7 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 3 - November 2011

  • Text
  • November
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • December
  • Arts
  • Symphony
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Orchestra
  • Choir

can be a particularly

can be a particularly contentious arena. Oftenone hears the seasonal plea, in part a reactionto the commercialization of the holiday, to“keep Christ in Christmas.” And yet many ofthe most familiar tropes of Christmas — holly,trees, gifts, the midwinter date of the celebration— are borrowed and appropriated frompre-Christian pantheistic worship, popularlyknown as paganism.One might reasonably argue that many of theapparently non-religious aspects of Christmasthat are often deplored — the saturnalia ofgift-giving, decoration, parties and indulgencein food and drink — have actually returnedChristmas to its pre-Christian roots, a midwintersolstice celebration of companionshipand warmth in the midst of cold and darkness.Muse on this when next you hear the greatcarol, The Holly and the Ivy, redolent withpagan imagery.The above is only one of many great carols,and one of the delights of this time of year isthe chance to indulge in many concerts andhear the many and varied approaches to carols,Paul Halley.songs and extended Christmas-themed works. I am told that ameasure of eggnog can add to this delight, though this column takesno responsibility Canadianfor the health or safety of those who over-indulgein either carols or festive drinks.Men’sFinally, SOME UPCOMING SEASONAL CONCERTS OF NOTEThe Kyiv Chamber Chorus Choir, on tour of Canada from the Ukraine,sings in Waterloo, St. Catherines and Toronto between November 25and 27.The Mohawk College Community Choir includes Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio in a concert onDecember 3.On the same night, Cantores Celestes performsCanadian choral icon Derek Holman’sSir Christemas in a concert that benefits, inpart, the Assaulted Women’s Helpline.In Guelph on November 26, the GuelphChamber Choir performs “Voices of Light:An Advent Festival of Music and Poetry,”including English-born Canadian Paul Halley’sVoices of Light and works by American choralcomposers Daniel Pinkham and Eric Whitacre.I am always advocating for BenjaminBritten’s St. Nicholas to evolve into a seasonalfavourite on par with Messiah, ChristmasOratorio, etc. The Pax Christi Choraleperforms this wonderful work on December 3and 4.Also on December 3, the TorontoChoral Society performs in a ScarboroughPhilharmonic Orchestra concert with theintriguing title of “Howard Cable’s CowboyChristmas.” Composer Cable, a genuineCanadian institution, hosts and conducts.For those who are not quite ready to embrace the winter choralseason in all its frosty exuberance, Isabel Bernaus’ Jubilate Singersperforms “Music of the Mediterranean” on November 26. A concertthat focuses on music from warmer climes might be just the thing tofeed the spirit as the cold weather descends and the autumn recedesinto memory.Ben Stein is a Toronto tenor and theorbist.He can be contacted at his website at’sChorusA Gentlemen’s Christmas:Winter’s ChillCanadian Men’s ChorusGreg Rainville, Artistic DirectorSaturday, December 10, 2011, 8:00 PMGlenn Gould Studio, 250 Front St. W, TorontoFeaturing the world premiere performanceof the song cycle “A New Star”by Toronto composer, Avalon Rusk.Also including works by Canada’s best:Willan, Loomer, Ramsay and Luengen.Tickets Available from the Roy Thomson Hall Box Office(416-872-4255) or online at www.canadianmenschorus.ca24 thewholenote.comNovember 1 – December 7, 2011

Sea Jam Bluesjim gallowayAtopic i haven’t touched on in this column is the relationshipbetween jazz and ships. As I write this, Guido Basso is aboutto take a band for an eleven day cruise on the “Seven SeasNavigator.” I’ll be doing the same later this month with my EchoesOf Swing band on Holland America’s“Noordam.” And we are certainly not theonly ones sailing off into the sunset; thereare jazz cruises galore all over the worldtaking jazz fans and musicians out on thedeep blue sea.This led me to doing some research intothe early days of jazz and the riverboatswhich cruised the Mississippi. The firststeamboat to cruise the entire length of thelower Mississippi was the “New Orleans”in December 1811 and steamboats, as afeasible means of transportation, lasteduntil the early part of the 20th century.So where does jazz come into the picture?Enter a pianist named Fate Marable,because the story of jazz on the Mississippisteamboats can’t be told without him. Manyof the bands had been integrated, but notthe passengers, and Marable, hired by theStreckfus Line had led a mixed band in1916. He subsequently organised a band ofblack musicians to play on one of the excursionboats–not ragtime players, but jazzFate Marable.musicians. The year was 1919 and the band included drummer BabyDodds and an 18 years old Louis Armstrong! Other musicians whowere, at one time or another, members of Marable’s band includedHenry “Red” Allen, saxophonist Tab Smith, who subsequentlyplayed with Count Basie, Gene Sedric, who later joined “Fats”Waller and bass player Jimmy Blanton who was destined to findfame with Duke Ellington. According to trumpeter Bill Coleman,Jelly Roll Morton was hired for a short time by Marable and it isperhaps worth noting that one of Morton’s compositions was calledSteamboat Stomp.Marable was not always easy to get along with and was a sterntaskmaster, demanding a high level of professional conduct from hismusicians. Woe betide any player who screwed up on the bandstandand if it happened too often he was fired. Sometimes Fate deliveredthe bad news by placing a fire axe on the offender’s bunk!But there is no doubt that Fate Marable was an important figure inthe spread of jazz from New Orleans, and river boats helped to floatthe careers of many a musician.On a smaller scale I can remember the “Jazz On The Lake” cruisesin the 60s right here in Toronto when hundreds of fans woulddescend on the waterfront and crowd onto one of the Toronto Islandferries for an evening of jazz when more than the water was flowing.Many of the cruises in Toronto were presented by a promotercalled Ron Arnold and in the course of digging for some information,I came across the following, from Pro Tem, then the studentweekly of York University, and datedOctober l5, 1965:“JAZZ CANADIANA with the Nimmons‘n’ Nine orchestra has begun its 1965-66season on CBC radio. One of the few jazzprogrammes broadcast on the AM band,Nimmons ‘n’ Nine welcomes an audienceat the CBC studio, 509 Parliament Street.Doors open at 8:00pm and the performancegoes from 8:30 to 9:30pm.“NO TICKETS ARE REQUIRED — allyou do is walk in. As a bonus, themanagement offers door prizes of PhilNimmons’ latest LP. Concert dates for thenext two months are October 15 and 29,November 12 and 26.“Ron Arnold, Toronto jazz entrepreneuris bringing the second annual CanadianJazz Festival back to Casa Loma, much tothe delight and interest of this writer. Onceagain seven bands will be playing in themedieval cloisters of the dungeon, libraryand great hall of the castle, and the concertmasters will be Dave Caplan, TorontoStar’s Man About Jazz, and CKFH announcer Phil Mackellar.“The feature attraction is going to be a panel discussion at seveno’clock. This should be of particular significance since it will settraditional against mainstream when Pat Scott of the Globe is met inpublic by his archrival, Phil Mackellar. Frank Kennedy of the Starand John Norris of CODA magazine round out the panel which willbe augmented by guest composer and teacher Gord Delamont.”Note: The featured bands at the 1965 Casa Loma event mentionedhere were Moe Koffman, Rob McConnell (big band), RobMcConnell (sextet), Don Thompson, Paul Hoffert, Jim McHarg andJim Scott. I find it interesting that the writer of the article describeda panel discussion as being the feature attraction of a jazz eveningthat featured so many important musicians!Featuring some of Toronto’s best jazz musicianswith a brief reflection by Jazz Vespers ClergyNovember 27 – 4:30 pmMARK EISENMAN QUINTETMark Eisenman, piano; Steve Wallace, bass; John MacLeod,trumpet; Pat LaBarbera, saxophone; John Sumner, drumsDec 18 – 4:30 pmBARLOW BRASS AND DRUMSChase Sanborn, Brian O'Kane, trumpets; Russ LittleTerry Promane, trombones; Doug Burrell, tuba; Brian Barlow drumsChrist Church Deer Park,1570 Yonge Street, (north of St. Clair at Heath St.)416-920-5211 www.thereslifehere.orgAdmission is free; donations are welcome.• St. Philip’s Anglican ChurchA casual, relaxing hour of prayer + great music•with the city’s finest musiciansSunday, November 13, 4pm•Jorge Lopez TrioSunday, November 27, 4pm•Mike Murley TrioSunday, December 11, 4pmGraham Howes Quartet• St. Philip’s Anglican Church | Etobicoke25 St. Phillips Road (near Royal York + Dixon)416-247-5181 • www.stphilips.netNovember 1 – December 7, 2011 25

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