6 years ago

Volume 21 Issue 9 - Summer 2016

  • Text
  • Festival
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Quartet
  • August
  • Orchestra
  • September
  • Musical
  • Theatre
  • 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.

ecordings. This two-CD

ecordings. This two-CD set consists of recently discovered recordings from French radio archives that include the quartet, an expanded version called the Jazz aux Champs Elysées All-Stars, and organ and piano trios led by Young. Virtually unknown at home, these musicians roar with surging invention in the post-bop style then in flower. Anthemic pieces such as Young’s Talkin’ About J.C., Shaw’s Zoltan (beginning with a quotation from Kodály’s Háry János Suite) and Wayne Shorter’s Black Nile give rise to hard-driving, extended modal explorations. Davis will fasten on a phrase, repeating it with increasing focus to generate tremendous tension. Shaw, the last to emerge in a cohort of brilliant young trumpeters, was already demonstrating the fluid creativity that would distinguish him. Young is almost a band in himself, creating bass lines and surging rhythms, constantly feeding new material to the horns until he breaks free in his solos. The booklet that accompanies the CDs has extensive background on the mid-60s Paris milieu, along with interviews with Young’s collaborators and followers, including John McLaughlin and John Medeski. Stuart Broomer POT POURRI Do Right Sari Kessler Independent ( Do Right is Sari Kessler’s debut album, and it’s an impressive one. Although a scan of the track list with its frequently covered songs initially didn’t give me high expectations, right off the top we get a nicely reimagined treatment of the Bacharach-David hit, Walk on By. Arranged by James Shipp, with a darker feel than the original, young trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis adds to the noir. The album continues in its tastefully inventive vein as Kessler and Shipp’s arrangements breathe new life into tunes like Sunny and provide an appropriately contemplative take on I Thought About You. One of the lesser-known songs on the album is The Gal From Joe’s by Duke Ellington, handled with understated poignancy by Kessler and the band. Based in the U.S., Kessler took up a career in jazz singing a little later than some, and that’s given her an ability to inject some genuine depth and soul into her delivery. Coached by the wonderful Kate McGarry (who also co-produces the album) Kessler has a fine voice with a warm tone, spot-on pitch and jazzy phrasing. The creative and able playing of the musicians, including John di Martino on piano, guitarist Ron Affif and sax man Houston Person, round out this skilled collection of songs. Cathy Riches Long Time Leaving Christa Couture Black Hen Music BHCD0079 ( !! With the release of her fourth CD, Edmonton-based, eclectic, rootsinspired chanteuse, pianist and gifted composer Christa Couture has recorded a brilliant careerdefining project. Featuring all original music, and described by Couture as a “celebration of ordinary heartache,” she has almost cinematically plumbed the depths of her own inspiring journey (teenage cancer, the unimaginable loss of two children and more) and transmuted those experiences into a panrelatable, uplifting and delightfully quirky project. Recorded in Nashville and skillfully produced by JUNO-winning guitarist/ multi-instrumentalist Steve Dawson, the CD includes members of Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, notably Dawson on pedal steel and electric guitars, John Dymond on bass, Gary Craig on drums and venerable Nashvillebased fiddler, Fats Kaplin. There is no wallowing in self-pity here. In fact, the instrumentation, arrangements, compositions and Couture’s lithe, sheer, roots-influenced vocals all underscore the unconquerable human spirit – and make this recording an appropriate listening choice for almost any mood or activity. Of special note are The Slaughter, with its haunting, almost childlike, echo-infused vocals and a lyric that ponders breakups with both men and women; Michigan Postscript – a melodic travelling song with a lilting vocal and stunning slide work by Dawson; Zookeeper – replete with fine acoustic piano and heavy surf guitar saturating this insightful and witty ode to couples therapy; and Lovely Like You – a sweet stunner featuring the honeyed tones of fiddler Kaplin. Also memorable is the closing track, Aux Oiseaux – a charming, pristine and deliciously melancholy anthem of survival and the art of learning to embrace life again – no matter what has transpired. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke KAMP! Songs and Satire from Theresienstadt Amelia DeMayo; Curt Buckler; Sergei Dreznin Analekta AN 2 8789 !! When DISCoveries editor David Olds approached me about reviewing a CD of satirical songs written inside the Theresienstadt concentration camp, we both expressed our reservations about it. But curiosity (and the fact that the World Jewish Congress sponsored the project) got me to listen. KAMP! Songs and Satire from Theresienstadt is the first English recording of songs written and performed by some (of the many) Jewish poets, composers, musicians and cabaret stars imprisoned in Theresienstadt (1942-44), and marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of that infamous “model ghetto.” These songs were brought to light, given life and presented in a cabaret-like setting in Vienna in 1992. Russian-Jewish pianist and composer, Sergei Dreznin, served both at the piano and as music director. Dreznin, who also wrote several new melodies to existing poems, went on to direct an English version called KAMP! in 1994. The eponymous CD is the culmination of Dreznin’s 20-plus-yearresolve to keep alive this material created as a means of survival, a way for prisoners to mock their unbearable circumstances and maintain their sanity. The material is indeed subversive and unsettling. It is also brilliantly executed by Dreznin and singing actors Amelia DeMayo and Curt Buckler. If nothing else, KAMP!, with its gallows humour and shades of Tom Lehrer, G&S, Weill, Brecht, Brel and Brooks (Mel), deserves a listen for its celebration of the human spirit. To quote Dreznin, “I hope you will laugh. You will cry. And you will definitely learn.” Sharna Searle Sephardic Journey Cavatina Duo Cedille CDR 90000 163 (cedillerecords. org) ! ! Sephardic Journey is the result of a 20-year exploration taken by the Cavatina Duo – the husband and wife team of Bosnianborn guitarist, Denis Azabagic, and Spanish-born flutist, Eugenia Moliner – into their Sephardic Jewish heritage. In 1996, Azabagic learned that a great aunt of his was a descendant of Sephardic Jews who left Spain at the end of the 15th century. Later, Moliner discovered her own connection: to avoid being expelled, some Jews living in medieval Spain converted to Christianity, taking on last names according to their vocations; a miller, for example, adopted the name “Moliner.” From this shared background comes a compelling CD of new works commissioned specifically for the Cavatina Duo, all drawing on traditional Sephardic folk tunes – mostly love songs with their often-dramatic, Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) texts – for inspiration. The recording is infused with gorgeous, evocative melodies, soulful and plaintive laments, lyrical flights of fancy, sultry twists on the tango, startling percussive passages

and an exhilarating energy. Azabagic and Moliner are virtuosic, passionate musicians, deftly accompanied by David Cunliffe on cello, Desirée Ruhstrat, violin, and the Avalon String Quartet. Joseph V. Willams II’s Isabel is the lone flute and guitar duo on the CD; the remaining four works include trios by Alan Thomas and Carlos Rafael Rivera, and sextets by David Leisner and Clarice Assad. I was particularly struck by the third movement of Leisner’s Love Dreams of the Exile, which juxtaposes a jarring, percussive introduction with a generous, heartachingly beautiful quote from the beloved Ladino ballad, Tu madre cuando te parió (Adio Querida). I wholeheartedly recommend joining the Cavatina Duo on their journey. Sharna Searle Something in the Air | Those Who Teach Can Also Play KEN WAXMAN As shibboleths go, the hoary “those who can do, those who can’t teach,” must rank at the very top of the list. Besides libelling the majority of educators who devote themselves to the task of imparting knowledge to students, it negates the activities of those who teach and do. Here are some musicians who maintain a full-time teaching career along with consistent gigging. Case in point is American drummer Gerry Hemingway, now on the faculty of the Hochschule Luzern in Switzerland. This commitment doesn’t stop him from being part of many working bands. One is The Who trio, filled out by pianist/synthesizer player Michel Wintsch and bassist Bänz Oester, both Swiss natives. Zoo (Auricle Aur 14+15; is one all-acoustic CD and another featuring Wintsch on keyboards, each of which demonstrates the drummer’s sensitivity. On some of the electronic tracks his percussion colouration is such that its unobtrusiveness is reminiscent of the drum pulses in the film Birdman. Hemingway is a full partner on these discs however. On Sloeper for instance, which could define the acoustic jazz trio, he relaxes into poised and positioned accents which chime clockwork-like alongside Oester’s juiced-up thwacks, allowing Wintsch to extend the line. Subsequent nimble piano inventions are met with Gatling gun-like swats from the drummer until the exposition reverts to simple swing. Hemingway’s unfussy paddling keeps the exposition flowing even when the pianist unleashes evocatively flowery chords. Introduced by arpeggiated double-bass string shaking, Raccitus confirms that hard back beats and cymbal clangs can manoeuvre a gentle melody into a dramatic narrative of resonating strength. With capricious echoes and processing from the synthesizer adding unforeseen granular synthesis and oscillated wiggles to the program, the percussionist adopts cutting-edge techniques. On the extended Lamp Bowl for example, dealing with timbres that could come from Hammond organ, murmuring computer programs or signals from outer space, Hemingway’s polyrhythms break up the narrative at the same time as they steady the beat. Considering Wintsch’s playing is equally protean, highlighting both vivid acoustic melodies and buzzing electric oscillations, the drummer’s rugged pops plus staccato interjections from the bassist further ground the piece. Hemingway’s artful shadings in both settings confirm why the professional development days on his teaching calendar are marked by playing opportunities with ensembles of various sizes. Size is no hindrance for bassist Michael Formanek, who teaches at Baltimore’s Peabody Institute. The 71-minute, multi-sectional The Distance suite he composed is performed with élan and ebullience by the specially organized 19-member Ensemble Kolossus (ECM 2484 Notable for more than its enormity, the effect of listening to the CD’s ten tracks is like standing in front of a large painting of an important 19th-century battle. While the canvas initially draws you to the conflict in the foreground, very soon you begin noticing the details on the scene’s periphery. It’s the same with Exoskeleton, the CD’s eight-part centrepiece. Introduced by the bassist’s own pedal-to-the-metal string pumping, the work quickly settles into sequences that alternate vamping section work with solo expression. With five reed and eight brass players, the undulating horn crescendos often put into bolder relief, or are put into bolder relief by, the sophisticated musings issuing from Kris Davis’ linear piano lines or guitarist Mary Halvorson’s darkened finger picking. This means that despite huffing theme variations by the four trombonists in the early sequences, a finger-snapping rhythm remains. Subsequent tonal deconstruction in the form of a duet between tenor saxophonist Chris Speed and cornetist Kurt Knuffke, or trumpeter Ralph Alessi’s tongue flutters contrasting with trombonist Alan Ferber’s more moderated blasts, are kept in check by Formanek’s strong arrangements. Not only does the layered note colouration flow around the soloists, but acting like a drill sergeant, the guitarist’s hammered notes never allow the sound excursions to travel off into uncharted musical paths. All this doesn’t weaken the compositional thrust in any way and by the penultimate section, A Reptile Dysfunction, concentrated polyphony generated by growling horns plus thick smacks from the bassist and drummer Tomas Fujiwara give way to a polished chamber-like duet. Oscar Noriega’s contralto clarinet tones brushing up against Patricia Brennan’s chiming marimba reveals one more painterly detail of the composition. Finally, Metamorphic, the climax, involves trumpeter Dave Ballou’s polished grace notes soaring like a dove of peace over vamping, bellicose multiphonics that involve every other player. Ballou’s brassy resolution helps direct the suite to wrap up with the same intensity with which it began. With detailing demanding repeated listening, Formanek’s creative triumph is confirmed. On a much smaller scale, but with the same sort of sonic concordance is Cosmopolitan Greetings (Red Piano RPR 4699-4419-2, where a quartet featuring pianist Frank Carlberg, who teaches at Boston’s New England Conservatory, plays three of his originals and three free improvisations. Although not a regular group, there’s no fissure between the academic and the jobbing musicians: guitarist Joe Morris, bassist Pascal Niggenkemper and drummer Luther Gray. If anything, the pianist’s writing and versatility come across like line drawings which break a solid page of text in a publication. Thematic links to Thelonious Monk’s crooked time sense (especially on Now and Forever) and Herbie Nichols’ joyous abandon (more pointedly on Get it?), allow Carlberg to create a space where bop, cool and free impulses intersect. On the second tune for instance, the melody is paramount, with a drum solo offering a lesson in how to gradually minimize the tempo while maximizing swing. Elsewhere, as on the title tune, Niggenkemper’s string segmentation suggests minimalism, tempered with keyboard clip-clops; while walking and sliding bass stops plus ratcheting guitar licks turn Cadillac Squawk, another Carlberg line, into unexpectedly relaxed Third Stream-like music. Like a champion kayaker crewing on a larger boat, veteran free improviser Morris expresses himself with nuanced distinction within the June 1, 2016 - September 7, 2016 | 87

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