8 years ago

Volume 18 Issue 8 - May 2013

  • Text
  • Choir
  • Toronto
  • Theatre
  • Concerts
  • Musical
  • Jazz
  • Choral
  • Singers
  • Festival
  • Vocal
Includes the 2013 Canary Pages choral directory.


MODERN & CONTEMPORARYOn the Nature of Electricity & AcousticsElectro-Acoustic Music from IrelandCurated by Daniel FiggisHeresy!!Imagine the soundof a traditional Irishjig or reel in the handsof someone who lovesplaying with electronicinstrumentsand recording devices.Think of all the possiblecombinations thatcould arise. That’s exactly what you will hearon the CD On the Nature of Electricity &Acoustics. Curated by Daniel Figgis, this albumis a compilation and sampling of 23 pieces, eachcreated by a different Irish composer or musician.And to add to the mix, these musicianscome from a wide range of backgrounds andinfluences: contemporary classical composers,rock musicians, sound experimentalists, traditionalmusic virtuosi and visual artists. Thefascinating images in the accompanyingbooklet offer glimpses into early instruments— both acoustic and electric in nature.Over the last three or four decades, traditionalIrish music influences have sweptacross the globe, bringing their unique identityto the pop, rock and world music genres.With this album we are treated to the inimitableIrish sound under the influence ofexperimentation and boundary pushing. Itopens with a very early electroacoustic work,created in 1978 using classic tape techniques,by one of the country’s leading composers,Roger Doyle. We immediately land in thefamiliar soundworld of the piano presentedwith a driving rhythmic force so characteristicof the Irish essence. These strongrhythmic qualities, along with looping andrepetitive melodic or harmonic patterns,textural layering and the presence of a recognizableinstrument are present in almostevery work on the album. The distinctiveinstrumental sounds heard include the fiddle,bagpipes, bodhrán, accordion, electric guitar,cello, as well as a few flashes of a Celtic vocalpresence. Electronic sounds include the presenceof lush synthesizer textures, wild electricguitar riffs, static and noise articulations andgliding filter sweeps.The final track by the curator Daniel Figgisreally sums up the spirit of the whole album.If I were to lift a pint of beer to my mouthand close my eyes, I could easily imagine Iwas sitting in a traditional Irish pub, tappingmy toes in time with the music. Yet my earswould be overjoyed to hear the unusual andmind-bending twists and turns that unfoldedbefore me. There would be no denying thatI was in the presence of an ancient musicaltradition whose indelible spirit penetratesthrough time, technologies and trends.—Wendalyn BartleyJAZZ & IMPROVISED MUSICKris DavisCapricorn ClimberClean Feed CF 266!!Creating a cohesiveprogram that movesfrom experimentationto straight-aheadswing and lush inventions— often on thesame track — pianistKris Davis outlines aseries of moods on thisprogram of her own compositions. CalgarybornDavis has made a reputation for herselfas an arranger as well as a soloist and each ofher compositions displays her sidefolk — someof New York’s most accomplished players — totheir collective best advantage.Take for instance Pass the Magic Hat, whichstarts off as a swirling and spiralling expositionfor her piano plus the bass of Trevor Dunn andthe drums of Tom Rainey, but soon evolves toa contrapuntal duel between her metronomiccomping and Ingrid Laubrock’s pulsatingtenor saxophone. A spikier secondary themedeveloped by violist Mat Maneri arrives, eventuallyto be harmonized with piano and reedslurs. On the other hand, Bottom of a Well is acohesive recital-styled track with low-pitchedpiano clunks underscoring the chromaticstring sets. Before a legato finale, Dunn vibratesa solo in the cello range while the violistharshly rubs his strings. With Davis’ narrativeliterally more low-key and impressionistic, Piis Irrational balances Maneri’s tremolo stridencywith Rainey’s rugged ruffs and taps,until Laubrock’s gentle arpeggios presage abrief, rhythmically sophisticated bass solo.Davis who studied at Banff and Torontodefines her program enough to give her soloiststhe freedom to interpolate everythingfrom strident reed bites and fiddle scratchesto extended cymbal vibrations into thenine tracks. But she reins them in enoughGuitarist Reg Schwager hasworked with some of themost famous performers injazz, including Diana Krall, GeorgeShearing and Peter Appleyard. Inaddition to being a distinguishedsideman, though, he’s also genuinelyadventurous. Schwager hasStuART Broomerwith strategies ranging from inner pianostring plucks to keyboard jabs and cohesivechording to maintain the integrity of hercompositional vision.—Ken WaxmanUpstairsMatt HerskowitzJustin Time JUST!!This CD wasrecorded beforean audience atthe Upstairs JazzBar & Grill inMontreal where MattHerskowitz has madehis home since 2000and the first thing thatstruck me was the phenomenal techniquepossessed by this Albany-born pianist.The varied program begins with along — over 13 minutes — interpretation ofthe Dave Brubeck composition, Dziekujewhich means “thank you” in Polish, and wasmodelled on Chopin’s Prelude in E Minor. Healso includes Cantabile by Michel Petrucciani,Traumerei by Robert Schumann, music byJ.S. Bach, two originals, Waltz In Moscow andBella’s Lament plus a couple of Gershwinsongs for good measure — But Not For Me andI’ve Got Rhythm.Herskowitz’ classical training permeatesthe music, sometimes at the expense of “jazzfeeling” but then there are also passages ofdelicate beauty as shown in Bella’s Lamentand Traumerei.To make a comparison between visualart and music, Herskowitz is like, say, a Dalirather than a Mondrian.I have a non-musical complaint on behalfof all of us with less than perfect eyesight. Theliner notes are in deep blue against a blackbackground, making them all but impossibleto read. I, and a few others I have spokenwith, find it extremely frustrating. Designersof CD sleeves please take note.—Jim Gallowayjust released two contrastingCDs that testify to the range andquality of his work.His duet with pianistDavid Restivo, Arctic Passage(Rant 1346), presents two musiciansgifted in the myriadpermutations of melody and62 | May 1 – June 7, 2013

harmony, etching work of glittering lyricism.Most of the compositions are Schwager’sown, themes worthy of further exploration,but there are also distinctive accounts of PoorButterfly and Alexander’s Ragtime Band,each enlivened by thoughtful chordal extensionsthat are bound to surprise. The dialogueis inevitably reminiscent of the perfect duosrecorded by Bill Evans and Jim Hallin the 1960s.Schwager and drummer MichelLambert, one of Quebec’s finestfree improvisers, make Schwager’souter limits more apparent on TrioImprovisations (Rant 1245). It’s aspecial trio, with three differentmusicians occupying the thirdspot. The recordings come fromsessions during a six-month periodbetween 2001 and 2002 andinclude the powerful ColtraneinfluencedToronto saxophonistMichael Stuart, Amsterdam’sanarchic and brilliant pianistMisha Mengelberg (an early influenceon the Dutch-born Schwager)and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler,perhaps Canada’s greatest contributionto international jazz. Themusic is all free improvisation,though in this case that meansharmonic and rhythmic structuresarise and dissolve withfrequency and ease. What makesthe set most remarkable is thatit’s anything but pastiche. Whilemany CDs from different sessions sound likepatchwork quilts, this one sounds like a suite,with a consistent approach thatexpands outward from Schwagerand Lambert and embraces theirvarious guests.Cellist Kye Marshall has abroad musical backgroundranging from extensivestudies in jazz compositionand positions as principalcellist with Toronto’s New ChamberOrchestra and assistant principalcellist with the NationalBallet Orchestra. She’s workedextensively both in jazz and improvisedmusic, and she brings allof those skills and inclinations toher Jazz Quartet’s Pencil Blues(Zephyr/Westwind It’s lively,infectious work and Marshall has thoughtfullyconstructed a string band around herstill rather unusual jazz cello, with DonThompson on bass, Andrew Scott on guitarand Ethan Ardelli on drums. When the groupexpands for textural reasons, she adds violistKent Teeple and percussionist Mark Dugganto the ensembles. The feeling’s not unlikethe Hot Club of France, and the clear star isThompson, whose bass playing should bedeclared a national treasure.Pianist Steve Koven is a crisp modernstylist, an ebullient musician who can movehandily from infectious Latin jazz to probingballads and complex three-way dialogueswith the members of his long-standing trio.In fact that’s what has given Koven’s workits greatest dimension, something celebratedon SK3 20 (Bungalow Records SK 009 3),commemorating the 20th anniversary ofthe group with bassist Rob Clutton anddrummer Anthony Michelli. Itwould be remarkable enoughif Koven had held together aband that long with anybody,but he’s done so with two of themost creative musicians that theToronto scene could provide,evident in the playful funk grooveof Lolaland. The CD also comeswith a bonus DVD of the group inperformance.Curtis Nowosad is a 24-year-olddrummer who recently graduatedfrom the University ofManitoba’s Jazz Studies Program.Clearly Nowosad enjoys manykinds of music, and there’splenty of pop repertoire togo with the hard bop on hisdebut, The Skeptic & the Cynic(Know-a-sad Music, withsongs made famous by MichaelJackson, Bob Marley, Pink Floyd,Joni Mitchell and 2Pac Shakur.Nowosad’s band is made uplargely of University of Manitobafaculty, with trumpeter DerrickGardner, saxophonist Jimmy Greene, bassistSteve Kirby and Will Bonness on keyboards(covering piano, Fender Rhodes andHammond B3) lending tremendouslustre to the proceedings. ClearlyNowosad has been an outstandingstudent, sounding right at homein this band of veterans, who fortheir part seem to be enjoyingplaying signature hard bop on tunesas unlikely as The Way You Make MeFeel and Three Little Birds.Another musician employingdistinguished talent is saxophonistCameron Wallis. Calling Dexter( pianist André White,bassist Alec Walkington anddrummer Dave Laing, who havefunctioned as the André WhiteTrio for the past 25 years. Wallis isa skilful traditionalist, smoothly negotiatingchord changes and swinging with aplomb.If anything, he’s a little too respectful, fromthe title dedication to Dexter Gordon to linernote invocations of Don Byas and “my twofavourite Sonnys.” One of them is definitelyStitt, but Rollins seems too aggressivelymodern even in his 1950 form to qualify asthe other. Wallis demonstrates more flexibilitythan identity by playing soprano, alto, tenor,baritone and even C melody saxophone,making it hard for a listener to get a sense of adistinctive voice.Something in the AirLiberation of theUnaccompaniedBass SoloKEN WAXMANOf all the instruments that needed theadvances of free music in the 20thcentury to show off its true character, ithas been the double bass which benefittedmost from this situation. Relegated to decorative,scene setting or mere rhythmic functionsin conventional classical and jazz performances,it was only when bassists were able toexpress themselves without restraint thattheir role grew. By the 21st century in fact,solo bass recitals became as commonplace asthose by other instrumentalists. The reason,as these CDs demonstrate, is the arrival ofperformers who can extract a multiplicity ofnovel tones, timbres and textures from fourtautly wound strings.Take Paris-basedJoëlle Léandre forinstance. Early in hercareer she playedpieces composedspecifically for herby the likes of JohnCage and GiacintoScelsi; now she’s fullycommitted to free expression. Wols circus:12 compositions pour contrebasse d’après 12gravures de Wols (Galerie Hus HUS 112 particularly fascinating. Usingonly a bow, the strings, her instrument’sbody and her own vocal inflections, Léandreinterprets musically engravings by Surrealistartist Otto Wols (1913–1951). Created from1942–1945, when the Berlin-born Wols wasinterned as an “enemy foreigner” in France,where he lived from 1932 until his death, theimages are as abstract as they are affecting.Making no attempt to literally replicate thedrawings in music, Léandre’s sound interpretationsmove from stentorian to muted,with indistinct, spiccato scrubs as common asJew’s harp-like twangs. Especially noteworthyis the build-up and release reflected on thesuccessive Topographie, Drei Vingnettenauf einem Blatt and Keiner Fleck. Witheach sequence three minutes, first abrasivethen mellow string sawing fades intooccasional arco slides and sul tasto popswith the air vibrated by the bow audibleas well. The climax occurs as unison bassostring strokes and Léandre’s vocal growlsgive way to a contrapuntal duet betweensharp instrumental lines. Throughout, thebull fiddler provides personalized a view ofWols’ sketches with additional string inventionsranging from squeeze-toy peeps totremolo bass slaps. Nonetheless the May 1 – June 7, 2013 | 63

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