8 years ago

Volume 19 Issue 1 - September 2013

  • Text
  • September
  • Jazz
  • October
  • Toronto
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Orchestra
  • Choir
  • Concerts
  • Guelph

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located in southern France. This vocal legacy of connecting voicewith the inner workings of the psyche stretches back to the early20th century and the work of Alfred Wolfsohn. In the 1960s thisvocal research evolved into a theatre-based artistic practice by oneof Wolfsohn’s pupils, Roy Hart. As part of my column during thisupcoming season, I’ll be making some links between what inspiredme during my time at the Roy Hart Centre and the musical events ofour local community.Since the voice is the most obvious link, I’ll begin with theupcoming Soundstreams concert on October 1 in which they willbe presenting two epic choral and orchestral works by the masterfulEstonian composer Arvo Pärt. One of these compositions is titledAdam’s Lament, thus plunging us headlong into the territory of oneof the most potent myths of the Western world — the story of Adamand Eve. As part of my residency at the Roy Hart Centre, I attendedthe Myth & Theatre festival which was like being submerged into analchemical pot stirring the voice together with choreographic movement,image, spoken word and philosophical ideas.Stories shape us and the institutions of our culture beyond what wemight imagine. Initially we create the stories, and then the stories turnaround and create us. And certainly this story of Adam and Eve hasbeen one that has determined so much of our collective history. Pärt’scomposition begins with the expression of grief at being expelledfrom Paradise and then expands further into a meditation on thesorrows of all humankind. His music is often referred to as musicthat comes out of the silence, creating possibilities to hear a differentvoice. Perhaps this other voice could be a re-examination of this mythitself. Must we collectively continue to hold onto the idea of separation,or can we create a voice, a story that brings us closer to the dream ofhuman connection and peaceful co-existence?Other works in the program include Pärt’s L’abbé Agathon, whichrecounts the legend of a fourth-century hermit tested by an angel indisguise, and pieces by two other composers, Riho Maimets and JamesRolfe. Choir 21, a local group that specializes in performing contemporarychoir music, will be performing alongside a string orchestraconducted by Pärt’s Estonian colleague Tõnu Kaljuste.And now to opera — the perfect alchemical pot for combiningmythic themes with music. Tapestry Opera will be offering up thelatest round of opera briefs created at this years Composer-LibrettistLab, an annual gathering that teams up four composers with fourwriters to create, literally overnight, a series of short opera excerpts.Running from September 19 to 22, this event gives you the opportunityto hear what stories and sounds have risen up in the midst of thishothouse of creativity.Twentieth-Century PioneersIt’s hard to imagine that 100 years ago, experiencing strong rhythmsand percussion music in the concert hall was scandalous. The musicof Igor Stravinsky helped to change all that. Valery Gergiev andthe Mariinsky Orchestra from St. Petersburg are returning to RoyThomson Hall on October 6 to perform the three groundbreakingballet scores Stravinsky composed between 1910 and 1913: TheFirebird, Pétrouchka and The Rite of Spring. Fortunately, that concertwill be in the afternoon, giving enough time to attend the eveningconcert curated by Austin Clarkson for New Music Concerts. You canread and listen to more on this meeting of Wolpe, Webern, Feldmanand Cage in both the printed and online editions of The WholeNote.Additional Concerts!!TorQ Percussion Quartet: “A Shift in Time.” September 13.!!Thin Edge New Music Collective: “Shaken or Stirred,” fundraisingconcert and silent auction. September 14.!!Canadian Music Centre: Contemporary Works for Piano.September 13 and October 3.!!Music Gallery and Burn Down The Capital: Julianna Barwick,with Christine Duncan and Castle If at Double Double Land.September 26.Wendalyn Bartley is a Toronto-based composer and electrovocalsound artist. Contact her at by Beat | Jazz NotesToe-TappingFall-DeralsJIM GALLOwayIn a recent program on CBC I heard thatin some societies the word for music is thesame as the word for dance and it got methinking about the close relationship that usedto exist between those two words and jazz.Here was a music that made you feel betterwhen you felt good and could lift you whenyou were down; music that made it difficult tokeep still, even if only to tap one’s feet. It wasprimarily entertainment and it continued thatway until the music — now in some circlesregarded as an “art form” — became introverted,more serious and (with some exceptions)more serious minded. Not that theearly greats weren’t serious musicians, butthey also considered themselves to be entertainers.As Louis Armstrong once said: “Mylife has always been my music, it’s alwayscome first, but the music ain’t worth nothingif you can’t lay it on the public. The mainthing is to live for that audience, ’cause whatyou’re there for is to please the people.”But nothing is forever, everything evolvesand jazz is no exception. The idea of jazzbeing a music to dance to and aimed atcommunicating directly with the audiencechanged — a transformation that reflected the changes in society,but also changed the relationship with the audience. In the ’40s themusic became more introverted and musicians began playing more forthemselves instead of trying to entertain, making it even more a musicfor a minority audience. In addition the music became much morevertical rather than linear. By that I mean that players ran the scalesand the emphasis was less melodic.Now, the word jazz and the term “massappeal” are seldom used in the same sentence.Occasionally, a well-marketed jazz artist willconnect with popular culture — Armstrongand Dave Brubeck for example — but labelexecs usually assume that jazz won’t sell aswell as rock, R&B, rap, country, adult contemporaryor Latin music. However, there was atime when jazz did, in fact, enjoy mass appeal.It was called the swing era; but probably atno time were there more than a few hundredmusicians making a living from jazz, and withfew exceptions that’s all it was — a living withlittle prospect of much financial gain. Agents,Milt and the recording industry were all quite happy to takeadvantage of musicians. I remember Milt Hinton telling me that whenhe was active in the recording industry, recording sessions paid a flat, and if recordings were re-issued the musicians got nothing inresiduals. He told me an interesting story about the hit recording ofMack the Knife by Bobby Darin. They arrived at the studio to find thatthere was no arrangement for the number so it was the musicianswho came up with the arrangement right there in the studio with thesong going up a step each chorus. The song was a bestseller, makinghuge profits. And the musicians? each!In the early days most jazzers learned perhaps by one-on-one32 | September 1 – October 7, 2013

lessons from an established player, by listening to recordings and bygoing to sessions in the hope that they could sit in and that eventuallysomeone would give them a gig. Organized courses were rare. Nowof course you can go to university or college and study jazz — unheardof at one time although there is an interesting timeline to jazz as anacademic subject. A little digging and I learned, for example, that theIndustrial High School in Birmingham, Alabama, had a group calledthe Jazz Demons as early as 1922.And in 1927, while he was an athletic instructor at ManassasHigh School in Memphis, Tennessee, one of the teachers organizeda student band. They were called the Chickasaw Syncopators, butlater adopted the teacher’s name. And the teacher’s name? JimmieLunceford, leader of one of the greatest bigbands in thehistory ofjazz, a bandthat evolvedfrom the sameChickasawSyncopators!Meanwhile,in 1928the HochConservatoryin Frankfurt amMain, Germany,launched theworld’s firstcurricular jazzprogram. Therewas a greatdeal of criticismthroughoutthe countryand the Nazis,not surprisingly,stopped theprogram in 1933.It was restarted in1976 under the direction of trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff.In the United States Stan Kenton was instrumental in the start of thefirst long-running summer jazz camp in 1959 which later became theStan Kenton Summer Clinics. It continued until his death in 1979.Then in 1968 the National Association of Jazz Educators was formedand renamed the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) in1989. It went bankrupt in 2008. In 1981 McGill University in Montrealwas the first in Canada to offer a BMus degree in jazz performance.Today in Toronto alone we have Humber College, University of Torontoand York all offering specialized jazz courses with faculties made up ofsome of the county’s best players.One of the downsides of all of this is that the surge in educationalopportunities comes at a time when the market for jazz has declineddrastically to the point where it is impossible for most musicians tomake a living playing jazz.Perhaps it is worth noting that in the early days of jazz, musicianshad day jobs and their jazz was for most of them not the sole sourceof income. Well, guess what? The wheel has gone full circle; makinga living playing jazz is, for most, a pipe dream. Why do you think somany players turn to teaching?Will The Big Bands Ever Come Back?To introduce a little levity, here is a story from Lampang in Thailand,which I read in a publication called The Week (, about abig band and I really mean big! Literally the biggest band in the world,the players are all elephants who have been taught by David Sulzer,a neuro-scientist at Columbia University, to be percussion-playingpachyderms, playing super-sized instruments using their trunks. Theyhave made three albums and convinced at least one critic that he waslistening to professional players. Next thing you know they will beadding a singer — perhaps Elephants Gerald. And if they ever go on theroad perhaps they could revive the Grand Trunk Railroad.Jim Galloway is a saxophonist, band leader andformer artistic director of Toronto Downtown Jazz.He can be contacted at Philip’s Anglican Church● Sunday, Sept 15, 4pm | Jazz VespersMark Eisenman Quartet● Sunday, Sept 22, 4pm | Klezmer VespersKlapman Klezmer Band● Sunday, Oct 6, 4pm | Jazz VespersGeorge Koller QuartetSt. Philip’s Anglican Church | Etobicoke25 St. Phillips Road (near Royal York + Dixon)416-247-5181 • September 1 – October 7, 2013 | 33

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