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Volume 15 Issue 10 - July/August 2010

  • Text
  • Festival
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • August
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  • September
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Some Thoughts

Some Thoughts toEntertainJ i m g a l l o w a ybeen a great jazz fan my whole life. I certainly like modernjazz as well, but my favourite kind is New Orleans jazz. Somethingabout the primitive quality, the simplicity of it, the direct-“I’veness. It is the one style of jazz that stays with me the most.”So says Allan Stewart Konigsberg, better known as Woody Allenin a recent article in New York’s Village Voice.“Early jazz was very pleasurable and very simple,” explains Allen.“After a while, that stuff became concert music, and the chord progressionsgot very complicated, and the harmonies got very complicated.It became less pleasurable. Not less great … But it requiredmore concentration and more effort from the audience.”Allen has just finished the season of sold-out Monday night appearancesat New York’s up-market Carlyle Hotel where, to be honest,his fame rather than his music was the big attraction, and forking out$100 for the privilege wasn’t a problem.He does not deny his limitations as a musician, but his love of themusic is genuine.It is, however, a form of jazz that is no longer a part of the mainstreamof the music. The audience for traditional jazz has diminished,partly through attrition, changing tastes, media neglect and the factthat jazz has embraced so many different influences that it is now wellnigh impossible to define. Only a few young musicians now choose tospecialize in traditional jazz and you have to look to Europe to findmany of them.Certainly, early jazz and swing musicians looked upon themselveslargely as entertainers. There was no comprehension that jazz musicmight be or develop into an art form. “Entertainment”: such a vitalword when describing early jazz, and a word that’s foreign to much oftoday’s music.New York, which used to be a stronghold of jazz in the traditionwith places such as Eddie Condon’s and Jimmy Ryan’s still does havea few places where you can hear jazz that swings: Arthur’s Tavern onGrove Street, Il Valentino at the Sutton Hotel on E. 56th St., and onMondays you can catch Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks (11-pieceband) at Club Cache, downstairs at the Edison Hotel on W. 46th St.Here in Toronto the longest running of these traditional strongholdshas to be Grossman’s Tavern on Spadina, which this year celebratesthe 40th anniversary of New Orleans Jazz every Saturdayafternoon from 4:30 pm.The original bandleaderwas Cliff (“Kid”) Bastien,and his Saturday afternoonresidence at Grossman’sbegan when, in 1970,then-owner Al Grossmanhired the young trumpeterand his Camelia Band, latercalled Kid Bastien’s HappyPals, to perform every Saturday.Apart from a short periodaround 1980, Kid playedthere until his death in February2003. But the band, nowled by Patrick Tevlin, stillplays New Orleans jazz to afaithful following.C’est What has bi-weeklysessions with the Hot FiveJazzmakerss from 3-6pm, althoughin the next few weeksthe dates are June 5 and July4. They play a mix of ragtime,blues, spirituals andTrumpeter Cliff (“Kid”) Bastien.classic jazz, and they have been strutting their stuff in this downtownwatering hole on Front St. E. for over 20 years. The leader is trombonistBrian Towers, and the band is dedicated to playing in the traditionalstyle with the emphasis on entertaining their audience.It’s worth making the observation that when I say traditional jazz,I’m using terms of reference that have changed from the old dayswhen jazz was still relatively easy to define – the time when you wereeither a traditionalist or a bebopper. Nowadays, as I have said in earliercolumns, it is pretty well impossible to define just what jazz is, sowidespread are the influences – and Charlie Parker’s music, once consideredpretty “outside,” now sounds positively traditional.Having said that, a great spot for jazz that swings has to beQuotes on King St., opposite Roy Thomson Hall. They have establisheda loyal following for their Friday sessions from 5 to 8pm withthe resident Canadian Jazz Quartet plus a guest each week drawnfrom the extensive pool of front-rank local musicians. If you want aseat near the band you have to get there early.What makes this club so successful? For one thing the timeframeof 5 to 8 is a winner. You can make your way there after workor make it a destination. you can enjoy the music and be home by 9o’clock, or go out for an evening on the town. It also falls into theTGIF category at the end of the work week for most people.But there’s another significant element; the quality of the music isextremely high by any standards, and the club has become a “hang”for local musicians, adding to the cachet. In this regard it is reminiscentof the old Montreal Bistro. They do, however, take a breakover the summer months, so you will have to wait until September 17,when jazz at Quotes will enter its fifth year of swinging jazz.However, the reality is that more and more traditional jazz findsitself surviving in little enclaves, supported by a small but dedicatedfollowing. Yet there’s a vital significance to this music: every style ofjazz is an integral part of the story and if you know nothing about theroots your music – or your listening experience – will be less rewardingthan it might have been.If art reflects the age, and recognizing that we are in an era of angerand frustration, then it’s no wonder that today’s music often reflectswhat is happening around us these days. As the Austrian writerErnst Fischer said: “In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, mustalso reflect decay.” But I like to think that music also has the power toheal, soothe and calm, and there has to be room in our lives for jazzthat lifts our spirits and entertains us.Happy listening – with the emphasis on happy!Jim Galloway is a saxophonist, band leader and the former artisticdirector of Toronto Downtown Jazz. He can be contacted at:jazznotes@thewholenote.com.24 THEWHOLENOTE.COMJuly 1 - September 7, 2010

FOTS-10_Wholenote.indd 110-05-16 4:32 PMpHOTO LuCa pErLMaNSummer TraditionsJ a c k m a c q u a r r i eAs I sit down to produce this final column before The Wholenote’ssummer break, I’m in the throes of recovery from the weekendof June 12-13. It started with a dress rehearsal on Saturdayafternoon followed by a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphonyin the evening with the Kindred Spirits Orchestra. Sunday startedwith “The World’s Biggest Brass Event” for the International Women’sBrass Conference (IWBC). Then it was off to an end-of-seasongarden party for another musical group. Before long I had to leave theparty early for another orchestral rehearsal of Grieg’s Piano Concertoand Sibelius’s Violin Concerto.I switched from bass trombone in the Beethoven to an antiqueSoviet Army rotary valve baritone horn in the Colonel Bogey marchat the IWBC. I also went from a tuxedo on Saturday to a T-shirt onSunday, and from The Glenn Gould Studio Saturday to a grassy slopeat the Humber College Lakeshore Campus for the IWBC. It certainlywas a weekend of variety!WholeNote columnist Jack MacQuarrie (left) andconductor Howard Cable at the IWBC.Now let’s take a very unscientific look at what community musicalgroups have planned for the summer months.There may be the odd performance in a summer festival, but, withfew exceptions, most community orchestras and choirs take a breakduring the summer months. Not so for community bands. A centuryago, before radio and television, the “town band” was a principalsource of musical entertainment for most communities in ourpart of the world. From its construction in 1936, for the next 40 or soyears, the Main Bandshell at Toronto’s CNE featured twice-daily concertsby famous bands from around the world. In between those therewere concerts by local bands, there and on the North Bandstand. I rememberwell the Bands of the Royal Marines and the National Bandof New Zealand. All summer long there were weekly band concertsin Toronto at Kew Gardens, High Park, Allen Gardens and St. JamesPark. Similar concerts on a smaller scale took place in most smallercommunities.How have community bands changed? How do today’s bands perceivetheir roles? While some community bands do close down for awhile, many simply switch to an annual summer agenda, with moreemphasis on outdoor performances. So I’ve decided to look at the fourHARKNETTMusical Services Ltd.Instruments & AccessoriesSales - Rentals - Lease to OwnBrass - Woodwind -String Instruments - GuitarBuy direct from the DistributorAUTHORIZED DEALER FOR:Armstrong, Artley, Besson, Buffet,Conn, Getzen, Holton, Jupiter,Keilworth, King, Noblet,Selmer, Vito, YanagisawaMUSIC BOOKSBEST SELECTIONOF POPULAR &EDUCATIONAL MUSICPiano - Guitar - Instrumental905-477-11412650 John Street, Unit 15(Just North of Steeles)www.harknettmusic.comNew Zealand String Quartet Stockey YoungArtists Michel Strauss Afiara String QuartetDenis Brott Orford Six Pianos OperaGala Angela Cheng Mark DuBois ClimaxJazz Band Janina Fialkowska GabriellePrata Adam György Michael Kim AndréLaplante Trio Désirée The Glory of the CelloClassic Primadonna Guy Few Leslie FaganMosaique James Campbell Anagnoson &Kinton Elmer Iseler Singers Big BandWeekend Dave Young Big Band TorontoAll-Star Big Band Gene DiNovi Scandinavian SuiteBach Mass in B minor Sound the TrumpetPenderecki String Quartet Judy LomanFestival Chamber Orchestra MachaBelooussova James Sommerville The SchumannLetters Swiss Piano Trio Festival WindsFrederieke Saeijs Jeffrey Stokes Moshe HammerHarp Festival Beethoven SymphonyGraham Campbell Painted Sound Andrew BurashkoEssence of Austria Shores of NewfoundlandYegor Dyachkov Colin Ainsworth Family FareCanada Day Cruise Conversations with KeithSinal Aberto Glen Montgomery Colin FoxSharlene Wallace Jan Lisiecki Lydia AdamsPeter McGillivray David Bourque Nora BumanisMary Lou Fallis Strings Across the Sky ChloeDominguez Susan Gilmour Bailey Terry ClarkeBeverley Johnston Leopoldo Erice MarkFewer Ailene Hackleman Gryphon Trio JulieBaumgartel Vicki St. Pierre Victoria Gydov JenniferSwartz Suzanne Shulman Bruce Kelly JamesMason Elizabeth Volpé Bligh Erica GoodmanChopin Celebrated Joel QuarringtonBarry Shiffman James McKay John NovacekPirates of Penzance Stéphan SylvestreCanada’s premier summer classical musicevent at the Charles W. Stockey Centrefor the Performing Arts in Parry Sound— on beautiful Georgian Bay.July 16 – August 8, 20101.866.364.0061www.festivalofthesound.caWhere the world’sgreat musicianscome to play.July 1 - September 7, 2010 THEWHOLENOTE.COM 25

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