8 years ago

Volume 19 Issue 4 - December 2013

  • Text
  • December
  • Toronto
  • January
  • February
  • Jazz
  • Symphony
  • Theatre
  • Arts
  • Faculty
  • Choir

“Elegia por A.J.C.;”

“Elegia por A.J.C.;” from its opening chordsstrummed on the piano strings to the finalunaccompanied keyboard tremolos; andthe spare luminous tones that open “Ode toOrujo.” Each musician is wholly engaged inthis complex, ongoing dialogue, whether it’sFiliano’s pulsing bass lines and upper registerarco explorations or Grassi’s thunderous polyrhythmsand sometimes playful sound effects.While Lerner and company work happilywithout predetermined materials, it’scomposition that distinguishes anotherpiano trio led by bassist/composer MikeDownes. On Ripple Effect (Addo RecordsAJR017, Downes presentssubtle, compellingpieces that developconcentrated, evocativemoods throughslightly evasivemelodies and moodyharmonies, andhis partners here,pianist Robi Botosand drummer EthanArdelli, seem inspiredto bring every nuanceto life. The sole standardincluded, “IHear a Rhapsody,”gains a contrastingostinato thatseems to enhance theperformance’s freeflowingswing, whileDownes’ emotionallydirect, profoundlylyrical bass workcomes to the foreon “So Maki Sum SeRodila,” a traditionalMacedonian song,and on “Campfire Waltz,” an unaccompaniedsolo. Guitarist Ted Quinlan’s guest appearanceon the title track is a highlight, while the trioachieves a welling luminosity on “Two Sidesof a Coin.”Composer and saxophonist ChristineJensen presents her works in a far largerforum: her Jazz Orchestra sometimesstretches to over 20 players on Habitat (JustinTime JTR-8583-2, taking inmany of Montreal’s finest musicians. Theseare ambitious works, in theme and durationas well as scale: “Tumbledown,” inspired bythe 2010 Port-au-Prince earthquake, takesits reflective tone from happier early visits,while the extended “Nishiyuu” commemoratesthe 1500-kilometre trek of six Creeyouths to protest living conditions for FirstNations people. Whether it’s the movement ofhistory, the earth, wind, traffic or a Peruvianrhythm that inspires her, there’s grandeurand nobility in Jensen’s writing, enhancedhere by the lustre of up to a dozen brass andoutstanding soloists in trumpeter IngridJensen, trombonist Jean-Nicolas Trottier andsaxophonists Joel Miller, Chet Doxas andSamuel Blais.The flute and the Hammond B-3 organentered jazz around the same time,back in the 1950s, but they enteredfrom different directions — theflute from West coast cool andLatin music, the organ fromsoul and funk. The instrumentsare heard together throughoutflute player Bill McBirnie’s FindYour Place (Extreme Flute, with Bernie Senenskyat the Hammond keyboard and drummerAnthony Michelli completing the trio. Whilemost jazz flute players have been doublingsaxophonists, McBirnie is a rarity, a musicianEXCEPTIONAL CDS YOU MAYNOT KNOW ABOUTAs mass media continues topromote music as anotherinstantly consumed product,the likelihood of newsounds — or even older ones — beingignored because they don’t fit thestyle of the moment intensifies.This is especially true when itcomes to improvised music. Butwith the holiday season looming,more committed listeners maybe seeking gifts for those whoappreciate challenge ratherthan comfort in their music.Here are some CDs from 2013that fit the bill. They include onesby established players, youngerstylists plus important reissues.Anyone who claims that experimentalmusic lacks emotionmust hear Evan Parker/BarryGuy/Paul Lytton Live at MayaRecordings Festival (NoBusinessNBCD 55 A working trio since 1980,tenor saxophonist Parker, bassist Guy anddrummer Lytton invigorate this live set withthe combination of precision and passionreminiscent of the most accomplished stringquartet performance. Even when he isn’tdisplaying his characteristic circular-breathedmultiphonics, Parker is able to prod showpieceslike “Obsidian” and “Gabbro” to slowboilingintensity. Furthermore his instantlyidentifiable sound can be relaxed withoutsacrificing emotion. The bassist’s supplefinger movements transcend timekeepingwith guitar-like facility below the bridge andother extremities, while Lytton’s shuffles andtimed rimshots oppose or connect with eitheror both of the others’ timbres for maximumsatisfying cohesion.A decade younger than Parker, JohnButcher has refined extended saxophonewhose dedication to the flutehas shaped his musical voice. It’sapparent throughout the CD, withMcBirnie demonstrating the fluentlines, subtle rhythmic inflectionsand timbral shifts that you’remore apt to hear on a saxophone.The repertoire mixes hard bop,bossa nova, Latin rhythms andgospel, even going as far afield as the earlyjazz classic “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You”and the Beatles’ “Oh! Darling.” It’s all deliveredwith infectious swing and a cheerfuleffervescence.Something in the AirLucky Seven Plus OneKEN WAXMANtechniques further. Paired withdrummer Tony Buck and eitherguitarist Burkhard Stangl orpianist Magda Mayas, Plume(Unsounds 35 that even whenstripped of beat and melodyunmatched vibrancy remains.Although guitar strums and drumresonance satisfactorily complementButcher’s narratives which replicatebird chirps and pinched reedsucking, it’s “Vellum,” the piano/drum/sax interface, that’s thestunner. As Buck roughly strokesdrum tops to equate cicada-liketextures or subtle accents with belltreeshakes, Mayas’ stopped pianokeys and internal string plucksprovide a sinewy challenge toButcher’s klaxon-like tones. Whenthe piano soundboard shakesand string vibrations intensifyexcitement, the saxophonistresponds with amplified growlsand snorts and the drummer withheartbeat-like thumps. Movingforward chromatically, the mood is intensifiedwith an undercurrent of restrained power.Finally as Mayas’ rummaging in the piano’sinnards gives way to pummelling strokes andButcher’s tongue slaps are replaced by violentstaccato trills, parallel release is achieved.Then same age as Butcher, French sopranosaxophonist Michel Doneda has also refinedand extended Parker’s tonal experiments.Linge (Umlaut Records umfrcd 07 recorded in an old barnin Eastern France to organically maximizethe spatial properties during his duetwith clarinetist Joris Rühl (b.1982). As theywork their way through seven sequences,what’s produced are distinctive improvisationsthat are as frequently created fromparallel blowing as intermingled timbres.Concentrated in the highest register of the76 | December 1, 2013 – February 7, 2014

sound spectrum an amazing multiplicity oftones is still heard. Manipulating air currentsas much as reed and key properties, the twoattain such a harmonic level that there arepoints where the sounds are identical tothose of a boys’ choir. Other times masticatingreed- and tongue-popping extrusionsproduce a cubist-like perspective. Staccatochirps, flatline blowing and gravelly motionsare all present. Only on the penultimate trackare individual traits identifiable as DonedaFor information about other impressiveCDs, featuring Michel Doneda/Joris Rühl, LoriFreedman/John Heward, Matt Mitchell, KiddJordan/Hamid Drake, Paul Bley and ChrisMcGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath see thecontinuation of this column at on split-tone buzzing and Rühlon lyrical and communicative textures.OLD WINE, NEW BOTTLES | Fine Old Recordings Re-ReleasedRUCE SURTEESThe Berliner PhilharmonikerBattraction, conducted his last concert onCentenary Edition (DG 4791049, April 4, 1954, it was necessary for RCA Victor50 CDs) celebrates “100 years of to fill the void. They had recorded ReinerGreat Recordings.” The first disc, of conducting pick-up groups in New York andinterest only to archivists, contains the Reiner/Chicago Symphony marriage wasthe usual orchestral excerpts from garnering some critical acclaim where RCAParsifal conducted by Alfred Hertz (12 to 16 had already recorded an extraordinary AlsoSeptember 1913) and ArthurSprach Zarathustra in Chicago inNikisch conducting Beethoven’sMarch. So there it was ... RCA’s newFifth Symphony (1913) and Lestar attraction in the quality ofcarnaval romain (1920). Discsound never accorded “The Maestro.”two contains a Beethoven FifthBy April RCA had assigned Richardfrom Furtwangler (Oct 1926),Mohr as producer andFingal’s Cave conducted bythe now legendaryBruno Walter (1924) and intoLewis Laytonthe electric era, short worksas recordingand overtures conducted by Richardengineer andStrauss and Hans Knappertsbusch,there followed aboth from 1928. On disc three Jaschastream of superla-Horenstein conducts the Brucknertive recordingsSeventh from that same year. Onof distinguisheddisc four Karajan’s first Pathetiqueperformances of reper-Symphony (1939) is well played andtoire from Richard Strauss,recorded as is a very affectionate MoldauBrahms, Prokofiev, Beethoven, de(1940). Discs 5/6/7/9 feature Furtwangler Falla, Tchaikovsky, et al. to Rolfin the Beethoven Fifth (27 March 1947), Liebermann’s Concerto for JazzMozart 39th (1942/43), the SchubertBand and Symphony Orchestra.Ninth, the Haydn 88th and his own Second When RCA issued their LivingSymphony (all 1951) plus the Brahms First Stereo Series many of these(1952) and the Schumann Fourth (1953). recordings were the backboneThere are 42 more discs of notable performancesby eminent artists who played with this issues. Mohr and Layton, who would eventu-of that program as they were of the SACDgreat orchestra in good times and bad. See the ally be deified by audiophiles, also producedcomplete details at fine-sounding recordings elsewhere,When Fritz Reiner came to the Chicago particularly in Boston with Munch andSymphony Orchestra in 1953 it presaged an Fiedler, which discs are still available on RCAexceptional, albeit short-lived era during Living Stereo.which they produced recordings that half Fritz Reiner Chicago Symphonya century later are still lauded and sought Orchestra – The Complete RCA Albumout for their spectacular performances and Collection (RCA 888837019828, 63CDs )exceptional sonic excellence. The Hungarian has all 130+ recordings newly re-masteredconductor arrived in the United States to from the original analogue tapes, each sturdilysleeved in reproductions of their originaltake the post as conductor of the CincinnatiSymphony where he remained until 1931. LP covers. A 150-page, full-colour hardcoverReiner had found it very difficult to get an book gives biographical material and detailsengagement in the 1930s. He was disregarded of each recording. Soloists include Maureenby orchestras across the country until 1938 Forrester, Arthur Rubinstein, Byron Janis,when he began his ten-year engagement as Jascha Heifetz, Inge Borkh, Emil Gilels, Lisamusic director of The Pittsburgh Symphony Della Casa, Antonio Janigro, Rosalind Elias,Orchestra where he recorded extensively Van Cliburn, Leontyne Price and many more.for Columbia. Thence he became a familiar This set is a trove for both discerningconductor at the lovers and devoted audiophilesAfter Arturo Toscanini, RCA’s staralike. Those who worship analogue soundwill be very happy here. You can find fulldetails at the November issue of BBC MusicMagazine David Oistrakh was votedby today’s leading players to be thegreatest violinist of the 20th century.Coincidently, Doremi issued David Oistrakh,Volume 14 (DHR-8020-21, 2 CDs) containingfive concertos, in excellent stereo sound,derived from Swedish Radio archives of1970 to 1974. These performances appearfor the very first time with three itemsthat are new to his discography; the HaydnSinfonia Concertante Op.84 and two worksby Swedish composers. The collabora-tion between soloist and the Swedishmusicians is of the highest qualityimaginable, treating us to a stir-ring Brahms Double Concerto, acrisp Bach Concerto for violin andoboe, a refreshing Mozart Thirdand an involving Prokofiev First.The romantic StenhammarSonata and a Berceuse by TorAulin bring this collection to a pleasingconclusion. These were played byOistrakh in the last years of his lifeyet his proficiency and artistry areundiminished.Footnote: Oistrakh’s universallyacclaimed first concerto recordingsin the West (June 1954, Beethovenand Sibelius) were made inSweden as were, ironically, theseswan song performances.Finally, two historic concertos fromthe Lucerne Festival. From September 8,1959, Clara Haskil, Otto Klemperer andthe Philharmonia Orchestra play Mozart’sPiano Concerto No.20 K466 and fromSeptember 1, 1957, Robert Casadesus, DimitriMitropoulos and the Vienna Philharmonicplay Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto. “Shewas sent to earth to play Mozart” wrote acritic quoted in the accompanying booklet.Never were truer words written. Haskil andKlemperer are hand in glove in this exceptionalperformance which she declared“unforgettable.” French pianist, RobertCasadesus, too, was a highly respected Mozartinterpreter as his recorded legacy attests.Also Beethoven, and the sense of occasionin this grand performance is unmistakable.The perfectly balanced sound on this disc(Audite 65.623) was transferred directly fromthe original analogue master tapes and not offthe December 1, 2013 – February 7, 2014 | 77

Copied successfully!

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)