7 years ago

Volume 18 Issue 6 - March 2013

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STRINGS ATTACHED continued from previous pageof Turnage’s blending of jazz and blues influenceswith classical traditions. Two shortorchestral works and the clarinet concertoRiffs and Refrains complete the disc.Strings Attached continues with recent recordingsof Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto by RenaudCapuçon and Isabelle Faust plus theSchubert String Quintet in C Major with theTakács Quartet and Ralph Kirshbaum.MODERN & CONTEMPORARY continued from previous pageVoces BorealesYoko HirotaCentrediscs CMCCD 18713!!Voces Borealesis a record of whichthe entire creativeteam, and all of usmusic-lovers in thisnorthern country, canbe justly proud. AsJapanese-CanadianYoko Hirota explainsin her notes, the title refers both to her NorthOntario home and to Canada as a whole asrepresented by the “northern voices” of thisalbum’s selected composers.Ms. Hirota is a specialist in contemporaryrepertoire, and her dedication to thisfield is clear in the thoroughly contemporarysensibility she brings to her interpretations.Sensitive and searching sonic explorationof the instrument takes the place of post-Romantic expressivity — Ms. Hirota and herchosen composers are perfectly in step inthis regard.The program displays the beguiling breadthof contemporary Canadian piano music.Although the compositions themselves are allquite recent, the composers’ birthdates spanalmost 50 years, so we are assured of a widecross-section of what can be called contemporary.Brian Current’s Sungods begins theproceedings, a short work equally charming,impressive and clearly constructed.Robert Lemay has drawn inspiration fromAlain Resnais’ famous film Hiroshima monamour, while François Morel’s work payshomage to the great Montreal abstract painterYves Gaucher (d. 2000) who was himselfoften inspired by modern music. The worksby Lemay and Morel display these composers,better known for their works for large ensemble,savouring the intimacy and rigour of solopiano. Laurie Radford’s experience in electroacousticslends his music a tactile materiality,and Brian Cherney’s Nachtstücke are definitelyamong the most evocatively nocturnal-soundingpieces this listener has ever heard.For anyone with the ears and heart for contemporarymusic — and I don’t mean justaficionados either but, well, everyone — thisrecord is a joy to listen to from beginning toend. Highly recommended.—Nic GothamArne Nordheim –Complete Accordion WorksFrode Haltli; Raoul Björkenheim;Hans-Kristian Kjos Sørensen; NorwegianRadio Orchestra; Christian EggenSimax PSC 1328!!The contemporarymusic world currentlyhas many accomplishedand talentedaccordionists performingcompositionswritten for the instrumentby some of thegreatest composersof the 20th and 21st centuries. In just over 50years, the number of essential accordion repertoirepieces has grown exponentially dueto collaborations between instrumentalistsand the composers courageous enough to putpencil to paper. One such early important collaborationwas between Danish accordionistMogens Ellegaard (1935–1995) and Norwegiancomposer Arne Nordheim (1931–2010). Theresulting four groundbreaking works are allfeatured here for the first time on one releaseby the colourful Norwegian accordionistFrode Haltli.The serialism-influenced Signals (1967)for accordion, electric guitar and percussionis still fresh and innovative-sounding.Dinosauros (1971) is a monster technicalwork for accordion and tape, with its clustersounds, stereophonic effects and huffing fromthe air button. Spur (1975) for solo accordionand orchestra begins and ends with aluscious long tone (originally meant for atrombone soloist). Unfortunately, the accordionis occasionally slightly too forward in themix making the parts sound unbalanced. InFlashing (1986) for solo accordion, Nordheimmasterfully draws from his compositionalexperience. All the clusters, melodies andeffects are clearly defined, with Haltli’s superbcontrapuntal playing adding to the inherentlyricism of the work.Haltli clearly understands the compositionsand yet is unafraid to include his personalcolourful sound. A must-listen-to release forNordheim and accordion fans alike!—Tiina KiikJAZZ & IMPROVISEDOctet Volume OneDave Young; Terry PromaneUniversity of Toronto!!Recorded at DriveShed Studio, Toronto,May 24 and 25, 2012,with Kevin Turcotte,trumpet/flugel horn;Vern Dorge, alto saxophone;Mike Murley,tenor saxophone;Terry Promane, trombone;Perry White, baritone saxophone; GaryWilliamson, piano; Dave Young, bass; TerryClarke, drums.A look at the line-up of this band tells youright off that you can look forward to somegreat playing, and this CD will certainly liveup to your expectations. The music consists ofthree originals, two composed and arrangedby Terry Promane, one written and arrangedby Rick Wilkins, and seven jazz standards.When I say jazz standards I don’t meansongs from the golden age of popular song,but compositions by jazz musicians whichhave over time become musicians’ standards.They are arranged by Dave Young and rangefrom the Dizzy Gillespie classic A Night InTunisia, through Stompin’ At The Savoy toBetter Git It In Your Soul by Charles Mingus.Along the way there is a lovely version of ThadJones’ To You.The musicianship and creativity shownby this top notch group make it hard to singleout any one member, but I have to say thatfor me it is particularly satisfying to hear theplaying of Gary Williamson. He is respectedby fellow musicians but his talents far exceedhis level of recognition with the jazz public.If you like interesting well-arranged numbersplayed by outstanding players who understandwhere the music comes from you canbuy this recording online at Indie Pool, CDBaby or iTunes.—Jim GallowayThe Sky Was Pale Blue, Then GreyAllison Au!!Recorded May 30and June 6 and 13,2012, at InceptionSound Studios,Toronto, this disc featuresAllison Au,alto saxophone;Todd Pentney,piano, Rhodes andHammond B3; Jonathan Maharaj, acousticand electric bass; Fabio Ragnelli,drums and auxiliary percussion; FelicityWilliams, vocals.There is no doubting the wealth of youngmusical talent playing contemporary creativemusic and Allison Au is certainly among thatnumber. This debut CD is a program of originalcompositions showcasing the playing ofthis talented group. The music is not “easy listening”and you have to be able and willingto broaden your listening boundaries if youbelong in the more traditional category of listeners;but it is an opportunity to venture intopastures new.There is a strong melodic feel to her compositions;La-Da-Dee and Tired Face,co-composed with pianist Pentney, are goodexamples. And speaking of Pentney I haveto acknowledge the first-rate playing of therhythm section which makes a major contributionto this recording.Interesting footnote: the album title piece74 March 1 – April 7, 2013

is intercut with excerpts from a discussionbetween John Cage and Morton Feldmanwhich is interesting first time around butcould be a bit intrusive with repeated listening.Just my opinion.That said, I think you’ll hear more ofAllison Au in the future. This CD is availableon iTunes, CD Baby and Amazon.—Jim GallowaySomething in the AirIdentical Instruments,Different SoundsKEN WAXMANDemonstratingthat acceptedmusical customs areoften shibboleths — theequivalent of notwearing white afterLabour Day — contemporaryimprovisersfrequently expressthemselves unconventionally — even whenit comes to instrumental choices. Takefor example the fine duo sessions here.Unaccompanied by others, the players provethat there are enough textures available fromnearly identical instruments to create fullsound pictures. These sets show not onlyhow much can be done with two guitars — acommon combination — but also by two percussionsets, not to mention two saxophonesof similar ranges and timbres.Recorded at the Vancouver InternationalJazz Festival, Stones (Rue Grammofon RCD2136 CD matchesthe tenor and baritone saxophone of SwedeMats Gustafsson with the alto and bass saxophonesof Montreal’s Colin Stetson. Althoughthe strength and power available from lowerpitchedwoodwinds gives the two licence forfrequent displays of sternum-shaking andbone-rattling overblowing, the four selectionshighlight more than just quivering throatygrowls. Scattered throughout the dense andnearly opaque duets are mellow connectivesequences and some that are created withpanache. True, the elegance of tracks suchas Stones that Need Not is predicated onacceptance of a climax of slowly melding textures,evolving from one saxman outputtinglinear tongue smacks and reed sucks, whilethe other decorates the sequence with chromaticsplit tones and quivering buzzes. Still,the reed variations are never overly bulky,but instead deconstruct the exposition withcrying stutters and emotional in-throat vocalizing.Another strategy, as on Stones that CanOnly Be, involves one player concentrating ona pedal-point ostinato with glottal punctuationand finger vibrations, while the second’saltissimo timbres of intense buzzing and slaptonguing decorate the narrative. Such unusualcontinues on next pageToronto drummer Nick Fraserhas a strong presenceacross the spectrum ofmodern jazz, but he’sparticularly prominentin free jazz projects likethe band Drumheller andthe Lina Allemano Four. He’s takenan emphatic role as composer andbandleader as well as drummeron Towns and Villages (BarnyardRecords BR0330, putting together a quartetwith regular associates RobClutton on bass and AndrewDowning on cello along withtenor and soprano saxophonistTony Malaby, one of New York’smost explosive musicians. The CDopens with a wall of overblowntenor and gritty bowed strings,but it’s a group with many levelsand colours, from ballads withMalaby on soprano to intriguingcircular compositions in whichFraser’s motifs are repeated by thesaxophone and cello, synchronygradually breaking down into echo.Everyone involved is clearly inspired by themeeting: it might be a band for a day, but it’sa great one.Another Toronto drummer, veteranBarry Romberg, leads RandomAccess, a loose-knit bandwith a fluid personnel but aconsistent ability to generatelively, interesting music.Part 12: Crab People (Romhog is a 2-CDset devoted largely to Romberg’scompositions with shifting timesignatures and largely modalunderpinnings, giving everyoneinvolved sufficient stimulation andadequate space to develop theirideas. The band changes from trackto track, from three to six musicians,and the electric fusion quotientchanges as well, depending onwhether the bass is acoustic (KieranOvers or Julian Anderson Bowes) orelectric (Rich Brown), whetherthere’s one or two guitarists(Geoff Young and Ben Monder)present, or keyboards (RobiBotos) or tablas (Ravi Naimpally),but these sessions are at aconsistently high level. SaxophonistKelly Jefferson and trumpeter KevinTurcotte contribute forcefully tothe title track, while tenor saxophonist KirkMacDonald distinguishes himself on Endof an Era.Stuart BrooMERQuebecois saxophonist FrançoisCarrier travels and recordsfrequently and he’s built up adiscography that may be largerand more varied than any otherCanadian musician playing freejazz. He and drummer MichelLambert have wanderedas far afield as Kathmanduwhile playing with a cavalcade ofinternational musicians. Just thepianists include Paul Bley, UriCaine, Bobo Stenson and thenewly arrived Russian AlexeyLapin. Their latest adventure isShores and Ditches (FMR CDCD340-0512,and while there’s no recording data,the sidemen suggest an Englishlocale. On an unaccompaniedtrack, Carrier emphasizes thesweetness of his keening altosound, stretching notes to thepoint where it sounds like a freejazz version of Harlem Nocturne.Duets with Lambert emphasizethe propulsive dialogue, while along episodic trio improvisationwith Guillaume Viltard is artfully enhancedby the bassist’s sustained and virtuosicmastery of both arco and pizzicatotechniques. Viltard, guitaristDaniel Thompson and flutist NeilMetcalfe appear on a collectiveimprovisation, an effectivelysustained exploration highlightedby Metcalfe’s distinctiveclarity of line.David Occhipinti is amasterful guitarist, possessedof some of the fluid lyricism andharmonic subtlety of his formerteacher Jim Hall, but he’s alsoserious about composition, asfascinated by the possibilitiesof chamber music as he is byimprovisation. Camera (OccdavMusic OM006 presents two long suitesby two different ensembles andtwo stand-alone pieces, engagingmulti-hued pieces that mix andmatch methods in the same spiritas Frank Zappa’s serious music,like The Perfect Stranger.Stuart Broomer continueshis discussion of DavidOcchipinti’s Camera as well as addingsome well-chosen words on On Course, bypianist Richard Whiteman, and Vancouverbasedsinger Melinda Whitaker’s LuckySo-and-So! All at 1 – April 7, 2013 75

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