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Volume 20 Issue 8 - May 2015

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two of the composers who

two of the composers who wrote works forSegovia following his groundbreaking 1924solo guitar recital in Paris. Tansman, whoseassociation with Segovia lasted for over 50years, is represented by two works: the threemovementHommage à Chopin and theVariations sur un thème de Scriabine. TheFrench composer de Bréville’s short untitledcomposition from 1926 was never performedby Segovia, and remained unknown until thediscovery of the manuscript in the Segoviaarchives in 2001.Gilardino was one of thetwo editors who published the work underthe title Fantasia. Gilardino’s own Canzonenotturna is included here. Asencio’s Suitemistica consists of three short movementsinspired by the New Testament; the work wasdedicated to Segovia, who suggested the title.The CD opens and closes with selectedmovements from Castelnuovo-Tedesco’sPlatero y yo, a work inspired by the 1914book of children’s prose by the Andalusianpoet Juan Ramón Jiménez that tells the storyof the donkey Platero and his owner. It waswritten in 1960, coincidentally the sameyear a similar suite with the same name wascomposed by Eduardo Sáinz de la Maza, andwas originally meant to be played in conjunctionwith a reading of the poems. Segoviaintended to record it this way, but onlymanaged ten of the pieces without narration.Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s work perhapsdoesn’t have quite the Spanish warmth of theMaza version, but the eight movements hereare quite delightful. Micheli’s playing is cleanand accurate throughout a quite challengingselection of works.The youngAmerican violinistEmil Altschuler hasa terrific pedigree,having studied withthe legendary DorothyDeLay at Juilliard andwith Erick Friedmanat the Yale Schoolof Music. His self-titled and independentlyreleased CD (emilaltschuler.com) – apparentlyhis second solo album – features worksby Falla, Ravel, Albèniz, Poulenc and Bartók,with pianist Keunyoung Sun as accompanist.There’s a decidedly old-style feel toAltschuler’s playing, with the almost constantfast vibrato and the bright, slightly nasal tonevery reminiscent of Heifetz. His website saysthat he plays with gut strings and withouta shoulder rest, and notes that his sound isindeed reminiscent of old school masters suchas his former teacher Friedman, and Heifetzand Kreisler. Friedman was in turn a studentof Heifetz, so the link is a valid one.There is no booklet with the CD, just asingle slip of paper in the jewel case front flap,so there is a complete lack of details regardingthe recordings; the program, however, isapparently one which Altschuler has beentouring for several years. Falla is representedby the Siete canciones populares Españolasand the Danse Espagnol from La Vide Breve;Ravel by the Pièce en forme de Habaneraand the Tzigane; and Albéniz by the TangoOp.165 No.2. Poulenc’s Violin Sonata Op.119,written in 1942-43, seems to be a bit out ofplace in a predominantly Spanish program,but a passionate performance proves that it’sa terrific work which really should be heardmore often. Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dancesare listed as bonus tracks – possibly becausethey were not part of Altschuler’s regularrecital program – and provide an energeticend to the CD.I originally knewNina Simone onlyfrom her 1960s hit IPut a Spell on You,and then later as ajazz singer with ahighly distinctivevoice and style, butLittle Girl Blue, the new CD from cellist SoniaWieder-Atherton (naïve V 5376), shows howlittle I actually knew about the range of thisartist’s work. Pianist Bruno Fontaine andpercussionist Laurent Kraif join the cellist ina program, sub-titled From Nina Simone, thatexplores Simone’s legacy – “her repertory, herarrangements, her harmonic universe and herstory too,” says Wieder-Atherton in the sparsebooklet notes, although the significance ofone or two of the tracks isn’t made clear.Simone was a classically trained pianistwho won a scholarship to the Juilliard Schoolof Music (she left after running out of money)and was then denied admission to the CurtisInstitute in Philadelphia, a rejection shealways believed to be racially motivated. Shewas also an accomplished jazz pianist. LittleGirl Blue was the title of Simone’s debutalbum in 1958, and the Rodgers & Hart songis presented here (with a nod to Simone’sown interpolation of Good King Wenceslasin the number) along with four compositionsby Simone and a selection of songs by, amongothers, Duke Ellington, Billy Taylor, FritzRotter and Oscar Brown Jr., and two classicalworks: the Brahms setting of the Bachchoral prelude Schmücke dich, o liebe seeleand the Andante middle movement fromRachmaninov’s Cello Sonata in G Minor.The mood throughout the CD is predominantlyquiet and introspective, but it is full oflovely moments. The tracks with just pianoaccompaniment fare much better than someof those with percussion – bells and clusters,hand pans, water drum, grain basketand body percussion (including popping thefinger from the mouth) for example – whichsometimes seems to detract from the musicrather than add to it. Wieder-Atherton’s stylein the ballads is quite affecting, and there issome lovely playing from Fontaine, particularlyin Fritz Rotter’s That’s All I Want FromYou, the title track and the two classical items,neither of which sounds the least bit out ofplace in this setting. Indeed, Simone’s owncomposition Return Home, the final track onthe CD, ends with a whimsical quote fromBach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.campaign. Wilson’s witchy contralto findsitself nestled within Van Dyke Parks’haunting string arrangements, augmentedfurther by Robby Marshall on reeds, guitaristsKevin Breit and T Bone Burnett, andoriginal members of the Bad Seeds on bassand drums. Songs such as All of Me and TheWay You Look Tonight are stripped of theirswing feel, but not their poetry. The effects aremelancholic and mysterious; miraculously,it all works. More appealing with each listen,this album is a fascinating, courageous workof art that captures Holiday’s spirit. This isintoxicating music that begs to be turned up.In the prime of hercareer Annie Rosspossessed one of themost elastic voices injazz. Uniquely suitedto the intricacies ofbebop, her horn-likeinstrument back in theday was skyscrapingin range and weapon-like in precision. A halfcenturylater, decades of hard living and theinevitabilities of time have transformed thismythical vocalist, actress and lyricist down tohuman size. A real-life friend of Billie Holiday,on To Lady With Love the frail 84-year-oldRoss bares her naked heart for the listener ina fashion Lady Day would have treasured. Theminimalistic accompaniment of phenomenalfather/son duo Bucky and John Pizzarelliadds immensely to the album’s musicalintimacy. On torch anthems such as It’s Easyto Remember and I’m a Fool to Want Youphrases sting like iodine on a fresh wound.This unforgettable album was, without adoubt, a cathartic experience for Ross. Listenwith headphones and you might cry, too.Ori DaganLucidityAtomicJazzland Recordings Norway No. 2471-991 B (jazzlandrec.com)!!First formed in2000, the quintetAtomic has developedinto a key voicein current jazz, itsdistinct identitycomprised of strongrhythmic grooves,free jazz fireworksand the edgy ensemble precision of post-bopjazz. The Scandinavian band has honed its artin the furnace of frequent tours over years,becoming a genuinely international presence.Lucidity is the band’s first CD sincedrummer Paal Nilssen-Love’s 2014 departureand Hans Hulbœkmo’s arrival, theband’s first personnel change. Atomic hasdone more than survive the loss of Europe’smost dynamic younger drummer: it’s found anew balance.With compositions provided by saxophonistand clarinetist Fredrik Ljungkvist70 | May 1 - June 7, 2015 thewholenote.com

Pianist BrianDickinsoncontinues tobuild on a distinguishedcareer thatreaches back to the1980s. The latestrelease by his trio, anominee for the 2015JUNO Jazz Album of the Year – Group, FishsEddy (Addo Records AJR023, addorecords.com) matches him with young drummerEthan Ardelli and senior bassist George Mraz,whose long CV includes work with OscarPeterson, Stan Getz and Elvin Jones. It’s aperfect match given Dickinson’s roots in BillEvans’ harmonically rich, lyrical style andEvans’ evolution of the piano trio, giving aprominent place to the bass to develop strongcountermelodies. There’s a keening, reaching,welling lyricism here, a passionate rush ofemotion rising from reverie. It begins onfamiliar melodic ground, George Gershwin’sI Loves You Porgy, explored for over nineminutes, then turns largely to Dickinson’soriginals, the trio developing intense interactionsaround their harmonies andrepeating figures.Quantum (EffendiFND 139, effendirecords.com)is thethird CD from theEmie R Roussel Trio,a young group thathas been consistentlynominated forQuebec festival andmedia awards since its inception in 2010. It’seasy to hear why. It’s consistently engagingmusic, well thought out with an almost architecturalsense of form. Building on rocksolidfoundations provided by bassist NicolasBédard and drummer Dominic Cloutier,pianist and composer Roussel compounds apersonal idiom that fuses post-bop jazz withR&B (think Joe Sample and George Duke),the instrumentation moving readily fromacoustic to Fender Rhodes piano and electricbass. The acoustic highlight is Ipomée,a fine demonstration of Roussel’s ability toconstruct tension by making incrementalshifts in short figures, then contrastingshort and long phrases; the electric Maréehaute combines a deep groove and extendedmelodic development.While the Roussel trio is happiest with adetailed road map, trombonist Jean-NicolasTrottier builds energy through the exchangeof ideas based on brief heads. Trottier issomething of a big band specialist, but hepares it down to a trio on Acid Bunny (EffendiSTUART BROOMERFND135). His JNT3,with bassist Rémi-Jean LeBlanc anddrummer Rich Irwin,is a band of rarechemistry, quicklyovercoming anyone’sdoubts about thelimited range of atrombone and rhythm trio. Trottier has techniqueand energy to spare, making effectiveuse of mutes and a bright high register tochange things up. Reemy-Jeeny-Leblee is afine example of the band’s detailed rhythmicinteraction and intense swing, while theelegiac Nouveau Patente has LeBlanc’s arcobass line countering Trottier’s elegant line,Irwin negotiating a ground between militaryceremony and rubato.Michel Lambert isa real creative force,whether consideredas a painter, percussionistor composer.His compositionalvision is particularlyevident inJournal des ÉpisodesII (Rant 1448, jazzfromrant.com), an explorationof a daily diary of compositions andpaintings from the last six months of 1988.His group here is a traditional piano triowith pianist Alexandre Grogg and bassistGuillaume Bouchard; what makes it highlyuntraditional is the presence of 97 trackson a 44-minute CD. Lambert’s compositionscan be as brief as seven seconds, aslong as a couple of minutes, but whethermicroscopic or developed, they’re compellingmusical messages that achieve a kindof formal perfection, continuous with theirsurrealist aesthetic of the unconscious andtheir Webern-like economy. The material is atonce so fragmentary and dense that each tripthrough the CD is another experience, tinyfragments in time creating new refractionswith one another and with the sustainedtrio pieces.Éric Normandis another fount ofcreativity, workingfrom his unlikelyhome base inRimouski to formboth a large improvisingensemble,the Grand GroupeRégional d’Improvisation Libérée, and thewide-ranging Tour de Bras record label, ascreative in its design as in its music. While arecent GGRIL release appeared as a red vinylLP, Normand takes a diametrically opposedroute to packaging for Philippe Lauzier andÉric Normand’s Not the Music / do (Tour deBras, tourdebras.com), issuing the CD in abrown paper lunch bag with a printed cover.The music is just as provocative – sustainedminimalist improvisations in which Lauzier’ssoprano saxophone and bass clarinet extendfrom single tones to circular breathing againsta backdrop of Normand’s electric bass and asnare drum that Normand sometimes playsand often uses as a vibrating surface.Montreal soundartist Pierre-YvesMartel creates dauntinglyminimalistimprovisationscontrasting singletones on a renaissanceviola de gambaand a harmonicawith silences on Continuum (Tour de BrasTD89011CD). It’s demanding work (Martel’sintent extends to letting “the music ‘play’both the performer and the listener”), anexperience in which the act of listening maybe dissected and stitched back together, themusic developing a severe and icy beautyin the process. Available as limited editionCDs or downloads, extensive portions can beheard at the label’s website.Among music’sstranger documentsis a letterfrom Woody Guthrieto John Cage,greeting his musicas “a keen freshbreeze.” It mighthave inspired The/Les Surruralist(e)s on Sortablue (SURRU01, actuellecd.com). The duo of Nova ScotiabasedArthur Bull (guitars, harmonica andvoice) and Normand (electric bass, tenorbanjo and voice) explore early blues and folksongsfrom perspectives shaped by free jazzand improvised music, adding a raw electricedge and weirdly dissonant accompanimentsto traditional instrumental approachesand songs like La Femme Du Soldat andStagger Lee. The two create a new traditionin the same breath that they pay homageto others.thewholenote.com May 1 - June 7, 2015 | 71

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volume 25 Issue 8 - May / June 2020
Volume 25 Issue 7 - April 2020
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Volume 25 Issue 5 - February 2020
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Volume 21 Issue 9 - Summer 2016
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