7 years ago

Volume 21 Issue 9 - Summer 2016

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  • Festival
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Quartet
  • August
  • Orchestra
  • September
  • Musical
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  • Concerts
It's combined June/July/August summer issue time with, we hope, enough between the covers to keep you dipping into it all through the coming lazy, hazy days. From Jazz Vans racing round "The Island" delivering pop-up brass breakouts at the roadside, to Bach flute ambushes strolling "The Grove, " to dozens of reasons to stay in the city. May yours be a summer where you find undiscovered musical treasures, and, better still, when, unexpectedly, the music finds you.

TOM PARKER “Canada’s

TOM PARKER “Canada’s Sweetheart of Swing,” Alex Pangman is a singer whose love for popular music from 1920 to 1940 charms people in a graciously old-fashioned way. Her sparkly energy seems to come from some limitless source. People love her beautifully wrought covers of older standards – her smooth warm delivery will remind you a little of your own favourite singer from that time. But Pangman’s voice is truly her own, and she makes a specialty of breathing life into lesser-known music from the period. The style may sound familiar but “new” old songs have to be offered with first-rate diction and this, along with her special way of letting the song’s own narrative shine, makes for pretty irresistible listening. She has led her regular swing band, the Alleycats, since 1998. Pangman was born with cystic fibrosis: an incurable genetic disease which destroys the lungs. Pangman’s first double lung transplant in 2008 was considered successful, but by early 2013 her health was failing. Only the people closest to her knew – she continued to sing (sitting down) and opened for Willie Nelson at Massey Hall in June 2013 while waiting to hear if a second transplant donor could be found – the call came six weeks later. Pangman’s courage, energy and capacity to seize every moment is deeply inspiring. Maybe it has something to do with choosing to live a life where you truly love what you do. WE ARE ALL MUSIC’S CHILDREN June’s Child Alex Pangman Alex Pangman lives in Toronto, Ontario with her musician husband “Colonel” Tom Parker. When she’s not singing or attending to music business she’s likely to be at the farm, horseback riding. MJ BUELL That childhood photo? I remember the smell of the wooden record player – when record players were still furniture! I can still smell the wood as I would have when I opened the lid, and feel the shag carpet under my feet. Anything you’d like to say to young Alex in that photo? I might encourage her to write more songs. I think the most original songs I ever wrote were as a child! Ha! That, and don’t drop the needle! Where did you grow up? I was born/raised in Mississauga, Ontario, to John and Connie Pangman. Dad worked in finance and for a time Mom was a V.O.N. nurse. My big sister, Jennifer, was into music via ballet. We both attended Froebel [independent] school where we learned to be self-active and creative. I was terrible at math (and music theory) even into high school. So bad in fact, that instead of studying post-secondary music, I went to UofT for art history! To be honest, my jazz education happened listening to thousands of old records, mostly driving to and from the stables. Horses have brought me many good things in life to offset having been born with lung disease. NEW CONTEST Who is September’s Child? YOU are, that’s who! This summer make some musical memories to sustain yourself all year round. Learn to play something new. Play some music you thought you’d forgotten. Get outside and find summer’s music in unexpected places. And bring a child. A new contest will appear in our September edition Your earliest memories of music? Mom had a guitar and I’m sure sang to me, but I think my first memories of music were at Gramma and Grampa’s house in London. Gramma had an electric organ (with all the foot pedals!). Grampa played the uke and the spoons. Grampa used to strum on his uke and sing “Five foot two, eyes of blue…” Mom and Dad liked the oldies, and we often listened to an oldies show over dinner. And that record player in the photo was stocked with a lot of LPs. I remember getting those Mini Pops albums and singing along a lot. I got my first uke quite young and would wake up early on weekends to sneak downstairs and play it “quietly” to myself. Keener! When did you first think of yourself as a career musician? I got sick and lost my university year. When I got better I realized I didn’t want a career in academia or a museum. Life is short (when you have a serious lung disease, more so!) and I decided to do something immediately thrilling: music! I didn’t want to spend years writing essays, I wanted to be on stage singing, and I pretty much did just that! I didn’t think of it as a career. It was just living in the moment. Please read the full-length interview at UPCOMING June 4 Saturday Swing Night at Dovercourt House Swing Dance Ballroom. (9:15pm, Toronto); June 16 Manhattans Pizza Bistro and Music Club. (7 to10pm,Guelph); June 24 TD Toronto Jazz Festival presents “Heather Bambrick & Friends” with the Russ Little Quartet at The Old Mill Home Smith Jazz Bar. Bambrick will trade songs and duets with guest Alex Pangman. (7:30pm, Toronto); June 25 TD Toronto Jazz Festival presents Alex Pangman and her Alleycats. The sextet will take over The Rex for 90 minutes of pure swing. (8pm, Toronto). ALSO: July 30 at the Niagara Jazz Festival, and Sept 2 and 3 at the CNE (Toronto). CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS! Live in Montreal is Alex Pangman and the Alleycats 2005 album, recorded in front of an enthusiastic Montreal Jazz Festival audience. These 12 tracks are essential Pangman and the record remains a favourite among her fans. A copy each for ROBERT LESCOE and MEL DADE Alex Pangman’s New is her eighth record. It explores lesser-known 1930s songs some of which are Canadian-written, including I’ll Never Smile Again, The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise and Pangman’s It’s Never Enough. Recorded in New Orleans in a converted 1930’s woodframe church called The Living Room with the New Orleans Cotton Mouth Kings. New [JTR 8587] was nominated for the 2015/16 JUNO Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year. A copy each for MARGARET OLDFIELD and CHARLES LEVI 70 | June 1, 2016 - September 7, 2016

DISCOVERIES | RECORDINGS REVIEWED DAVID OLDS Material for this month’s column began with an email in early April from a young man in Hawaii saying he was sending me copies of two CDs featuring his music for baritone ukulele. I don’t think I ever responded to the email, but my curiosity was whetted – I was not familiar with the baritone member of that instrumental family – and when the discs arrived I was pleased to find them both interesting. The young man’s name is Ryan Choi ( and the two discs present different sides of his compositional activity. The first, Whenmill (Off ODG049, presents four pieces for solo baritone ukulele in a fairly traditional contemporary classical guitar idiom. The rich tones of the instrument and the way Choi makes full contrapuntal use of its limited range makes it easy to forget that he is dealing with two fewer strings than on a guitar. Set 1 is comprised of three pieces, Quixano and Inn Blue, both from 2012, and Whenmill, composed the following year. I wish there were some program notes for the pieces, but even web searches turn up little information. The opening piece’s title, also the honorific of “Don Quixote de la Mancha,” makes me wonder if Inn Blue refers to the Don’s infamous adventure at a country inn and whether Whenmill, a word I cannot find mention of except in connection with Choi, has something to with tilting at windmills…but that is mere speculation on my part. Regardless of intent or inspiration, the “set” is a satisfying and intriguing exploration of the potential of this lesser-known instrument. At 12 minutes, the final track, South Aleksandr, composed in 2011, is longer than the other three combined and its virtuosic flamenco-like passages showcase Choi’s considerable abilities. Choi’s other disc Three Dancers (Accretions ALP-060 is quite a different offering including works for “prepared” baritone ukulele, percussion and electronics, all performed by the composer. The title of the 20-minute EP, again about 20 minutes in all (and of the third track,) refers to Picasso’s painting Les Trois Danseuses and the cover art is a line drawing by Choi. The brief opening track Preparations I and IV is percussive in its approach, seemingly achieved with preparations on the ukulele similar to those which John Cage developed for piano, rather than through the use of traditional percussion instruments. It is very rhythmic and pointillistic, but relatively tame compared to the dynamic second track, Apollon at Eros, which combines hand drumming and stilted string plucking which jumps erratically, although not randomly, around the fret board. The electronic treatments are subtly present in Three Dancers, with, as far as I can tell, textures produced by reversing recorded sounds which actually seem almost as if they could be created live in real time by this accomplished player. These two releases present a remarkable portrait of an instrument not previously known for its art music potential, and of an adventurous new voice on the contemporary scene. I was pleased, but not surprised, by the beautiful sounds on Old Wood – New Seeds, the latest from Toronto classical guitarist/ composer William Beauvais ( node/138158). The disc opens with the suite, Appalachian Colours – Gold; Red; Green; Blue, evidently inspired not by Copland’s Appalachian Spring, but rather by that iconic American composer’s orchestral suite Rodeo. From the contemplative opening movement through the lilting second and the lullabylike third, our attention is held by the lush colours Beauvais draws from his instrument. The gently ebullient final movement, glistening like sunlight off the surface of a rippling lake, held me wrapped in its thrall from start to finish nearly seven minutes later. Shakespeare has arguably provided inspiration for more composers than any other literary figure throughout history. Beauvais has followed this time-honoured path with a pair of works, Fallstaffe’s Lament and Fallstaffe’s Charade, the first being a suitably mournful theme and variations and the second in the form of an English jig. No explanation is given for the aberrant spelling of the character’s name (nor for a different spelling, one “l” but still the “e,” in the program note), perhaps just to evoke the Elizabethan era before spellings were standardized. Certainly the music does so effectively. We’ll return to Shakespeare later in this column but Beauvais next takes us to Eastern Europe in The Ancient Waters suite which uses two Bulgarian songs You can find enhanced reviews of all discs below the yellow line in The WholeNote listening room. 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 For more information Thom McKercher at Three compositions for prepared baritone ukulele. Debut album of composer Ryan Choi. Re-mastered original Grammy®winning album "pete" with the new companion DVD of never before seen footage of performances by Pete with the Paul Winter Consort. June 1, 2016 - September 7, 2016 | 71

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