Views
6 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 5 - February 2012

  • Text
  • February
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • Symphony
  • Arts
  • Musical
  • Orchestra
  • Bloor
  • Quartet

melodic style. Overall,

melodic style. Overall, this disc wouldappeal to those who enjoy any or all of theabove genres.—Roger Knoxtwo + twoTorQ Percussion QuartetBedoint Records BR002(www.torqpercussion.ca)“Always complimentingoropposing” is thedescriptive phrasethat creative percussionquartet TorQuses to describe themusic on their debutrecording project,two + two. Produced by TorQ (skilledpercussionist/composers Richard Burrows,Adam Campbell, Jamie Drake and DanielMorphy) and Ray Dillard, the CD is withoutquestion a fascinating and intense piece ofwork. According to TorQ themselves, theirproject explores harmonic and rhythmicconcepts and the contrasting and complexrelationships to their polar antithesis, e.g.pitched and un-pitched; tranquil and relentless;simple and complex.two + two is comprised of five extendedworks, including the evocative AwakeningFire by Jason Stanford, which utilizesephemeral vibes and marimbas, the dronesof Tibetan meditation bowls and all mannerof drums and percussion gizmos to createa primordial sonic landscape — replete withNeolithic thunderstorms. Also of note is thestark Tak-Nara by Nebojsa Jovan Zivkovic,and the funky, marimba driven I Call YourName: Rescue Me (Christos Hatzis), whichintegrates urbanized spoken word snippets aswell as some thrilling auricular cacophonies.Also moving is an ethno-centric version oficonic avant-garde composer John Cage’sopus, Third Construction.This conceptual, non-linear and visceralmusic may not be everyone’s cup of tea, butit clearly extends beyond a mere auditory experienceand into the realm of performanceart. I’m sure that we can all look forward tothe next magical multi-dimensional presentationfrom TorQ — highly musical percussiveartistry without artifice or gimmicks.—Lesley Mitchell-ClarkeConcert Note: TorQ Percussion Quartetperforms a concert of world premieresincluding Three Pieces for Eight Mallets byChristos Hatzis, Walter Hall, February 5,7:30pm.Shamanic JourneyDeanna SwobodaPotenza Music PM1013(www.potenzamusic.com)The noble tuba is the only instrument inthe standard symphony orchestra that canclaim that virtually all of its solo repertoirehas been composedwithin the last 60years. This is inlarge part due tothe efforts of tubaplayers themselves,who often seek outthe friendship ofcomposers, whothey then commission (or brow-beat) intocomposing these solo works.American tuba player Deanna Swoboda isno exception to this: a professor of tuba andeuphonium at Western Michigan Universityand the President of the International Tubaand Euphonium Association, she also is afantastic performer, as this solo CD, hersecond, ably shows. Most of the featuredrepertoire is by women composers and mostis of the “easy-listening” variety — a numberof the works having a jazz or pop-infusedfeel. Particularly enjoyable is the ConcertPiece for Tuba and Piano by the notedAmerican composer, Libby Larsen.A bonus for listeners on our side of theborder is the inclusion of two works byCanadian composers, Elizabeth Raum’sBallad and Burlesque (commissioned bySwoboda) and Barbara York’s Sonata forTuba and Piano, subtitled “ShamanicJourney,” which gives Swoboda’s new CDits name.—J. Scott IrvineSaariaho – D’om le vrai sens; LaternaMagica; Leino SongsKari Kriikku; Anu Komsi; Finnish RadioSymphony Orchestra; Sakari OramoOndine ODE 1173-2Kaija Saariahostands amongtoday’s outstandingconcert musiccomposers. She wasborn in Finland(1952) but has been along-time resident ofParis. Her researchat IRCAM, the Paris institute where FMsynthesis and electroacoustic techniquesassociated with spectral music have beendeveloped, has had a profound influence onher compositions, which often combine liveand electronic musical forces.This CD features three recent all-acousticworks performed by some of Finland’sfinest interpreters. Saariaho’s clarinetconcerto D’om Le Vrai Sens, inspired bythe famous La Dame à la Licorne medievaltapestries is almost operatic in scope, thesolo clarinet virtuoso Kari Kriikku playingthe protagonist to the orchestra’s lushlymysterious textures.Saariaho’s dramatic orchestral pieceLaterna Magica derives its title and themefrom film director Ingmar Bergman’smemoirs, referring to an early typeof manual film projector. The titleunderscores the composer’s fascinationwith boundaries: between observation andimagination; between objective light andsubjective dream-like reality. The latter isrepresented in sound by shifting, colourfullyorchestrated, alternating dense and wispychords and evanescent hissing instrumentalsounds. Whispered words uttered by themusicians, describing light’s effects both onobjects and on human mood, are culled fromBergman, adding to the music’s mystery.The four Leino Songs, built on texts byFinnish poet Eino Leino (1878–1926), werecomposed for the polished and nuancedvoice of the Finnish soprano Anu Komsi andorchestra. Epigrammatic and voice-friendly,the songs follow the lyrics admirably,allowing the words to dictate the overallform and duration of each song. This is byfar the shortest of the works here, yet itsemotional impact is perhaps the greatest.—Andrew TimarConcert Note: The Canadian OperaCompany will present eight performances ofKaija Saariaho’s Love From Afar, featuringRussell Braun, Erin Wall and KristinaSzabó, February 2 to 22.From the New VillageDuo ResonanceWoodlark Discs (www.silverflute.ca)GermanRomanticism of the19th century, inspite of much turbulenceat the time,was a golden age forthe arts, especiallyfor music and poetry.Duo Resonanceis composed of guitarist Wilma van Berkeland flutist Sibylle Marquardt. The title isderived from the first set of compositions onthe disc, Songs and Dances from the NewVillage by Dusan Bogdanovic, pieces basedon traditional music from south-easternEurope. The rest of the repertoire, withthe exception of Toru Takemitsu’s Towardthe Sea, is similarly related to folk or traditionalmusic.There is some invigorating music-makingon this CD. In the first movement “Bordel”of Astor Piazzolla’s L’histoire du tango,for example, Marquardt’s robust sound,incisive articulation and precise rhythmicsense, coupled with van Berkel’s dynamicand fluid playing, propel the music forwardto an exciting climax. Van Berkel‘s soloat the beginning of the contrasting secondmovement, exquisitely languid, sensitive andtouching, sets a sultry summer mood.Van Berkel also excels in Torontocomposer Alan Torok’s idiosyncraticallyspelled Native Rhapsody in Hommage ofJames Brown. The writing for guitar, whileneither particularly “native” nor “folk” tomy ears, is rhythmically sophisticated andworks well with the modal flute line.The notation of Takemitsu’s Toward64 thewholenote.comFebruary 1 – March 7, 2012

the Sea, described in the liner notesas “annotated to the point of excess,”proves effective, nevertheless, in drawingMarquardt, playing alto flute, into a moreexpressive mode than elsewhere on the disc,exploring a greater variety of tone qualities,colours and dynamics.Kudos to the duo for coupling someof the better known repertoire for theirinstruments with lesser known contemporarycompositions that need to be heard.—Allan PulkerJAZZ & IMPROVISEDWaltz for BillTom SzczesniakIndependent SZC-27426-27(www.tomszcz.com)Waltz for Bill is veteran Toronto sessionplayer and arranger, Tom Szczesniak’s, loveletter to the genius of Bill Evans. It is alsothe title of his very first CD under his ownname after 40 years in the industry playingwith everyone from Anne Murray to ThadJones. Evans isn’t the only piano player tobe honoured by Szczesniak, as the late andmuch-missed DougRiley (Dr. Music)is rememberedhere both with atribute song anda cover of one ofhis compositions,Dinosaurus. Theprogressive rock/bopfusion number is a bit of an incongruity,but a palate-cleanser amidst all the earbutterscotch that comes before and after.The disc is steeped in standards and evenveers into chestnut territory a time or two,but is a class act from beginning to end.Starting with a mellow but harmonicallyfresh approach to What Is This Thing CalledLove, we get taken on a lush, lovely journeyof the likes of Gershwin and Hammersteinwith lots of strings, a bit of sax (MichaelStuart and Vern Dorge) and the occasionalvelvety vocal from Doug Mallory andCal Dodd.—Cathy RichesThere’s more at www.thewholenote.com:Sounds and Silence is a film by PeterGuyer and Norbert Wiedmer about ECMlabel founder Manfred Eicher reviewed byJohn Larocque.It’s Our JazzJazz in quebec is a vigorous element ofFrench-Canadian culture, though all tooinfrequently experienced in these parts.However, Montreal label Effendihas recently released a bumpercrop of albums by provincial stalwartsthat underscore the livelymusical health of its practitioners.One features veteran bassistAlain Bédard, who skilfully demonstrateshis roles as leader, anchor,frequent soloist andrhythmic engine of his AugusteQuintet on Alain Bédard – HomosPugnax (Effendi FND 115 www.effendirecords.com). He wrotefive of the ten tracks that includefour by bandsmen and CarlaBley’s Fleurs Carnivores, whichhe’s arranged impressively.Supported by the nimble, versatilesax of Frank Lozano (mainlysoprano), pianist AlexandreGrogg and subtle drummerMichel Lambert, Bédard has createdan enticing album full ofinterest, unusual time signaturesand sparkling work by all.It’s odd to come across a fullyfledgedband that’s only beenaround a short while yet clearlyGEOFF CHAPMANdisplays confidence and chemistry. MikeField – Ashes (MFJCD 1101 www.mikefieldjazz.com)is a pleasing quintet outing led bytrumpeter Field, a veteran ofmusical forms other than jazz,performing with tenor saxistPaul Metcalfe, pianist MattNewton, bassist Carlie Howelland drummer Dave Chan.The boss wrote all nine pieceshere, some with unconventionalstructures and all executed withconsiderable panache, though themusic’s more unblemished thanexhilarating. Field plays withauthority, with obvious tonalsmarts and ear-catching virtuosity.His album strongly suggestsfuture success.Indefatigable drummer BarryRomberg has put out 11 CDsover the past decade featuringhis Random Access combos andthe newest maintains the grouprep for sustained excitement andrelentless drive. Recorded live atthe Rex, Barry Romberg’sRandom Access – Unplugged Live(Romhog Records 121 www.barryromberg.com) has the usualsuspects in play for 70 minutesencompassing just four tunes — guitaristGeoff Young, keyboardist Robi Botos andpower electric bassist Rich Brown. Guestingis American tenor saxist Donny McCaslin,who’s more than comfortable with the strikingfree improv that is RA’s trademark, hisstaccato phrasing meshing well with Young’sdistinctively spiky approach, Brown’s gouginggrooves and the fierce energy from keysand drums. The more-than-22 minutes of theburning In Pursuit is a stirring highlight,Botos sparkling on electric piano.The guitar totedby Winnipeg’s KeithPrice makes untypical,attractivesounds, quicklymanifested on hissophomore albumThe Keith Price Trio/Quintet – Gaia/Goya(KP201102 www.keithprice.ca). Bell-likechords, shining echoey notes, shimmeringresonances are heard, which gives this discsurprising heft considering that it occupiesonly a measly 41 minutes as it combines fourindie-pop tunes performed by his trio withbass Julian Bradford and drummer CurtisNowosad and a six-part suite which adds altosaxist Neil Watson and pianist WilliamBonness. The groupings are well integrated,no one stepping out of line, though the pulseteam is allotted occasional flights of fancy.The suite’s components come across as morefully realized, with a freshness of expressionand frequent servings of heat.Montreal pianistTaurey Butler hasplenty to offer onhis impressive debutrecording as leader,the self-titled TaureyButler (Justin TimeJUST242-2 www.justin-time.com),11 cuts where he unabashedly illuminateshis respect for late genius Oscar Petersonwithout consciously emulating him. Theferocious swing, eloquent skill at speed,pounding left hand and showy imaginationare all there, however, markedly on openingburners Sunrise, Sunset and The LadyIs A Tramp. Butler gets exemplary supportfrom bassist Eric Lagacé and drummer WaliMuhammad throughout, though the trio’swork on ballads is less satisfying than theverve they show on tunes mid-tempo andup, like the catchy Butler contributions AnAfternoon Downtown and Grandpa Ted’sTune, the latter a surging procession ofideas. And you can’t say OP doesn’t springto mind on Butler’s tearaway Nobody’s Here.Big bands don’t rule the jazz roostnowadays but they’re often worth a listen,as is the case with Mississauga Big BandJazz Ensemble – On The Periphery (MBBJE5-2 rboniface@rogers.com), which offers 14tunes and 73 minutes of classy, sprightlyentertainment recorded live at Arnold’sSports Bar in Oakville. The openingFebruary – March 7, 2012thewholenote.com 65

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)