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Volume 19 Issue 3 - November 2013

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aggressive, while Black’s pianoalternately takes flight with lean,linear runs or turns introspectivewith dense block chords. AndréLachance provides solid walkingbass and Jim McDonough’s drummingdrives the band with sudden,well-placed accents. The programof standards and originals contributesto the relaxed flow, whilerelatively obscure gems likeElmo Hope’s and Sonny Rollins’“Carving the Rock” and TaddDameron’s “Super Jet” reveal rarebop erudition.Recorded at Weeds’ club as well,the Amanda Tosoff Trio’s Live atthe Cellar (Ocean’s Beyond RecordsOBR0009, is alsoset solidly in the modern mainstream, thoughSomething in the AirDiscovering Long Hidden Advanced JazzWithout question one of jazz’smost representative records is ofa 1953 concert with bop mastersDizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker,Bud Powell, Charles Mingus and Max Roachin their only performance together. That thesession was recorded in Toronto’sMassey Hall makes it distinctive aswell as irreplaceable. But Jazz atMassey Hall isn’t the only instanceof jazz history being made northof the border. Precisely because ofgig opportunities for committedinternational improvisers discsrecorded at Canadian gigs orfestivals are an important part ofthe music’s fabric.One of the most significantrecent sessions recorded in similarcircumstances is Anthony Braxton’sEcho Echo Mirror House (Victo cd 125, Featuringthe composer’s septet, this 2011premiere at the annual FestivalInternational de Musique Actuellefrom Victoriaville, Quebec rolls controlledcacophony and fragmented polyphony intoan hour-long protoplasmic performancethat sounds as if it’s emanating from twoorchestras playing simultaneously, althoughthere are only seven musicians on stage.Having long dispensed with the idea of soloand accompaniment, Braxton’s compositionallows the two brass players, percussion,three string players plus the composer’ssaxophones to enter and exit the sequences atwill. Miraculously all the parts hang together.This situation is even more remarkable whenyou consider that several of the playersdouble or triple, and always conversant withKEN WAXMANTosoff’s penchant for subtle, elusiveharmonic extensions is likelierto suggest the work of Bill Evansthan bop. The Toronto-based pianistis clearly at home returning toher Vancouver roots. Rogers andHart’s “There’s a Small Hotel”swings joyously, propelled alonghappily by the forceful rhythmsection of bassist Jodi Proznickand drummer Jesse Cahill, butit’s on Tosoff’s own compositionsthat the group is most imaginative.“Fill Me Up with Joy” beginswith short, sharply punctuatedphrases only to develop a passionate,welling momentum; “HalfSteps,” a ballad here dedicated toTosoff’s late teacher Ross Taggart, is filled witha muted, all are equipped with iPods. Thelatter adds snatches of pre-recorded voices,vocal and instrumental music to the mix anduse live processing to integrate sequencesrecorded during performance back into thecomposition. While this description mayappear formidable, the music isn’t thatdifficult. The initialtheme reappears atjunctures, while at alltimes motifs, such asMary Halvorson’s guitartwangs or Jay Rozen’stuba blasts, provide thecontinuum. Meanwhilethe pressurized polytonalnarrative recedesenough in spots sothat Braxton’s altosaxophone yelps,Taylor Ho Bynum’swispy flugelhorngrace notes or thepolyrhythmicstrokes unitingJessica Pavone’s viola and Aaron Siegel’svibes are clearly audible. Midway through,as the tension dissipates a bit, cutting reedbites and ringing vibes separately presage theaddition of iPod samples featuring femalespeaking voices and a male vocal chorus.Later, following subtle reprises of the theme,pre-recorded piano recital-like dynamicsthreaten to unduly soften the performanceuntil Carl Testa’s whapping percussion,Bynum’s plunger work and Braxton’s stridentsax lines, shatter any tendencies towardssweetness. With every musician and everyiPod producing climatic timbres, and when itappears as if the rattling, staccato undulationscan’t become any more overwrought,conductor Braxton abruptly ends theperformance. The effect is as if a harrowingbut pleasurable journey has been completed.It’s this sort of journey that leads to otherCDs, as foreign musicians come to thiscountry to record with local players whohave international reputations. So it is withAves (Songlines SGL 1601-2, that matches Vancouver clarinetistFrançois Houle, who has played with manymembers of the European avant-garde, withNorwegian pianist Håvard Wiik, knownfor his work with the band Atomic. Duringa series of shorter tracks, the two presenta program that epitomizes chamber jazz,with Houle’s extensive technical facilityensuring the interface doesn’t list too far inthe direction of so-called classical music.When the pianist plays alone, as he does on“Zirma,” his stylistic ticks lead to baroqueand impressionistic vibrations. In contrast, apiece such as “Aporetic Dreams,” despite itsobvious germination in the European classicaltradition, finds Houle’s intense pressurizedvibrations toughening the pianist’s showyglissandi. Even as the clarinetist uses tongueslaps and circular breathing to make hispoints, the most significant tracks are thosewhere improvisation and composition arebalanced. Wiik’s exquisite low-pitchedsoundboard echo on “Sparrowhawk” forinstance, is sympathetically underscoredby timbres from two clarinets playedsimultaneously, with new reed notesappearing each time a keyboard fantasiais heard. “Meeting on a Line”is turned into a clarinet tonerollercoaster as altissimo trills anddownward runs reach a slurredcrescendo as the piano keysalternately chime and clash.Circular colouration resultingfrom slapped piano keysand internal string pluckingon “Ursula’s Dream” is elevatedwith Houle’s triple tonguing andscreeching before the final fadeout. Nonetheless, Wiik’s expertisecreating urbane swing on trackssuch as the concluding “Strobe”means that unpleasant atonality isprevented from taking centre stage.Another improviser who cansophisticatedly mix delicacy andtoughness in his music is saxophonistRoscoe Mitchell. Almost 40 years ago he andother advanced players frequently visited andrecorded in Canada because their talent wasmore appreciated here than in their homecountries. Live at A Space 1975 (Sackville-Delmark SK 2080,, done inToronto, has just been reissued, containingadditional material from the same live dateand making the CD 50 percent lengthier. Thefour new tracks give a more complete pictureof the Toronto performance that also involvestrombonist George Lewis, guitarist SpencerBarefield and pianist Muhal Richard Abrams.Previously the emphasis on the truncated74 | Novemberr 1 – December 7, 2013

disc was on pieces such as “Tnoona” and“Cards,” mostly dissonant performanceswhose sonic tension mixed with concentratedforward motion demonstrated the quartet’sfamiliarity with spiky avant-garde sounds.Now however the additional tracks give cluesas to why the experiments brought forwardby the likes of Mitchell and Lewis have beenaccepted as a part of jazz’s body politic.Both “Prelude to Naima” and “Dastura” arealmost gentle, with the former harmonizingnear-pastoral flute, processional piano and alowing trombone ostinato in such a way thatthe subsequent playing of John Coltrane’s“Naima” is inevitable and balanced. Dittofor “Dastura,” which demonstrated in 1975,as it does now, the versatility of the players.Moreover, the quick runthrough of Mitchell’s“Noonaah,” now the CD’s final track, endswith unison horn blasts arising organicallyfrom the band’s narrative of extrovertedgutbucket slurs and cascading piano chordsthat demonstrate its context.Of course high quality discs are still madein Canada ... by Canadians, simply becausethey live here, as Montreal percussionist EvanTighe’s Threadcount (ETC 0001, proves. Tighe who composed all eighttracks, and who also plays melodica andtoy piano here, leads a top-flight local bandwith saxophonists Erik Hove and AdamKinner, violinist Joshua Zubot and Rémi-Jean LeBlanc on bass. Tighe’s penchantfor experimentation can be heard on “We/System,” where the head is recapped as ifit was being played by the Jazz Messengers,but begins with the line contrasted betweenthe tenor saxophone’s breathy low tones andthe vibrating high pitches of the toy piano.Shifting throughout between romantic andriotous, the serpentine narrative makesspace for pummelling double bass thumps,pizzicato fiddle plucks and drum pops. Morespaciously constructed “Think Hard Enough”and “You Can Forget Nearly Anything” movesevery which way without ever becoming afree-for-all. Call-and-response balance ismaintained with tough reed bites or barelythere blowing, while Zubot’s skitteringstaccato rubs surmount both. Eventually aclimax is reached via positioned cracks andsmacks from Tighe. Vigorous, contrapuntaland swinging, the drummer’s sensitivelyexplosive playing and that of his bandmembers, suggest why outsiders may want torecord with Canadians or bring their wholeband here.POT POURRIAs You Near MeJames Campbell; Graham Campbell;Afiara QuartetMarquis MAR 451!!Throughout musical history, how manyeminent musicians have produced musicaloffspring? The number may seem surprisinglylow — Leopold Mozart certainly did,as did J.S. Bach. Butas for musicianslike Haydn, Debussyand Dvořák, therewas nobody to carryon the family tradition.Closer to home,this is clearly not thecase with clarinettistJames Campbell, whose son Graham is a fineguitarist and pedagogue; the two have happilyjoined forces on this Marquis Classics disctitled As You Near Me.Long referred to as “Canada’s pre-eminentclarinetist and wind soloist,” James Campbellhas enjoyed an international career as soloistand chamber musician for more than 35years. His son Graham earned his musicdegree at Humber College and has since madea name for himself as a gifted guitarist andcomposer in Toronto’s music community.This is actually the second recordingfather and son have produced (the first wasHomemade Jam in 2003). Nevertheless, withthis release, Graham’s talents as a composerare also showcased, for eight of the 16 tracksbear his name. There are many things to likeabout this recording, not the least of which isthe eclecticism; it draws from several sources,including jazz, Latin and central European.The two Campbells are joined on certaintracks by other performers such as the AfiaraString Quartet and bassists Sam McLellanand Bob Mills. James Campbell’s lyrical tonecombined with the skilful guitar work (eitheras a solo or as accompaniment) producesan appealing sound, with the youngerCampbell’s own compositions provingparticularly engaging.As You Near Me is the perfect disc forrelaxing to on an autumn weekend — or forthat matter, any day of the week, during anyseason. Recommended.—Richard HaskellTango DreamsAlexander SevastianAnalekta AN 28767Tangos Brasileiros –The music of Ernesto NazarethChristina Petrowska QuilicoMarquis MAR 519! ! When you start pulling out your winterboots for another snowy march, take outyour dancing shoes too, and warm up theCanadian winter with these two new releasesof hot and sultry tango music played by twoof Canada’s finest performers.Accordionist Alexander Sevastian is aworld-class awarding-winning performer.Many readers will recognize his fabulous workwith Quartetto Gelato. In Tango Dreams,Sevastian is brilliant as he takes on the tangostyle. The five tangos by the late “tango nuevo”Argentinean composer/bandoneonist AstorPiazzolla are performed with sensitivity andnuance. From Uruguay, the more traditionalLa Cumparsita, by Gerardo Hernan MatosRodriguez (arranged by Dmitriy Varelas)opens with a quasi-improvisational floridsection which leads to a colourful harmonicand rhythmically robust performance true tothe traditional tango genre. The contrastingmiddle section with its rubato and melodicchromaticisms makes this more of a concertwork until it’s time to dance again asSevastian shows his artistic musicianshipboth in melody and rhythm. The title trackTango Dreams by Raymond Luedeke is aperformance of a 2002 work commissionedby fellow accordionist Joseph Petric foraccordion and string trio which has beenfeatured in various concert settings, and as adance piece choreographed by David Earle.As the composer notes, no tango lines havebeen lifted from traditional tangos, yet thework oozes with the tango spirit and drive.Sevastian and Atis Bankas (violin), AnnaAntropova (viola) and Jonathan Tortolano(cello) achieve a tight ensemble unit throughchanging stylistic motives and moods.Equally world-renowned and the 2007winner of the Friends of Canadian MusicAward, pianist Christina Petrowska Quilicoperforms the tangos ofBrazilian composer/pianist Ernesto Júliode Nazareth (1863–1934) in the two-CDrelease TangosBrasileiros. Touchesof salon music andthe romanticism ofChopin are evident inthese tangos, whichare quicker in tempothan their Argentineanrelatives. There isso much heartfeltjoy in the pianist’sperformances of 24of the composers’piano works. In her liner notes titled “MyPersonal Tango Journey,” she attributes heragility in style, musicality and placement ofdownbeat to her years in the dance studiolearning how to dance the tango. I agreecompletely. The famous Fon-Fon is drivenby a zippy right hand melody which ispartnered by a two-feet-grounded-on-thefloorpulse. The more traditional Perigoso –Tango Brasileiro is a swaying, sultry andsteady performance with intriguing brief yetbreathtaking silences. Most fun are the lefthand low-pitched lines in Myosotis. Deepand rich in tone, they act as a perfect mateto the jovial salon music-like right handmelodies. Throughout, Petrowska Quilico’swell-contemplated rhythmic placementsand gentler finger attacks create the senseof melodic spontaneity so important totango music.Sevastian and Petrowska Quilico are sovery different in their musical instruments,attitudes and approaches to tangos yet bothare worthy of an enjoyable twirl across thelistening dance floor.—Tiina November 1 – December 7, 2013 | 75

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