5 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 1 - September 2011

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Something in the Air |

Something in the Air | Guelph Jazz Festival 2011Ahighlight of the international calendar,the Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF),September 7 to 11, has maintained itsappeal to both the adventurous and the curiousover 18 years. It has done so mixingeducational symposia with populist outdoorconcerts, featuring performers ranging fromestablished masters to experimenters fromall over the world. For example, AmericanHenry Threadgillappears at the River Run Centre onSeptember 10 with his Zooid quintet. A frequentGJF visitor bassist William Parker isfeatured in at least four ensembles; twicewith Toronto vocalist Christine Duncan’sElement Choir Project on September 9 at St.George’s Anglican Church and September 10at the outdoor Jazz Tent; on September 11 aspart of an all-star quartet in Co-operatorsHall; and in the same spot on September 8,with pianist Paul Plimley and drummerGerry Hemingway. Sharing the bill isTilting, a quartet led by Montreal bassistNicolas Caloia. Meanwhile Danish saxophonistLotte Anker is part of an afternoon performanceSeptember 10 at Co-operators Hallwith two Americans, pianist Craig Tabornand drummer Gerald Cleaver.Supplely slinky,bouncingly rhythmicand unmistakableoriginal, Zooid’sThis Brings Us ToVolume II (PiRecordings PI clearlydelineates Threadgill’s compositional smartsexpressed by the band. Many of the tracksdepend on the contrasts engendered bylicks with the snorts from Jose Davila’sgutbucket trombone or surging tuba pluscross-sticking and rolls from drummer ElliotHumberto Kavee. The most characteristictrack is Polymorph, with a sardonic melodythat suggests Kurt Weill’s Berlin period.Here Threadgill’s astringent saxophonefrom Ellman and later arrive at contrastingdouble counterpoint with the thick pop ofStomu Takeishi’s bass guitar.Floating Islands(ILK 162 thecohesive skills of theAnker/Taborn/Cleaver group.Recorded at theCopenhagen JazzFestival, the selections demonstrate the trio’sKEN WAXMANextrasensory perception. With Ankerrotating among soprano, alto and tenorsaxophones, the band divides according tothe improvisation; sections are devoted tosaxophone-piano, saxophone-drum or pianodruminteraction. Hard reed buzzes bringout cascading choruses from Taborn forinstance, while the pianist’s unconventionalkey clicks are met by the saxophonist’sswirling cymbals and snare backbeats.Sometimes the narrative becomes a mass ofchiaroscuro patterns from all, with thechirping tones and Taborn’s glissandi.Backwards River is an extended example ofthis, as galloping runs from Taborn arriveafter an exposition of gritty reed tones.Before the climax, involving Cleaver knittingrat-tat-tats and tom-tom rolls into a forcefulsolo, the sax and piano sounds surge fromgentle swing to jagged altissimo intersectionsrife with polyphonic smears.Combinationspark plug andspiritual guideWilliam Parker’s gigsat GJF 2011 are witha vocal chorus andtwo instrumentalgroupings. WinterSun Crying recordedwith Munich’s nine-piece iece ICI Ensemble(Neos Jazz Neos 41008 the skills he brings to groupsof any size or instrumentation. The CD capturesa 15-part suite which waxes and wanesbetween legato and atonal contributions.Parker’s contributions on piccolo trumpet,double reeds, shakuhachi and bass are integratedwithin the composition. As bandmembers move throughout from aleatoricsolos to tutti and contrapuntal passages, headds walking to keyboardist MartinWolfrum’s precise chording, while underboth, Sunk Pöschl’s drums clatter and pop;or lets his pinched reed contrast with upturnedharmonies from ICI’s three woodwindsand trombone. The ensemble nevernestles in any style or genre. RogerJannotta’s faux-baroque piccolo decorationsare as germane to the performance asMarkus Heinze’s guttural baritone saxsnorts, while oscillated processes fromGunnar Geisse’s laptop or trombonistChristofer Varner’s sampler are responsiblefor the composition’s outer-space-like undertone.Meanwhile the downward shifting ofJohanna Varner’s spiccato cello lines joinwith Wolfrum’s dynamic chording to propelthe horns away from dissonance towardsLet’s Change theWorld, not only refers back to the head, butweaves gradually diminishing string scrubs,piano key pummels and alternately breathyor splintering reed tones into an echoingstatement.Another bassist/composer is NicolasCaloia, whoseQuartet CD Tilting(, is a microcosmof Montreal’sscene. Completedby saxophone/Dostaler and percussionist Isaiah Ceccarelli,the disc highlights the bassist’s approach.While Caloia’s connective ostinato is feltthroughout, this high-energy showcasegives everyone space. Impressive on eachappropriately breathy tones, evolvingcontrapuntally with Dostaler’s compingon Stare. Meanwhile the husky texturesDerome propels from baritone saxophonemake Locked a stop-time swinger, especiallyand ratamacues together. Derome’s singsongalto phrasing is all over the other two pieces,both of which feature brief but attentivesolos from Caloia, whose string slaps andthumps concentrate the action. The pianist’slanguid note cascades are showcasedspectacularly on Safety where he interruptsDerome’s forays into false registers with aninterlude of harmonized chording and rubatokey fanning.As this group of sound explorers joinmany others of similar quality during theannual GJF, it’s not surprising that this littlefestival has reached satisfying maturity withoutthe compromises that impinge on manylarger celebrations.POT POURRISecond NatureMinor EmpireWorld Trip Records WTR001( my initialscepticismimmediatelydisintegrated withMinor Empire’sdebut release“Second Nature.”No second rate badprogramming guru Ozan Boz has carefullyeliminated any such occurrences with hiscareful combinations of Western pop sounds,jazz improvisations, and Turkish traditionalmusic and his superb arrangements. Tossin band members Ozgu Ozman (vocals),66 thewholenote.comSeptember 1–October 7, 2011

Michael Occhipinti (electric guitar),Chris Gartner (bass) and Debashis Sinha(percussion), Ismail Hakki Fencloglu (oud)and Didem Basar (kanun) and the result is asmart band creating intriguing sounds andmelodies set to a backdrop of funky beats.Especially noteworthy is Zuluf DokulmusYuz. Ozman’s sultry vocals weaveeffortlessly through a tapestry of musicalshort interludes based on makams withcatchy titles like Ozan’s Psyche and Selim’sAnatomy (featuring the amazing guestclarinettist Selim Sesler) which allow theinstrumentalists to solo and shine.Unfortunately there are no translationsfor the lyrics. I learned a long time agoin my band playing days that the listenerwants to know the meanings of the lyrics.But the production values are high and thesound quality superb. Fall is the time toget back to work and back to school. Thereis no better backdrop than the worldbeatsounds of “Second Nature” to get you backinto the groove.—Tiina KiikGamma KnifeMaria KasstanIndependent(’m almostashamed to admitthat it has beena very long timesince I haveheard someoneof my generationproducing a folk CDthat rails againstthe establishment, but Maria Kasstan hasgood reason. Her partner of 25 years diedas a result of a heart attack right outside ofwho discovered him assumed the man tobe homeless and neglected to administerCPR. Her sorrow and anger are deeply feltby the listener in the last few tracks of therecording. The tracks are arranged as a storyof their life together, celebrating the fullnessof the good times and grieving the loss withhearing, I absolutely fell in love with theAct of Love. Kasstan is known forher work as a pollinator advocate or “seedlady.” This song is a catchy, happy tribute toMother Nature, with a playfully whimsicalarrangement by producer Bob Wiseman …I couldn’t stop singing it all day long! Thesimple joys continue with Beets in the Cellarand the romantic Didn’t Wait for the Moon.The poignant Saint Jude brings the listener’sawareness back to the stark contrastsexisting in Toronto neighborhoods. Thisartist has not forgotten her beginnings as aus that even as grannies we can still have apowerful voice for change.—Dianne WellsI Walked Into the Silver DarknessMark Wingfield; Kevin Kastninggreydisc GDR 3508( is a collectionof originalpieces for guitars.I found myselfamazed at the rangeof guitar voicesproduced. A veryextended palette ofsound is due to theodd variety of guitars being played. Therewe hear a 14-string contraguitar, 12-stringextended baritone guitar, heavily processedelectric guitars and even fretless guitar.The sounds had me searching through theliner notes wondering what I was hearing.the envelope with this disc. According tothe liner notes, an “open mind” is requiredto appreciate these compositions, whichare all improvised in the recording studioby two extremely gifted guitarists whohad not played together until the time ofthis recording.Sonically, the recording is reminiscentof an ecm release, a mix of acoustic andelectric sounds with a generous amount ofspatial enhancement surrounding the sound.Its multi-tracked, or layered construction, isassembled in an interesting fashion, withsome sounds very forward while some arequite distant. It isn’t very natural soundingin that the reverberation times differ drastically,with very dry acoustic guitars oftensurrounded by heavily treated reverberantelectric tones.As a guitarist, I am forever amazed at thecompositional aspect of the instrument. Ilearned how to play with a very tattered PeteSeeger method book about 40 years ago andof basic chords, and have had a lifetime ofpleasure working in that idiom. For mostof what I play, I really only need a guitarhear “modern” guitarists who are pioneeringsounds and musical textures, I am in awe ofhow they can express themselves by travellingthrough every region of the instrument,often with what seems like effortless abandon.This collection of original instrumentalpieces will impress all guitarists, no doubt.—John LarocqueSkin TightThe NylonsLinus Entertainment 270134The a capellavocal group TheNylons has beenaround since 1979and although all butone of the originalmembers has movedon, the group’strademark upbeatsound is fully intact on its 15th recording.The mix of funky rhythms, jazzy harmoniesand quirky mash-ups is due in part tothe addition of Toronto-based group-singingluminary, Dylan Bell. As producer and arrangerof most of the 12 tracks, and evenguest scatter on one, Bell is like the FifthNylon (as George Martin was known as theFifth Beatle) and a big contributor to thesuccess of “Skin Tight.” Of course, the foursingers — Claude Morrison (the original),Tyrone Gabriel, Garth Mosbaugh and GavinHope — do the heavy lifting. Whether calledon for vocal percussion, tight harmonies,scat solos or beautiful crooning, all thesingers do their part with skill and joy. Therepertoire is largely covers from a variety oferas and genres and while some stay relativelytrue to the originals with voices substitutingfor the instruments, others get freshreworkings. Spider-Man gets a clever spinas it ranges between funk, swing and rap,with a solo courtesy of bass Tyrone Gabriel,while Teach Me Tonight sees lead singerGavin Hope essentially doing homage to AlJarreau’s version over a Four Freshman-likedoo-wop accompaniment. The closing trackGone Too Soon, with its Gene Peurlingesquearrangement, is a beautiful tribute to bothits originator Michael Jackson and one ofThe Nylons founding members, the lateDenis Simpson.—Cathy RichesAlways find more reviews online at thewholenote.comSeptember 1–October 7, 2011 67

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