8 years ago

Volume 13 - Issue 7- April 2008

24In with the

24In with the newcontinued from previous pageIves' The Unanswered Question,Schafer's Threnody and TheFalcon's Trumpet, will use thespace to its greatest potential.Expect fanfares with trumpetersmoving throughout the space,and musicians performing onescalators as part of a uniquemusical experience. Meaningfulmusic education using Canadianmusic is a perfect model exemplifiedby Pauk, to once again ensurethat Canada's repertoire willgrow stronger every year."The degree of awareness andknowledge of Canadian musicvaries widely amongst schools"says Pauk. "It's quite strong insome places, and completelyabsent in others." Through Esprit'soutreach initiatives, theymake a concerted effort to provideteachers with an awarenessof these unique activities, tryingto directly involve students inCanadian music. Furthermore,in the future Pauk plans to hold aconference on making new musicwith amateurs and young people,workshopping pieces like Cashian'sMechanik for people of allskill levels.Some similar themes arosefrom my talks with both PeterOundjian and Alex Pauk, theminds behind the New CreationsFestival and the New WaveComposers Festival respectively.Both conductors saw the greatvalue in exporting Canadian musicinto other countries. Theyrepeated the fact that new musicshould not be a frightening construct,and that we must embraceit for what it provides: new ideas.I think both the New CreationsFestival and the New WaveComposers Festival present Torontowith a diverse bag of musicalideas, as they push theboundaries of sound and space,each presenting well-refinedprogrammes that clearly reflectOundjian and Pauk's initial reasonsfor committing their lives tomusic.For further information on bothof these festivals, andwww .espritorchestra.comRichard Marsella proudly representsthe Ontario Region of theCanadian Music Centre.Jazz Notesby Jim GallowayAria Listening?This issue is devoted largely to Opera, so I thought I would join theclub. (After all, what's Godunov for WholeNote is good enough forme.)Perhaps the most obvious point of reference is Louis Armstrong's1954 version of "Mack The Knife" from The ThreepennyOpera by Kurt Weill. This work, a 1928 adaptation of The Beggar'sOpera, was strongly influenced by jazz and used a fifteenpiecejazz orchestra.Indeed a number of jazz-influenced operas have appeared over theyears. George Gershwin's 1935 Porgy And Bess is the best known,but there have been others. Wynton Marsalis in 1994 gave us hisjazz opera Blood On the Fields. Trumpeter Jon Faddis' originalcompositions include the Jazz opera lulu Noire from 1997. Thenthere was The Cat 1Vho Went to Heaven, based on a children's bookby Elizabeth Coatsworth, and transformed into a jazz opera in 2006by singer Nancy Harrow. Forgotten, from 2004, was an aptlynamed jazz opera about a pastor who was murdered at the FordRouge Plant in Detroit.But jazz and opera did not make for easy bedfellows. Long beforePorgy And Bess, George Gershwin wrote a one-act "jazz opera"called Blue Monday. It opened (and closed) on Broadway onAugust 28, 1922.That there was resistance from the "serious" music community isdemonstrated in an extract from The New York Times, Monday,December 1, 1924: "There seems no immediate probability that thesacrosanct wall of the Metropolitan Opera House will echo to thestrident syncopations of U.S. jazz. This in spite of the fact that OttoH. Kahn, Chairman of the Metropolitan Opera Company, has invitedIrving Berlin, Jerome Kem, George Gershwin, famed composersof jazz, to submit a jazz opera for production in the very throneroom of music .... George Gershwin, whose orchestral piece ARhapsody in Blue is so far jazz's loftiest flight, is regarded as probablythe best-equipped to comply with the demands of operatic composition."(I couldn't find any evidence that the project ever becamea reality.)However it is to Scott Joplin that the honour goes for staging theworld's first ragtime opera, in 1903. It was called A Guest Of Honourand was based on the 1901 visit of African American leaderBooker T. Washington to the White House, where he dined withPresident Teddy Roosevelt. The work met with limited success andthe music has since been lost.His next major work was Treemonisha, the first grand operacomposed by an African American. It consisted of an overture andprelude, various recitatives, choruses, arias and a ballet sequence.But once more Joplin encountered frustration, for it was neverstaged during his lifetime and its only performance was a pianoread-through in 1915, at his own expense.Although in general Joplin's music was popular and he wrotescores of rags (no pun intended), he received only modest royaltiesduring his lifetime and did not receive recognition as a serious composeruntil more than fifty years after his death. It was 1970 beforethe score of Treemonisha was rediscovered and the opera was performedin its entirety. Three years later the movie The Sting gaveJoplin the fame he never enjoyed when he was alive .There is another aspect to this topic, not directly about jazz andopera, but still about acceptance and tolerance. And to examine itwe'll go back to the 19th Century and a time when American societywas less than receptive to African American musicians who wantedto be taken seriously as composers and jazz players.The Louisiana Territory had been governed by the French untilthe mid-18th century, then was under Spanish rule for 40 yearsbefore reverting to the French. New Orleans, regarded as the cradleof jazz, was part of France until the Louisiana Purchase of 1803and had developed an important Creole sub-culture which did no~exist anywhere else in the United States.WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM APRIL 1 - MAY 7 2008

Creoles were free, spoke Frenchand Spanish and were originallyfrom the West Indies. They lived inthe French section of the city andthroughout the 19th century wereprominent in the cultural life of thecity. Many were Conservatorytrainedin Paris. They played at theOpera and in the leading societybands and their European-influencedmusic was precise and formal. TheAmerican blacks who lived on theother side of the tracks - the Westside of Canal Street - were poor,uneducated and disadvantaged. Theirmusic was Blues, Gospel and worksongs, for the most part played byJeff Healeyear. Life for the Creoles changeddrastically when, in 1894, a segregation law was introduced in NewOrleans, which compelled them to move to the American section.Their sophisticated music and attitudes went with them and it wasthis forced cultural melange which had more than a little to do withthe rise of the music we know as jazz.Worth NotingBlues legend Buddy Guy will be appearing in Toronto at MasseyHall on Saturday, April 5 at 8:00 pm. Also, The National JazzAwards take place on April 8 at Palais Royale.Closing ChordsI wrote the following about the late Jeff Healey for the TorontoDowntown Jazz Society newsletter: The obituaries have been writtenand tributes paid, but we would like to add our own few words inappreciation of the contribution made to Canadian music by Jeff Healey,who lost his battle with cancer on the 2nd of March. He enjoyedtremendous success with his rock/blues band, but his real love waswhat the French critic Hughes Panassie referred to as "le vrai jazz" -the jazz from early New Orleans to the 1930s. Over the last fewyears he did much to preserve that music and find a new audience forit through his radio show on JAZZ.FM and live performances withhis "Jazz Wizards". One of the old jazz numbers that I know heliked was "I Hope Gabriel Likes My Music". The last lines of thelyric go like this:I hope Gabriel likes my musicWhen I climb that golden stairIf there's too much moan, I'll change my tonePlay too sharp, I'll try that harpIf he says no, I'll bolt the doorI hope Gabriel likes my musicMy bet is that he likes it.Featuring some of Toronto's best jazz musicianswith a brief reflection by Jazz Vespers ClergySunday, April 13th at 4:30 p.m.THE KELLY JEFFERSON TRIOKelly Jefferson (saxophone), Brian Dickinson (piano), Pat Collins {bass)Sunday, April 27th at 4:30 p.m.THE BRIAN BARLOW ORCHESTRAFri Apr 4Sat Apr 5Fri Apr 11Sat Apr 12Fri Apr 18Sat Apr 19Fri Apr 25Sat Apr 26Fri May 2Sat May 3Fri May 9Sat May 10Fri May 16Sat May 17Fri May 23Sat May 24Fri May 30Sat May 31The llome Smilh IlarDusty Bohdan DuoRon Davis TrioMark Ucci TrioSultan of StringsSean Bray DuoRuss Little TrioReg Schwager DuoHeather Bambrick TrioPlakasoChase Sanborn TrioDusty Bohdan DuoPeter Smith TrioAndre Roy DuoRussell Drago TrioKira Callahan DuoRichard Whiteman TrioBryan Toner TrioLinda Carone TrioFridays & SaturdaysJazz Sets begm8:30 pm - 11 :30 pmLimited Seating availableNo reservationsCover: .00 per personLight menu availableFree onsite parkingCome relax and unwind inthe intimate surroundings ofThe Home Smith Bar. Enjoy themellow and soulful soundsthat emanate from thegreat Jazz artists.WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COM25

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