8 years ago

Volume 21 Issue 4 - December 2015/January 2016

  • Text
  • December
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Arts
  • February
  • January
  • Symphony
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  • Performing
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What's a vinyl renaissance? What happens when Handel's Messiah runs afoul of the rumba rhythm setting on a (gasp!) Hammond organ? What work does Marc-Andre Hamelin say he would be content to have on every recital program he plays? What are Steve Wallace's favourite fifty Christmas recordings? Why is violinist Daniel Hope celebrating Yehudi Menuhin's 100th birthday at Koerner Hall January 28? Answers to all these questions (and a whole lot more) in the Dec/Jan issue of The WholeNote.

Marshmallow World and

Marshmallow World and Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Often forgotten over the years amid all the entertainer hats he wore and the endless booze jokes was the fact that Dean Martin was a very good and personable singer. The Very Best of Bing Crosby Christmas – One can hardly do Christmas without Bing, and this is a fairly complete Decca compilation from 1942 to 1955, with a nice mixture of carols and standards including, of course, White Christmas. A Christmas Album – Barbra Streisand. I’m not entirely a fan of all things “Bra,” but this 1967 record, tastefully arranged by Marty Paich and Ray Ellis, is very good and her renditions of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and The Christmas Song are among the best I’ve heard. Christmas – The Singers Unlimited. Mostly traditional carols sung with immaculate pitch and ingenious harmonies furnished by Gene Puerling, the group’s leader and arranger. COLLECTIONS Jingle Bell Swing – An imaginative and eclectic Columbia jazz compilation with some rare Christmas oddities, including Black Xmas (To Whom It May Concern) with Miles Davis and Bob Dorough, Art Carney reciting ’Twas the Night Before Christmas in tempo with percussion, a kind of early jazz-rap. A trenchant, hard-swinging version of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer by alto saxophonist Pony Poindexter, a duet by Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock on Deck the Halls, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross singing Deck Us All With Boston Charlie and a 1965 re-record of Claude Thornhill’s classic Snowfall by The Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Tex Beneke, which fooled me – I thought it was Thornhill’s band when I first heard it. There are other goodies too – Peggy Lee and Benny Goodman, Carmen McRae, Russell Malone, Mel Torme and two tracks by Louis Prima. Louis Armstrong & Friends – The Christmas Collection. Another good 20th Century Masters mix, with six tracks by Louis – some with Benny Carter’s underappreciated 40s band – including Christmas Night In Harlem, Zat You, Santa Claus? and Christmas In New Orleans. You’ll also get to hear Satchmo’s take on White Christmas, Ellington’s band jamming on Jingle Bells, Lionel Hampton’s version of Merry Christmas, Baby with a vocal by Sonny Burke, and, best of all, Dinah Washington singing Silent Night, a religious experience if ever I’ve heard one. MISCELLANEOUS The Messiah – Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, directed by Ivars Taurins. There are countless recorded versions of this masterpiece, but this live performance from Toronto’s Koerner Hall in 2012, with soloists Karina Gauvin, Robin Blaze, Rufus Müller and Brett Polegato, is my favourite. This is how Handel intended this oratorio to sound. James Taylor at Christmas – A lovely recent addition to the genre, with great singing, classy musicians, smart arrangements and some different song choices – Go Tell It On the Mountain, Joni Mitchell’s River, In the Bleak Midwinter, Some Children See Him, Who Comes This Night?, plus an ingenious reworking of Jingle Bells in halftime, fat-back funk-killer. All brought to a fitting close with a soulful reading of Auld Lang Syne which captures the song’s very essence. The Bells of Dublin – The Chieftains. The greatest of Irish traditional bands with various vocal guests including Jackson Browne, Elvis Costello and the McGarrigle sisters. It’s a classic - traditional, yet unconventional, and best of all, it sounds like Christmas. Browne’s The Rebel Jesus is a highlight, showing a side of Christ that’s forgotten – he was a firebrand, no cream-puff. Finally, some favourite single-track strays which may not be in any collections but are likely available on YouTube or as downloads: Fairytale of New York by The Pogues; God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by the MJQ; the priceless 1946 version of Jingle Bells by Vic Dickenson and Leo Watson; Jo Stafford’s rendition of The Christmas Blues; the classic version of Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Ray Charles and Betty Carter; not to mention Brother Ray’s cosmic reading of Winter Wonderland. And lastly, the little-known White Wine in the Sun by Australia’s Tim Minchin, an oddly deadpan/sentimental Christmas song that touches me – it’s wryly naive, whimsical yet wise, funny and heartbreaking all at once. To all music lovers, Mazel Tov and a merry, swinging Christmas. Toronto bassist Steve Wallace writes a blog called “Steve Wallace – jazz, baseball, life and other ephemera” which can be accessed at Aside from the topics mentioned, he sometimes writes about movies and food. St. Philip’s Anglican Church Sunday, December 6, 4:00 pm | Jazz Vespers Tribute to Frank Sinatra with Alex Samaras (vocals), Colleen Allen (saxophone), Scott Alexander (bass), Gary Williamson (piano) and Brian Barlow (drums) Sunday December 20, 4:00 pm | Christmas Jazz Vespers Diana Panton (vocals), Reg Schwager (guitar) and Don Thompson (piano). St. Philip’s Anglican Church | Etobicoke 25 St. Phillips Road (near Royal York + Dixon) 416-247-5181 • • free will offering 12 | December 1 2015 - February 7, 2016

2015-2016 CONCERT SERIES MASTERS SERIES at UOIT Regent Theatre, Oshawa Sat., Dec. 19, 8:00pm CHOPIN WITH DANIELA LIEBMAN Piano Concerto No.2 op.21 in f minor Sat., Jan. 30, 7:00pm TCHAIKOVSKY SPECTACULAR! with celebrated violinist Alexandre Da Costa Violin Concerto op.35 in D major & Inaugural Multi-Media Exhibit of Abstract Artist Paul Sloggett TICKETS – from UOIT Regent Theatre Box Office 905.721.3399 x2 or OP 905-579-6711 or 1.800.858.6711 Dec 5 UTSO Performing works by Smetana, Rachmaninoff and Lutoslawski. Conducted by Uri Mayer and Francois Koh. Piano solo by Eugene Chan. Dec 7 Collaborations Internationally renowned Canadian percussionist Beverley Johnston performs pieces by award-winning composer Christos Hatzis and others. Dec 6 Choral Celebration Concert The MacMillan Singers, Men’s Chorus, Women’s Chamber Choir and Women’s Chorus present a variety of festive music. Jan 19-22 Barbara Hannigan The soprano and conductor is the John R. Stratton Visitor in Music, with performances, master classes and an interactive session. The January 30 concert and exhibit is followed by a ticketed VIP Reception in Regent Theatre Mezzanine. MEET THE ARTISTS Maestro Marco Parisotto OP’s Board of Directors OP Concertmaster and many more dignitaries. Reception tickets (Additional To Concert Ticket) for OP subscribers & for individual concert ticket holders Includes appetizers and hot/cold beverages, cash wine/beer bar. Limited availability – arrange today! 905-579-6711 or 1-800-858-6711. Jan 24 The Machine Stops The annual opera student composer project imagines a science fiction dystopia based on the short story by E.M. Forster. Jan 25 Viva Caledonia! Music for Robbie Burns Day Alison Melville, Julia Seager-Scott and Margaret Jordan-Gay perform baroque sonatas and variations for the 18 th -century Scottish poet. MASTERS SERIES at Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning Sunday, January 31, 3:00pm TCHAIKOVSKY SPECTACULAR! with celebrated violinist Alexandre Da Costa Violin Concerto op.35 in D major tickets – | Koerner Hall 416.408.0208 or OP 905-579-6711 or 1.800.858.6711 Jan 19-Feb 7 New Music Festival Students, faculty and guests (such as Gryphon Trio and Lands End Ensemble) perform works by Moore Visiting Composer Allan Gordon Bell. 2015-16 PRESENTING SPONSORS Jan 26-Feb 9 Michael Colgrass, Atom Egoyan, Scott Burnham & Lawrence Shragge The visiting composers, director and musicologist give free lectures. December 1 2015 - February 7, 2016 | 13

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