7 years ago

Volume 16 Issue 9 - June 2011

  • Text
  • Jazz
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Book ShelfPAMELA

Book ShelfPAMELA MARGLESAfrican Rhythms: The Autobiographyof Randy WestonComposed by Randy Weston andarranged by Willard JenkinsDuke University Press352 pages, photos; .95 US whois Randy Weston,it would be likeEllington, someBasie, some Monk,some Tatum, andthrow in somein the pot, you stir it up, and you haveautobiography to the mix and you havean even more vivid picture of who RandyOn each page his personality comes throughhe told Jenkins his story during the lengthy vision that suffuses his compositions like HiFly and Little NilesThat, he explains, is why he was never an technique as a pianist, recalling experiencesEllington, Basie and especially his mentor,-on his own music, but on the very roots of-he went as far as to move to Morocco, wherehe lived for a number of years, immersinghimself in the music of traditional peopleerthan the western concept and it’s basedupon very powerful, spiritual values and naturally in conversations make for someemerges here sounds convincingly likeRandy Weston is playing a solo concert atthe Glenn Gould Studio on Sunday, June 26at 6:00pm as part of the TD Toronto JazzFestival.The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess:A 75th Anniversary Celebrationby Marc Thompson;forward by Marc GershwinAmadeus Press200 pages, photos; .99 US of Porgy and Bess forGeorge Gershwinthink the music isThompson showsin this history of the opera, Gershwin washardly alone in his enthusiasm for what hasmisunderstandings over whether it promotedracial stereotyping, and confusion overwhether it was in fact an opera, audiencesThe librettist Dubose Heyward was anaristocratic white Southerner whose great–great-grandfather had signed the Declarationbased Porgy and Bess on the authenticdialects and songs of the descendants ofcould play the roles on stage, and refused toTheir remarkably harmonious collaborationresulted in something entirely new – anoperatic synthesis of European classicalThompson quotes Gershwin saying thatthat he hopes Porgy and Bess will combinethe drama and romance of Carmen and thebeauty of Die Meistersingerstory, and although Thompson uncoversmost interesting aspect of his book is theway he describes the performances of Porgyand Bessperspective as a stage director, he analyzesthe performers, director and designers of theThis book has been beautifully produced(apart from the spotty index), and illustratedthroughout with a wonderful collection ofphotos of productions and casts, letters betweenHeyward and Gershwin, and paintingsby the multi-talented brothers themselves,including some startlingly revealing self-performance of the complete version of Porgyand Bess since the premiere, will lead hisCastleton Festival Orchestra and soloists inselections from the opera at the BlackCreekFestival on Friday, July 22 at 8.00 pm.48 thewholenote.comJune 1 – July 7, 2011

Editor’s CornerDAVID OLDSI-Centrediscs opera Louis Riel (CMCDVD 16711) with musicby Harry Somers and libretto by Mavorwould be a mistake to consider Louis RielDierdre Beckwith’s NightBlooming CereusSomers’ own TheFool - – itwould be less soto acknowledge it (who also funded the Encyclopedia of MusicvivedLouis Riel in 1975 with performancesperformance were later used to produce the 100th anniversary of Riel’s original RedRiver Uprising, the opera was adapted forand directed by Leon Major (who had alsothe DVD, featuring most of the original cast,notably Bernard Turgeon who is brilliantthroughout both vocally and as an actor in thenow-familiar lullaby Kuyascharged with the role of intermediary betweenRiel and the government in Ottawa, whatdated (particularly the obvious use ofits infancy) the production as a whole haswithstood the passing of more than four dec-many of them in their prime, and it is a joymusic, which is a clever and compelling mixtureof traditional melodies, lyrical arias – forthe most part unaccompanied – and moderntechnique, including a very sparse but focussedorchestration with extensive use ofpercussion, is as convincing now as when it“… this glorious momentin Canada’s musicaldevelopment anda time when our nationalbroadcaster took pride …”rights and duplicitous government action, notwho claims to hear/speak with the Voice of which includes full plot synopsis, bilingualscene descriptions and libretto in fourchurch service Latin), makes no mentionof the television production other than theadmirable that the opera is truly bilingual –to me that there are neither subtitles noris surprisingly clear, so that those whodo understand the languages can indeedunderstand the words, but what of thoseoption of surtitles, but for the televisionproduction and, more to the point, the 2011DVD release, surely it would have been aOther missed opportunities include theintroductions to parts one and two of theopera, but not as they would have appearedThe other feature is a welcome discussionbetween Somers and Moore moderated byforces are no longer with us – Harry Somersdied in 1999 and Mavor Moore, althoughnot noted in the biography provided, inBernard Turgeon, Joseph Rouleau and Maryauspicious personalities could have shared is basically a labour of love with a shoe-for doing as much as he is able with it – butsurely for a project of this magnitude with socould have been found to supplement theare thankful for the opportunity to revisitdevelopment and a time when our nationalbroadcaster took pride in promoting andwww.thewholenote.comadded features including direct links toperformers, composers and record labels,—David Olds, DISCoveries Editordiscoveries@thewholenote.comJune 1 – July 7, 2011 49

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