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Volume 14 - Issue 6 - March 2009

This CD does such a

This CD does such a genuine job in celebratingjazz music, improvisation, pop music , contemporarymusic and everything in between.Lizee's music clearly reflects the many identitiesof Canadians, and the next generation of itscomposers. Her fearless approach is engagingand I highly recommend raising children on thismusic ...Richard MarsellaJAZZ AND IMPROVIZEDPhenixLes Poulesambiences magnetiquesAM 176 CDSampling everydaysounds while electronicallymixing them with extendedand unusual techniques;the MontrealbasedLes Paules producesmusic that is both subtly feminist and sonicallyexpressive. On their own, each of Les Paules("the hens" in English) - alto saxophonist JoaneHetu, percussionist Danielle Palardy Roger andsampler-manipulator Diane Labrosse - alsocomposes for dance and theatre companiesand performs with such associates as guitaristFred Frith (Roger); pianist Marilyn Lerner(Labrosse) and saxophonist Jean Derome(Hetu). Arriving at their second decade as a triohowever, "Phenix" is an unbeatable demonstrationof their interactive prowess.Over the course of 24 miniatures, lastingfrom barely a minute to slightly less than three,the trio creates unique juxtapositions that forexample contrast the percussiveness of bassdrum thumps and a sewing machine motor; oralternately compare approximations of infantcries, the power of a passing freight train andthe rattling of a bell tree. Mostly narrowing herfocus to timbres scraped and scratched on cymbals,Roger's abrasions dovetail with theshrill reed bites, unattached mouthpiecepeeps and wide-vibrato growls that Hetuforces from her horn. Meantime Labrosse'sring-modulator flanging , droning loops of buzzingstatic and motor-driven grinding underlineor connect the shifting tonal centres.With each woman vocalizing a babble ofnonsense syllables, gargles, scat singing, snoresand juicy quacking, the jocular result is as muchmusique de maison as musique concrete. Inshort Phenix is one hen party you'd be welladvisedto attend.Ken WaxmanConcert Note: Diane Labrosse will join MarilynLerner in "Seconde Nature" at The MusicGallery on February 20.Willie the WeeperPatrick Tevlin's New Orleans RhythmNew Orleans North CD-008Some of the delights of any art form lie in therich diversities to be found. Jazz has evolvedinto a multi-faceted sophisticated culture, butthe simple joys of the music in its early formcan still be heard, thanks to small, dedicatedFEBRUARY 1 - M ARCH 7 2009groups of musicians allover the world.This recording featuresthree stalwarts of theToronto traditional scene:Patrick Tevlin on trumpet,Roberta Hunt onpiano and Colin Bray onbass, all of them members of the popular Torontogroup, The Happy Pals. They are joinedby Brian Carrick one of England's leading NewOrleans style clarinet players with a strongGeorge Lewis influence.This music is unpretentious and sincere and,in truth, at its most enjoyable when heard live.That's the case with any music, but none moreso than traditional jazz with its direct emotionalcommunication with the audience. That is not todetract from the listening pleasure to be found inthis CD which is a collection of mostly familiartraditional themes like the title song, Willie TheWeeper, I'm Confessin' and Martha along witha few lesser known pieces such as the old rag,Trombonium, the 1924 Armand Piron BrightStar Blues and, adding a Jamaican touch, the1925 Sly Mongoose.The musicians convey an infectious enthusiasmand lovers of traditional jazz will findmuch to enjoy in this recording.Jim GallowayExtended Play - LOCAL JAZZBy Ori DaganThe artistry of Ron Davis is revealed not solelyby his playfulness on the piano, but all the moreby his creative decisions as leader. Davis hasachieved critical acclaim for his pristine presentationof, and devotion to, the jazz tradition.On The Bestseller(Minerva/Davinor233377), his sixth recording,he has pared itway down. Aside fromtwo solo piano tracks,this is an entire album ofpiano/clarinet duets withSasha Boychouk, a formidable Ukrainian musicianwho has recently relocated to Canada.Playing with remarkable virtuosity and a finesense of humour, Boychouk is an ideal musicalmatch for Davis. In addition to nine collaborativeinterludes, the original material ismostly penned by Davis, with several gemsworth citing: Rhythmaron plants a fresh twist onthe Gershwin standard I Got Rhythm, Allelujahis a luminous, pensive waltz and Street Stomp isthe Klezmer answer to Dancing in the Streets.For good measure, a few covers, including theSesame Street/Muppet Show anthem ManhaManha. Humorous, bold, engaging and energetic,"The Bestseller" is a sure-fire winner.(www .rondavismusic.com)Known for his fiery tone and flair for burningtempi , Juno award winner Kirk MacDonald isone of Canada's pre-eminent jazz saxophonists.Since the release of his first album nearly twentyyears ago, MacDonald has gradually gravitatedtowards the strength of his own originalcompositions. Family Suite (Romhog RecordsWWW. THEWHOLENOTE,COM116) , MacDonald's sixthalbum as leader, is a personalaffair. The poignantopening and closing theme, m.ll ... 4!l:~r'.Dark Autumn , refers to the Efall of 2002, an arduoustime in which MacDonaldlost his mother while stillmourning the deaths of long-time collaboratorsJerry Fuller and Joe Bendzsa. Each movementin the suite is meaningfully titled and dedicated.One of the liveliest, Four Shades of Light, featuresan electrifying tete-a-tete between theleader and Barry Romberg on drums, as wellas Romberg trading fours with the exquisiteBrian Dickinson on piano. Along with bassistJim Vivian, the sensitive rhythm section is asgood as it gets. Musically multifaceted as always,MacDonald delivers a highly rewarding,emotionally raw performance on this unquestionablycathartic recording.(www .kirkmacdonald.com)A first-rate guitarist, composer and arranger,Michael Occhipinti is ... ....... . ....... , .. .best-known for co-leadingthe spirited NOJO (Neufeld-OcchipintiJazz Orchestra)and has also previouslyreleased four titlesunder his own name. His2000 release, "CreationDream", offered jazz renditions of BruceCockburn's music. Conceptually similar, Occhipinti's ambitious fifth outing The SicilianJazz Project (True North Records TND 516),pays tribute to his roots by reinventing traditionalSicilian folk repertoire. The selected materialis tastefully steeped in jazz without sacrificingits authentic folk flavour. Occhipinti's arrangementsemphasize strings and percussion, alongwith Kevin Turcotte on trumpet, Louis Simaoon accordion and Ernie Tollar on saxophone andflute . Five of the nine tracks feature heartfeltvocals by Dominic Mancuso and MaryemTollar, both impeccable storytellers. BrotherRoberto Occhipinti lays down the bass andwears the producer's hat. Ultimately whatcomes through in this recording is a deep dedicationto the material. Extensive liner noteseffectively introduce the listener to each song'smeaning, origin and the leader's intention. Ifone is of Sicilian lineage, this recording is essential;for everyone else, it is a recommendablelabour of love.(www .rnichaelocchipinti.com)The elder brother of Michael and a cousin ofguitarist David, RobertoOcchipinti has enjoyed aproductive career primarilyas bassist, secondarilyas producer. Initiallymentored by Joel Quarringtonand Dave Young,he spent decades as anorchestral player and sideman before releasinghis first album as leader at the turn of the century.Occhipinti's fourth release, A Bend in theRiver (Alma Records ACD11182), showcaseshis refined skills as player, producer, arrangerand composer. The core personnel consists ofpianist David Virelles, drummer Dafnis Prie-59

to, Occhipinti on bass and Luis Deniz on altosaxophone. Collectively the group outlines eachcomposition's shape, but the canvas is splashedwith many other colours, including guest appearancesby flautist Les Allt, bass clarinettistJohn Johnson, trumpeter Kevin Turcotte and afull string orchestra on three of the seven cuts.The title track is a memorable standout for itslogically flowing melody, sweeping harmonicmovement and a rhythmically inventive saxophonesolo by Deniz. Occhipinti's string arrangements,especially those featuring theGlobalis String Orchestra, create a lush lyricismthat lingers long after the disc plays out.(www.robertoocchipinti.com)Extended play - VOCAL JAZZBy Cathy RichesA passel of new discs by Canadian singers -some relative newcomers, others more experienced- ended off 2008 in style. The first , andmost notable, is by Yvette Tollar, an independentrelease entitled Ima (ROM 10). The Tollarname may be familiar tosome, as brother Ernie isan established woodwindplayer in Toronto wholends his talents to thiscollection of Canadiansongs. Most are writtenby local players like keyboardistDave Restivo (the gorgeous Prayer forHuman Kindness appears twice on the disc,once with just piano accompaniment and theother with nimble tabla playing by Ravi Naimpally),guitar guru Kevin Breit and Tollar herself,but Joni Mitchell's Edith and the Kingpin isalso here and given a funky but reverentialtreatment. Tollar sings with a jazz sensibilityunderpinned with a gospel/soul sound thatmakes for a rich, appealing combination. Butwhat is most compelling is her complete lack ofaffectation. She is a singer who has chosen andwritten songs that have a lot of meaning for herand while she takes care with her craft, it'sapparent her main aim is to get the songs acrossrather than to sound a certain way. Havingsome of the heaviest and most inventive playersin Toronto collaborating on your disc helps too -the aforementioned Kevin Breit and Dave Restivo,piano player Robi Botos and Tollar's husbandand phenomenal bassist, Rich Brown,played and co-produced. It all adds up to one ofthe most genuine and moving discs from a localtalent in 2008. (www.yvettetollar.com)Montreal-based Susie Arioli and partnerJordan Officer have released their 5th CDNight Lights (Spectra Musique SPECD7806) .Officer's steady acousticguitar comping and agilesoloing along with Arioli'slight touch on snare, givesit a Hot Club of Francesound, while the blend ofsophisticated nostalgia andFrench and Latin tingesreminds me of the hip, Oregon-based "littleorchestra" Pink Martini. The clever way thatArioli's breathy alto is recorded - close-up,with no reverb - gives the songs an engaging60intimacy, as if she's sitting just over there onthe couch doing a few numbers just for you. Thephrasing is straight and unadorned on standardslike I Can't Get Started, Blue Skies and You Goto My Head with Officer's original Basswalk(featuring bassist Bill Gossage) rounding out thisbreezy, satisfying record. Arioli and Officerare playing several dates in Quebec in Februaryand March and info can be found atwww.nuland.ca/arioli.Daniela Nardi first graced the Toronto musicscene with her personalsongwriting style andsmooth, earthy voice in2003, but took a hiatus tonurse her mother throughcancer. So it's no surprisethat her second CD RoseTattoo (MIN003) is rifewith self-examination and introspective lyrics.Produced by Greg Kavanagh, the disc is polishedand richly arranged - lots of percussion,backing vocals, horns and subtle electronica -but never loses its earnest intensity. Rich Brownand George Koller share bass duties, DavideDirenzo drums and Nardi does the keyboardwork. Ranging from the urban funkiness of 485to the Calabrian folk singing that precedes thetouching ballad Rosetta, to the Middle Easternbluesiness of Longest Road, the record coversdiverse musical and emotional ground.(www.danielanardi.com)Two discs with similar offerings - standardsplayed with traditional jazz treatments andinstrumentation (no djembe or oud here) andstraight forward vocal interpretations - roundout the latest batch of releases. First is MollyJohnson' s Lucky (Universal 0251786014).Johnson is a popular singerin Toronto not only for herperformances but also herfundraising work and,lately, radio hosting onCBC 2. Her mature,chesty voice imbues thesongs on "Lucky" with aworld-weariness that makes Lush Life and ILoves You Porgy utterly believable. Whileswingy, up-tempo treatments - courtesy ofbacking trio Phil Dwyer, piano and sax, MikeDownes, bass, and Mark McLean/Ben Riley,drums - take the normally sombre Mean to Meand Ode to Billie Joe (which could be renamedOde to Killer Joe for the debt the arrangementowes to that song) to new, light-hearted places.(www.mollyjohnson.com)Founder of Alma Records and bass player,Peter Cardinali, produced his daughter Kristy'sdebut My Romance (Alma RecordsACD11082) and for it enlisted Robi Botos'sensitive support on piano.Kristy croons her waymatter-of-factly throughsuch familiar tunes as IRemember You , Taking aChance On Love and ,incongruously for one ofsuch tender years, In theWee Small Hours of the Morning, with guest bitsfrom renowns Don Thompson on bass, GuidoBasso on flugelhorn and Kevin Breit on guitar.WWW. TH EWHOLEN OTE .COMThe standout track is the almost a capella versionof A Sleeping Bee. Uber arranger DylanBell's sumptuous, complex voicings, sung byfellow Cadence members Kevin Fox, CarlBerger and Ross Lynde, add a dash of verve toan otherwise straight forward record.(www .almarecords.com)Extended play - AIMTorontoBy Ken WaxmanBarely four years since its founding, The Associationof Improvising Musicians Toronto(AIMToronto), has raised the profile of localimprovisers, while nurturing the scene. Thisalmost 200-member, non-profit collective helpsfind venues in which to hear improvised music -most prominently Somewhere There in Parkdale- presents concerts featuring visiting musiciansinteracting with locals , and has organizeda large improvisers orchestra. One of AIMToronto'shighest profile gigs took place at theGuelph Jazz Festival in 2007, where 18AIMToronto members played the music of theAmerican improv guru Anthony Braxton withthe composer on soprano saxophone. The resultwas Creative Orchestra (Guelph) (Spool LineSPL 130). It showcases the AIMToronto membersfollowing the evershiftingtonal centres infive Braxton compositions.Throughout these sequencesand intervals it's evidentthat overtones andundertones are as audibleas the melodies, so theaural coloration takes on a 3-D-like effect.Germane to these tracks are the bravura contributionsof vocalist Christine Duncan, who personifiesthe program not only with guttural orbel canto warbling plus inflated or truncatedsyllables, but also with parlando declarations.Another connecting thread is percussive - withstrokes, vibrations and rattles apparent in variedpitches and pressures from Nick Fraser's andJoe Sorbara's drums and Brandon Valdivia'sclattering xylophone. Most characteristic of thepieces is Composition 307, a variation ofsprechstimme, with Duncan's falsetto dran1aticssharing space with antiphonal vamps fromthe horns or gong-ringing and rim shots fromthe percussion. As the resonance arranges itselfarchitecturally, slurs, syllables and sequencespeep from the layering, with particularly noteworthycontributions from tenor saxophonistColin Fisher, growls from Ronda Rindone'sclarinet and Scott Thomson's shaggy trombonetriplets. (www.spoolmusic.com)The Orchestra's artistic director, saxophonistKyle Brenders, studied with Anthony Braxtonat Wesleyan Universityand his recording Flowsand Intensities suggestsone ofBraxton's solo outings.Each of the eightcompositions - all but twoby Brenders - is orientedaround a specific theme ormotif played on soprano or tenor saxophone.Working with extended reed techniques andcircular breathing, the results are alternatelyFEB RUARY 7 - MARCH 7 2009

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