, even toother trumpeters, and notable solos come fromChip McNeill on tenor; Jeff Lashway on piano(Christian Jacob replaces him on his lovely original,Lost Horizon); trumpeter Wayne Bergeron;and drummer Stockton Helbing.As a Valedictory message, "The One AndOnly" is a good one, however unexpected andunwanted.Our BluesFraser MacPhersonQuintetJustin TimeJAM 9163-2Not only is this achance to hear someearly Fraser Mac­Pherson and realiseTed 0 'Reillywhat a significant voice he was in Canadian jazz,it is also a rare opportunity to hear pianist ChrisGage, yet another largely forgotten, but huge pianotalent never before heard on a commerciallyreleased recording.The group is rounded out by Carse Sneddonon trumpet and valve trombone, Stan Johnson,bass and Jimmy Wightman on drums, all prominentmembers of the Vancouver scene in the 50sand 60s, but for me it is MacPherson and Gagewho steal the honours on this very welcome additionto the Justin Time catalogue.Originally broadcast by CBC Radio on July 26,1962 and January 31, 1963, the music is ofa consistentlyhigh standard and amply demonstrates thestrength and inventiveness of Fraser's playing. Ialways loved his ballad playing and one of the highlightsis a beautiful interpretation of Spring CanReally Hang You Up The Most, with wonderfulsolos by both MacPherson and Gage.Born To Be Blue, Whisper Not, Louisiana,Crazy Rhythm, Woody 'n 'You, Speak Low, twoversions of 'Round Midnight and a couple oforiginal lines by Fraser make up the rest of thisenjoyable CD.Again, congratulations to Justin Time.Jim GallowayWWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COMAlmost Modern: The Swing to Bop ProjectDan BlockSackville SKCD2-2069Tenor saxophonist and clarinettist Dan Block issomething ofa renaissance man. A J uilliard graduate,Block was already a working classical musicianwhen he made his first jazz records in 1978with Charles Mingus.He also plays Haitianpopular music. Overthe past five yearsBlock and guitaristChris Flory havebeen trying to find"the connectionpoints and transitionfrom Swing to Bop".By the mid 1940s musicians were beginning tofeel constricted by the music they were playing.Many arrangers had begun relying on formulasand much of the music was beginning to soundthe same. Big band sidemen like Dizzy Gillespieand Oscar Pettiford, as well as a handful ofotherplayers, including the veteran ColemanHawkins, began experimenting with advancedharmonies and altered chords, opening up newavenues of expression. Block and Flory havebeen tracking down some of the earliest recordingsreflecting these changes.Block and his band - Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet;Larry Ham, piano; Chris Flory or Jon Hart,guitar; Lee Hudson, bass, and Chuck Riggs,drums - perform pieces written, and first recorded,between 1944 and 1947 by artists such asColeman Hawkins, Dexter Gordon, Illinois Jacquet,Don Byas, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker,Sir Charles Thompson, and Thelonious Monk.Interestingly, much of the playing here is laidbackand relaxed, whereas many of the originalversions were noted for their swagger and nervousintensity. That aside, the set is very satisfyingand is highly recommended.Dearest DukeCarol SloaneArbors ARCO 19350I don't hold muchwith the recent trendof Divahood in jazz.There are too manyyoung vocalists, selfproclaimed as JazzSingers, who have noidea at all what jazzsinging is, or shouldDon Brownbe. R&B/soul/pop/rock: yes. Jazz? No.Carol Sloane is a jazz singer, perhaps the definitiveone around these days. Her warm, intimatelyhusky voice is the perfect instrument forher interpretation of lyrics. On top of that, thegirl can swing! (Carol generally eschews 'scat',for which I'm thankful.)For this collection of Ellington material (hersecond: see also l 999's "Romantic Ellington"DRG CD 8480) Carol is accompanied by justtwo wonderful musicians, pianist Brad Hatfield(a new name to me, but terrific!) and KenPeplowski on tenor and clarinet, and a playful) ULY 1 - SEPTEMBER 7 2007

vocal duo with the singer.I'll admit I've never been a fan of'Tribute'albums, maybe even especially Ellington ones,given the familiarity of the material and generallyweak lyrics. A mature artist, Sloane overcomesthose drawbacks, bringing her completebeing to the words and the emotions to be conveyed:ego less, she is at the service of the song.Ken Peplowski's Ben Webster-like tenorsound on I Got It Bad and That Ain ~Good andwarm clarinet on Mood Indigo are highlights.And Brad Hatfield's piano work throughout isalways tasteful and appropriate.Sloane, Peplowski and Hatfield. Just threeperformers, yet so much music!Ted 0 'ReillyChronicleChicago Underground TrioDelmark DE 573 (www.delmark.com)Kaleidoscopic andnon-idiomatic,"Chronicle" demonstrateshow this triohas purposely intertwinedinfluencesranging from FreeJazz to electronicatinged ambientsounds to germinatea distinctive statement. While the CD encapsulateswhat the combo has been building towardsover its decade of existence, it also demonstratesthe band's flexibility in accepting fresh input.That comes from bassist Jason Ajemian,whose double-stopping, string-pumping debutcarves out a groove as early as the first track.Extending the rhythmic function with electronics,and sticking throughout to a bottom-definingostinato, he provides the anchor for the improvisationsoflong-time band members, cometist RobMazurek and drummer Chad Taylor.Taylor also plays vibraphone, marimba, mbiraand assorted percussion, while Mazurek is proficienton bamboo flute, computer, Moog, electricceleste, and other percussion, but these auxiliaryinstruments are used only when genericallynecessary. Thus many tracks echo with quiveringtextures triggered from Mazurek's electronically-alteredcomet, spelled by hand-pumpeddrumming, connective vibraphone clattering,thumb piano echoing and keyboard note patterning.Most notable is Power, the disc's more-than-28-minute centrepiece. On top of double time,Acrobat Music /·~RECORDING STUDIOWorld ~lass Recording in a relaxed.~ .• l ~v.···· *.adagio rhythm, Mazurek's Harmon-muted gracenotes unexpectedly reveal a rasping blues line.When resonating toy-piano-like mbira patternsfollow, they obliquely collide with sweeping, electronicdrones, as the futuristic and the primordialmeld. Throughout, no matter how many mechanicallycloned rubato cornet runs appear or howintense the triggered drones, the emotional patterningfrom acoustic instruments is nevermasked. "Chronicle" is also available on DVD.FUSIONS, HYBRIDSAND POT POURRIBuhr, Glenn - Thru the wounded skyGlenn Buhr EnsembleMarquis 81367Crossover artists areubiquitous in the newmillennium, and thelines between jazzand "classical" musiccontinue to beblurred. Waterloobasedcomposer andpianist Glenn Buhrhas assembled a groupofimprovisers to expand his compositions, whichact as jazz lead sheets for this seven-track disc.For those who think that jazz improvisationsbelong more in a club than in the concert hall,think again: Buhr's funky, driving Jackhammerand Hay Island Hoedown - the first and lasttracks on this disc - were recently played asmovements of his piano concerto with Esprit Orchestra.And who says that strings cannot swing?Richard Moody stands out on viola, using everycolour available during his ardent solos. Buhreven reworks a Mozart Adagio into a smokefilled-loungearrangement featuring baritone saxophonistKen Gold.Poet Margaret Sweatman's deep mezzo voicerecites her stanzas (saturated with urban imagery),and ranges from monotone to sprechstimmeon holding pattern and the title track. Althoughthe text passes quickly, the beatnik style blendswith the atmospheric arrangements.Contemporary composers seeking outlets forperformance of their compositions have turnedto versatile performers comfortable in numerousstyles. The Glenn Buhr Ensemble has grownfrom a quartet with whom he has toured the country,and echoes the Philip Glass Ensemble, also•. i _...a .· ·· :. ·.•professional atmosphere. ., .·~ "-;.'.Y. ·,··· ~ J .. 1J .Juno and Emmy winning engineer ~~ ,--/ . . 11, '·':::,:::;,:::::::•:::•mobotmu•~~"·11• ~NATURAL ACOUSTIC RECORDING FOR A DIGITAL WORLD- , -- . I , i •.•' ~ .;] U LY 1 - SEPTE MBER 7 2007WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COMformed for the composer's specific aesthetic.Buhr's charts have some minimalist influence,although the improvisatory funk "hoe-down" ismore reminiscent ofMedeski, Martin and Wood.Wallace HalladayNo Love LostKate SchuttIndependent (www.kateschutt.com)Ken Waxman Guelph-based sing-er-songwriter KateSchutt has releasedan impressive debutCD. Everything aboutit - from the productionto the song writing,playing and singing,to the CD packaging- signals a sophisticationseldom seen or heard from a young,independent artist. All of the songs but one arewritten by Schutt and she shows a nice gift forstory-telling and poetic introspection. A coupleof Joneses assert themselves in Schutt's songwriting and singing style - Rickie Lee and Norah-and for the most part the mood leans to late nightmellow, with some pretty, lilting moments, too.As a student of Boston's Berklee College ofMusic, Schutt'sjazz training is in evidence, butthis isn't a hard core jazz album. The rhythmoften leans more toward Soul than Swing andthere are no extended solos or big spaces leftfor the instrumentalists to stretch out in. This is asinger's record, even though Schutt plays guitarand bass throughout. The other main musiciansare Dave Jamrog on drums, Duane Andrews onguitar, Patrick Boyle on trumpet and Mark Stifanskyon piano. A number of other guests fillout the ranks and add interesting touches to thisfine record.Cathy RichesConcert Note: Kate Schutt performs at Parti­Gras/Beaches International Jazz Festival in theDistillery District on July 22.LunaSultans of StringIndependent MCK 2040(www.sultansofstring.com)The Sultans of String describe themselves asatomic world-jazz-flamenco and except for theatomic part, I'd agree with that descriptor. Bymy reckoning, this is pretty mellow, laid-back

Volume 26 (2020- )

Volume 26 Issue 1 - September 2020
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Volume 25 Issue 9 - July / August 2020
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