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Volume 13 - Issue 5 - February 2008

DIS.Extended Play -lndie

DIS.Extended Play -lndie JazzReviews by Ken WaxmanFulfilling, extending or adapting acceptedstyles to unique ends are the strategies of theplayers featured in these notable jazz and .improvised music releases. A perhaps obvioussub-theme is the geographical necessityof migrating to major music centres. Althoughall the CDs were recorded either inMontreal or Toronto, most of the participantsaren't natives. But the availability of gigs inmajor cities serves as sufficient lures .phonist and pianist immersed themselves innew techniques while attending the BanffCentre for the Arts in 2005, the Torontobasedcombo depends on the two's Paul Desmond-DaveBrubeck-like partnership. Berkok- who wrote all the tunes - exhibits an easyswing throughout, while Laver's airy obbligatosare usually pretty straightahead. Probablythe most interesting track is ThroughSacco's Eyes, where a line of cadences arrivefrom the pianist, while the saxman flutter-tonguesand hardens his vibrato as therhythm section maintains a steady beat.(www .arkanamusic.com)Kid Bastien Forever Kick-Ass New OrleansJazz Party 2007 (New Orleans NorthCD 0007) features good-time, happy, traditionaljazz, played by dedicated musicians.Every Saturday afternoon since about 1970,Grossman's Tavern has been the home ofNew Orleans jazz in Toronto. Until 2003 andhis untimely death The Happy Pals were ledby Cliff "Kid" Bastien. The Happy Pals arestill there acting as keepers of the flame andthis session, recorded at Grossman's in Februaryof last year is dedicated to the memoryof the Kid. British reed player Brian Carrickis an added special guest and followersof the band should be happy to add this one totheir collection. (www .HappyPals.ca)Recorded atSoundworks Productionsin Grimsby,Ontario, DirectFrom The• Floor (JCP2007-03) showcases abop-influencedquintet led byAmerican born,but now resident in Ontario, clarinettist,Buddy Aquilina. Apart from Benny Golson'sI Remember Clifford, the programme consistsof interesting original compositions by theleader, pianist Bruce Tourney and trombonistRob Somerville, plus contributions by DaveLandon and Ken Taft. Nice to hear someonemasochistic enough to specialise in playingclarinet! (905.282.1544)By far the most contemporary sounding of.this month's batch of CDs, Montreal Variations- Montreal Jazz Club Session 3 (AnalektaAN 2 8833) features nine pianists prominenton the Quebecscene each playingone selection oftheir choice and allof them playing avariation on thesame four notemotif. The pianistsrange from OliverJones to AlainLefevre via Lorraine Desmarais and theresult is a fascinating series of musical portraits.(www .analekta.com)58In some cases talented and/or lucky improvisersalso move to the United States, whicheven in the 21 st century accrues additionalstatus - and greater musical opportunities.Edmonton-born pianist John Stetch, a NewYork state resident, is an example of such atalented emigre. His Bruxin' (Justin TimeJTR 8525-2) is a new take on the classic jazzpiano trio tradition, with the keyboardistbacked by bassist Sean Smith and drummerRodney Green. Like most stateside Canucks,Stretch doesn't downplay his identity, and atleast two of his compositions - Inuit Talkand The Prairie Unfolds - have titles thatresonate more north of the 49th parallel thansouth of it. The first is a foot-tapping marchwhose repeated vamp makes the tune coolbut not cold. The later is as spacious as itstitle, building warmly voiced, glisteningarpeggios before ebbing into double timeriffs and bass thump. But perhaps the mostdefinitive performance is Rectangle Blues,which the pianist has been improvising onsince his first CD. Encompassing key clippingand keyboard-wide jumps, it fits securelyin the groove especially when Stetch andGreen trade fours at the finale .(www .justin-time.com)'\_,__,•-- --.ISimilarly constituted is Arkana Music'sHyprovisation (Arkana MusicAMOOOl) withpianist Ali Berkok, bassist Gord Mowat, .drummer Jake Oelrichs plus alto saxophonistMark Laver. First organized when the saxo-WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COMA different side of Laver is on display on theSee Through Trio's Our Own Devices (SeeThrough Music), a chamber-jazz excursionthat's probably the most notable disc here.STT also showcases pianist Tania Gill, whosometimes plays with Oelrichs, plus subtlebassist Pete Johnston, a Windsor, N .S .-native,who, like the saxophonist, is working onhis doctorate. Johnston, who composed 10 ofthe 12 tracks, voices each instrument equally,negating the front line/rhythm section dichotomy.Tunes range from cabaret-styled tangosto speedy rhythmic romps which show offLaver's split tones, slurs and tongue flutters.Gill's versatility allows her to output pseudoragsat some points, legato formalism atothers plus the bouncy tick-tock that characterizesher own Bicycle. Polyphonically coalescingthroughout, STT impresses withoutpushing its collective voice beyond moderatoand andante. (www.seethroughmusic.com)Even more non-categorical are the timbresand textures exposed on cellist Melanie Auclair'sDecor Sonore (ambiances magnetiquesAM 158), another aural stunner.Leading a seven-piece ensemble includingclarinettist Lori Freedman and guitarist AntoineBerthiaume as well as musicians manipulatinga laptop, foley sound effects, a piano,plus narration, the Drummondville, Que.­born, Montrealer uniquely melds music andeveryday sounds. With the 20 tracks encompassingfoley-created scrapes and squeaksand non-specific buzzes and wheezes as wellas trilling chalumeau split tones, hollowwood cello thumping and under the bridgeF EBR UARY 1 - M ARCH 7 2008

finger-picking, the results touch on musicsNew, free, concrete and folkloric . Mostnotable is an unintentional four-track intermezzo(Le ft.ls, Les valets mous, Mes cerfvolantand Dream alarm) which uses thecello's shuffle bowing with a thick vibrato tojoin floating, tongue-stopping reed lines,string plinks, tangled ring modulator clangsand natural thunder approximations into agitatobut exhilarating patterns.(www .actuellecd.com)Fine Canadian Audio CompanyOffering a complete line up of Electronics,CD players, integratedamps, pre amps andpower ampsThis folkloric bent, but with Asiatic and Arabicinfluences, is taken one step further inguitarist Jean-Marc Hebert's L' Autre(Malasartes Musique MAM 004). Hebert,who studied classical guitar at the Universityof Toronto in the 1980s, orients his Montrealplaying towards World Music-fusion ingroups such as Ragleela and Africa Musique.The CD's seven tracks temper Europeanfolksiness with harsher Third Worldtextures. Hebert's single-string frailing andpicking often suggests the additional overtonesavailable from exotic strings, whileMarie-Soleil Belanger, who also plays inRagleela, is able to display splayed andflanged bow movement, whether playingerhu or standard violin. Pierre Tanguay, oneof Montreal' s most versatile rhythm players,adds his drums and "body percussion"throughout, creating tunes that referencedroning ragas, serpentine Arabic melodiesand formal Cantonese operas as well aswestern sounds. Although some of the tunesexhibit a certain sameness in theme-variationand-recapitulation,the standout is AsieMineur, where the percussion beats couldcome from tablas or talking drums, thestrings' chromatic runs from a sarod and theshrill string sluicing from the Indian classicalfiddle. In addition rock music-like backbeatand note spraying improvised solos are alsoprominent. (www.actuellecd.com)(Shown in Silver, also available in Black)Beautiful Styling and Sound that will AmazeFull line available.High EndAudioSpeakersWorldwideRenown forHighPerformanceAnd topCraftsmanshipSonus Faber SpeakersCrafted in Italyr-·Full line ofspeakers­Bookshelf andFloor standingMatching CenterChannel to matchalso available.Upgrade TodayDomus, Cremona and Homage Series AvailableFinished in Fine wood or Black cabinetsd CS Data Conversion Systems.........lNew PUCCINI -re~ -Cd/SACD playerThe Finest Cd/SACD player we have ever heard.Also on Display the Paganini and the ScarlattiLine Starting from$ 22, 000.In sharp contrast, Toronto guitarist AviGranite's 6 Red Tree (Pet Mantis RecordsPMR 003) eschews non-Western influencesfor those of contemporary jazz. But still eachof the 10 tracks offers unexpected enhancementsfrom members of the sextet. Buildingup from the tough rhythms and near tom-FEBR UARY l - MARCH 7 2008. -STO:llE HOUll$: Mon-. Hl - 6 • Tu,o. li:I • 6 • W,i,d. 10 • 6 • lhu. 10 - ·9 • Frl. 10 • 9 • Sol, U) • 6 • Sv~ Oo1GdWWW. TH EWH OLENOTE.COM 59

Volume 26 (2020- )

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