7 years ago

Volume 20 Issue 6 - March 2015

  • Text
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
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Jazz, eh? continued from

Jazz, eh? continued from page 13com/album/parallellights)evokes themusic of the JimmyGiuffre 3 circa 1961,a kind of minimalistfree jazz at chambermusic dynamics thatfeatured compositionsby Carla Bley. In thesame spirit, See Through Trio creates quietlyinvolving, thoughtfully deliberated music. It’sa “hear through” trio, one in which every noteof Ng’s light, Lee Konitz-like alto timbre andGill and Johnston’s sparse, linear work is insharp relief, even on the relatively animatedNever the Right Angle.Montreal’s BronzeAge Records isreleasing new musicon vinyl LPs, part ofa widening movementconvinced ofthe medium’s sonicsuperiority. One of itsfirst releases further invokes the golden ageof vinyl: En Direct du Suoni per Il Popolo(Bronze Age Records, Nouveau Jazz Libre de Québec, adescendant of Quatuor Jazz Libre de Québec,the group that combined the liberatingmessages of free jazz and Quebec nationalismin the mid-60s. The original band’s solesurvivor, drummer Guy Thouin, combineshere with saxophonists Bryan Highbloom(tenor and soprano) and guest RaymonTorchinsky (alto) to create raw, energeticfree jazz with all the emotional power thatmarked it in the 1960s. Thouin’s machinegunsnare and restless tom-toms drive thesaxophones forward, whether it’s a distinctivetake on Monk’s Bemsha Swing (here reconfiguredas Bemsha Swingish) or the originalTheme 25ieme Avenue.WHAT IF YOUcould not only read areviewbut CLICK TO LISTEN?Soon you can!Coming this springThe WholeNote DISCoveriesListening Room.Be the first to know when.Follow us @thewholenote orsubscribe to HalfTones onlineat more information Thom McKercher atthom@thewholenote.comwide smacks plus disintegrating brass oscillationscan lock in with reed brays. The resultleads to elaborate spherical timbres thatreach pressurized summits then coalescejoyously. With calculated chording, Holzman’sharmonies add another dimension. Thatmeans a track such as Value and Knowledgereaches a luminous climax that folds trumpetsplats, drum corps rat-tat-tats and rubatopiano lines into an infectious near dance beat.Finally, Gold is God’s Sex, the CD’s climacticlast track, demonstrates how feverishkeyboard tolling plus revved-up reed bitescan tame washes of menacing electronics.Since Coleman’s playing is oblique butdecisively melodic, New Vocabulary is a discthat’s convivial as well as challenging. Plusit shows that Coleman’s authentic ideas canconvincingly adapt to and be adopted by anynumber of undogmatic musicians.Ken WaxmanImaginary CitiesChris Potter Underground OrchestraECM 2387!!Saxophonist ChrisPotter first garneredattention as a sidemanto senior masters,from 1994 figuringprominently in thebands of the latedrummer Paul Motianand the bassists Dave Holland and SteveSwallow. In the past decade, he’s emerged asa leading figure in the contemporary mainstream,combining emotional power and anexpansive creativity. He’s previously writtenfor a ten-piece ensemble (Song for Anyone,2007) and his last CD, The Sirens, was anextended suite inspired by Homer’s Odyssey.On Imaginary Cities he’s augmented hisusual Underground quartet to an 11-memberorchestra, adding vibraphone, two basses anda string quartet.In the four-part, 36-minute title suite andfour unconnected pieces, Potter constructsstrong themes, synthesizing elements ofjazz and classical music and matching themwith rhythmic patterns sourced from as farafield as funk and Balinese gamelan to createcomplex grounds that both stimulate andmerge with the improvised solos. Potter’sstrengths are apparent from the openingLament. His sound is flexible and expressive,hard, bright and capable of great nuance. Onfaster tempos, there’s a whiplash suddennessto his phrasing, while an ingrained nobility ofline enhances the elegiac work.Well past any traditional concept of the bigband, Potter’s pieces for orchestra create acomplex web of materials that feed his partners’spontaneous impulses as well as hisown. His regular band members – pianistCraig Taborn, guitarist Adam Rogers anddrummer Nate Smith – all stand out, asdo vibraphonist Steve Nelson and violinistMark Feldman.Stuart BroomerPrehistoric Jazz – Volume 1: The Rite ofSpringEric Hofbauer QuintetCreative Nation Music CNM 025Prehistoric Jazz – Volume 2: Quintet for theEnd of TimeEric Hofbauer QuintetCreative Nation Music CNM 026(!!For most people“prehistoric jazz”means W.C. Handyor Buddy Bolden,yet Boston-basedEric Hofbauer putsa post-modern spinon the concept.Recognizing thatadvanced improvisation takes as much fromthe so-called classical tradition as jazz, hereworks two 20th-century musical milestonesinto separate programs for trumpeter JerrySabatini, clarinetist Todd Brunel, cellist JunkoFujiwara and drummer Curt Newton plus hisown guitar. Each is handled differently.The studied primitivism of Igor Stravinsky’ssymphonic The Rite of Spring is miniaturizedwith each player standing in for a differentorchestral section. The result is as rousingand romantic as the original score, but withopenings for distinctive solos that rhythmicallyextend the composer’s ur-modernism.Originally composed for a chamber ensemble,Olivier Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin dutemps is implemented with as much joyousecstasy as the composer intended, butstripped of its overt Christian mysticism.In essence Hofbauerfinds the link betweenQuatuor and thegospel music that fedinto the birth of jazz.That means that, forexample, Louangeà l’éternité de Jésusis given a swing-Dixieland treatment that includes a harshlypassionate intermezzo from Fujiwara’s cellothat still cossets the theme. While Messiaen’smore overtly pastoral sequences remainintact, transforming solo passages intocontrapuntal duets between string strumsand bass clarinet glissandi in one instanceor another matching graceful trumpet linesto the metallic clank of guitar preparations,enhances the narrative. As well the supplerhythm output by Newton and picked up bythe others adds festive swing to the proceedings.With one section titled danse de lafueur… contrasting dynamics played by thefive wrap up into novel expressions as songlikeas the original.The Rite of Spring presents another strategy.With sequences such as the augurs of springrife with motion, Hofbauer adapts the locomotive-styletheme so that call-and-response74 | March 1 - April 7, 2015

strums, slaps, slurs and squeaks add upto linear movement. Fujiwara often uses awalking bass line, and extended plungertrumpet tones and extended drum ruffs arefrequently heard, but this doesn’t preventthe narrative from jumping from swing tosmooth and back again. This melodiousnessextends to a motif-like mystic circle of theyoung girls where a clarinet/guitar duo addsa clean blues sensibility to the line.By the final section with its evocation andritual action leading to the sacrificial dance,Stravinsky’s Slavic roughness gives way tobuzzing reed vibrations plus trumpet obbligatosthat add a jazz sensibility to the score.Melding improvised music’s rugged tunefulnesswith Stravinsky’s mercurial vision, theclimax is more buoyant yet just as rhythmicallysophisticated as the original.Ken WaxmanPOT POURRIThe Blues ViolinLenny SolomonIndependent #301 (!!After the internationalsuccess of hisshow Bowfire, LennySolomon is returningto his roots with hisnewest release TheBlues Violin. ThisJUNO Award-winningToronto musician has built a solid reputationas a jazz violinist, though he has a lengthyclassical and pop background. The music onthis album journeys through different bluesstyles but that is not all – Lenny Solomonadds jazz, funk and rock elements with thecraftsmanship of a mature artist. The rhythmsection (Marc Ganetakos, guitar; ShellyBerger, bass; Mark Lalama, keyboards; SteveHeathcote, drums and percussion) providesa wonderful landscape for the savvy violinsolos and shines in solos of their own. GregKolchinsky, who recorded and mixed thisalbum, did a fine job bringing out the varietyof electric violin sounds.The recording opens and closes with livelyjazz numbers - Jumpy gives a nod to the JumpJive sound and features fluent violin solos andbuoyant horns while Jojo, in addition to theimpressive violin improvisations, offers thespotlight to the rhythm section. In betweenare mellow compositions such as WinterTears and Slow Side into Blues (this one evocativeof Stephane Grappelli’s style) and moreanimated ones – Half Full Blue, with itsmajestic opening and a rock beat, and SpookyBlues, with clear violin lines over funk guitar.Edgar’s Blues stands out for its wah-wahviolin effects – the violin sound is stimulatedwith electronics and controlled by the movementof the player’s foot, creating an expressivetone that mimics the human voice.Highly recommended for escaping thewinter blues.Ivana PopovicMy Day in the SunShirley EikhardIndependent SEM2014 (!!Shirley Eikhardis one of the mostsignificant, contemporarysinger/songwriter/composersthat Canada has everproduced. She hascreated hit songs fora variety of international artists – blurringthe lines between musical genres and embracingelements of country, blues, pop and soul.Eikhard’s Grammy-winning song Somethingto Talk About became a megahit for theincomparable Bonnie Raitt and she has alsopenned material for such diverse artists asRita Coolidge, Anne Murray, Emmylou Harris,Cher and Chet Atkins. Eikhard’s latest project,My Day in the Sun, is rife with her trademarklyrical and melodic skill. Each trackis an original Eikhard composition, and asynesthetic treat – in other words, a satisfyingdelight for the head, heart, eyes, earsand spirit.The Reggae/Ska-influenced opener Pray forRain features clever multi-tracked vocals (aswell as an appropriate Farfisa-like keyboardpatch), and sets the stylistic tone for theentire CD on which Eikhard not only singsall the parts but also plays all the instruments.Her rich, warm, alto voice easilywraps itself around the soulful, rhythmictracks and effortlessly imbues each song withher distinctive lyrical poetry and profoundemotional content. The title track exploresher very personal journey as a mature artist…a journey that has not only wended its waythrough a long and meaningful career, but acareer that is as artistically relevant now asit has ever been. It is a joy to hear Eikhardsinging in her own, authentic voice – withmore than a little positivity, power and truth(elements often lacking in today’s simplisticpop tunes). Of particular note is What CouldHave Been – an anthem about putting thepast in perspective and moving ahead into ajoyous future.Lesley Mitchell-ClarkeOld Wine, New BottlesFine Old Recordings Re-ReleasedBRUCE SURTEESThe treasured recordings of Renata Tebaldi that grace the collectionsof countless music lovers around the globe have beenre-issued, all of them, in an omnibus edition in the now familiarcube issued by Decca (4781535, 66 CDs). These are not reissues fromdoubtful sources but from the archives of Decca itself, ensuring thevery best sound of the original recordings.53 of the CDs contain 27 complete operas: Mefistofele, La Wally,Adriana Lecouvreur, Andrea Chénier, Cavalleria Rusticana, LaGioconda, La Bohème (1951 & 1959), La Fanciulla del West, MadamaButterfly (1951 & 1958), Manon Lescaut, Tosca (1951 & 1959), Turandot, Il Trittico, Aida (1952& 1959), Un Ballo in Maschera, Don Carlo, La Forza del Destino, Otello (1954 & 1961) LaTraviata and Il Trovatore. Also the Verdi Requiem (1951).Included in the casts are Carlo Bergonzi, Jussi Björling, Mario del Monaco, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, George London, Luciano Pavarotti, Caesare Siepi, Marilyn Horne, Nicolai Ghiaurov,Regina Resnik… and the list goes on. Conductors include Karajan, Solti, Bonynge, Serafin andmany others.Also included are albums of Songs, Folk Songs, Opera Arias, Opera Duets, a Christmasalbum and Rarities.Tebaldi’s recording career began in 1951 and ended with her retirement in 1973. Someoperas were recorded twice giving us the opportunity to do the thing collectors do andcompare the first Tebaldi to Tebaldi seven years on. Or just to enjoy hearing Tebaldi again andagain. Complete casts and recording data are included but no librettos and translations.To make it possible to easily locate a particular recording I suggest that the first thing to do isclearly copy the disc number, 1 through 66, on the top right-hand corner of the paper sleeve.Wilhelm Furtwängler’s final performance of the Beethoven Ninthwas in Lucerne on August 22, 1954 with the Philharmonia Orchestra,the Lucerne Festival Chorus and soloists Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, ElsaCavelti, Ernst Haefliger and Otto Edelmann. Based on the originalanalogue tapes from the broadcasting archives, audite has produced anexemplary re-mastering (SACD 92.641). The rather dry acoustic exposesa lot more than the relatively murky 1951 Bayreuth Festival March 1 - April 7, 2015 | 75

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