5 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 1 - September 2011

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Book ShelfPAMELA

Book ShelfPAMELA MARGLESPartita for Glenn Gould:An Inquiry into the Nature of Geniusby Georges LerouxMcGill-Queens University Press256 pages; .95it’s almost thirtyyears since Glenn Goulddied, yet there’s no letupin the number ofbooks written about him.This study by Georgespherwho taught at theUniversité du Québecà Montréal, is one of the best. In what helight on aspects of both Gould’s art and hislife. Ultimately he shows how inseparablethey were, since right from an early age,Gould devoted his whole life unreservedly tohis art.For all the extraordinary piano recordings,radio and television documentariesand writings Gould left us, he remainsfamous for giving up live concerts early innot abandoning anything, least of all hisaudience. Gould was searching for disembodiedmusical perfection, which he couldn’tachieve with live concerts, to share withaudiences. This means that his pioneeringradio documentaries, like the Idea of theNorth‘unequalled masterpiece’, deserve the sameconsideration as his piano recordings like thesecond Goldberg Variations.Gould’s humming, which can be clearlyheard on many of his recordings, woulddrive recording engineers, critics, conduct-another side, asking, “What is this unsettlingsong if not a message, a compassionatesignal designed to draw in to him those whoit represents Gould wanting “everyone,through him, to draw near to what is sublimein the work.”By providing philosophical underpin-is able to offer an appreciation of ThomasBernhard’s, provocative, revealing and oftenmisunderstood novel about Gould, TheLoser. Bernhard altered the facts of Gould’smade him an inspiring, visionary genius.This book is not an introduction to Glennitywith Gould’s playing. Nor is it a biography,though he does discuss events in Gould’s lifelike his love affair with Cornelia Foss.Gould’s famous description of art as a“state of wonder and serenity” resonatesthe extraordinary diaries Gould kept from1977 to 1978 — in one of the most fascinatingsections of this book — he sees Gould engulfedby anxiety. Surprisingly, these diariesdocumenting Gould’s crisis have never beenpublished in their original English, only in aFrench translation.Donald Winkler, who presents the originalFrench text in elegant and lucid English. TheEnglish version of the full title, however, ismisleading. The original subtitle, Musiqueet forme de vie,in acts and words, to view it in the contextof music as an art, and to take the measureof its generosity.” But An Inquiry into theNature of Genius describes a differentreferences is regrettable — to be unableto track down quotations not just fromfrom Wittgenstein to Robert Fulford, isfrustrating. There is, fortunately, a usefulbibliography and detailed index.Monument Eternal:The Music of Alice Coltraneby Franya J. BerkmanWesleyan University Press148 pages, photos, score excerpts;.95 paperin 1965, McCoyTyner left JohnColtrane’s legendaryquartet, so Coltraneasked his wife, AliceColtrane, to take overas pianist. AliceAwasan equally virtuosic, butmore meditative player.John Coltrane died two years later, but thegrumblings that she had ridden her husband’scoat-tails to success never, musicologist Franya Berkman leadsAliceColtrane out from under the shadowof her husband and treats her as a musicianin her own right. When she met JohnColtrane she was already an accomplishedpianist and organist with her own distinctivesound. Berkman documents her early workas a church organist, gospel player, and jazzmusician, and her studies with her mentor,with John Coltrane before his early death,not just musical but spiritual as well.After John Coltrane’s death, AliceColtrane pursued her own path altogether.When she became the spiritual leader of anAshram in Southern California, she evenforged a new identity. She changed her nameto Swamini Turiyasangitananda, and concen-by Hindu and other eastern rhythms andharmonies. In bringing attention to the depthand beauty of her later devotional music,Berkman is able to show that even here AliceColtrane never strayed far from her rootsin gospel, blues, be-bop, and the classicalmusic she studied when young.Berkman’s study is considerably enrichedby the series of interviews she did withColtrane before her death in 2007. Berkmanpaints a compelling portrait of an extraordinarywoman. Fortunately Coltrane madealbums alone — providing plenty of materialfor Berkman’s thoughtful musical analyses.Alice Coltrane stopped recording andperforming in public in 1979. Then, aftera concert with her sons Ravi and OranColtrane on saxophones. It was a triumphantreturn, but the recording which resulted,Translinear Lightalbum. Berkman has produced a fascinatingand important study, showing that it’sColtrane’s years away from the jazz scene,rather than any musical shortcomings, thathave lead to her being so frequently overlooked.In fact, it’s because Berkman offerssuch a powerful defence of Coltrane’soeuvre, including the liturgical music of herlast years, that I would have welcomed moreattention to what Translinear Light accomplished,and where it pointed.Ravi Coltrane performs in KoernerHall at the Royal Conservatory of Musicon Saturday February 4, 2012 at 8.00.58 thewholenote.comSeptember 1–October 7, 2011

Editor’s CornerDAVID OLDSAbout a year ago in this columnI raved about hearing Americanstring band Joy Kills Sorrow at Hugh’sRoom and their “Darkness Sure BecomesThis City” which has since stayed inregular rotation on my stereo throughoutthe past year. Their sophomore releaseThis Unknown Science(Signature Sounds SIG hasrarely been far from the CDplayer since arriving on mydesk last month. Whereas theprevious outing was squarelyrooted in the “new grass” campwith its busy mandolin, banjo,bass arrangements, this newdisc incorporates that sensibilityinto a broader approachencompassing indie-rock andnew folk (the genre from whichCanadian lead singer EmmaBeaton originates). While myinitial response to the introspectiveand generally moresubdued material was disappointment,repeated listeninghas easily changed my mindhaunting new songs—in particularWhen I Grow up (… I’llget better) and the strangelydisturbing Somewhere over theAtlantic in which the protagonistdreams of plane crashesfact that she will be “sleeping —pursuingme through my days. The instrumentationon this album has expanded too, withBeaton adding cello and bass-player, chiefsong-writer Bridget Kearney, using a bowwith some frequency (and agility) and alsoadding piano and organ to the mix. This isnot to say that there are no up tempo, goodtimenumbers—One More Night is a case inpoint—and even the slow melodies are oftenlaid over fast, rhythmic accompaniments.In spite of my hankering for“more of the same” in this newrelease I congratulate theseyoung artists for the growthshown here and for not restingon their laurels.Concert Note: I’m very pleasedto say that Joy Kills Sorrowwill return to Hugh’s Roomon September 20. I’ll be therewith bells on.Joy Kills Sorrow does not havethey are none the worse forthat. But perhaps that is onereason I was so pleased toreceive, around the same timeas their new disc, That’s HowWe Run, the latest from OttawaApril Verch (Slab Town RecordsSTR11-01 win both of Canada’schampionships, the GrandMasters and Canadian Open,is renowned as a performerof traditional Canadian music.She has branched out in this latest releasewhich was recorded in North Carolina andmastered in Colorado and here embraces themusical traditions of our neighbour to thesouth. Although there are several traditionalFlatt are represented, most of the 17 trackswere composed by April Verch in the stylesof Appalachia, the Ozarks, the Mid-Westernvocals are particularly well suited to themedium and the claw-hammer banjo accompanimenton many songs is very effective.There’s plenty to tap your toes to too, not topays tribute to the heyday of the Hot Clubof France when Reinhardt performed withStéphane Grappelli, interspersed with traditionalScottish and East Coast melodies, jigsand reels. Dwayne & Duane each contributea couple of original compositions, althoughthese too are couched in the language oftradition. Andrews’ The Chocolatier’sLament is so convincing in its Reinhardtstylings I could swear I’ve heard it before,played by the master himself. My onlyquibble with the recording is that Côté’s occasionalpizzicato accompaniments to theguitar are not very effective. That said thisis still a superior and invigorating adventureand the swing arrangement of Hank Snow’shit A Fool such as I (written by Bill Trader)makes a wonderful closer.we welcome your feedback and invitesubmissions. CDs and comments should besent to: The WholeNote, 503–720 BathurstSt., Toronto, Ontario M5S 2R4. Wealso encourage you to visit our website,www.thewholenote.comadded features including direct links to performers,composers and record labels, “buybuttons” for online shopping and additional,expanded and archival reviews.—David Olds, DISCoveries Editordiscoveries@thewholenote.comningguitarist from Newfoundland who hasdevoted his energy to developing in DjangoReinhardt’s style and technique. On his latestCD Duane Andrews is joined by violinistDwayne Côté ( for an outing thatSeptember 1–October 7, 2011 59

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