7 years ago

Volume 21 Issue 9 - Summer 2016

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  • Festival
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
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  • August
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  • September
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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.

of emotions that Franks

of emotions that Franks himself never chose to express. The closing track, The Ballad of the Sad Young Men, comes from the pens of genius composer/lyricists Fran Landesman and Tommy Wolf. Rarely performed and deeply moving, this song of longing, loss and the dream of redemption can only be properly done (as it is here) by an artist who has lived and experienced life. This EP is eminently satisfying on every level, and underscores the fact that Broverman continues to be one of the most intriguing, skilled and consummately tasteful jazz vocalists on the scene today. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Ship Without a Sail Mike Murley Trio Cornerstone Records CRST CD145 ( !! Among tenor saxophonist Mike Murley’s group configurations, the trio has a special status, a vehicle for consummately lyrical jazz with chamber music dynamics. Launched in 1998, the group included bassist Steve Wallace and guitarist Ed Bickert until his retirement in 2001. The guitar chair has since been filled by Reg Schwager, who invariably sounds like the only other person for the job. Resembling the instrumentation of the original Jimmy Giuffre 3, it’s a demanding format that requires everyone to do more than they usually might – from piano-like comping to counter melody – while appearing to do less. The repertoire tends toward seldom-heard jazz and show tunes with a certain harmonic subtlety. Murley’s timbral shifts are a highlight, as he modulates his sound from piece to piece, even bringing different tones to adjacent ballads. Don Sebesky’s You Can’t Go Home Again has something of the airiness of Stan Getz but brought closer to earth, while there’s a slightly harder, metallic edge to Kenny Wheeler’s Ever After, a sound just as beautiful, but different. Though it’s the ballads and their stronger melodies that stand out, like the gorgeous samba Folhas Secas, the group is just as happy at up-tempos, the instrumentation lending a special lightness and clarity to Charlie Parker’s Dexterity and Murley’s own Know One, the latter highlighting the way Schwager and Wallace interact creatively, exchanging lead and accompanying roles with aplomb. John Lewis’ Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West points to the group’s cool jazz roots and provides an outlet for everyone’s blues impulses. Stuart Broomer The Blue Shroud Barry Guy Intakt Records CD 266 ( !! British bassist and composer Barry Guy has enjoyed an unusual career, as a member of original instrument baroque ensembles, as a force in European free improvisation and as a leader of large ensembles (like the London Jazz Composers Orchestra) exploring multiple compositional methodologies. His 71-minute Blue Shroud is an extraordinary work that integrates all of those practices. It’s inspired by Picasso’s Guernica, the title commemorating the moment in 2003 when a reproduction was covered up at New York’s U.N. building as Colin Powell argued for the invasion of Iraq. A work of furies and lamentations, The Blue Shroud stretches from tumultuous collective improvisations to moments of melodic grace and reflection, some coming from Guy’s own pen, others from J.S. Bach and H.I.F. Biber’s Mystery Sonatas. To execute the work, Guy has drawn on the breadth of his musical associations to create a 14-member group that includes violinist and Bach/Biber specialist Maya Homburger; distinguished free improvisers like pianist Agustí Fernández and the percussionists Lucas Niggli and Ramón López; and others fully at home in both worlds, like Michel Godard on tuba and serpent and Michael Niesemann on wailing alto saxophone and baroque oboe. The work includes songs on texts by Irish poet Kerry Hardie that delineate the figures in Guernica and a polyglot declaration of the Iraq invocation, all performed by Savina Yannatou, whose expressive and musical voice brings a sharp focus to the work. At one point she and the accompanying instruments become bird song; an orchestral passage juxtaposes manic conducted improvisation with sudden interruptions of silence, invoking the soundscapes of war and concomitant death. Guy repeatedly combines different techniques to maximize the impact of this singular work, as alive to the possibility of beauty as it is to terror, somehow making it all cohere. The Blue Shroud hammers out its own terrain, one that transcends its parts and deserves to be heard widely. Stuart Broomer Border Crossing Alex Goodman OA2 Records OA2 22130 ( oa2) !! Composition and improvisation flow freely into each other on guitarist Alex Goodman’s Border Crossing. For his latest recording Goodman has assembled what can best be described as a jazz chamber group. His writing is ambitious and complex, making full use of the wide range of colours available from this outstanding ensemble. Andrew Downing, who doubles on bass and cello, and vocalist Felicity Williams contribute to the group’s ability to cross genres as does Goodman’s extensive use of the acoustic guitar. Acrobat opens the album with acoustic guitar and percussionist Rogerio Boccato’s unique and inventive textures. Williams glides through the tune’s moody melody, its lyrics equating a man’s searching nature with an acrobat’s skills. Vibraphonist Michael Davidson’s judicious phrasing builds the intensity of his solo and Goodman demonstrates virtuosity, making use of wide intervals in a highly lyrical fashion. With Thanks is an epic composition that displays the full range of Goodman’s writing skills as well as the band’s remarkable ability to interpret them. Williams effortlessly negotiates the intricate melody and solos are individually framed to provide contrast and variety. Drummer Fabio Ragnelli improvises fluidly over unpredictable rhythmic shots as the piece segues smoothly through what could be a disparate series of events. Pure Imagination, the only other tune with lyrics on the album, might offer an answer to the yearning expressed in Acrobat. Williams sings of the power of imagination to shape the world, nicely bookending this impressive and beautiful recording. Ted Quinlan Oop! Al Muirhead; Tommy Banks; PJ Perry Chronograph Records CR045 ( ! ! Oop! by Calgarybased trumpeter Al Muirhead exemplifies the reasons that the American songbook continues to inspire jazz musicians some eight decades after many of its tunes were originally written. Accompanied by iconic musicians PJ Perry on alto saxophone and Tommy Banks on piano, Muirhead virtually owns the compositions presented here and embodies the approaches that are essential to getting deeply inside this time-honoured material. All three of these musicians (as well as percussionist Rogerio Boccato who guests on Black Orpheus) possess a longstanding connection to this music and play it in the most natural way possible. Miles Davis’ The Theme (based on the chord changes to Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm) opens the album with Muirhead and Perry playing the line in harmony over Banks’ relentlessly swinging piano. Perry, one of the world’s finest exponents of the bebop tradition, solos brilliantly followed by Muirhead

who exhibits impeccable taste and tone in his relaxed, melodic delivery. Tommy Banks plays one perfect chorus of unaccompanied piano, demonstrating his blues-infused bop style. Rhythm changes, as we refer to tunes based on the classics, are a test piece for jazz musicians and The Theme firmly establishes the impressive credentials of these players. The ballad medley is a testament to the deceptively simple art of playing a melody beautifully. Alfred Newman’s Street Scene, featured in the overture of How To Marry A Millionaire, and an uncharacteristically languid reading of Mean To Me, are pleasant surprises from this superb trio of seasoned pros. Ted Quinlan She Sleeps, She Sleeps Fire! Rune Grammofon RCD 2178 ( !! Specializing in blending basement timbres, so all of their gradations are audible, the Swedish trio of drummer Andreas Werliin, double bassist Johan Berthling and saxophonist Mats Gustafsson welcomes a couple of guests here to add additional textures. But the auxiliary tones simply intensify the trio’s characteristically powerful stance. Cellist Leo Svensson’s intermittent string plucks and swipes are permeable enough, so like a youngster mimicking an adult’s movements, he merely strengthens Werliin’s thick power stops. On the other hand Gustafsson’s foundation-shaking bass saxophone gusts not only provide a bonding continuum throughout, but also showcase multiphonics encompassing glossolalia, split tones and concentrated overblowing. Most notably, that ad hoc foursome’s more-than-18-minute She Penetrates The Distant Silence Slowly never plods, but is invested with rhythmic swing, even as it plays out at a tortoise-like gait. Gustafsson is equally powerful playing baritone saxophone on the title track, plus visitor Oren Ambarchi’s fuzzy guitar drones and Werliin’s high-density polyethylene bottle-like reverberations played on steel guitar overlay a variety of contrasting tones onto the nearly opaque narrative. But drum beats, migrating from martial to shuffle, and wrenching double bass slaps provide a solid enough foundation for the saxophonist’s output. Slurping, honking, burping and blowing as if he were a bull moose yearning for his mate, Gustafsson manages to express his individuality in every solo. Don’t look for subtlety or elegance in Fire! – or Gustafsson’s – playing. But be prepared to be bowled over by the sheer audacity of expression that highlights every low-pitched nuance here. Ken Waxman Concert note: Mats Gustafsson plays as part of The Thing on Saturday, June 18 at Hamilton’s Artword Artbar. Hotel Grief Tom Rainey Trio Intakt Records CD 256 ( !! Comfortable in settings from big band to solo, guitarist Mary Halvorson joins with soprano and tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock to roughen the edges of the five instant compositions on this CD. Cultivated and self-effacing, leader/drummer Tom Rainey is as far removed from a braggadocious percussion show-off like Buddy Rich as Donald Trump is from Martin Luther King. Discretion doesn’t mean withdrawal however, and in context the drummer’s sophisticatedly positioned strokes contribute more to the architectures of the tracks than would any clamorous rhythm display. With the guitarist’s strategies ranging from distorted reverb to sly, slurred fingering, and the reed tessitura soaring from clenched squeaks to harsh rasping whispers, the drummer’s role is analogous to a U.N. peacekeeper in the Balkans: maintaining consistency without favouring either side and keeping their extended techniques from occupying the other’s territory. Proud Achievements in Botany, the CD’s almost-19-minute centrepiece, is a microcosm of how Hotel Grief’s tracks evolve. Halvorson’s widening or winnowing licks take on spacey qualities at the same time as Laubrock’s intense single reed bites settle into linear melodies. With the saxophonist’s now modulated tones circumscribed by string chording, drum rattles manipulate any stray lines so that the three eventually move like regimental guards in formation. Breaking the concordance with what could be a slo-mo version of Wipe Out, Rainey’s tough drum beats join with Halvorson’s lopping reverb and Laubrock’s slurps and snarls to create a finale that may rattle like an old jalopy, but still conveys the grace and speed of wellplotted locomotion. Although titled Hotel Grief, this musical dwelling offers very little despondency except for fleeting moods in context. Instead, by imagining each track as a separate room, the CD offers a set of quietly resplendent chambers furnished with innovative touches by a trio of sonic designers. Ken Waxman Concert note: Mary Halvorson is a member of The Outlouds trio in concert on Saturday, June 18 at Array Space. Some Other Time: The Lost Session from the Black Forest Bill Evans Resonance HCD-2019 (resonancerecords. org) !! For six months in 1968, Bill Evans led one of the great versions of his trio, with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette, a group previously heard only in a single concert recording from the Montreux Jazz Festival. However, they did a studio session for the German MPS label, a session of trio, piano-bass duets and solo piano pieces for which contracts were never signed and which was never released until the appearance of this two-CD set. In company with the singularly gifted bassist Scott LaFaro, Evans had redefined the jazz piano trio by 1960, treating it as a highly interactive unit in which the bass regularly functioned as melodic counterpart as well as rhythmic and harmonic foundation. By 1968 Gomez was two years into his 11-year tenure with the trio, probably the most adroit and inventive bassist to play with Evans following LaFaro’s death in 1961. The presence of DeJohnette added another level of rhythmic definition to the group, feeding Evans’ increasing interest in detailed, shifting accents in his improvisations. The material consists of standards, superior show tunes (Leonard Bernstein’s Some Other Time stands out) and a couple of Evans originals, typically filled with subtle harmonic recastings that create complex moods, much of it enlivened here by DeJohnette’s light, sparkling balance of cymbal and snare. Among numerous highlights, the trio shines on performances of Evans’ own Very Early and a brilliant version of My Funny Valentine. Stuart Broomer In Paris – The ORTF Recordings Larry Young Resonance HCD-2022 (resonancerecords. org) !! Larry Young emerged in the mid-60s, taking the Hammond B-3 organ in a fresh direction, shifting it away from its soul jazz roots toward the modal jazz of John Coltrane and exploring the instrument’s subtler timbres for atmospheric effects. By the end of that revolutionary decade, he would be playing with Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix, but in 1964 and ’65, he was working in Paris as a sideman in expatriate American saxophonist Nathan Davis’ quartet, along with drummer Billy Brooks and trumpeter Woody Shaw, who would turn 20 in the midst of these June 1, 2016 - September 7, 2016 | 85

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