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Volume 19 Issue 6 - March 2014

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Debussy-esque feel to

Debussy-esque feel to it.” And indeed the tenoriginal compositions on this CD have the feelof a series of etudes with strong jazz content.Clifton’s playing is sensitive without beingoverly sentimental and repeated listeningheightened the pleasure I derived from hismusic. The one standard, the final track onthe album, a popular song called Little Girlby Al Jolson, is performed before an audienceand given a straight-ahead jazz treatment. Themood of the rest of the album is suggestedby the titles of the pieces – Sunny Brook,Mystic Mountain, A Minor Melancholy andMoon Valley being a few examples. They suitlate-in-the-day listening and give an insightinto the composer’s contemplative andsearching mind.If you are interested, you can learn moreabout Bill Clifton in my Jazz Notes columnthis month.Jim GallowayLeftover DreamsSam BrovermanIndependent BR003 (brovermusic.com)Astonishingly, ithas been more than100 years since the1913 births of twoof the most seminaland prolific film,stage and popularmusic composer/lyricists of the modern era – Sammy Cahnand Jimmy Van Heusen. Although in theirlater careers these two geniuses collaboratedwith other notables, their partnershipyielded 11 Academy Award nominationsand three Oscars. In Leftover Dreams, giftedand expressive vocalist Sam Broverman haspresented a sumptuous buffet drawn fromthe work of Cahn and Van Heusen – carefullyselecting not only their more familiarand beloved compositions, but also rarelyperformed gems including the poignant AllMy Tomorrows (a stunner) and the buoyant ItCould Happen to You.This well-produced recording is animmensely satisfying musical assemblage,and features a first-call jazz trio, includingMark Kieswetter on piano, producer andmusical director Jordan O’Connor on bassand Ernesto Cervini on drums. Certainlyone of the most moving and sumptuouslyarranged songs is Van Heusen’s and JohnnyMercer’s Empty Tables. In the annals ofHollywood legend, Mercer and Judy Garlandcarried on a long-term love affair (unbeknownstto their respective spouses). Thetwo remained close for the duration ofGarland’s life, and she actually passed awayonly a couple of years before Empty Tableswas composed. The ballad is said to reflectMercer’s deep feelings of grief and loss.Another stand-out is A Sammy Cahn Song– an original composition by Broverman,whose silky smooth, pitch-perfect baritoneReed sections have been part of jazz’sperforming vernacular sinceits earliest days. But onlywith the freedom that arose withmodern improvised music in the1960s were the woodwinds ableto stand on their own. In the righthands, with the right ideas, a groupconsisting only of saxophones and/or clarinets can produce satisfyingsounds that don’t need the interventionof a rhythm section oreven brass for additional colours.All of the fine discs here demonstratethat.Chicago tenor saxophonistand bass clarinetist KeefeJackson extends this concepton A Round Goal (Delmark DE 5009delmark.com), with his Likely So ensembleconsisting of seven reed players. Includingtwo of his Windy City associates – DaveRempis and Mars Williams – three Swiss stylists– Thomas K.J. Mejer, Peter A. Schmid andMarc Stucki – plus Polish clarinetist WaclawZimpel – the septet members play two orthree horns each, providing all the necessarycontrast and colours for Jackson’s 11-partsuite. After leading the others in unisonostinato lines on Round Goal for instance,alto saxophonist Williams sparks the improvisationwith jagged, bracing squeaks thatinflate to dog-whistle-like glossolalia, withoutignoring swing. Similarly while tenor saxophonistStucki brings prototypical free jazzcries to Was Ist Kultur, the others’ shiftingmodes ensure the compositional thread isn’tlost. In contrast, tracks like Neither Spin norWeave and the descriptively titled PastoraleSomething in the AirReed BlendsKEN WAXMANconfirm that experimentationdoesn’t have to be abrasive. Theformer, including contributionsfrom five clarinetists, uses mellowarchitecture to construct a roundof calming timbres. Pastorale,meanwhile, is a showcase forZimpel. His bass clarinet addsa formal sheen to the proceedings,with tongue fluttering graduallygiving way to unforced motions. Later,Mejer’s contrabass saxophone isfreed from its role providing pedalpoint textures with the other lowpitchedreeds featured on My Timeis My Own. Buzzing out notes thatcould come from a cello played sulponticello, his smears and snortsare eventually knit into a tapestry ofharmonized timbre with the otherhorns. By the CD’s end it’s obvious that harshtextures can arise from any reed register tobuild excitement, as can soothing harmonies.Overall, the key point is that individualshowiness never takes the place of balancedinteraction.More restrained in execution, but withsimilar inspirations so that the program neverflags, is Itinéraire Bis (Between the LinesBTLCHR 71231 doublemoon.de). Blendingtwo clarinet trios into the Double Trio deClarinettes, the players use standard, alto,E-flat, bass and contrabass clarinets to highlightthe woodwind’s unique properties.Although the Berlin-based Clarinet Trio ofJürgen Kupke, Gebhard Ullmann and MichaelThiecke may be more oriented towards jazzand improvised music and the Paris-basedTrio de Clarinettes, which includes ArmandAngster, Sylvain Kassap and Jean-Marc Foltz,has more of a new music bent, no fissureexists here. Parameters are established asearly as track one, Almost Twenty-Eight, withthe reedists spending as much time vocalizingexuberant harmonies as playing. Butwhile such ebullience is present throughoutthe disc, so is the sophistication that meldsatmospheric textures, expressing individualinstruments’ rugged or shrill qualities as thepieces advance. Ullmann’s Desert… Bleue…East for instance is a centred performancethat includes an unfolding hint of menace,even as vibrating low tones and seagull-likecries are harmonized into a smooth flow.Meantime Kassap takes a more cerebraland musicological approach. His compositions,Bizarre, FAK! and Charles Town, ButYesterday… which follow one another, set upa distinctive continuum. Initially an essayin low pitches, he sabotages the first track’srelaxation with chattering, slightly bizarreinterjections ending with a kazoo-like cry;the next sequence deconstructs the line intoshaking timbres only to have it snap backinto shape following comfortable harmoniesfrom the other players, standard clarinetin the lead; and concludes with a thoroughre-examination of the theme. Rhino-likepedal points from the lower-pitched reedsbalance the flighty aviary cries from theother woodwinds, with the result beautifullybalanced polyphony that succinctly expressthe theme then stops instantly.For information onhow Montreal’s RobertMarcel LePage deals withthis configuration and aview of Britain’s S.O.S.,a 1970s all-reed trio, seethe continuation of thiscolumn at thewholenote.com.58 | March 1 – April 7, 2014 thewholenote.com

is the ideal expression for these superb andtimeless compositions.Lesley Mitchell-ClarkeListen Both WaysGeorge Schuller’s Circle WidePlayscape PSR # 053112 (playscaperecordings.com)A restrainedpercussionist andbandleader, GeorgeSchuller, who willbe playing TheRex March 4 and5 as part of an allstaraggregationfeaturing guitaristMichael Musillami and bassist Joe Fonda,exhibits his gift for composition and arrangementson this quintet session.Most of the tunes sparkle with easy swingbased on the clever juxtaposition of PeterApfelbaum’s tenor saxophone with BradShepik’s guitar and Tom Beckham’s vibes.Beside Schuller’s drumming reboundswhich often cuff and prod the soloists intoan architecturally perfect presentation, DaveAmbrosio’s bass holds the rhythm steady. Thesaxman, who suggests what Stan Getz wouldsound like had he sharpened his tone afterthe early 1960s, outputs a slurry efficiency onstraightforward tunes such as Could This Bethe Year? yet can also spew out dramatic splittones on A Map Would Help while backed byshaking guitar licks, cascading rustles fromthe drummer and popping aluminum barresonation from the vibist.As a switch, Apfelbaum plays melodicaon the band’s version of Jesus Maria. Usingthe key flute’s tremolo range to put an individualstamp on the Carla Bley classic, hiswhistling stutter is enhanced by the smoothflow of Beckham’s motor-driven continuum,with Shepik’s downward strums defining themelodic line. Meanwhile Edwin, a judderingwaltz and Schuller’s own Bed Head also showoff the band’s combination of playful andprecise creation. Although the guitarist gets alittle raucous on the latter, it’s the drummer’speppy rolls and centred timing proddingcontainment which keeps the improvisationfrom spinning out of control. With the overallsound picture buoyant yet complex, listeningboth or any way confirms the high qualityof this CD.Ken WaxmanPOT POURRISgt. PepperArt of Time EnsembleArt of Time Recordings ATR 001(artoftimeensemble.com)It was 47 years ago that Sgt. Pepper’sLonely Hearts Club Band was unleashed onthe planet. It was a major departure, not onlyfor the Beatles but for the pop/rock world ingeneral, because ofits complex arrangements,overdubs anduse of an orchestra.The Beatles hadrecently declaredthey were fed up withtouring, so with Sgt.Pepper they were free to record whateverthey wanted without the constraint of havingto recreate it live later on. So the fact thatToronto’s Art of Time Ensemble has not onlyrecreated it, but also released a live recording,is a major feat. But this is no mere copy ofthe iconic album. The arrangers – all 11 ofthem from across the spectrum of pop, jazzand classical music – have written inventivetreatments of the songs, building on thegreat songwriting and ideas of the Lennon/McCartney/Martin team.Andrew Burashko, the force behind Art ofTime, has gathered together a dozen of thebest musicians in the land from a variety ofdisciplines including singers from some wellknownCanadian bands. Steven Page (BareNaked Ladies), Andy Maize (Skydiggers), JohnMann (Spirit of the West) and Craig Northey(Odds) all bring their individual styles to thelead parts. Covering a much-loved work suchas this is a delicate balancing act – needingto be different enough to be fresh, but nottoo far off to be unrecognizable – and they’vedone it admirably. Anyone who is a Beatlesfan – or a music fan – should enjoy revisitingthis great work through this CD.Cathy RichesTimelessAult SistersIndependent AAA13001 (aultsisters.com)The Ault Sisters are a fresh and vibrantvocal trio, featuring three youthful andcharming vocalists – Amanda, Alicia andAlanna Ault. On theirsecond outing asrecording artists, longtimeproducer GregKavanagh has assembleda stellar band,including the thrillingRobi Botos on piano,George Koller on bass, Ben Riley on drums,John Johnson on saxophones, Ted Quinlan onguitar and the dynamic William Sperandei ontrumpet. In addition, well-respected vocalistDebbie Fleming is responsible for all of theclever vocal arrangements (aside from awonderful contribution by Dylan Bell on VanMorrison’s perennial Moondance).The Ault sisters have an almost supernaturalvocal blend that can only be achieved whengenetics are involved – and the sisters freelyand effortlessly adopt different vocal partsdepending on the material. Although therepertoire on Timeless tends to travel safelydown the middle of the road, the Ault Sisters’purity of sound and musicianship easily makethe most out of each neo-standard.The peppy opener, Back to You, an originalby Chris Smith and Kavanagh, sets the tonefor this up-beat and entertaining recording.Other standouts include a stunning renditionof Joni Mitchell’s River, featuring the greatJohn Johnson on soprano saxophone; a lush,romantic arrangement of Stevie Wonder’sgorgeous (and rarely performed) balladRibbon in the Sky and a crisp contemporarytake on the Gershwins’ immortal They Can’tTake That Away From Me. These talentedyoung artists have a tremendous future aheadof them and we should all look forward towhat’s next on their mutual dance card!Lesley Mitchell-ClarkeConcert Note: The CD release for the AultSisters Timeless is March 11 at the Jazz Bistro.More DISCoveries at thewholenote.comwith the following additional new reviews:David Olds gives an update on his “favourite band” Joy KillsSorrow including a review of their new CD Wide Awake.Janos Gordonyi finds magic in Marek Janowski’s conducting of theBerlin Radio Symphony in a live concert performance of Wagner’sTristan und Isolde.Hans de Groot praises the performances in Arcangelo’s latest CD, a well-chosen selectionfrom the last three books of madrigals by Monteverdi.Allan Pulker finds Patrick Gallois’ new CD of Flute concdertos by Saverio Mercadante to beengaging and beautifully produced.Richard Haskell highly recommends the DVD set of the complete Brahms Symphonies by theStaatskapelle Dresden conducted by Christian Thielemann.Alex Baran discovers much to like in a recording of the piano music of Julius Isserlis whosegrandson Steven has forged an impressive career as a cellist.Bruce Surtees reviews a CD of hitherto unrecorded music for radio and theatre by BenjaminBritten, calling it “delightful and unusual.”Roger Knox declares a new recording of ballet suites by the Azerbaijani composer KaraKarayev to be a significant addition to the recorded repertoire.Cathy Riches examines the Swingle Singers in the context of their new CD Weather to Fly andthe renewed interest in group singing brought about by Glee.thewholenote.com March 1 – April 7, 2014 | 59

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