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Volume 15 Issue 10 - July/August 2010

  • Text
  • Festival
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • August
  • Listings
  • September
  • Quartet
  • Trio
  • Musical
  • Theatre

Taggart contribute three

Taggart contribute three cuts apiece, and themood’s soon set for a typical mainstream performancewith the opening B.B.’s Blue Blueshighlighting Weeds’ hard-blowing approachand buzzing thrust on I’ve Never Been InLove Before and how he lovingly handles aballad (Little Unknown One). The boss’ besttunes are Bailin’ On Lou which has catchyhooks and the punchy 323 Shuter. (Not todiminish this session, Toronto has a numberof bands of this calibre – why aren’t theyheard more on record?)An album honouringthe great music ofthe late Steve Lacy,an American whospent his last years inFrance, is well worthseeking for enjoyableinterpretationsof eight of his songsby Toronto band The Rent whose MusiqueDe Steve Lacy (Ambience Magnetiques AM197 CD www.actuellecd.com) is a very accessiblecommentary on a leading avant-gardefigure’s legacy. Kyle Brenders renders sopranosax, Lacy’s instrument, alongside suaveimproviser Scott Thomson (trombone), WesNeal (bass), Nick Fraser (drums) and SusannaHood (voice) – the latter a vast improvementon shrieking Lacy vocalist (and wife)Irene Aebi. Brenders’ abrasive tone goes beyondmost Lacy, but there’s witty trombonecounterpoint and attention-grabbingsolos. With voice added the Lacy spirit comesacross best. If the title track is merely chirpy,the five-part suite Blues For Aida is beautifullyworked, voice fully integrated with horns.Other gems include an austere The Bath andan upbeat A Ring Of Bones.Brownman, the artistformerly knownas Nick Ali, is ahyper-busy trumpeterwho heads sixbands, is music directorfor others andturns up everywhereon the musical map.Here he’s the core of Brownman ElectrycTrio’s Juggernaut (Browntasaurus RecordsNCC1701E www.brownman.com). It’sa lively, entertaining and hip tilt at somestandards on which he’s backed by the electricbass of Tyler Edmond and drummer ColinKingsmore on six lengthy tracks. Theatmosphere is seriously funky and draws onrock, hip hop, drum ‘n bass and more, witha burning Yesteryear, just recognizable asan ear-bursting take on Yesterdays, openingthe show at The Central. The music’s muscularand quick, much of it thrilling if you candeal with the decibels. The group is at its bestwhen playing together, as Brownman employsa host of pedals and devices that let him dubhis instrument electric. Enjoy spirited, originalversions of Stolen Moments, Coltrane’s26-2, Hubbard’s Red Clay and two Brownmantunes, Evolution Revolution and thetitlepiece.The Worst PopBand Ever may bethe jazz world’s worsttitle (but then there’sJMOG of course) butthe quintet makessmart if curiousmusic. Dost thou believethin science?(PPFTS-002 www.wpbe.bandcamp.com) isa 10 track collection of jazz improv inflictedon would-be or real pop tunes (I think) interspersedwith earnest scratchings on turntablesby LEO37. Leading with an insistent beat isdrummer Tim Shia, with saxman Chris Gale,bass Drew Birston and keyboardist DaffydHughes. It’s all easy on the ear, expertlyand effortlessly delivered with elaboratesolos and surprising heat. There’s also a laconicvocal from Elizabeth Shepherd on theBacharach-David authentic pop tune CloseTo You. Bandsmen are responsible for most ofthe others, of which my ‘top of the pops’ areMan Down, Pul, and Bits And Pieces.The third album byToronto’s Scott Marshalloffers 71 minutesof reflection on14 pieces designedto show his versatilityand finesse in thecompany of pianistMarcel Aucoin, bassWes Neal and drummer Nick Fraser. Yet TheScott Marshall Quartet on Vignettes (amymusic SMT003 www.scottdouglasmarshall.com) lacks the focused excellence of his previousentries “Face It” and “New MomentsOf Time”. The leader composed 12 of the 14tunes and on them plays tenor sax, sopranosax and flute, as dexterously as on classical,pop and world music outings but there’s littlebeyond the competent-plus mainstream to excitehere. There are however interest-piquingmoments, such as the two versions of TheVespers, Glamourama, Ode To Old Schooland Lope.EXTENDED PLAYNew Roles for TrumpetsBy Ken WaxmanAlthough the romantic image of a lonetrumpeter has been standard in jazzsince the time of “Young Man with aHorn”, musically it’s actually more difficultfor a trumpet to be the sole horn in a band– at least until freely improvised music rewrotethe rules a few decades ago. The reasonis simple: unlike the saxophone’s manykeys which the soloist can manipulate fordifferent timbres, the trumpet has only threevalves and a length of tubing. Brass playersthus most often work with a reed partner oras part of an ensemble. However these CDs,featuring mostly Canadian casts, show thatnotable sessions can appear no matter the instrumentalmake up.Toronto-born, Brooklyn-residentDavidSmith’s Anticipation(Brooklyn JazzUnderground RecordsBJUR 015 www.bjurecords.com) isthe most conventionalof the discs, withSmith and Montreal-born drummer GregRitchie playing in a quintet filled out by tenorsaxophone, guitar and bass. Working out onone standard, a Coltrane line and five originals,the band rarely strays from the expectedhead-solo-head formula, with Smith’s brightplaying amply backed by saxophonist KenjiOmae and guitarist Nate Radley. Standoutsare the trumpeter’s compositions, Bittersweet,a gentle line celebrating his daughter’sbirth with tremolo tonguing; and The Question,a contrafact of Monk’s Ask Me Now,built on cascading horn lines from Omae anda tough brassy break from Smith. ThroughoutSmith illustrates his instrument’s restrictions,since many of his solos feature complementaryruns from Omae, while Radley’s fleet-fingeredchording and limber picking dominatesmost of the tunes.Ex-Torontonian, nowMontrealer, trumpeterGordon Allen plussaxophonists JeanDerome and PhilippeLauzier take anequally standard roleas backing horn sectionon Montreal bandKlaxon Gueule’s Infininiment (AmbiancesMagnétiques AM 194 CD www.actuelle.com). Throughout the 13 minimalist tunesthe horns extend or amplify improvisationsfrom the band’s core trio – guitarist BernardFalaise, bassist Alexandre St-Onge and percussionistMichael F. Côté. Concerned asmuch with mood and texture as melody, thescene-setting arrangements frequently findsingle horn parts providing brief commentaryon Falaise’s popping guitar licks, St-Onge’spulsating rhythms or the knitting-needle-likeclatter of Côté’s delicate drumming. The bassline serves as a pedal point drone on MomoPèle, for instance, which fades away followingdissociated drum beats, but not beforeAllen has pumped out a bugle-like reveille. Incontrast singular note extensions from onesaxophone plus chromatic mellow timbresfrom the trumpeter inflate from distancedpeeps to provide a counterweight to dissonantguitar-string snaps and abrasive strums onBrown Suinte.58 THEWHOLENOTE.COMJuly 1 - September 7, 2010

Altering the paradigm so that each instrumentis as important as any other creates amore equitable and satisfying performance –and boosts the trumpet’s role. Toronto’s JimLewis, Andrew Downing and Jean Martindemonstrate this On a Short Path fromMemory to Forgotten (Barnyard RecordsBR 0311 www.barnyardrecords.com). Consistingof 10 instantcompositions, thereis no foreground orbackground instrument.One tune forexample could be acapriccio, as Lewis’joyful trumpet blastsdefine the theme; anotheris dependent on Downing’s thumpingbass pulsations; and almost all are illuminatedmore by the splashes of multiphoniccolor Martin creates with gamelan-like belltones and triangle resonation than a steadybeat from his regular kit. Showcasing Lewis’phrasing, which ranges from staccato heraldicblasts to graceful flutters, is Eight, the tunein which his moderated a capella puffs giveway to a rubato, double-time version of themeand finally to aviary chirps plus whistling resounds.These intertwine with martial rollsand rebounds from Martin and walking slapbass from Downing.A refinement – orcoarsening – of thisstrategy is displayedby Vancouver’s Inhabitants,on A VacantLot (Drip AudioDA 00579 www.dripaudio.com),which adds the guitarof Dave Sikula to the basic trumpet (JPCarter), bass (Pete Schmitt) and drums (SkyeBrooks) trio. Another major difference isthe use of electronics, with Carter’s heavilymiked trumpet’s pulsating alongside Sikula’sfolksy strums. Eschewing a steady beatSchmitt and Brooks still use string strokesand harsh backbeats to prevent otherwise airytimbres from ascending into the stratosphere.Pacific Central is the representative track.After a minimalist introduction that’s mostlyacoustic guitar and trumpet peeps, the pieceopens up and accelerates to full-bore polyphonywith hard drum ruffs, staccato guitarlicks and trumpet shakes which cascade chromaticallythen fade, while still encouragingthe group’s affiliated pulses. This is electrifiedmusic with a touch of dissonance.By crafting new roles for trumpeters withinimprovising combos, these Canadian playershave produced memorable CDs.POT POURRIHiveGamelan Madu SariSonglines SGL 2406-2(www.songlines.com)• Vancouver’s brave label Songlines Recordingshas just released the second fine albumby that town’s Kyai Madu Sari. Playinga complete Javanese gamelan, this groupof composers and musicians has been developinginnovative music and theatrical productionssince 1986. Their ambitious and delightfullyrewarding album documents a newlevel of artistic sophistication and an abilityto communicate their voice to a wider nongamelan-centricaudience.“Hive” is constructedaround threethings: the group’sprovocative shadowtheatre productionSemar in Lila Maya,the full possible instrumentalrange ofthe Javanese gamelan,and vocals up front in the mix. In fact thoseunfamiliar with the world of Javanese gamelanmusic may be surprised at the prominenceof the glorious solo and choral singingin much of it.Ben Rogalsky’s compositions illustrateall three threads beautifully. His song FromHeaven to Earth deftly draws on two musicgenres for inspiration: the old-fashioned syncreticIndonesian folk style kroncong andthe more recent Javanese campur sari. BehindRogalsky’s backing of gamelan alliedwith mandolin, cello and string bass, are thewarm and communicative vocals of the composer,Jessika Kenney and the chorus. Thesame vocal group is heard to good, thoughvery different, effect in English composerAlec Roth’s eerie Full Fathom Five.The Javanese born and long-time westcoast resident Sutrisno Hartana’s two elegantcompositions are the most Javanese in feelingand conception of the works presented here.“Hive” is a rich and rewarding musical experiencethat challenges as well as it soothes– and magically manages to do it on severalcultural levels at once.Andrew TimarProject Bali XGiri KedatonIndependent GKN-10809(www.girikedaton.com)• First of all, ProjetBali is defiantly notyour chill-out ambientgamelan album.It is however a genrebending, skillfullycomposed, performedand recorded compilation by the crack MontrealBalinese gamelan group Giri Kedaton.Never academic, it incorporates withélan Western popular and classical musicalelements with straight-up and twisted Balinesegong kebyar instrumentation and musicaltextures.Glancing at the album’s titles is a deadgiveaway to the cheeky culture-mashing intentionsherein. Bali Hillbillies layers gongkebyar with the rock trinity: electric guitar,bass and drum set, with blood-pumpingresults. Ritual du Citadin continues therock trope mirroring drum set breaks withkendang (drum) and ceng-ceng (Balinesemultiple cymbals) features, underscored byspacey synth textures and rippling kotekan(interlocking patterns) provided by the rest ofthe gamelan.The musical and material ‘metal’ metaphoris brought to the surface in JembatanMetal. I find that the tempestuous Balinesekebyar (“burst in flame”) music & heavymetal rock energies and gestures suit eachother so well that it made me wonder whattook so long to marry them?The album also embraces a Radioheadcover, surf rock vibes, synth soundscapes,Cuban bata drumming, Ennio Morricone referencesand techno beats, all quite comfortablyand unapologetically cohabiting withgong kebyar music.Thanks to Giri Kedaton’s twenty-six dedicatedand skilled Quebec musicians and composers“Projet Bali” is one thrilling crossculturalvoyage worth taking repeatedly withlittle fear of culture shock.Andrew TimarOLD WINE IN NEW BOTTLESFine Old Recording Re-releasedBy Bruce SurteesHungarian violinist Johanna Martzy(1924-1979) had a unique, pure andtender, quasi angelic tone. Now an iconand cult figure and even though she recordedfor major labels including EMI and DG,her records are in such demand that it is notunusual that her LPs at ‘second hand’ specialistsare priced inthe thousands of dollars.In the last 20-30years there have beenextensive efforts tolocate her live broadcastsand each suchfind is welcomed as atreasure by collectors.One British label was for many years devotedexclusively to Martzy broadcasts. A newDOREMI CD (DHR-778) has the BeethovenConcerto which she did not record commerciallyand appears here for the very first timeas does the Mozart sonata in B flat major,K454. Her performances are striking, at theJuly 1 - September 7, 2010 THEWHOLENOTE.COM59

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