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!).

Something in the Air

Something in the Air Many Musical Interconnections at 2015’s Guelph Jazz Festival KEN WAXMAN As the Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF) settles into maturity, dependable musical choices and the vagaries of touring mean that a few of the performers at this year’s bash, September 16 to 20, are featured in more than one ensemble. The happy end result is that the audience gets to sample some musicians’ skills in more than one challenging setting. Take drummer Tomas Fujiwara for instance. On September 17 at Heritage Hall (HH), he’s one-third of the Thumbscrew band with guitarist Mary Halvorson and bassist Michael Formanek, Then on September 20 at the Guelph Little Theatre (GLT) he and Halvorson are part of cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum’s sextet. After All is Said, Fujiwara’s CD with The Hook Up (482 Music 482-1089) includes Halvorson and Formanek, plus tenor saxophonist/flutist Brian Settles and trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson. Displaying rare ability as a composer as well as a percussionist – all seven tunes are his – Fujiwara’s lines are rife with unselfconscious conviviality. At the same time, as a piece like Boaster’s Roast demonstrates, effervescent riffs don’t mask the tune’s rugged core, which his thrashing patterns and the guitarist’s intense vibrations supply. Similarly on Solar Wind, smooth horn harmonies back the drummer shaping Native Indian-like tom-tom beats to a jazz program. With themes usually passed from instrument to instrument throughout, there’s also space for Settles’ (Stan) Getzian flutter tones, hocketing leads from Finlayson and unique interludes from Halvorson that move chameleon-like from folksy strumming to obdurate power chords. Additional instances of Halvorson’s skills are evident on Ghost Loop (ForTune 0010/010, except here, unlike Thumbscrew, she is joined by solid bassist John Hébert and drummer Ches Smith. Smith’s ingenious approach to percussion can be heard at the GJF though. On September 18 he’s part of saxophonist Darius Jones’ quartet at the GLT and at the same place the next night he works double duty in both Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog trio and the Bly De Blyant band. A live date from Poland, Ghost Loop (No.43) effectively demonstrates how much can be done with just three instruments, as themes encompassing the most pliable pastoral patterns or the most raucous battering ramlike authority, and much in-between, are elaborated. On Existential Tearings (No.44) for instance the three could be mistaken for a heavy metal trio as Halvorson’s harsh twangs mirror Smith’s anvil-hard pump. Meantime following an expansive scene-setting intro from Hébert, the guitarist fashions a multi-hued tone exposition on the title tune as if she had 88 piano keys at her disposal. Expressing the band’s overall duality, the final Deformed Weight of Hands (No.28) is both blunt and balanced, with the guitarist relaxing into legato picking to temper Smith’s furious, but always controlled, rumbles. Halvorson and Hébert are among the players who make up saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock’s Anti-House sextet on Roulette of the Cradle (Intakt CD 252; the others are pianist Kris Davis, clarinetist Oscar Noriega and drummer Tom Rainey. The careful dynamics that unite the players can be experienced in a fashion at the GJF when Davis’ Capricorn Climber band featuring Laubrock and Rainey plus bassist Trevor Dunn and violist Mat Maneri is at GLT September 17. Meandering like a country road, Laubrock’s most vigorous CD interface with Davis occurs on … and Light (for Izumi), which blends pointillist reed tinctures with hearty Chopinesque intimations from the pianist. Composed like the other tunes by the saxophonist, Silence… (for Monika) with Rainey’s reverberating bell pealing and unhurried strums and sweeps from Hébert could be confused with 1950s cool jazz – that is until Halvorson’s sour clanks yank it into 2015. Davis’ solid comping that extends lines with the swiftness and regularity of a teletype machine is angled leftwards to meet Laubrock’s emotional reed slurs on the title tune; while Face the Piper, Part 2 demonstrates how the guitarist’s jagged-edge approach transforms a composition from regularized swing. Still the CD’s defining track is From Farm Girl to Fabulous, Vol.II, where homespun inflections, suggested by Davis’ upright-piano-like woody plunks and mandolin-like strokes from the guitarist, accompany a reed transformation as Laubrock’s output begins simply and concludes with smirking urbane and gritty urban enunciation. Sharing the double bill with Capricorn Climber is the sole GJF appearance of vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz’s Sun Rooms trio. However From The Region (Delmark DE 5017’s 11 tracks itemize why the full-barrelled improvisations of Adasiewicz, drummer Mike Reed and bassist Ingebright Håker-Flaten mean the three are continually busy with their own groups as well as with North American and European stylists, some of whom are featured at the GJF. Considering Håker-Flaten’s string slapping is as percussive as the others’ output, Sun Rooms could be the practice studio of three drummers. With an instrumental bounce as forceful as any vibist since Lionel Hampton, Adasiewicz as composer/player adds the delicate sensibility of Milt Jackson and Gary Burton when needed. In fact, a trio of appealing tunes – The Song I Wrote for Tonight, Mae Flowers and Mr. PB – shows off this lyrical bent. Each succinctly melds rhythmic colours and emotional melodies, augmenting the results into a sway as gentle as a summer breeze. Stentorian swagger and strength characterize many of the other tracks though. The bassist’s rugged timing steadies the tunes, the drummer adds irregular and broken patterns to their exposition and Adasiewicz consistently seeks novel, raw but unifying tones to judder sympathetically alongside the others’ contributions. While the majority of these GJF improvisers who often work together are young, a constantly innovative stylist like British saxophonist Evan Parker, 71, continues to operate as he has for the past half century: partnering with as many musicians as possible. His September 17 HH performance is with baritone saxophonist Colin Stetson, while he hosts trumpeter Peter Evans and electronics exponents Ikue Mori and Sam Pluta September 19 at the GLT. Suggesting how he will play during both concerts is Hello, I Must Be Going (Victo cd 128 Another Canadian live concert, from last year’s Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, it’s a duo session, this time with guitarist Fred Frith, 66. Frith’s command of the electric guitar is such, though, that he adroitly presages some of the electronic patterns Mori and Pluta come up with, as well as being fully conversant with his instrument’s rhythmic and melodic tasks. Notably, when both players are in full improvisational flight, searching for novel timbres, it’s only Frith’s powerful strums that confirm that a guitar is being used. Otherwise he comes across like an actor inhabiting multiple roles in a one-man play. For instance, processed drones and clicks meet the saxophonist’s flutter-tongued slurs on the title track, while Frith’s resonating contributions to Particulars come from what sounds like a mutant grafting of strings onto a combination of tabla and conga drum. On the concluding Je Me Souviens, unbridled sonic elation is attained, as Parker’s chortling pitch variations turn straight ahead as Frith responds with abbreviated spurts of 74 | Sept 1 - Oct 7, 2015

4 Panel Digipak Adobe InDesign 05/17/11 mk Paste OFA tag here. & STEREOSCOPIC RECORDS 2015. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 266-1 & STEREOSCOPIC RECORDS 2015. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. thanks also to: david darlington, tom tedesco, mike joyce, jeff davis, recorded on october 19th, 2014 at tedesco studios, paramus, nj engineered by tom tedesco mixed and mastered on october 27th, 2014 by david darlington design by mike joyce at stereotype nyc produced by michael bates rhythm through concentrated string pumping. Red Thread is the paramount instance of the duo’s work, however. As Parker’s crimped reed quacks accelerate to a protracted allotment of circular breathing, Frith mirrors the reed lines with electronically processed modular flanges as well as supplying a connective bass line. The climax has the saxophonist exchanging eviscerating tone for luminous tone vibrations as the guitarist complements Parker’s new narrative with rugged yet reassuring rubber band-like twangs. The musical interconnections on these CDs set such a high standard that memorable GJF performances can be expected every day of the festival. STUART BROOMER In his 20 years in Toronto, Nick Fraser has become first-choice drummer for numerous bandleaders ranging from the post-bop mainstream to free improvisation. He’s done it with aggressive musicality and consistently inventive drumming, combining drive and subtlety. He has also recorded his compositions with his own quartet and the collective Drumheller. His latest CD will introduce his talents to a far wider audience: Too Many Continents (Clean Feed CF336, appears on the most active free jazz label in the world and presents Fraser at the heart of a trio with expatriate Canadian pianist Kris Davis and saxophonist Tony Malaby, two key figures in current NYC jazz activity. The opening title track achieves near telepathic interaction, the group moving synchronously from delicate opening figures through a co-ordinated tumult of sound in which each throws more and more complex bits into the mix, eventually reversing the movement to ebb gradually to silence. Episodes of extended free improvisation are separated by Fraser’s compositions, among which the moody, corrosive Also stands out. Canada rarely sees a jazz project as ambitious as Orchestre national de jazz de Montréal’s presentation of pianist-composer Marianne Trudel’s Dans la forêt de ma mémoire (ATMA Classique ACD2 2730,, a six-part suite for the 16-member orchestra recorded live with singer Anne Schaefer and trumpeter Ingrid Jansen as featured soloists with Christine Jensen conducting. Trudel might be new to writing extended works for a large ensemble, but there’s nothing here to show it. The work has strong themes and rich harmonies presented with vibrant brass and reed textures that spring from the traditions of composer/orchestrators like Gil Evans and Maria Schneider. Vent Solaire, the second movement, has a magisterial quality, enhanced by a moment when Trudel’s piano tremolos merge with the winds, while La vie commence ici has charging lines that demonstrate the precision of the all-star ensemble. Trudel and Ingrid Jensen provide plenty of individual highlights, but there are effective solo spots from trombonist Jean-Nicolas Trottier and bassist Rémi- Jean LeBlanc. The cry, the shout, the laugh and the mutter of the blues have been part michael bates: double of bass jazz michael bates: saxophone northern spy jeremy ‘bean’ clemons: drums 1. theme for a blind man (1:53) 2. essex house (5:55) since its beginnings, not all jazz admittedly, 3. roxy (4:41) 4. an otis theme on curtis changes (9:31) 5. bean (2:34) 6. wingnut (5:20) but much of it and much of the 7. end of best history (5:56) of it. 8. the days of wine and roses (5:39) 9. northern spy (4:18) 10. neptune (6:25) Those tones are front and centre in Michael Bates’ Northern Spy (Stereoscopic 266-1, on which the Vancouverborn, Brooklyn-based bassist leads a trio 4PAN1T michael bates michael bates northern spy SR / 266-1 michael bates this music was composed in admiration of curtis mayfield, donny hathaway, george mitchell’s field recordings, otis redding, blind willie johnson and john coltrane. joel harrison, owen howard, kim smith, ohad talmor, everyone at amr in geneva, jean louis and mado chevreuil, ken pickering, petr cancura and my most incredible wife, celena. website: contact: all compositions by michael bates (socan) except the days of wine and roses by johnny mandel (warner bros) a sincere thank you to michael blake and bean; two friends who have changed my musical life many times over. northern spy with saxophonist (and former Vancouverite) Michael Blake and drummer Jeremy “Bean” Clemons, the latter providing some rocksolid, minimalist backbeats. It’s as visceral and soulful as one might expect of music inspired by Blind Willie Johnson, Otis Redding and John Coltrane. It also invokes saxophonist Julius Hemphill’s edgy Hard Blues. As the trio’s lead voice, Blake turns in a consistently masterful performance, stretching bop and blues to upper register multiphonic cries on End of History. Jerry Granelli was a well-established drummer when he relocated to Halifax in 1987, and he’s been releasing adventurous CDs as a composer and conceptualist as well ever since. The latest is What I Hear Now (Addo Records AJR030, by his Trio + 3. The basic group is Granelli’s trio with bassist Simon Fisk and tenor and soprano saxophonist Dani Oore, expanded with younger Haligonians, alto saxophonist Andrew McKelvey and trombonist Andrew Jackson, and topped off by Halifax-native Mike Murley. The four-horn front line balances sonic breadth with spontaneity. Mystery’s serene voicings lead to airy overlays and echoes among the saxophones, while Swamp’s combination of a rapid horn line and the rhythm section’s slow back-beat inspires a certain funky bluster from all the horns. There’s an infectious joy about Oliver Gannon and Bill Coon’s Two Much More! (Cellar Live CL011815, the elite Vancouver guitarists commemorating the decade-old launch of their project Two Much Guitar! with a studio session accompanied by bassist Darren Radtke and drummer Dave Robbins. Gannon is a propulsive swinger with a fuller, bright, hard-edged sound who generates continuous melodic flow; Coon is a subtler, more elusive musician, floating over the beat with a glassy, slightly muted sound, more focused on harmonic invention. What matters most, though, is their evident pleasure in one another’s musical company as they alternately lead and accompany in a program studded with masterful renditions of classic songs, many of them ballads like Billy Strayhorn’s Chelsea Bridge, Johnny Mandel’s Emily and Ellington’s In a Sentimental Mood, before closing with Bobby Timmons’ Moanin’. Another Vancouver guitarist, Tony Wilson, presents a dark vision of the city with his 6tet on A Day’s Life (Drip Audio DA01107,, a musical complement to his eponymous 2012 novella about the lives of the homeless and addicted living in the Downtown Eastside. The opening title track has Wilson in a relatively consonant mood, stringing out bluesy melody in a classic jazz style. It’s a little harbinger of the music’s expressive depths or looming terrors to come, whether springing from the leader or from the torrents of sound produced by trumpeter JP Carter’s added electronics. Wilson’s compositional vision is fleshed out throughout by an outstanding band, whether it’s drummer Skye Brooks on The Long Walk or the strings of cellist Peggy Lee, violinist Jesse Zubot and bassist Russell Scholberg, all contributing to the piquant sweetness of Bobby Joe’s Theme. • Read the review • Click to listen • Click to buy Remember to visit the Listening Room! For more information Thom McKercher at Sept 1 - Oct 7, 2015 | 75

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