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Volume 17 Issue 4 - December 2011

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  • Jazz
  • Toronto
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www.cellarlive.com)he

www.cellarlive.com)he demonstrates an unhurried approachwith a big, roundsound that has noneof the rough edgesyou’d expect in ajazzer schooled inhard bop. He’s also an imaginative er, penning all ten tunes on which he hascompos-well-seasoned support from splendid pianistAndre White, bass Alex Walkington anddrummer Dave Laing. The opening FamousLast Words is particularly impressive, GoneBy Morning brisk and bracing with Dean’scontribution seemingly effortless despitedaunting structure, in marked contrast to theyearning ballads Ultra Sounds and ThankYou Notes. Quality is high throughout, concludingwith the lovely Epitaph.More great musicemanates fromMontreal on DonatoBourassa LozanoTanguay – Autour deBill Evans (Effendieffendirecords.com),an all-star quartetshowcasing the current cornerstones of thatcity’s superior jazz history. The group led byexcellent pianist François Bourassa tacklesthe repertoire of Bill Evans, the lyricalmaster who died in 1980, although of thedisc’s 11 tunes just four are Evans originals.This tribute pushes the right buttons, soundsclassic yet up-to-date and highlights theconsiderable talents of the team, with saxmanFrank Lozano adept at capturing Evans’melodic strengths, bass Michel Donato’s richdeep tones proving a super-strong anchor,drummer Pierre Tanguay exercising his precisesubtleties and the leader his expansiveimagination and crafted harmonies. The within the tradition will ensure this album isa candidate for top ten year-ending lists.CD Note: Effendi has recently issued fourmore classy discs by Montreal headliners,groups led by Lozano (Destin), pianist JoshRager (Kananaskis), saxophonist AlexandreCote (Transitions) and bassist Alain Bédard(Homos Pugnax).Pianist PaulHoffert and drummerJim Gelcer havelong paid theirmusical dues(Hoffert a founder ofLighthouse) but theirjazz inclinations geta workout here onGelcer Hoffert Trio – How High The Birdca), an 11-track exploration combining classicstandards, much unison playing by theprincipals (bass duties shared by Lew Mele,Russ Boswell and Justin Gray) and a largedose of Thelonious Monk. The combinationsdon’t always work —the opening All WeepFor Blues All Bluesand Willow Weep For Me and so on—butthis seems just enforced cleverness ratherthan boundary-breaking concept. Elsewherethe unison work is more appealing, while thebasics of Monk’s great compositions likeStraight No Chaser and Well You Needn’tneed no tampering and are handled well, asis Moe Koffman’s hit Swinging ShepherdBlues (done in 5/4). I didn’t care for Gelcer’schannelling Chet Baker vocals.Bob Stevenson isprobably betterknown hereabouts asRobert Stevenson,long a force in classicalcircles as formerartistic directorof innovativeArraymusic andmany other roles. He’s also into jazz improv,demonstrated on The Bob Standard – Out OfNowhere (Urban Meadow www.urbanmeadow.ca), his clarinet aided by guitarist JustinHaynes, bassist Victor Bateman and eclecticpercussionist Blair Mackay. They tackle tenstandards, trying to make the chestnuts palatablein different ways—like avant-gardemusic without its frequent ventures into theugly. Results can be bizarre; witness the ensembleoutput on Out Of Nowhere and thesonic massacre perpetrated on Softly, As In AMorning Sunrise. The leader hews closest tofamiliar melodies while his subversive teamassaults harmony, rhythm and a whole lotmore. However, this risky venture is alwaysTraditionally, holidaytime gets people thinkingabout CD box sets as gifts.But merely offering multidiscbest-of collections hardlyshows originality. Instead themost valuable multiple CD setsare collected because, like thetalented players featured here,the musicians literally had moreideas than could be expressedon even two discs. Take Parisbasedbassist Benjamin Duboc forexample. Probably the busiestand most inventive player of hisinstrument in French improvisedmusic circles, Primare Cantuscom), a three-CD-set, highlightsa different facet of his work on each side. Atreat for double-bass fanatics, the solo workon Disc 1 demonstrates that by also usinghis voice and extended techniques the spatialinteresting; Caravan works.Jazz with stringswas a popular experimentwhenbebop arrived, butmega-talented saxophonist,pianist andcomposer Phil Dwyerhas gone much further,creating a violinconcerto integrating ng jazz and classicalmusic. On the enterprising—and beautifullyrecorded—Phil Dwyer Orchestra – Changingcom) he employs 21 strings led by admirableviolinist Mark Fewer and a 17-piece jazzband. It’s a seamless showcase, a pleasingcompanion to baroque composer Vivaldi’s18th century triumph, The Four Seasons.If you must haveChristmas fare butdon’t want to cringeat the season’s usualmawkish musicalsentiments, get HaveYourself A MerryLittle Christmas(Justin Time JUST. The album featuresperformers such as Oliver Jones, DianaKrall, Rob McConnell, Montreal’s Jubilation singers.GEOFF CHAPMAN also offers “ForeignDiscs to Savour” from the past year at www.thewholenote.com.Something in the AirMultiple & Boxed Sets of Improvised MusicK E N W A X M A Nprogram not only expresses thefascinating bass timbres but doesso in a way that the resultingsounds seem electronicallyprocessed although thoroughlyacoustic. Meanwhile Discs 2 and3 are equally excellent showinghow his mature style adapts toinput from radically differentensembles. Accommodatinghis jagged bowing and heartystring smacks to the vibrationsfrom saxophonists SylvainGuérineau and Jean-Luc Petitplus cunning percussion asidesfrom Didier Lasserre, resultsin concentrated sounds that areas accommodating as they are for instance, perfectly matches low-pitchedbass arpeggios with the timbres of cymbaltops being gonged and gauged, while tracknine climaxes with majestic glissandi from82 thewholenote.comDecember 1 – February 7, 2012

oth reedists mated with Duboc’s speedystring scrubbing that completes the initialchallenge between the bassist’s strums andsubterranean snorts from Petit’s baritoneplus fortissimo bites from Guérineau’s tenor.Pascal Battus’ guitar pick-up and the subtle 3 more of an electronic cast. Overall, with unexpected note clusters from her piano’sinternal string set and Christian Pruvostmostly propelling pure air from his trumpet,the thesis is timbre expansion not swing.For instance, the bassist’s concentratedostinato underpinning Battus’ bottleneck and Agnel’s mallet popping on the stringscreates mercurial dynamism. Additionally,suggestions of billiard balls being rackedor magnetic tape reels reversing provide otherwise consisting of agitated bass licks,quivering piano strings and squealing brass.Overall, an aviary explosion from Pruvost,shaped by Agnel’s metronomic pitter-patterand Duboc’s pedal point is as exciting asanything recorded by Roy Eldridge withOscar Peterson and Ray Brown.So are the three CDs of improvisationsfrom the well-matched Swedish duo ofveteran Roland Keijser playing a varietyof conventional and folkloric reeds inconjunction with Raymond Strid’s sensitivepercussion output. Recorded live ina Stockholm club Yellow Bell (Umlaut offers avariety of moods and stratagems. AlthoughKeijser —on piano—and the percussionistconclude with a stately reading of Monk’sMood that’s all tremolo key clipping anddrum rim smacks, most of the 32 tunesare far from the jazz canon. Spegelsång saxophone and Strid’s thumping martialbeat deconstructing a folk tune as its initialtone rows are played upside down in itssecond half. On Sohini the reedist’s tootlesare from trussed metal whistles and Strid’s intonation, while Keijser uses a supple South Swedish Varför frågar du/Varför svarardu rattles. The most impressive display of thiscross-cultural improv is evident on the titletune plus Kvällskvarpa/Dansa med moss.On the former, Keijser’s Sonny Rollins-like tune into near-jazz, while the latter is keptlinear by Strid’s paradiddles and ruffs asmid-range clarinet glissandi diffuse fromsnake-charmer-like trills to splinteredruns.For an idea of how Viennese guitaristBurkhard Stangl plus British pianist HowardRiley also use multiple discs for maximumexpression see the continuation of this columnat www.thewholenote.com.POT POURRIMany groups think of themselves asjazz bands, especially when they offerjust a teeny dose of improv, or swing, orinteraction or any of the other basic elementsof the art form. Some are content to operateon the music’s fuzzy boundaries.This trio couldjazz — they certainlyaren’t purveyors ofsmooth jazz. TheSultans Of Stringdo global music inwhich you’ll detectFlamenco, Roma,Arab, Cuban and Brazilian elements as wellas plentiful grooves on their third albumcom). It’s a polished affair of 12 cuts withmuch colourful atmosphere, savage tofrom leader Chris McKhool. At his side areguitarists Kevin Laliberte and Eddie Paton,bass Drew Birston and sterling percussionistChendy Leon as well as an army of guests.There’s much to enjoy from the Afro-Spanish blend of Andalucia to the livelyEmerald Swing and the ultra-jazzy Ernie’sBounce–and stuff to avoid (a cloying Heartof Gold for instance) —but overall it’s fun, ifperhaps a little too polished.The Boxcar Boysoffer a dozen tracksand interestinginstrumentation onDon’t Be Blue(Indie www.theboxcarboys.ca)with Rob Teehan,sousaphone, JohnDavid Williams, clarinet and composer ofeight tunes, Karl Silveira, trombone, LauraBates, violin and Ronen Segall, accordion.There’s vintage jazz, humour, Klezmer,blues, hillbilly vocals and more here, andyou surely can dance to this circus cus music.Halifax-basedGypsophilia (notto be confusedwith US band ofthe same name) isseven-strong. Theyall sing and playmultiple instrumentson Constellation, an albumthat expands on their fondness for DjangoReinhardt. The 11 tunes, all by bandmembers, are all distinctly different, amovie score perhaps with its touches ofbop, classical, whimsy and waltzes. If thesetroubadours return to the GTA, go see.— Geoff ChapmanBailar ConmigoChristopher Lee; James BrownSeveral years ago,while attending aconcert at a localhigh school, I wasquite impressed bythe talent of a youngstudent namedChristopher Lee.Today, some 25years later, I am amazed azed at how this youngmusician has developed. In this CD ChrisLee has collaborated with Toronto guitaristJames Brown, a faculty member of the RoyalConservatory. This all-Latin CD spans awide spectrum of works from such standardsas Abreu’s Tico Tico and Albeniz’s Granadaand Seville to works of such contemporariesas Chick Corea, Christopher Caliendo andcollaborator James Brown. Five of the 15 selectionsare by Caliendo, including the worldpremiere recording of his Mistero.The guitar’s role is primarily tasteful. Brown’s solo opportunities on suchtracks as Corea’s La Fiesta and his ownToronto Folk Song show his talents well.However, this CD is really a showcase forChris Lee. His dazzling technique on TicoTico and Caliendo’s Caliente come acrossas all the more amazing when contrastedwith the subtle tones of such works asPonce’s Estrellita.For me, the highlight is El Choclo, oneof the most recognizable of all tangos.This begins with a slow section where theperformer introduces us to an amazingspectrum of tonal colours. Here the haunting The CD ends with dazzling virtuosity ofCaliente. A must have recording.— Jack MacQuarrieFEELING LUCKY?THREE WAYS TO WINCDs, tickets and othermusical prizes courtesy ofThe WholeNote1. Join our mailing list byregistering atwww.thewholenote.com ‘Like’ us on Facebook Follow us on Twitterthewholenote.comDecember 1 – February 7, 2012 thewholenote.com 83

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