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Volume 18 Issue 2 - October 2012

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  • Toronto
  • October
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fin du temps. This is

fin du temps. This is its first recording. SivanMagen arranged Debussy’s 1915 Cello Sonatafor cello and harp in 2010, and it worksextremely well. Again, this is a premiererecording. A spirited performance of Bartòk’sContrasts for clarinet, violin and pianorounds out an excellent disc.MODERN & CONTEMPORARYVagn Holmboe – Chamber SymphoniesLapland Chamber Orchestra;John StorgårdsDaCapo 6.220621!!Danish composerVagn Holmboe(1909–96) composedthree chamber symphoniesover the spanof his career. Holmboedescribed his compositionalapproach as“metamorphosis technique,”a concept he developed from his closerelationship with nature — the liner notes statehe planted 3,000 trees himself over his lifetime!The subtle changes in say, for example,a blade of grass, did not go unnoticed byhim. He expanded this metamorphosis ideainto his music. Each symphony aboundswith subtle tone colour shifts, while a shortmelodic (aka a blade of grass) idea will betransformed by instrumentation, harmonyand rhythm.Chamber Symphony No.1, Op.53 (1951) isthe most “classical” sounding of the three. Themusic develops within a more traditional harmonicframework. In Chamber SymphonyNo.2, Op.100 “Elegy” (1968), the turmoil inthe composer’s life appears as short ideasand motives. Still tonal, it is the independentinstrumental lines that never quite coincide,and a dramatic and unexpected pause in themiddle of the third movement that makes thisthe strongest work here. Chamber SymphonyNo.3, Op.103a “Frise” (1969–70) is a curioussix movement work. Each movement seemslike an independent score with the witty percussionpart adding to the rhythmic vitality.The unexpected appears as a quiet tone at thework’s conclusion.Conductor John Storgårds achieves adetailed and colourful performance with theLapland Chamber Orchestra. The string sectionespecially is tireless in its execution ofwhirling lines and ensemble precision. A veryenjoyable world premiere recording!—Tiina KiikErnst Krenek – Complete SymphoniesNDR Radiophilharmonie; Alun Francis;Takao Ukigayacpo 777 695-2!!Ernst Krenek’s orchestral music receivesloving attention from Takao Ukigaya on thisfour disc package recorded 1993–2006. TheViennese composer’s atonal language con-nects to Schoenbergand Berg; he triesto inherit the symphonistmantle ofhis fiancée Anna’sfather, Gustav Mahler.His SymphonyNo.1 in nine linkedmovements is a widerangingexploration departing from previoussymphonic concepts. Krenek’s orchestrationis idiomatic; solo winds and strings of theHanover Radio Symphony shine particularlyin the third movement. The composer’s predilectionfor counterpoint is especially clearin the eighth movement, as is his quirky sidein the final movement’s disintegration intoWebernesque whispers.Ukigaya and the Hanoverians deliver amasterful performance of the sprawlingSymphony No.2 (1922). Krenek’s own metaphorfor this work is of a giant trying to getout of a cage. (Perhaps the “giant” was the22-year-old Krenek himself, struggling withhis teacher, the more conservative FranzSchreker!) The Third Symphony (also 1922) ismore economical; Krenek parodically sneaksin a popular march-like melody, foreshadowingthe eclectic Potpourri Op.54 (1927) alsoon this disc. The last two symphonies composedin the late 1940s develop logically fromthe earlier works. The Symphony No.4 discis conducted by Alun Francis; both it andKrenek’s Concerto Grosso No.2 are givencapable readings, with beautiful pacing in theprocessional of the latter’s Adagio leading toits moving climax.—Roger KnoxJAZZ & IMPROVISEDThat’s What I DoBarbra LicaTriplet TR-1016-2www.barbralica.com!!“She has a voicethat would scarcelyreach the secondstorey of a doll’shouse” is what theNew Yorker musiccritic Whitney Ballietonce wrote about thejazz singer, BlossomDearie. Anyone who, like me, was a fan of the60s icon will find the comparison inescapablewhen listening to Barbara Lica’s debut CDThat’s What I Do. And it’s not just the light,girlish vocal quality that invites comparisonbut also her ability to deliver a song with clarity,wit and deftness. Perennially upbeat, allthe songs on That’s What I Do have a sheen ofpositivity even when delving into what couldbe dark topics, like being a starving artist, asshe does on her own composition ScarlettO’Hara. Many of the strongest songs on thedisc — and the least jazzy — are the originals,which Lica wrote mostly with her partnerand guitar player Colin Story. Bass player PaulNovotny also contributes much as producerand arranger, injecting new, sophisticated lifeinto the bossa nova standard Quiet Nights anda fun Parisian jazz-meets-reggae feel to theBilly Joel pop hit Vienna. Lica does a lovelyjob on the older standards like P.S. I Love Youand Young At Heart, which totally suit herstyle. The affection she obviously has for thesesongs is infectious and will put a smile on anylistener’s face.—Cathy RichesGeorge Shearing At HomeGeorge Shearing; Don ThompsonJazzknight Records 001!!Just a few jazzmusicians havebecome householdnames while managingto retain theirartistic integrity. DaveBrubeck, largely dueto Take Five and DukeEllington aided bySatin Doll reached that level of recognition, asdid Mr. Shearing helped along by his LullabyOf Birdland — but although each of thesethree pianists reaped some reward from thesuccess of having a composition recognisedby anyone interested in popular music, theyremained true to their ideals.I’ve seen George Shearing many timesover the years and he always managed tobring a certain intimacy to his performancewhether it was in a small club or a large concerthall. Well, this CD has to be the ultimatein intimacy in that it was recorded in his ownliving room. With him is his close friend andmusical partner, Don Thompson Togetherthey have created a little gem.From the opening bars of I Didn’t KnowWhat Time It Was, played at a lovely lopingtempo, you know that you are in for a musicaltreat. There are 14 selections on the albumranging from ten superior standards to a DonThompson original, Ghoti via The Skye BoatSong and a couple of bebop lines by CharlieParker and Lee Konitz.An interesting point for me is that six of thenumbers come in around the three minutemark, a pleasing reminder of the days of 78swhen you had to tell your story within a limitedtime frame — lovely musical stories thesetwo masters spin.Highly recommended and well worth addingto your collection.—Jim GallowayWin CDs, tickets and other prizes• Join our mailing list at thewholenote.com• Like us on Facebook• Follow us on Twitter68 thewholenote.com October 1 – November 7, 2012

Vibraphonist Peter Appleyard played a1974 Carnegie Hall date with BennyGoodman and thought the lineup,a one-time group, was extraordinary.Scheduled to play at Ontario Placethe next night, he somehow managedto bring most of the bandwith him. A late-night recordingsession resulted in The LostSessions 1974 (Linus 270135). It’sthe incarnation of swing, some ofthe very best musicians playinga shared repertoire of standardswith sublime warmth and grace. Anopening Ellington Medley — withsolos in turn by Appleyard, tenorsaxophonist Zoot Sims, cornetistBobby Hackett, pianist HankJones and trombonist UrbieGreen — sets a very high standard,each musician clearly delightedby the challenge of matching theothers. As good as the solos are(Hackett’s legato phrasing is stunning),it’s the collective spirit, fedconstantly by drummer Mel Lewisand bassist Slam Stewart, that’smost memorable.The Shuffle Demons long agodemonstrated that modern jazzcould be both fun and popular,chanting songs about Toronto’s Spadina busand unruly cockroaches over R&B rhythmsand manic post-bop saxophone solos, thenmaking witty videos about them. The bandis back with ClusterFunk (Linus 270152),channelling Charles Mingus and FrankZappa on their first CD of new material in17 years. The instrumentals here are consistentlygood, like alto saxophonist RichardUnderhill’s Earth Song and drummer StichWynston’s Fukushima. The songs are moreuneven — ranging from clever post-modernlaments about big box stores and siftingthrough trash for refunds to All about theHang, which, perhaps intentionally, goeson too long. The riffing power of the saxophones— Richard Underhill, Kelly Jeffersonand Perry White — and the high funk quotientof Wynston and bassist George Koller generallykeep things lively.Guitarist Michael Occhipinti has a knackfor expanding the repertoire available tojazz, having previously explored the workof folksinger Bruce Cockburn and the songsof his own Sicilian heritage. With the groupShine On (regulars from his own bands anda collection of Toronto singers) he takes onThe Universe of John Lennon (True NorthTND566), exploring songs as immediate asDon’t Let Me Down and as elusive as Acrossthe Universe. There’s a slightly dream-like,inevitably nostalgic aura here, but a fewSTUART BROOMERvocals manage to convey Lennon’s darkerfacets, like Elizabeth Shepherd on WorkingClass Hero and Denzal Sinclaire on Girl.Occhipinti’s arrangements create effectivecounter-melodies and freshrhythms and there are fine solosby trumpeter Kevin Turcotte aswell as the leader.Le Quatuor de JazzLibre du Québec, formedin 1967, was a signalevent in Canadian jazzhistory, its members connectingthe incendiaryfree jazz style then associatedwith AmericanBlack Nationalism to anincipient Québecoisnationalism. 1973(Tenzier TNZR051www.tnzr.com) is apreviously unissuedstudio session fromwell into the band’scareer, now availableas a limited issueLP. The music largelyeschews composed headsfor collective improvisation,consistentlydemonstrating the kindof committed intuitive work achievedthrough the long and close interactionof the quartet: saxophonist and flutistJean Préfontaine; trumpeter YvesCharbonneau; drummer Jean-Guy Poirier;and bassist Yves Bouliane. Each of the fourtracks has a distinct mood and texture, rangingthrough urgent, tumultuous musical riot(Sans Titre) to dirge (Une minute de silence)to exotic soundscape (Studio 13, le 13 mai1973) to detailed and earnest conversation.Maïkotron Unit is an equally distinctiveQuébecois band, but with a 30-year history.The trio is distinguished by two qualities:they’re consummate musicians — the rhythmsection of bassist/ cellist Pierre Côté anddrummer Michel Lambert can swing with anease matched by few, while reed player MichelCôté is both a master of traditional jazz formsand a clarinettist with great facility. They’realso wildly inventive: “maïkotron” refers to afamily of bizarre home made instruments onwhich the two Michels double, compoundsof brass and reed parts that are devised forboth extraordinarily wide ranges and microtones— sounding like quarter-tone bassoons,euphoniums and tubas. On Effugit (Rant 1243www.rantrecords.com), there are 16 tracks in56 minutes and you never knowwhat you’re going to get — thekinetic swing of Liberum, theclassical grace of Sawah, thefloating tenor saxophone ofEffugit or the mad maïkotronadventure of Sous laCanopée — except that it willbe different, usually brief andas well-played as it is imaginative.Sylvain Leroux — a formerMontrealer now based in NewYork — has studied African musicextensively and supplementshis standard flute and altosaxophone with an African luteand flutes. On Quatuor Créole(Engine e046), he explores ahost of exotic rhythms fromAfrica and the Caribbean aswell as chanting and playingflute simultaneously on pieceslike Notis. The emphasis ison dense rhythmic grooveshere, with Leroux more likelyto play lute than flute. Theveteran vibraphonist/pianist Karl Berger,Leroux’s former teacher, also solos at length,clearly celebrating the percolating rhythmscreated by Haitian percussionist SergoDécius and bassist Matt Pavolka. There’splenty of world music tonal color here andthe grooves are complex and liberating.Leroux also touches on an earlier influence,playing alto saxophone with a raw lyricismon Monk in Paradise.Something in the AirDiscovering Long Hidden Advanced JazzKEN WAXMANWhen New York’s now justly famous ity — these probing sounds and its playersVision Festival first took place in were supposed to have vanished after the1996 committed jazz fans greeted revolutionary 1960s, superseded first bythe event as if they were witnessing a fullfledgedmusical resurrection. So many then jazz’s young lions who aped the soundsjazz-rock pounders’ simple melodies andadvanced players of unbridled free form and and sartorial choices of the 1950s — both ofexperimental sounds were involved that the which had major record label support. Still,annual festival soon became a crowded weeklongsummer happening. Ironically — which Parker’s Centering: Unreleased Earlyas bassist/composer/bandleader Williamwas one reason for the Fest’s popular-Recordings 1976–1987 (NoBusiness NBCDOctober 1 – November 7, 2012 thewholenote.com 69

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