8 years ago

Volume 14 - Issue 1 - September 2008

Jazz Notes"Silence

Jazz Notes"Silence speaks volumes"by Jim GallowayVOLUMES HAVE BEEN WRITTEN about jazz: much of it by mediocrewriters, some of it by musicians (but in fact written by "ghost writers"),a few by musicians who really could write-John Chilton, ArtHodes, George Melly and Dick Sudhalter come to mind immediately.Above it all, in the rarified atmosphere at the top of a mountainof words about jazz, sit a select few superior non-musician writerswith both insights on the music and the writing skills to express themselves.Whitney Balliett, Gary Giddins, Philip Larkin and JamesLincoln Collier, whether or not you agree with everything they say,are among those who have created worthwhile jazz literature.Right here in Toronto we have Mark Miller, for years an outspokenand often controversial columnist for The Globe and Mail. Millernow dedicates himself to writing books on jazz-eight of them so far,all stamped with his trademark relentless research, attention to detailand love of language.High Hat, Trumpet and Rhythm is his latest, and, in typical fashion,Miller does not go for an obvious easy target, but has chosen thelife of singer, trumpeter and dancer Valaida Snow, whose checkeredcareer was at its height in the '20s and '30s. It is a fascinating accountof a controversial life, made even more colourful by the manyembellishments of reality contributed by Ms. Snow and unearthed byMr. Miller. My hat goes off to Mark for his ability to get an insightinto what must have been a challenging subject, and his talent forturning it into a fascinating read.Books dealing with people and events are one thing, but writingabout how music sounds is an entirely different ball game. How doyou convey what a piece of music sounds like?lfl say that Warm Valley played by Johnny Hodges is beautiful, itdoesn't begin to describe the emotional impact of the sounds. Words,at best, are inadequate. Language is abstract- a combination ofsounds to help us communicate with each other.Perhaps we should have embraced the concept of Eskimo languages,which have, for example, multiple words to describe snow.An editorial in The New York Times of February 9, 1984 gave thenumber as 100 !On the other hand, overly esoteric and flowery language can bemore unsatisfactory and inappropriate; so maybe "beautiful" isn't sobad!Then there is the technical approach to writing about the musicokto a degree if the reader has a working knowledge of music, butunable to describe the nuances that make jazz personal. Much as Ilove language, once more words are lacking and, in any case, nomatter how well chosen they are, words don't interpret music. NorII ,qi, 11., 1.T,·1im11(·to1 ndHJ., 11, "'. t -i;1 ~ l , •I l I, ; I J ! I : ( I 1 ~. 11: .! ', L ;. ldo they interpret one of music'sessential ingredientssilence.The Romans used twowords in referring to silence- tacere and silere. Not quiteup there with the Inuit, butgiving two very differentmeanings to the word. Taceremeant to shut up, as in interrupting,and had negativeconnotations-the silenceresulting from cutting offsomeone in mid-sentence.On the other hand, silere, theword where our silencecomes from, had a quietconnotation and meant thekind of quietness that can bepositively enjoyed.It is this type of silence, in the form of pauses and rests, withoutwhich music would be meaningless. Try to imagine a chorus by LouisArmstrong or Charlie Parker with no pauses between any of thenotes and you will quickly realise how important space is.In today's society there is almost constant noise, often in the formof "music" to which nobody is listening; it forms an intrusive backdropof sound in stores, elevators, restaurants, ball games, you nameit. Our technology does away with silence; if there isn't noise aroundus it is because of a technical malfunction. Silence is an enemy ofcommerce and is something you have to seek out away from publicspaces.Small personal protests are the only recourse and if I go into arestaurant or store with a music/noise level that offends my ears, Isimply leave. Nobody cares, but I feel better.In music, some composers-such as John Cage-have taken theuse of silence to extreme measures. His composition 4'33" is madeup of three movements performed without a single note being played.It was perceived as including the sounds of the environment that thelisteners hear while it is performed, not just four minutes and thirtythree seconds of silence.I grew up-although some of my friends might question thatwhenThe Goon Show was breaking new ground in radio comedy andI used to treasure a 78 rpm record that they produced. On one sidewas a song called I'm Walking Backwards For Christmas, AcrossThe Irish Sea . The flip side was Silent Night and it consisted of threeminutes of silence.Happy Listening!Featuring some of Toronto's best ja zz musiciansw ith a brief reflection by Jazz Vespers ClergySunday, September 7th at 4:30 p.m.BARLOW BRASS & DRUMSChase Sanborn & Brian O'Kane (trumpets); Russ Little& TerriPromane (trombones); Doug Burrell (tuba); Brian Barlow (drums)Sunday, September 21 st at 4:30 p.m.LORNE LOFSKY 8 ROB PILTCH (guitars)Christ Church Deer Park, 1570 Yonge Street(north of St. Clair at Heath St.) 416-920-5211Admission is free.An offering is received to support the work of the church, including Jazz Vespers.Last Night'sParty pothes

World ViewThere's a world of music out thereby Karen AgesALWAYS WANTED TO EXPLORE a new musical tradition but didn't know where to begin? Below is a list of community education organizationsthat offer classes in everything from Arabic music to Canadian fiddling to Indonesian gamelan and more. Many have classes starting soon,so don't delay in contacting them if you're interested. But first, some concert highlights this month: The 7th Annual Small World MusicFestival runs September 18-30, bringing a variety of global sounds to town. "A number of exciting debuts and some local favourites performa wide range of styles from a capella to turntable," says Small World Music director Alan Davis. The festival kicks off with Zimbabweansinger Chiwoniso at the Lula Lounge, and continues with a host of other performers representing musical traditions from Mexico,Hungary, Turkey, Greece, Israel, and Mali. Please check our listings and visit for details. Toronto's Indian/jazz fusion ensemble Autorickshaw performs at the Lula Lounge September 25, with special guest Brazilian/jazz pianist/composer GordonSheard. The concert will feature The Trouble With Hari, a new composition by Sheard, combining the Brazilian 'Baiao' rhythm with melodicelements from the 'Hari Kamboji' raga. If you're inspired by the above, read on to see how you can expand your own musical horizons!Arabesque Academywww. arabesq uedance. ea1 Gloucester Street, Suite 107416-920-5593In addition to being one of the bestplaces in the city to study the art ofbelly dance, Arabesque Academyoffers classes in Arabic instrumentalmusic. At the time of writing,the fall schedule was not available,but check their website for updates.Music classes are offered by notedlocal Arabic musicians Dr. GeorgeSawa, Bassam Bishara and SuleimanWarwar on a variety of traditionalinstruments including dumbek,Qanoon, Naye, Oude, Voice,Violin, Saz, as well as history andtheory.Clapping Landwww.clappingland.comRiverdale Presbyterian Church,662 Pape Ave. 416-220-8161Clapping Land offers classes involving songs,movement and rhythm for young children.Run by Toronto musician Sophia Grigoriadis,Clapping Land is now accepting registrantsfor the fall. Visit the website for full detailsnotethat classes for babies begin the week ofSeptember 2. The three levels offered are:Kindermusik Village (Newborns to 18months), Sound Adventures (18 months to 3 1/2years), and Sound Explorers (3 1 /2 to 5 years).Expanding their musical horizons-students from WaleedAbdulhamid 's popular Worlds of Music "African drumming"workshop perform at a recital.Gamelan Degung-Sora Priangan"Voice of the Spirit of the Ancestral Mountains"Royal Conservatory of Music (rehearsallocation) Andrew TimarSora Priangan is the Evergreen Club ContemporaryGamelan's community group, directedby Evergreen Club member AndrewTimar. The instruments and repertoire are,Brass & Woodwind Drums &Keyboardso1tn s .Instruments(iNLus1cAccessories forall Instrumentsflflindigenous to the highland Sundanesepeople of West Java, Indonesia. SoraPriangan's mission is to foster anunderstanding and appreciation of thegamelan degung music of West Java,and that of the unique repertoire commissionedby it's parent group, theEvergreen Club. Sora Priangan'smembership is open to the public, andpresents concerts andworkshops. Rehearsals are Tuesdays6-9pm.M-DO, Toronto Tabla Ensemblewww.tablaensemble.comwww .mdo-tte.org355 College St. West, 2nd floor416-504-7082Sister organizations since 1988, M-DOand the Toronto Tabla Ensemble wereestablished through the shared visionsof Kathak dancer Joanna de Souza andTabla drummer Ritesh Das. Classesare offered in both disciples to thegeneral public at beginner to advanced levels.Fall classes begin the week of September 8.See the websites for details.Miles Nadal JCCwww.milesnadaljcc.caCorner of Spadina/Bloor416-924-621 1 xl33 Harriet WichinThe Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre(open to all), offers classes in a wide varietyof areas, including some music. Check theflSheet Musicfor all levelsflWWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COM

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