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Volume 19 Issue 1 - September 2013

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Bang recorded this final

Bang recorded this final session in Finlandin February 2011, two months before hisdeath from lung cancer. The repertoireincludes two very familiar tunes, Miles Davis’All Blues and Sonny Rollins’ calypso-fuelledSt. Thomas, but even that emphasizes Bang’soriginality in mating musicians and material.The front line of Bang’s eerily thin violinsound and Dick Griffin’s robust trombone isvery distinctive, emphasizing the combinationof frailty and force that gives Bang’s worka special intensity.The band sounds as if Bang assembled itfor maximum authority, creating a powerhouserhythm section of pianist AndrewBemkey, bassist Hilliard Greene and drummerNewman Taylor-Baker. They work in a largelyreceived tradition, but Bang extends it instunning ways: in his unaccompanied introductionto Don Cherry’s Guinea, pentatonicpatterns and microtones link vernacularviolin sounds — a Vietnamese đàn gáo, aKenyan orutu — to early traditions of African-American fiddling, suggesting a uniqueperspective on the expressive depths andpossibilities of jazz. Da Bang! is a powerfulfinal testament.—Stuart BroomerRed HotMostly Other People Do The KillingHot Cup HC!!Trumpeter PeterEvans, who alongwith drummer WeaselWalter, bassist TomBlancarte and pianistCharity Chan isfeatured at a punkjazz-improvconcertat the Arraymusicspace on September 4, has quickly becomeone of jazz’s most in-demand and versatilebrass men. Proficient elsewhere playingatonal music, this CD by an expanded versionof the co-op group Mostly Other People DoThe Killing (MOPDtK) finds the New Yorkbasedbrass man helping to create a respectfulbut sophisticated take on early jazz. ThatEvans has mammoth chops is without question,and you can note that on Zelienople,where following a wood-block [!] breakfrom drummer Kevin Shea, Evans’ openhornexposition is bird-song sweet at oneinstance and growly as a warthog by the next.Meanwhile on Orange is the Name of theTown, he fires off triplet patterns after tripletpatterns with aplomb.While classic jazz fanciers probably won’tbe offended, sardonic Red Hot is no by-roteDixieland-recreation. For a start, MOPDtKbassist Moppa Elliott composed the nineselections, and each draws on a conservatoryfull of influences. On the title trackfor instance, there are echoes of sci-fi-likeelectronic processing plus clunking banjotwangs, both created by Brandon Seabrook.Meanwhile the two-step melody is extendedby pianist Ron Stabinsky’s ragtime-styledpumps, and climaxes when Jon Irabagon’sC-Melody sax wails pierce the connectivefour-horn vamp.Atmospherically (post) modern and goodtime music in equal measure, the CD demonstratesclearly how many avant-garde tropeslike broken-octave sax peeps or squeezed andhectoring brass tones actually have a longIn the spirit that jazz is increasingly aninternational language, this month’s collectionof CDs emphasizes that dialogue,from American guests turningup on Canadian musicians’ CDsto Canadian expatriates who aremembers of a global community.Montreal tenor saxophonistChet Doxas has just released Dive(Addo AJR 015,a well-conceived successor to hisJUNO-nominated 2010 releaseBig Sky. Doxas has put togethera New York-based rhythm section,though it includes Canadianexpatriates, Toronto-bornguitarist Matthew Stevens andMontreal-born bassist Zack Lober,as well as drummer Eric Doob. Themusic is in a contemporary idiom(Doxas also co-leads Riverside, aband that includes Dave Douglasand Steve Swallow), and Doxasdelights in cleverly constructedpieces that he and the band negotiatewith ease, creating playfulengaging music. Doxas’ lighttenor sound is made for mobilityand everything here contributesto quick, spontaneous reactions.Stevens’ processed guitarsound contributes much to theoverall feel: it’s at once glassyand opaque, shimmering andmuted, and the abstracted clarityof his work comes to the fore onthe elusive Mysteries.A native of Williams Lake, BC,now based in Toronto, tenor saxophonistRyan Oliver studied in thecelebrated Jazz Program at RutgersUniversity in New Jersey where he got toknow veteran New York drummer VictorLewis, the two exploring rhythmic conceptsin weekly duet sessions. Lewis appears onOliver’s Strive! ( and bringsOliver’s John Coltrane influence intosharp focus, from the turbulent dialogueof the opening title track, so evocative ofColtrane’s duets with Elvin Jones, to theelegiac Thousand Miles, Oliver’s impassionedStuart Broomerhistory. It also shows how top-flight musiccan be made up of many inferences. Elliott,for instance, begins Turkey Foot Corner notwith Trad Jazz bass string slaps but spiccatoplucks, that while undoubtedly modern,blend seamlessly into a two-beat bandarrangement that emphasizes bass tromboneguffaws from David Taylor.—Ken Waxmanhigh notes framed by Lewis’ ceremonialcymbals. There are still elements of Coltrane’sharmonic conception on the funk of Eddieand Crescent City Stomp butthe back beats open the door toOliver’s soul-jazz side and alsoprovide openings for the rest of theband — pianist Gary Williamsonand bassist Alex Coleman — toshine. While Oliver may lackoriginality at this point, he makesup for it in conviction and skill.There’s more imported propulsionon the Cory Weeds/Bill CoonQuartet’s With Benefits (CellarLive CL 091812,a terrific session in whichVancouverite tenor saxophonistWeeds and guitarist Coonsenjoy the estimable supportof the New York rhythm teamof bassist Peter Washington anddrummer Lewis Nash. They are allmasters of a modern jazz mainstreamdefined in the 1950s, butthey speak it as a personal idiom,whether it’s Weeds’ hard-edgedlyricism or Coon’s lightly sparklinglines. Coon’s compositions makeup half of the program, distinctivetunes that range from the superbballadry of Sunday Morning to thehard bop of Cory’s Story. The groupdialogue is never better, though,than on the standard East ofthe Sun, a feature for Weeds’warm balladry.Like Weeds and Coon,bassist Clyde Reed is an essentialpart of the Vancouver scene, a stalwart presencein free jazz and improvising groupslike the NOW Orchestra and Ion Zoo. Oneof his longest running affiliations is withthe Oregon-based tenor saxophonist RichHalley whose elemental music is one withthe Pacific Northwest: his Crossing the Passes(Pine Eagle 005 consistsof compositions inspired by a hike acrossOregon’s Wallowa Mountains, an outcroppingof the Rockies. Halley’s compositionscan be as jagged as a series of peaks, as varied66 | September 1 – October 7, 2013

as the terrain and there’s clearempathy with trombonist MichaelVlatkovich, who supplies the sameemotion and force that characterizeHalley’s own lines. Reed isa bulwark of empathy and form,whether providing rapid propulsionwith drummer CarsonHalley on Duology or coming tothe fore with warm pizzicato andarco solos.Drummer Greg Smith went toEurope with Toronto’s ShuffleDemons in the mid-90s anddecided to stay there, taking upresidence in Holland. Among hiscurrent projects is a Rotterdambasedband called Lama withPortuguese trumpeter Susana Santos Silvaand bassist Gonçalo Almeida. The groupexpands to Lama + Chris Speed with theaddition of the New York saxophonist andclarinettist for Lamaçal (Clean Feed CF, a live performancefrom the Portalegre Jazz Festival. This islively creative music that delights in detailedclose interaction amid a mix of unusualsonic textures: suggestions of village brassbands, Middle-Eastern scales, electronic loopsand whale sounds abound. It evencombines old-fashioned NewOrleans polyphony with atonality.Smith’s boppish compositionCachalote is highlighted bya duet between the drummer andthe mercurial Speed.Pianist Kris Davis has followeda path from Calgary to Torontoand on to Brooklyn where she hasestablished herself as one of themost creative improvisers of hergeneration. She appears on bassistEric Revis’ City of Asylum (CleanFeed CF 277 in a piano trio completedby the veteran drummer AndrewCyrille. The studio session markedthe first meeting of the three musicians,but there’s no sense that they’re feeling oneanother out. There’s aggressive creative interplayin the freely improvised pieces, with aspecial attention to momentum, the threesometimes developing tremendous swingwhile pursuing independent rhythms. Aplayful approach to Thelonious Monk’sGallop’s Gallop and a reverent one to KeithJarrett’s Prayer reveal something of the trio’srange and affinities.of the Atomic band, which is at the RRC’sCo-operators Hall September 4 during theGJF, is one stand-out on Queen Hatshepsutwhen his bravura churning and almost vocalizedtenor saxophone lines make a perfectpantonal contrast to pointillist smears fromaccordion and piano.Balancing a delicate outer shell with asteely core, American flutist Nicole Mitchellis another major improv figure whose IndigoTrio plays St. George’s Church’s MitchellHall September 5. A similar configurationwith bassist Joshua Abrams and drummerFrank Rosaly expands with additional colourson Aquarius (Delmark DE 5004 when the three and vibraphonist JasonAdasiewicz make up the Ice Crystal band.What Herbie Mann’s combo could havesounded like if he had ignored rock-pop blandishments,even Mitchell’s blues and Latintunes trade simplicity for sophistication asfour-mallet, bell-like tones from the vibistand her gruff tremolo gusts are as linear asthey are lyrical.Something in the AirThe Guelph Jazz Festival Turns 20Twenty years after its modestbeginning, the Guelph JazzFestival (GJF), which this yeartakes place September 3 to 8, hasgrown to be one of this country’smajor improvised music celebrations.Unlike many other so-calledjazz fests which lard their programswith crooners masqueradingas jazz singers, tired rock orpop acts, or so-called World orC&W performers who makeno pretence of playing jazz,the GJF continues to showcasecommitted improvisersin sympathetic settingsincluding during the fourthinstallment of the dusk-to-dawnNuit Blanche.Perhaps the most celebrated innovator atthe GJF is trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. HisGolden Quartet, which shares a double billat the River Run Centre (RRC)’s main stageSeptember 7, performs a variant of his classicTen Freedom Summer suite, shortlisted forthis year’s Pulitzer Prize in music. Part of thatprogram was recorded with an orchestra,and you can get an idea of Smith’s structuralblending listening to Occupy The World (TUMCD 037-2 as the 21-pieceTUM Orchestra (TUMO) interprets anotherKEN WAXMANSmith composition. The selections’intricate arrangementsserve not to frame Smith’smuted brass flurries, whichbring Miles Davis-like balladmastery into the 21st century,but open up to the talents of themostly Finnish orchestra. Youcan hear that on the title trackwhen the trumpeter’s tale told throughrubato grace notes and squeezedtriplets is matched with tomtom-likepassages from TUMO’sthree percussionists, followed bymassed polyphony pierced by legatostrings, a tremolo harp sequenceand Smith’s conclusive brassy andheraldic tones. The Golden Quartet’sbassist John Lindberg is soloist onMount Kilimanjaro, where his magisterialdouble and triple stopping establish a staccatopantonality which encourages the five-personstring section to abandon legato thrusts forstirring sweeps, and despite being performedat warp speed, encourages a satisfying orchestralmosaic. Leaving space for split-secondsonic blasts from the entire band, before thewarm and welcoming conclusion, Lindbergjoins the other tremolo strings for a sequenceof scrubs and sweeps. Incidentally, Swedishtenor saxophonist Fredrik Ljungkvist, partTo find out about other GJF highlightsincluding more about thisperformance by American flutistNicole Mitchell, and discs by Japanesepianist Satoko Fujii and Montreal’sBomata trio, see the continuation ofthis column at thewhole these groups and many otherson show, GJF 20 promises to be amemorable multi-day experience.POT POURRIBroadsway – Old FriendsHeather Bambrick; Julie Michels;Diane LeahBroadsway! ! Three broads singit their way: meetBroadsway, an explosivelytalented trio.The versatile voicesof Heather Bambrickand Julie Michelsare paired withacclaimed pianist/musical director Diane Leah, who in thiscontext sings, plays and arranges exquisitely.Charmingly, the project started out by accident,when Michels, accompanied by Leah,invited Bambrick to sit in on what turned outto be a fantabulous version of Moondance(find it on YouTube!) in November of 2008.Turns out these three women have morein common than curly hair: September 1 – October 7, 2013 | 67

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