6 years ago

Volume 21 Issue 1 - September 2015

  • Text
  • September
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • Musical
  • Sept
  • Quartet
  • Concerto
  • Orchestra
  • Symphony
  • Violin
Paul Ennis's annual TIFF TIPS (27 festival films of potential particular musical interest); Wu Man, Yo-Yo Ma and Jeffrey Beecher on the Silk Road; David Jaeger on CBC Radio Music in the days it was committed to commissioning; the LISTENING ROOM continues to grow on line; DISCoveries is back, bigger than ever; and Mary Lou Fallis says Trinity-St. Paul's is Just the Spot (especially this coming Sept 25!).

Bradford – an on-off

Bradford – an on-off member of Coleman’s quartet for years – and influential clarinetist and soprano saxophonist John Carter, divide the compositional chores during nuanced performances that are craggy and irregular as a mountain path, but always explicit in direction. Pointedly using two basses – Roberto Miranda and Stanley Carter – at times playing arco, the results suggest the calmness of a chamber intermezzo, though drummer William Jeffrey’s dislocated rhythmic accents keep the sounds edgy as well as swinging. Consider how the fluent clarinet passages arch over the others’ notes, while playing in near tandem with the cornet bringing up pseudo-Dixieland memories on the concluding Circle for instance. Still chiming double-double bass line and a freer percussion tempo confirm the tune’s modernity, a certainty strengthened by Bradford’s skyhigh blasts and Carter uniquely exploring the woody qualities of his horn. This sense of continuum plus imminent discovery permeates the four other tunes, especially one like She. Initially developed from a series of slurred grace notes from both horns, its passionate mood is maintained by euphonious string motions and the drummer’s positioned rim shots. After Carter’s syncopated tremolos set up a counter melody, he joins Bradford’s melancholic chirps for a dual coda of heart-breaking sighs. Like Coleman who died this June, Carter (1929-1991) is no longer with us; but Bradford is still going strong at 80. Both Texans, again like Coleman, singly and together the co-leaders demonstrate how sound deconstruction isn’t frightening, as long as it, like Coleman’s concepts, is coupled with a direct rhythm. No U Turn may be the paramount expression of this truism. Ken Waxman Butterfly Blue Halie Loren Justin Time JTR 8591-2 !! Gifted vocalist and composer Halie Loren’s latest recording (her eighth) is all about transformation and the resilient nature of the human heart. In keeping with these themes, Alaskan-born Loren has deftly selected a musical palette that incorporates not only beloved standards from The Great American Songbook, but well-written contemporary and original compositions as well as a beloved jazz anthem of hope. Loren acts as co-producer here, along with pianist/ composer Matt Treder – and she is firmly and beautifully supported by her longtime rhythm section including Treder, bassist Mark Schneider and drummer Brian West. Tastefully arranged horns and strings also grace the project in all of the right places. The original opening track, Yellow Bird, is a stunner and Loren’s sumptuous, multitracked vocals and jaunty horn arrangement makes this tune a total delight. Another gem is I Wish You Love (Que reste-t-il de nos amours?), which was a huge hit for Keely Smith in 1957. It is no easy task to perform a venerable song that has been previously interpreted and imbue it with your own special emotional language and musical statement… but Loren has done just that, in spades. With her smoky, resonant alto voice, gorgeous French and innovative instrumentation, she has firmly affixed this classic ballad with her own special stamp. Other delights include a languid and smouldering take on Harold Arlen’s Stormy Weather, a bluesy reboot of the Dubin and Warren tin-pan alley classic Boulevard of Broken Dreams and the late jazz giant Horace Silver’s heartbreakingly beautiful Peace – the ultimate song of transcendence and healing, rendered simply, movingly and lovingly by Loren. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Now This Gary Peacock Trio ECM 2428 !! Gary Peacock may be best known today as a longstanding member of Keith Jarrett’s Standards Trio, but the bassist, now 80, has one of the most varied and distinguished résumés in jazz. In his long career, he’s complemented everything from the concentrated lyricism of Miles Davis, Bill Evans and Paul Bley to the torrential expressionism of Albert Ayler; he’s also one of the great bass soloists, able to communicate emotional nuance with a special attention to vibrato and pitch. Here Peacock leads a trio with pianist Marc Copland and drummer Joey Baron in which his own musical conception is in the foreground. Peacock composed seven of the eleven compositions here, many of them with a spare, sculptural, yet mysterious sense of form that generates tremendous freedom: brief phrases with myriad suggestions pass from one member of the group to another with a liquid ease. There’s a suite-like continuity here, as if the pieces constitute reflections on a single theme, their moods ranging from the drama of Moor to the levity of Christa and the brooding Vignette. The music’s surface is consistently beautiful, with Peacock’s sound a warm centre for the three voices. The only piece included from outside the band is Gloria’s Step, a composition contributed to Bill Evans’ repertoire by Peacock’s friend, Scott LaFaro, the brilliant bassist who changed the course of the instrument before dying in a car accident at 25 in 1961. As well as an homage to lost genius, it marks the beginnings of the kind of fully interactive trio music that Peacock, Copland and Byron realize here. Stuart Broomer The Elephant’s Journey Lama + Joachim Badenhorst Clean Feed CF 332 CD (cleanfeed-records. com) !! Expressing themselves on a CD that is surprisingly calm as well as cutting edge are the members of the Lama group, who also extend the band’s internationalism with this memorable set. Consisting of trumpeter Susana Santos Silva from Porto, Portugal, plus Portuguese bassist Gonçalo Almeida and Montreal-born drummer Greg Smith, both of whom live in Rotterdam; the trio’s guest on The Elephant’s Journey is Belgian clarinetist Joachim Badenhorst. Instead of adding unnecessary weight to the musical pachyderm’s load, Badenhorst joins Silva in creating resilient acoustic timbres which are buoyant enough to coordinate nicely with the other instruments’ electronically enhanced structures. Like the use of an animal trainer’s hook, arrangements on the eight tracks here adeptly direct the themes so that their singularity is apparent with little pressure added to the load of the titular camelid. Case in point is The Gorky’s Sky, where Almeida’s string slaps, surmounting harmonized group precision, make the reedist’s Dolphy-like tremolo dissonance appear to come from within an ensemble larger than a quartet. Smith’s percussion prowess gets a workout on Crime & Punishment, but there’s no felony associated with his bass-drum accents which downplay clashes and clatter, while triumphant trumpet blasts mixed with bass clarinet snorts confirm that Lama plus one can operate with the speed and efficiency of the best swing era combos. At the same time, although Silva’s chirping hockets often create enough unusual obbligatos to the spider weblike patterning of Badenhorst’s timbres, additional experimentation isn’t neglected either. Smith’s composition Murkami – the other tunes are all by Almeida – finds the clarinetist expressing a sour, bansuri-like squeak before the combination of lustrous trumpet extensions and positioned bass strokes surmount the dissonance with meditative calm. Featuring textures that are both quixotic and pointed, the concluding Don Quixote includes understated electronic loops, contralto reed slurs, string pressures that move crab-like across the bass face, Smith’s tabla-like drone and Silva’s melodious brass accents. By the time the track finishes, it 72 |Sept 1 - Oct 7, 2015

– and the CD – show that careful cooperation among equals leads to a summation of Lama’s skills rather than a quest for novelty. Ken Waxman POT POURRI All Original – 100% Canadian Quartetto Gelato QGPI Records QGPI-010 (quartettogelato. com) !! There are lots of tasty delights for the ear in this new release from one of Canada’s favourite ensembles. Featuring the music of five Canadian composers, the stylistic differences of each work challenge Quartetto Gelato to pull out all the stops and prove yet again that the group can perform anything presented to them with perfection. The current members are all musically gifted and brilliant technicians. Founding violinist/tenor Peter De Sotto, accordionist Alexander Sevastian, oboist/multi-instrumentalist Colin Maier and cellist Liza McLellan play with mutual musical respect and appreciation to detail. Cellist Lydia Munchinsky and percussionists Mark Inneo and Kevan McKenzie are welcome special guests on the tracks where they play. The satisfying more traditional lush classical sound of Rebecca Pellett’s Una storia d’amore is chamber music at its best. In contrast, Maier’s banjo pickings support De Sotto’s happy singing in Howard Cable’s On The Crowsnest Trail. A driving rhythmic feel and dance groove highlight Hilario Duran’s Latin-flavoured Aventura Afrocubana Suite. The appealing underlying improvisational sentiment of Michael Occhipinti’s music makes his Sirocco and Ballu Di Gelato an intriguing listening experience. The ensemble shines in Jossy Abramovich’s Gypsy Fantasia with more great vocal work by de Soto and Sevastian’s accordion finesse. More aweinspiring zippy accordion music shines on Charles T. Cozens’ Celtic Dances. Gelato fans should be thrilled with this new musical flavour from the always-entertaining Canadian concert stage stars! Tiina Kiik One World Jesse Cook eOne COH-CD-5812 ( !! Virtuosic, globally inspired guitarist/ composer/producer Jesse Cook is known for his stellar, crosscultural musical motifs and collaborations. His previous JUNO-nominated recording projects have sampled the sonic landscapes of such far-flung locations as Cairo, Colombia and Lafayette, Georgia. On his ninth CD, One World, the usually peripatetic, Paris-born and Toronto-raised Cook has chosen to stay in his own back yard, while still incorporating into his compositions a tasty ethno-smorgasbord, which includes sitars and violins, as well as powerful techno bass sequences and other well-placed and masterfully engineered technology. Cook’s considerable skill as a highly trained classical, flamenco and jazz guitarist is evident throughout this fine, well-produced recording and on each composition he metaphorically crosses the Bosporus – weaving Eastern and Western musicality and instrumentation into a joyous celebration of alpha wave stimulation and artistic globalism. In describing his project, Cook has said, “The idea is that there really is just one world. If you pull your focus back far enough, you start to see all music as being branches of the same tree….” Standouts include Shake – a pulsing and virile flamenco, infused with raga-like rhythmic patterns and dynamic percussion; the wild and trippy sub-continent techno journey of Bombay Slam and Taxi Brazil, which conjures up cinematic images of a heady cab ride through Rio. Also of note is the mystical and sensuous Steampunk Rickshaw and the Iberian-infused Beneath Your Skin. The closing track, Breath, features Cook’s pure, warm, crystalline solo acoustic guitar, leaving the listener refreshed and restored – the perfect end to this multi-sensory journey through vibrant and delightful musical exotica. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Night Swimming Gypsophilia Forward Music Group FMG051 ( !! In their first studio-produced release, Halifax-based band Gypsophilia grooves in many tempos and musical moods in original compositions by five members of the seven piece ensemble. From jazzy swinging tunes like Cake Walk to the klezmer/world music influences of Insomniac’s Dream and RiTiB, producer Joshua Van Tassell has captured the band’s upbeat spontaneous offthe-stage sound that has drawn big crowds to their live shows. The happy music played by the effervescent musicians is toe-tapping fun! The producer uses his superb listening ear to create subtle instrument balances, and to add atmospheric electronic sound effects. From the guitar reverb in Boo Doo Down to the washes of electronic sound in the dark mysterious bass opening of RitiB, a new band sound evolves. The slower Deep Water is especially successful with these effects. A gorgeous opening violin solo line is supported by a wash of wind-like sounds to create a sitting-outside-by-the-lake effect that the other instruments evoke as the work progresses. All the players are great, with special mention to trumpeter Matt Myer in the opening wah-wah section of Long Shadows, and double bassist Adam Fine, both in his solos and his backing lines in each track. Though running around 40 minutes, this short yet sweet and bopping Gypsophilia release showcases a great tight creative band developing into an even greater one. Tiina Kiik Heartstrings Xuefei Yang Decca 8888182 !! The renowned Chinese-born guitarist Xuefei Yang released her latest album Heartstrings with Universal Music in June 2015. Nineteen pieces ranging from Chinese folk melody to jazz hits and Spanish guitar classics have been included in her first album for the Decca label. The whole disc seems like a collage as Yang chooses not to follow a certain topic or theme to connect the pieces. This, to some degree, coincides with the cultural characteristics of the Canadian mosaic. All of the pieces, although drawn from various cultural backgrounds, are lovely, delicate and easy on the ear. Some talk about love affairs (e.g. Takemitsu’s Secret Love and Elgar’s Salut d’ Amour) while others depict natural and mental landscapes. Yang, with her outstanding technique and her “East-meets-West” experience, gives an indubitably charming performance in Piazzolla’s jazz-styled Milonga del Angel and popular Spanish guitar pieces. However, the most attractive selection on the album is her transcription and interpretation of Fisherman’s Song at Eventide, a piece of traditional Chinese music. Widely popular in North China, Fisherman’s Song is a threepart piece played on a guzheng, a Chinese plucked zither. It depicts a sunset scene with a fisherman going back home after a tiring but fruitful day. The guzheng player imitates fishermen’s songs and the sound of waves, and builds up a jovial and warm atmosphere. In the process of transcribing it into a guitar piece, Yang makes utmost efforts to sustain the Oriental elements as well as to respect characteristics of the classical guitar. It is a challenging attempt and happily she finds a subtle balance between the two instruments. Having previously recorded albums of Bach and Britten, on this disc Yang has chosen to explore her own cultural roots, managing to bring different narratives and styles together with great success. Daisy Meng Li Sept 1 - Oct 7, 2015 | 73

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