8 years ago

Volume 14 - Issue 9 - June 2009

The eighteen-piece

The eighteen-piece ensemble breathes as onethroughout. All in all, the Toronto Jazz Orchestrais on an admirable path.Ori DaganCharles Mingus - EpitaphOrchestra; Gunther SchullerEagle Eye Media EE-39171-9On June 3rd, 1989 New York’s Alice TullyHall was the scene of a monumental tribute tothe late, great Charles Mingus, who had dieda decade earlier. 30 musicians, including thecream of New York’s jazz community directed by Gunther Schuller,gave the first performanceof Epitaph, an 18movement work composedover a number ofyears by Mingus whichhad never seen the lightof day. Some sections,“Better Get It In YourSoul” and “Freedom”for example, are knownin other versions performedby smaller groups, while some pieceswere composed for a legendary disastrousconcert at New York’s Town Hall in 1962.There hadn’t been a chance to rehearse itproperly and the copyists were, indeed, evenstill copying some of the music – it wasn’teven fully ready and so eventually the concertwas aborted when the union stage crew said,‘It’s midnight, we’ve gotta stop this.’ Theother pieces on this recording would seem tohave been written for the full orchestra.It can certainly be described as Mingus’magnum opus and runs well over two hours.If you’re a fan this is not to be missed, but ifyou are not familiar with his music I wouldsuggest that you listen to some of his albums– “Mingus Ah Um” or “Blues and Roots” -before plunging in at the deep end with thisambitious undertaking.Composer and arranger Andrew Homzywho discovered the 500 page score, some ofit in very poor condition, while cataloguingMingus’ work, deserves a vote of thanks forhis restoration of this significant aspect of thecreative spirit that was Charles Mingus.An interesting footnote is that the compositionhad no finale and according to Schullerhe and the band improvised one, using Mingusas an inspiration.Jim GallowayTake Love EasySophie MilmanLinus 2 7010 8( closely on the success of herJuno-winning “Make Someone Happy”,Russian-born Toronto resident Sophie Milmanhas released her third studio recording.In contrast to her previous albums that weremostly older standards, “Take Love Easy”is an inviting mix of covers by modern songwritingicons such as Joni Mitchell and PaulSimon combinedwith tunes bythe likes of ColePorter and DukeEllington. Milmanhas a warm,sultry deliverythat is best onthe moody downtempo numberswhile on the few faster tempo tunes that callfor more precision, she gets left in the dustsomewhat. But the killer band is in completecontrol throughout, nimbly navigatingthrough the various styles here. The rhythmsection - Paul Shrofel, keys, Rob Piltch, guitar,Kieran Overs, bass and Mark McLean,drums – swings gently on the title track,stretches out on That Is Love, then eases theirway through the bossa nova-tinged My Oneand Only Love, with sublime accordion playingby Tom Szczesniak. The whole ensemble,including lush horns, does a gorgeous renditionof Bonnie Raitt’s I Can’t Make YouLove Me.Cathy RichesConcert Note: Milman performs at the Montrealand Vancouver TD Canada Trust jazzfests in July.Gimme Whatcha GotTerra HazeltonIndependent( for singing with Jeff Healey’sJazz Wizards for 6 years, Terra Hazelton cantoday be found singing with Toronto bandssuch as The Hogtown Syncopators, The Jivebombers,and Jaymz Bee’s Royal Jelly Orchestra.Her sophomore release is a departurefrom the Healey-produced debut “Anybody’sBaby” which was recorded live-off-the-floor.“Gimme Whatcha Got” is a musical metamorphosisfrom cocoon to butterfly, a productof Hazelton’s own musical vision guidedby producer/pianist John Sheard and supportedby a collection of this country’s finestjazz musicians. The benevolent rhythm sectionfeatures Sheard on piano, George Kolleron bass, Jesse Barksdale on guitar and MarkMariash on drums. A welcome abundance ofspecial guests include William Sperandei ontrumpet, Shawn Nykwist on tenor, RossWooldridge on clarinet and Danny Douglason trombone. ChrisGale’s spine-tinglingsolo on JuliaLee’s Gotta GimmeWhatcha Got is thekind that beckonsto be transcribed;same goes for thefive tracks gracedby vivacious violinvirtuoso Drew Jurecka. Tasteful duets withAlex Pangman (Don’t Let Your Love GoWrong) and Russell DeCarle (Two SleepyPeople) plus a trio with Jason and SheldonValieau (I’m an Old Cowhand) add somespice. Hazelton’s compelling delivery capturesthe essence of every song, whether it’sromantic (I Like it ‘Cause I Love it), naughty(Gotta Gimme Whatcha Got), droll(Ev’rything I’ve Got Belongs to You) or tragic(Smoking My Sad Cigarette). This radiantsinger has never shone brighter.Ori DaganEXTENDED PLAY:Alexander Von Schlippenbachand his band matesBy Ken WaxmanA European jazz pacesetter since thelate 1960s, German pianist Alexander VonSchlippenbach’s groups showcase differentaspects of hisbroad interests.Together for over35 years, his triowith saxophonistEvan Parker anddrummer PaulLovens featuresimprovisers attunedto each other’sthinking. Predating that, The Globe UnityOrchestra herds outstanding Continental soloistsinto cooperative big band arrangements.His Monk’s Casino quintet – filled out byGerman players about 25 years younger thanSchlippenbach, 71 – offers a unique take onThelonious Monk’s oeuvre. Its members alsoscore on individual projects, like these CDs.Able to display the quirky kernel of Monk’smoods elsewhere, on Friulian Sketches (psi08.07;,Von Schlippenbach personalizes jazz chambermusic, seconded by American cellist TristanHonsinger and Italian clarinettist DanieleD’Agaro. The 20 inventions are airy andpleasant, and never do the bel canto flourishestrump innate creativity. For exampleon Capriccio skewed Monkian tropes giveway to broken-octave chording and strummedcadenzas from the pianist – both formalistand funky. In contrast the cellist’s tremolosqueaks open up into multi-string exhibitionism,while D’Agaro’s reed quivers withlyrical currents. Moderato throughout, tunesare frequently jolted by the clarinettist’s highpitchedglissandi or liquid portamento. TakeAntifonia where D’Agaro’s tones are matchedby the pianist’s organic patterning plus astop-time interlude from Honsinger. Alteringtheir instruments’ tessitura as they play, thethree keep the restrained sounds from becomingsimplistic by including rhythmic plunksfrom cello strings and key fanning from thepiano.Simplicity doesn’t enter the equation onTOOT’s Two (Another Timbre At14; Here the Bebop chopstrumpeter Axel Dörner exhibits in Monk’sCasino are transmogrified into disembodiedbrass sound pulses, the better to meld withthe quivering wave forms and undercurrents42 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM JUNE 1 - JULY 7, 2009

from Thomas Lehn’s synthesizer and thecries, retches and mumbles which make upthe unconventional oralization of British vocalistPhil Minton. Minton’s style of antisinging,whichencompasses duckquacks, yodeling,basso growls andstrangled yelps,reduces vocal expressionto its mostbasic. So does thetrumpeter, whoseexpression mostlyconsists of flat-line air forced through thehorn’s body tube, reductionist breaths andcircumscribed grace notes. Abstract on theirown, Lehn’s sound envelopes hold the improvisationstogether with pulsating signals andelectric-piano-like sprinkles. Evolving chromaticallyor contrapuntally, Toot’s soundworldis pointillist, but not cynosure. DespiteMinton’s strident throat extensions, his gibberishspouting is put into context when matedwith the others’ outpourings. Purring timbresand ring modulator-like whooshes fromthe synthesizer create a connective undercurrent,while Dörner’s excursions into mutedgrace notes confirm the in-the-moment statusof the improvisations.Even more instantaneous is Aki and TheGood Boys’ Live at Willisau Jazz Festival(Jazz Werkstatt JW 049; One “good boy” prominent on this CDby Aki Takase – the Japanese-born, Berlinbasedpianist – is bass clarinettist Rudi Mahall,who shares the front line in Monk’s Casinowith Dörner. Serendipitously enough,Takase is Von Schlippenbach’s wife. Looserthan the otherCDs’ programs,“Live” cannilysubverts Americanjazz and Germanfolksongs.Takase’s compositionsare harmonicallyand melodicallysophisticated. They also have sufficient spacefor her keyboard forays ranging from highfrequencytinkling, to metronomic pulsing.Added are flutter-tongued, altissimo andvamping exchanges between Mahall and Amsterdam-basedreedist Tobias Delius. Scatteredamong the tunes are four Mahall-composedminiatures which lighten the mood andextend the color palate. Dreimal Durch forinstance, conflates an uneven pulse, spiderypiano arpeggios and unison horn trills. Thebass clarinettist’s reed bites, spetrofluctuationand tongue slaps help define Takase compositionssuch as Today’s Ulysses, which alsoshowcases her metronomic patterning andcontrasting dynamics. Here Mahall scoopingconcentric notes from his horn’s bottomcauses Delius to unleash responsive honksand slurs.In contrast to these exercises in groupinteraction, bassist Jan Roder – whose solidrhythm is the rock on which Monk’s Casinorests – goes it alone on Double Bass (jazzwerkstattJW 037;,unveiling multiplestrategies as hismodulated plucksalternate with metronomicinventionsplus abrasive bowscratches. Naucaptures slaps,pulls and thumps.Ses deals withstaccato, strident and subterranean doublestopping– one texture resembles poochbarks, another is airily melodic. Then there’sKvar, which uses crumpled paper placedamong the strings to create rattling noises thatupticks to sul ponticello creaks. The piececoncludes with adagio note clusters executedwith guitar-like facility.Concert Note: Each musician excels as astylist on his own. Toronto can experiencethem together as Monk’s Casino at theChurch of the Redeemer as part of the TDCanada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival on June26.POT POURRIJoyfulCoco Love AlcornSOP SOP2009001(“Joyful”, the latest disc by singer-songwriterCoco Love Alcorn is a fun, eclectic party.The record opens with the preachy funkinessof Compassion, switches gears to the cutepop of I Got a Bicycle — complete with theinstrument du jour of many young singersongwritersthese days, glockenspiel — thenventures into anode to sciencenerds everywherewith IntellectualBoys. All of thesongs are writtenby Alcorn who onher My Spacepage cites some ofher influences as“dark organic fair trade chocolate, robots andshade provided by trees” but from the soundsof this record I’m guessing Feist, CorinneBailey Rae and the Andrews Sisters had ahand, too. Alcorn guides her pretty voiceeasily from a girlie whisper on the quirky poptunes to a big, soulful sound on the funkiernumbers. Producer, programmer and keyboardplayer Chris Gestrin is a strong presenceon the album providing Wurlitzer, Moogand various synthesized sounds as the moodrequires. Alcorn plays acoustic guitar, bass,trumpet and “high fives.”Cathy RichesConcert Note: Alcorn is touring Canada andlands in Toronto on June 14 for the CD releaseparty at Hugh’s Room.WanderlustKiran AhluwaliaFour Quarters EntertainmentFQT-CD-1802 ( Kiran Ahluwalia is no newcomerto the world music scene. Born in India andraised in Toronto (now living in New York),she has made an international career forherself singing and developing the art formof ghazal (love songs generally depictingunfulfilled desires) and Punjabi folk songs. Ifirst became aware of her while listening toToronto violinist Parmela Attariwala’s firstCD – “Beauty Enthralled” has one track featuringAhluwalia, and I was totally hooked!“Wanderlust” is Ahluwalia’s fourth CD,featuring her own musical settings of poemsfrom varioussources. (Her secondCD, “BeyondBoundaries” wonthe Juno awardfor best worldmusic album ofthe year in 2004).You don’t need tounderstand Punjabito appreciate this album – in fact, I dare younot to love this CD! The music itself is gorgeous,and somewhat beyond categorization– while certain traditional elements are present,for example the highly melismatic vocalstyle, use of tabla, sarangi and harmoniumaccompaniment, this is “modernish” music,but not to be pigeonholed as any one style or“fusion”. The use of other instruments notnormally associated with Indian music, suchas the Portuguese guitarra, adds a particularlynice touch on some of the tracks. The mainattraction though is Ahluwalia’s voice itself– and here, words are not enough – velvetysmooth, flowing like honey, impeccable intonation– but don’t take my word for it; buythe CD (or all of them) and hear for yourself!Karen AgesLhasaLes Disques Audiogram ADCD 10222( de Sela fans have had a bit of a waitsince 2003’s “The Living Road” and though“Lhasa” is a departure from her last, highlypraiseddisc, there is plenty here to enjoy.Lhasa’s gorgeous, plaintive voice and distinctivesongwriting are the bedrocks and asusual she’s surrounded herself with skilled,sensitive musicianswho bring a lot tothe overall atmosphere.Recordedlive off the floor,“Lhasa” is a muchmore strippeddown recording –if you can call arecord with harp,violin and several types of guitars, strippeddown. Compared to “Living Road’s” multilayeredarrangements and inventive production,“Lhasa” is positively sparse. But it’sJUNE 1 - JULY 7, 2009 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM 43

Copied successfully!

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)