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Volume 17 Issue 7 - April 2012

  • Text
  • April
  • Toronto
  • Arts
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • Chorus
  • Singers
  • Choir
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  • Musical

ecorded live at Glenn

ecorded live at Glenn Gould Studio in 2011,and is a fine representation of the gamut ofmusical charms of Cole and bandmates JohnJohnson, reeds, Davide DiRenzo, drums,Rob Piltch, guitar, Aaron Davis, piano andDavid Piltch, bass.We’re treated to some of her classic repertoiresuch as Calling You and I Can SeeClearly Now plus the newer You’ve Got aSecret and a smokin’ version of Charade.However with most of her between-songpatter edited out of the footage, Cole’s bigpersonality doesn’t come through as much asone might hope. So where the DVD reallyshines is in the short documentaries in theextras section. Holly in Japan is a fascinatingglimpse into a slice of Japanese cultureand Cole’s many fans there. Coming toToronto is a mini-biography with interviewsof Cole, jazz broadcaster Ross Porter and,most revealingly, Cole’s family. Best of allThe Trio digs into the evolution of the uniquesound of the band and provides a well-deservedtribute to the contributions long-timecollaborators Aaron Davis and David Piltchmade to the musical force that is Holly Cole.—Cathy RichesKaeshammer Live!Michael KaeshammerAlert Music Inc. 61528-10439MichaelKaeshammer is aprolific guy. Since2001 he has releasedsix studio albums,the latest in 2011,and much of thempopulated with hisown songwriting.Add to that this DVD-CD of a live performance,and that’s quite a body of work forsomeone of his relative youth. The otherstriking thing about Kaeshammer is hislove — one might even say obsession — forNew Orleans-style music. It comes across inhis songwriting as well as in his philosophytoward performing, which, despite his monsterskills on piano, is more about having agood time than extended jazz soloing.Having seen Kaeshammer play live, Ihave first-hand experience of what a joyfulperformer he is. Even when it’s just him atthe piano, he can command a room with hischarisma and energy. Watching a DVD ofone of his concerts isn’t a substitute, but itcomes close. Especially since KaeshammerLive! was recorded in an “in the round” settingin an intimate hall in Toronto, so thecameras were able to get in close and capturea variety of angles of the band (which includesthree horns and two backing singers).Drummer Mark McLean’s expressive playingis especially fun to watch, and the “cuttingcontest” between him and Kaeshammeron a Fats Waller tune is one of the highlightsof the concert.Kaeshammer Live provides a concise samplingof the personal and musical journeythis ever-evolving musician has taken fromsmokin’ hot boogie woogie piano player,to romantic balladeer and back again to amusical place that is uniquely his.—Cathy RichesBoomerangAndrew Boniwell and the UncertaintyPrincipleIndependentwww.andrewbonniwell.comI enjoyed thisCD — I have toadmit that very oftenwhen I see a releasewith all originalcompositions I approachit with sometrepidation, but thereis no uncertaintywith this recording. The compositions areinventive and the musicians all bring a cohesiveand creative energy to the music. Ihope that the leader/composer doesn’t mindif I say that some of the pieces bring to mindthe work of Horace Silver; it is certainlymeant as a compliment.The musicians who lend their talents tothe music of Mr. Bonniwell are bassist MarkCashion, drummer Mike McClelland, KevinTurcotte on trumpet and Richard Underhillon alto sax.This recording is yet another good exampleof the fine talents right here on ourown doorstep.—Jim GallowayAnatomical SignaturesGia & The Unpredictable UpdateIndependent GIA 00008www.giaionesco.comDon’t let thesomewhat unwieldytitle put you off.This is a double CDof music describedby Romanian bornGia as “jazz meetssymphonic meetsrock meets balkanicmeets world music.” And indeed it is aneclectic program of original compositions bythe leader. Approach it with open ears andyou will find much to enjoy.The group comprises Pat LaBarbera(saxes), Johnny Johnson (saxes), LevonIchkhanian (guitar), Wilson Laurencin(drums), Alan Hetherington (assortedpercussion), Pat Kilbride (bass), CliffordOjala (saxes/clarinet) and Gia Ionesco onkeyboards. An all-star line-up indeed andI would have liked more information in thesparse liner notes.There are, not surprisingly, Europeaninfluences in the music and while you won’tend up singing many of the themes, you willbe moved by the musicianship on this album.—Jim GallowayDusted MachineryJohn Butcher; Toshimaru NakamuraMonotype Records mono 041www.monotyperecords.comClassic man versusmachine improvisation:Britishsaxophonist JohnButcher matches hisskills against the distinctiveaudio feedbackproduced froma so-called no-inputmixing board given near-anthropomorphiccunning through the manipulations ofJapan’s Toshimaru Nakamura. By connectingthe board’s input to its output, Nakamura’sblurry oscillations evolve in ever-changingtextural pitches from grinding croaks to earsplittingyowls. It’s a tribute to the talents ofButcher that his perceptive reed thrusts andrejoinders evolve as appropriately as theydo. Although by the final track he adoptsa mechanized strategy by adding feedbackloops to his reed playing, on the other piecesNakamura’s signal processing, oscillationsand indistinct mechanical static confrontwhat Butcher can produce only with tongue,lips, mouth, throat and fingers.On Maku for instance, while motor-drivendrones pulsate from thunderously loud toblurry fuzz tones, Butcher’s tenor saxophonesequences involve smears and expansivevibratos so that each Nakamura-originatedtexture meets a responsive sonic action.Moreover, while the machine’s voltage flangesmay be so powerful that they’re nearlyvisible, the reedist’s multiphonic overblowingproduces equivalent timbres that in splitseconds leap from dog-whistle-like altissimoto basso growls, and from pianissimo to fortissimo.Overall, Butcher uses flutter-tonguedintensity to chip away at the board-createdsolid sound block.Using the soprano saxophone on Kneadand Nobasu respectively, Butcher’s nasalsplit-tones, nephritic growls, key percussionand surprisingly lyrical interludes substantiatehis human-ness. Conclusively he demonstratesthat with original ideas and profoundtechniques man can lead machine to cooperatein creating a memorable sound program.—Ken WaxmanBecause She HopedBenoît Delbecq; François HouleSonglines SGL 1592-2www.songlines.comDazzlinglyinteractive, thisthird duo disc byVancouver clarinettistFrançois Houleand Parisian pianistBenoît Delbecqexposes rugged aswell as impressionistictextures. Delbecq, who often prepares74 thewholenote.com April 1 – May 7, 2012

his strings with implements, and Houle,whose extended techniques include circularbreathing and split tones, are modest as well.They allow the improvisations to evolveorganically rather than calling attention totheir skills.Yet two versions of the clarinettist’sPour Pee Wee end up being completely distinct.Houle smears intense vibrations atopDelbecq’s uninterrupted wooden key clicksin 120 seconds during the first variant; thesecond, three times as long, finds the pianist’ssour and percussive motifs enlivenedby passing chords and staccato asides, ascircling glissandi and tremolo flattementpresage a final swinging pulse from Delbecq.This unforced jauntiness is also expressedon the un-clichéd Clichés, composed bysaxophonist Steve Lacy who influenced themboth. Delbecq’s marimba-like string pops areperfect down-to-earth accompaniment to theconcentric and jaunty melody elaborated byHoule. When reed squeaks and syncopatedlines unite for the finale the textural releaseilluminates the note-perfect, yet moderatedplaying of both.Throughout, unmatched textural commandfrom the two maintains a melodic flow.Whether the base performance encompassesatmospheric liquid clarinet runs and sympathetickeyboard chording on Duke Ellington’sThe Mystery Song, or turns Delbecq’s castanet-likepolyrhythms plus Houle’s tremolopitchslides on the pianist’s Ando atonal, afinal variant reveals an innate modern tonality.The reedist’s title tune similarly demonstratesthat sympathetic romanticism caneventually result from a narration that beginswith tongue slaps and key clipping.—Ken Waxmanthe string player’s sul tasto strumming endup creating other tableaux elsewhere, withsly references to half-recalled ballads, or incontrast, intricate multiphonics. Lambert’sdrum versatility is given expanded showcaseson Fluctus …, the first part of Tableau 10,and Praestigator, the introduction to Tableau19. Praestigator features kettle drum popsand faux gamelan-like resounds playing offrhino-like snorts from the maïkontron; theirregular counterpoint of Fluctus … matchesclarinet shrieks with hand slaps and pats,suggesting congas and steel drums.An expanded version of Something in the Aircan be found at www.thewholenote.com.POT POURRISomething in the Air Common GroundCANADIAN and RUSSIAN IMPROVISERSUnlike many Canadian improvisers,François Carrier is no homebody.Peripatetic, the Montreal-based altosaxophonist spent months gigging in Italyand England, was one of the few Westernersto play the Kathmandu JazzFestival, and most recently hasput out discs recorded duringhis 2010 Russian concert tour. Asession such as All Out (FMR CD321-0911 www.fmr-records.com),recorded with his long-time associate,Toronto drummer MichelLambert, and St. Petersburgpianist Alexey Lapin, is not onlynotable musically, but also showshow erudite players from two ofthe world’s northern hemispherenations have much in common.Carrier’s reed strategy includeselements of Cool Jazz note glidingas well as avant garde dissonance,and the Russian pianistconstructs proper responses withalacrity. Ride, for instance, leaves the bombdropping and clattering to Lambert’s kit asLapin’s multi-fingered kinetic runs syncopatealongside Carrier’s spiky vibrationsand false-register nasality plus dexterousexplorations in the tenor register. Despite thesaxophonist squeezing out multiple themevariants until he reaches conclusive downwardruns, Lapin stays the course with unflappablechording as the drummer balancesboth men’s lines with military precision. Inthe solo spotlight, Lambert approximatesthe power of Art Blakey on Wit with crossstickingrim shots and bass drum thumps,the better to later mix it up with Lapin’sdynamic cadenzas plus Carrier’s stutteringrubato lines and quivering split tones. TheKEN WAXMANpercussionist also asserts himself on OfBreath with a mallet-driven solo of whacks,bangs and ruffs, leading to the crescendo ofhigh intensity further propelled by Lapin’smetronomic pulsing and Carrier’s flattementand triple tonguing.Lambert’s talent is givenfull reign on the MaïkontronUnit’s Ex-Voto (Rant 1140 www.jazzfromrant.com). Although heand Carrier often seem like theinseparable Damon and Pythiasof Canadian Jazz, this trio CDfeatures the drummer withbassist/cellist Pierre Côté andsaxophonist/clarinettist MichelCôté. Both Lambert and reedistCôté also play the maïkontron, avalves and keys reed instrumentwith a range below the bass saxophone’s.Lambert has dividedthe CD into tableaux based onimages from Hieronymus Bosch,although the performance isactually less programmatic thanintuitive, with straightforward pulsing aswell as dissonant timbre extensions. Despitea forbidding title, a track such as Marinus(Tableau 9) for instance, is an out-and-outswing piece. It features pin-pointed snarework and clean cross sticking from Lambert,unbroken vibrations from the bassist andMichel Côté’s clarinet exploring the themewith mid-range chirping and tonguing. Othertunes such as Votivae Noctes (Tableau 4) areslow paced and constrained, as Côté’s suppleclarinet line contrasts markedly with the maïkontron’sblurred snorts and an at first quivering,then walking, cello line from PierreCôté. As reed split tones accelerate, they’reexposed nakedly beside splayed string motions.The reeds’ burbling and puffing plusUncharted WatersEnsemble PolarisPipistrelle Music PIP1212With their thirdand latest release,Uncharted Waters,Toronto-based,multi-cultural,multi-instrumental,quantum worldmusic groupEnsemble Polariscontinues to delight on all levels — conceptually,musically and creatively. Co-producedby Patrick Jordan and the ensemble, the CDcontinues the group’s mandate of exploringthe “idea of the North” and includes 18intriguing and visceral tracks that embracethe folk music of Scandinavia, the Balkans,France, Italy and even Venezuela. Utilizing amind-numbing array of ethnocentric instruments(including Swedish pipes, bouzouki,recorders and accordions) as well as the rich,sumptuous voice of Katherine Hill, the ensembleachieves a musical cohesion and levelof communication and symmetry that mightnot seem possible on paper, given the diversityof the elements involved.One of the strongest tracks is guitaristMarco Cera’s Ninin. This stirring violinfeature is dedicated to his Italian greatuncle — an avid violinist. Also of note is atraditional Orkney Islands air, re-worked asGet Him, and sung stunningly by Hill in hersoulful, pitch-pure alto. The rhythmic DryToes Waltz is an infectious (dry?) toe-tapper,re-imagined by Jew’s harpist Ben Grossman,and the haunting Norwegian Lullaby JegLegges I Min Vugge Nu is a precisely set gem,presented simply and beautifully as a movingduet between Hill and Alison Melville’srecorder. Also noteworthy are the sensualEl Domador De Tarenque (a fusion of anArgentinean Tango and an Italian Tarantella)and Steklat Fran Sarna — a traditionalSwedish wedding banquet song, renderedmasterfully on Swedish pipes by Kirk Elliott.—Lesley Mitchell-ClarkeApril 1 – May 7, 2012thewholenote.com 75

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