8 years ago

Volume 21 Issue 2 - October 2015

Vol 21 No 2 is now available for your viewing pleasure, and it's a bumper crop, right at the harvest moon. First ever Canadian opera on the Four Seasons Centre main stage gets double coverage with Wende Bartley interviewing Pyramus and Thisbe composer Barbara Monk Feldman and Chris Hoile connecting with director Christopher Alden; Paul Ennis digs into the musical mind of pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, and pianist Eve Egoyan is "On the Record" in conversation with publisher David Perlman ahead of the Oct release concert for her tenth recording. And at the heart of it all the 16th edition of our annual BLUE PAGES directory of presenters profile the season now well and truly under way.

sympathetic ending. As

sympathetic ending. As for the consecutive Free Bop Statement One and Free Bop Statement Two, a flexible intro works up from creamy Johnny Hodges-like alto playing plus juddering, pre-modern jungleband keyboard splashes to attain a series of motifs encompassing key clips and dissonant reed squawks, though never abandoning underlying swing. Conventional and avant-garde simultaneously, Black Rain may be the CD’s most evocative track. A soothing duet, characterized by gentle keyboard patterning and graceful bass clarinet breathing, as if Shipp and Walerian were a long-time married couple finishing each other’s sentences, it’s suddenly ripped apart and replaced with Shipp’s key clips and harp-like piano string strums hewing out an ascending sonic path and Walerian’s intermittent tongue stops and flute peeps. Concluded with sparse sounds that wouldn’t be out of place in a new music recital, the two confirm their versatility and the vitality of the disc. Another application of this international formula is the Ocean Fanfare quartet. Consisting of Polish trumpeter Tomasz Dąbrowski, two Danes, alto and tenor saxophonist Sven Dam Meinild and bassist Richard Andersson, and American drummer Tyshawn Sorey, the fusion results in an exceptional modern mainstream unit on its cleanly recorded CD Imagine Sounds Imagine Silences (Barefoot Records BFREC O40, which consist of six Dąbrowski and three Meinild originals. Despite having composed the bulk of the material, Dąbrowski isn’t any more prominent in performance than other members. Like a new drawing superimposed over an existing one, Ocean Fanfare has the instrumentation and left-field orientation of an Ornette Coleman quartet plus the stamina of the Jazz Messengers. Crucially, Sorey’s broken time sense and cymbal swishes are less prominent than Art Blakey’s, leaving supple booms from Andersson’s bass to define the rhythmic bottom. Featuring the drummer’s time-clock-like pacing, a track such as Lotus positions crying split tones from the saxophonist and melancholic plunger work from the trumpeter for an emotional narrative. 7 Days to Go extends the Coleman-like comparison, starting off echoing Lonely Woman until the skirmish takes on the strength of a battle with a double bass vamp and interlocked horn bluster. On the other hand the crackling velocity that propels US 12 resembles that of a classic bop 78, with each player’s contributions tossed every which way, until a pseudo-march sequence introduces some spectacular brass plunger tones and climaxes with conjoined twin-like horn unison. By the final Meditation (on a Visit from France), the band appropriately trades in blunt reed smears, kazoo-like brass hums and popping bass and drum beats for a stable but buoyant ending. Following trumpet and saxophone tone slacking, the theme slips away leaving behind a bass string pluck and cymbal resonation. Politically Nichi Nichi Kore Ko Nichi by the P.U.R. Collective (ForTune 0056 006 is instructive in a non-musical manner since the cohesive seven tracks of free improvisation match a Polish combo of guitarist Maciej Staszewski, drummer Tomek Chołoniewski and Krzysztof Knittel on electronics with two reed players, Alexey Kruglov from Russia and Yuri Yaremchuk from Ukraine. Rather than being at loggerheads like their respective governments, the players create a collective program where the keening vigour of Yaremchuk’s bass clarinet and soprano saxophone plus the jagged bites from Kruglov’s alto saxophone, basset horn and block flute snuggle alongside the others’ expressions like Matryoshka nesting dolls. Unlike these wooden Russian toys no player is more inside or outside than another. You can get an idea of this Eastern Bloc pact on U 01 where chalumeau lowing from the clarinet moves alongside uniform guitar strums as electronics create a convulsive ostinato of peeps and static. Even after the line mutates into a free jazz blowout from the saxophonists, intricate finger-style guitar lines and drum pops mute the explosions enough, while a moving block flute cadenza signals the finale. These ex-Soviets have a sense of humour as well. Cutting through the harsh flamenco-like runs from Staszewski and unorthodox beats from Chołoniewski on Extreme 07, Kruglov inserts some mocking rooster crows that presage his quicksilver reed smears and split tones as the factions unify distinctively. Of course it’s still common for a visiting international soloist to hook up with Polish musicians to tour and record. One notable instance of this is Panta Rei (ForTune 0047 034, where Marco Eneidi Streamin’ 4 consists of the leader, an American alto saxophonist living in Vienna, plus three high-functioning Poles: tenor saxophonist Marek Pospieszalski, bassist Ksawery Wójciński and drummer Michał Trela. Comfortable in two-saxophone situations, Eneidi’s communication with Pospieszalski is at the highest level, often suggesting a funhouse mirror, where similar phrases from each are distorted with unique reflections. Ironically titled, Made in Pole Land highlights an emotional two-step which breaks down into speedy tremolos with snorts, horks and nasal buzzes goosed by Wójciński’s pacing and Trela’s wooden cracks. The swirl of buzzing double bass strings energizes White Bats Yodelling, although whether the flying rodents saluted with violent mammalian split tones, rumbling basso honks and agitated wing-like swishes are Polish or American isn’t made clear. What is clear is that, like intrepid (tone) scientists, the two saxophonists chase every phrase and note to the end, wringing each sonic nuance, expansion and implication from it. With measured bumps, but no bombast, the drummer follows up Wójciński’s sul ponticello intro to the concluding wordplay of Arco M. Adding additional string twanging later on, both he and Trela maintain the swinging pulse as the soloing of Eneidi and Pospieszalski contrast their intercontinental styles. When one architecturally builds a sleek Le Corbusier-like modernist line, the other counters with rococo detailing; then they switch roles with conclusive cooperation. Panta Rei may have been a first meeting for the American and the Poles, but the high level of musicianship exhibited by all confirms why collaborations involving adventurous Polish stylists and equally impressive out-of-country musicians are becoming increasingly common. What if you could listen in? Now you can! • Read the review • Click to listen • Click to buy New this month to the Listening Room Find the reviews on the following pages: András Schiff: Schubert.....................................................................61 Lars Vogt: Bach – Goldberg Variations...........................................61 Stefano Molardi: Kuhanu - Complete Organ Music....................62 Ives Quartet: Porter String Quartets...............................................63 Soile Isokoski: Chausson, Berlioz and Duparc..............................64 Philidor: Les Femmes Vengées.........................................................65 Barenboim & Dudamel: Brahms: Piano Concertos....................65 Andrew Staniland: Talking Down the Tiger...................................67 Charles Lloyd: Wild Man Dance.........................................................70 Ocean Fanfare: Imagine Sound Imagine Silence.........................72 72 | Oct 1 - Nov 7, 2015

STUART BROOMER With each successive CD, Darren Sigesmund has become a more distinctive and accomplished composer and bandleader. His previous one, Strands III, made brilliant use of Eliana Cuevas’ wordless vocals on ensemble passages and here he employs two New Yorkers, violinist Mark Feldman and pianist/ accordionist Gary Versace, to create dramatically different instrumental textures in company with his own trombone. While that last CD had a certain Brazilian feel to it, New Quintet ( sometimes has a distinctly French quality, Feldman’s dramatic and impassioned violin combine with the reediness of Versace’s accordion to suggest an ancient café ambience. Much of the music has a limpid lyricism but it moves with an underlying rhythmic power, propelled by bassist Jim Vivian and drummer Ethan Ardelli. Sigesmund is as tuneful an improviser as he is a composer, bringing a special, slightly muffled warmth and subtle inflections to his every solo. When Ross Taggart passed away at 45 in January of 2013, he was among Vancouver’s most prominent musicians, an accomplished saxophonist, pianist and composer who inspired the love and respect of his community. Several recordings have been dedicated to Taggart since his death, but two new releases highlight the breadth of that community. Legacy, The Music Of Ross Taggart (Cellar Live CL122914480, by the Jill Townsend Big Band is a substantial document of his work by a band in which he had played saxophone for a decade. It’s a crisp, precise big band with some outstanding soloists, including special guest Campbell Ryga who plays soprano sax on three tunes. Townsend and guitarist Bill Coon have done a fine job of arranging Taggart’s small-group music (and even a piano solo) for big band, ranging from fairly conventional, hardswinging fare like Don’t Call Before 10 to the CD’s finest work, Light at the End of the Tunnel, on which Coon expands Taggart’s imaginative harmonies into a lustrous orchestral gem. Reminiscent of Kenny Wheeler’s work, it’s highlighted by Brad Turner’s flugelhorn solo. A very different work is also dedicated to Taggart: A Bowl of Sixty Taxidermists (Songlines SGL 1611-2, by Waxwing, a trio that seems to create its own genre, a kind of jazz suffused with folk music. Much of the music is composed by saxophonist (and over-dubbed multi-instrumentalist) Jon Bentley, who played in Taggart’s quartet and possesses a gorgeous tone from the school of Stan Getz. The mood is reflective, at times playful, rather than somber, with cellist Peggy Lee and guitarist Tony Wilson contributing strongly melodic compositions and improvisations to this often spare and resonant music. Taking its title from a phrase of Taggart’s, the work is less about loss than passage, a gentle trip into the unknown. Lee’s contributions include a distinctive arrangement of the traditional Clementine while Wilson’s tunes commemorate both Taggart (For Ross) and drummer Claude Ranger (For Claude), who disappeared in 2000. Canada has had few sustained specialist jazz labels and nothing else like Toronto’s Sackville, running from its launch in 1968 by John Norris and Bill Smith until Norris’ death in 2010, recording music from stride piano to the avant-garde. Chicago’s Delmark has now revived the label, and many of Canada’s best jazz recordings are back in circulation, like guitarist Reg Schwager and bassist Don Thompson’s Live at Mezzetta (Sackville 2057, The two craft intimate, masterful versions of a series of standards, bringing fresh perspectives to In a Sentimental Mood and Willow Weep For Me. One unusual item from the catalogue is Humphrey Lyttelton in Canada (Sackville SK3033, which matches the English trumpeter with a stellar Toronto supporting cast, including Scottish transplant Jim Galloway on saxophones and the highly flexible rhythm section of guitarist Ed Bickert, drummer Terry Clarke and bassist Neil Swainson, here tempering their more modernist bent. While Lyttelton gained fame in the English trad revival, here he blends a Louis Armstrong influence with a swing style rooted in Basie and Ellington. The music is lively, joyous and consistently well-played, its happiest moments coming on the West Indies-flavoured Caribana Queen. Guitarist Ken Aldcroft and trombonist Scott Thomson present a series of four freely improvised duets on Red & Blue (Trio Records TRP-D503-021, asp). The music is continually shifting and evolving, moving from rapid-fire runs to pointillist exchanges and dialogues in which one offers empathetic support to the other. Aldcroft stays close to the traditional timbre of a lightly amplified jazz guitar, while expanding the vocabulary with percussive effects and skittering chord runs that move in and out of tonal expectations; Thomson’s explorations of the trombone include barnyard noises, extreme upper register effects and very rapid tonguing. However, it’s what they have in common that’s most significant: a willingness to reduce their sounds to whispers and to listen to one another intently and creatively. This is subtle, challenging music that responds best to the same kind of close listening that the musicians bring to it. Scott Thomson also appears on another recent recording that may be the least abstract CD of the year. Led by drummer Dave Clark, the Woodshed Orchestra is a joyous musical free-for-all, part brass band and part parody thereof. On Brass Bandit (Independent,, the 11-member group includes other distinguished improvisers like bassist Michael Herring and saxophonist Karen Ng. Here you might think of it as a New Orleans funeral parade that keeps getting lost. A couple of times it wanders into streets that lead to the Balkans and the Adriatic, while at others it appears to get the sequence confused, celebrating first (Love Letter to New Orleans with a great blatting solo from Thomson) and mourning later (Prayer) with funk in between (The Griff). Everybody in the band sings, including Susanna Hood, though her vocal talents aren’t required for group recitatives like Pennie + Mousie’s Antidotal Lullabye and A Politician. The CD lasts a brief 26 minutes, but it has energy and spirit to spare. Don’t forget to check out the Listening Room at Oct 1 - Nov 7, 2015 | 73

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