8 years ago

Volume 18 Issue 7 - April 2013

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  • April
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
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  • Singers


JAZZ, EH? | STUART BROOMER continued from previous pageset in the classic mould of the organ quartet,those bands that first flourished in U.S. innercities in the 1950s, when the Hammond B3organ migrated from storefront churches tobars and mixed gospel chords and rhythm ‘n’blues, transposing the riffing style of bandslike Count Basie’s to the amplified power ofa Hammond organ joined by drums, electricguitar and/or tenor sax. Veteran pianistBernie Senensky has adapted handily to theorgan, playing with the rhythmic verve thestyle demands and adding plenty of harmonicsubtlety to the mix. Drummer Morgan Childsand guitarist Nathan Hiltz maintain stronggrooves, while tenor saxophonist Ryan Oliverchannels the particularly tight vibrato andupper register split-tones of the great StanleyTurrentine. Everyone soundsinspired on Amsterdamage.Another veteran, bassist HenryHeillig, leads a new version ofhis Heillig Manoeuvre on ’Toons(RM 6013 It’srelaxed, entertaining music withHeillig’s cartoon-inspired compositionseliciting good performancesall around, whatever the tempo or mood,from the bluesy Meet the Sprintphones tothe rapid-fire Moose and Squirrel. The surprisingthing is that the cartoon inspirationsoften lead to deeply felt music. The highlightis the elusive, dreamlike NanaimoCrossing, with Alison Young’s tenor saxophoneand Stacie McGregor’s electric pianofloating over the lightest of Latinbeats from Heillig and drummerCharlie Cooley.Toronto native Quinsin Nachoffhas been based in New Yorkfor a few years now, establishinghimself solidly in a city withno shortage of distinct and inventivesaxophonists. Nachoff is heardto fine effect on French drummerBruno Tocanne’s In a SuggestiveWay (Instant Musics IMR, dedicatedto the late drummer PaulMotian whose subtle dynamicplay and sense of freedom haveclearly influencedTocanne. The instrumentationis a little unusual, aquartet completed by the virtuosoNew York pianist Russ Lossingwho played and recorded withMotian on many occasions andFrench trumpeter Rémi Gaudillat,but the results are a particularlylucid reflection. Nachoff’s theme statementof Bruno Rubato is limpidly beautiful againstLossing’s crystalline piano, while there’scrackling intensity in the splintering hornsolos on Gaudillat’s Ornette and Don.David Virelles, who first came to attentionin Toronto as the brilliant protégé of JaneBunnett and who won the OscarPeterson prize at Humber College,continues with his brilliantcareer as one of New York’smost notable younger pianistswith appearances on two ECMreleases that will vie for spotson international top ten lists.Virelles is now a member ofPolish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko’s NewYork Quartet along with bassistThomas Morgan and drummerGerald Cleaver. The group debutson Wisława (ECM 2304/05). Themusic often explores Stanko’sdarkly moody ballads and dirges,pensive music that glows with aninner light; at other points the groupdevelops explosive free improvisationswith an empathy so developed thatideas pass at will among the members ofthe quartet.Virelles also turns up on Chris Potter’sThe Sirens (ECM 2258), a suite based on TheOdyssey in which Potter develops rich andvaried textures using two pianists, CraigTaborn on a regular grand and Virelles on preparedpiano, celeste and harmonium. The twomusicians develop a subtle dialogue aroundinterlocking ostinatos on Wayfinder, whilePotter’s brilliant Coltrane-inspired invocationon the title track summons up all the hypnoticpowers that music might possess.Something in the AirNew Takes on the Jazz Piano Trio TraditionKEN WAXMANHaving arguablyreached its zenithof popularity inthe 1960s with thelegendary OscarPeterson and Bill Evans combos,the piano, bass and drums triocontinues to be the sine qua nonfor countless improvisers. Butwith any jazz trio performance weighted withthe configuration’s illustrious history, it’s upto contemporary players to create a distinctmusical personality.Usually this is done subtly, as New Yorkbaseddrummer Jeff Davis demonstrateson Leaf House (Fresh Sound New TalentFSNW407 Afrequent associate of Canadian-in-Brooklynbassist Michael Bates, the drummer knowsthe value of a sophisticated timekeeper andhas found one in Norwegian-born EivindOpsvik. More crucially withRuss Lossing at the piano, theleader’s eight compositions areinterpreted in a fashion whichsuggests an alternate piano triohistory. Rather than the influenceof either Peterson or Evanslooming large — as it does for toomany of their followers — Lossingoperates at the edge of atonality while neverabandoning the legato. Throughout, hismixture of perceptive pacing, with forays intothe instrument’s highest and lowest portals,plus a touch that ranges from intermittentkey dusting to rock-ribbed staccato power,suggests a lineage that takes in HerbieNichols, Lowell Davidson and Paul Bley,but just skirts Cecil Taylor’s revolutionarykeyboard transformations. With such anarsenal of effects literally at his fingertips, thepianist can bring forth whatever is needed toillustrate individual Davis tunes. For instancethe connections and variations that defineCatbird’s conclusions are very Bley-like,especially when the bassist restates the motifwith which he began the piece, the better toagain bond with the feather-light and gentlychromatic melody he and the pianist firstplayed. On the other hand the kineticismthat marks tunes like the title track andthe loping Faded relate back to Nichols, asLossing elasticizes lines without breaking thechromatic thrust, while the drummer’s cuffsand clips or poised rim shots meet walkingor bowed bass with sympathetic pacing.William Jacob may be the CD’s highpointthough. Moving from a lyrical exposition to atremolo finale, the pianist craftily strengthenshis touch and doubles his attack as the pieceevolves, dovetailing into power chords fromOpsvik and aggregated ruffs and reboundsfrom Davis before the conclusion.For an idea of how Swiss pianist Gabriela Friedli, Canadian percussionistMichel Lambert and the co-op Italian-Serbian Dreiländer Trio face the samechallenges see the continuation of this column at, whereyou’ll also find Ken Waxman’s review of The White Spot.68 | April 1 – May 7, 2013

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