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Volume 22 Issue 2 - October 2016

  • Text
  • October
  • Toronto
  • Choir
  • Jazz
  • Orchestra
  • Symphony
  • Concerts
  • Arts
  • November
  • Musical
In this issue: David Jaeger and Alex Pauk’s most memorable R. Murray Schafer collabs, in this month’s installment of Jaeger’s CBC Radio Two: The Living Legacy; an interview with flutist Claire Chase, who brings new music and mindset to Toronto this month; an investigation into the strange coincidence of three simultaneous Mendelssohn Elijahs this Nov 5; and of course, our annual Blue Pages, a who’s who of southern Ontario’s live music scene- a community as prolific and multifaceted as ever. These and more, as we move full-force into the 2016/17 concert season- all aboard!

down the camino with the

down the camino with the most relentless Latin grooves. This well-conceived, well-recorded project is a masterful mélange of superb contemporary jazz and indigenous Latin sensibilities, and is arguably one of the most important Canadian jazz recordings of the year. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Momentum Shirantha Beddage Independent SB 001 (shiranthabeddage.com) !! With the release of his latest superb, well-recorded CD, British-born multiinstrumentalist and composer Shirantha Beddage explores the theme of his lifelong fascination with the physical sciences and the cosmic forces that propel us, inhibit us and also flood our lives with powerful waves of attraction and repulsion. All of the tunes here have been composed and arranged by Beddage, who also acts as producer; he performs masterfully on a variety of woodwinds (including clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax, flute and particularly baritone saxophone) as well as keyboards. The fine lineup of Beddage’s musical collaborators include Dave Restivo on piano and keyboards, Mike Downes on acoustic bass, Rich Brown on electric bass and Mark Kelso and Will Kennedy (of Yellowjackets fame) on drums. Included in the eight engaging original tracks are standouts Pork Chop – a funky, cool, baritone-driven exploration with an agile and percussive piano solo by Restivo as well as plenty of sonic and rhythmic surprises; the multi-textured blues – Drag and Drop – which features Beddage on bass clarinet, moving seamlessly from legato passages to intensely powerful choruses and back again; and the impressive title track, which is aptly dedicated to the Oscarwinning film composer Bernard Herrmann. This composition is non-linear in its approach and seems to musically plumb the depths of human desire and also evoke misty, cinematic images. On the tender closing track, The Long Goodbye, Beddage wrings every last ounce of emotion out of each eloquent phrase. This thoroughly satisfying recording honours classic jazz motifs and also fearlessly explores contemporary, uncharted waters, instrumentation and compositional possibilities, ensuring that jazz is alive, healthy and in fine hands. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Estinto Pierre-Yves Martel e-tron records ETR C025 (pymartel.com) !! Postmodern to the tip of his orchestral bow, Montreal-based Pierre-Yves Martel has created a single track, 54-minute CD dedicated to estinto or extinguished timbres, that is, ones sounded briefly and barely audibly. Yet he’s created this futuristic equivalent of a visual artist’s sparse canvas using primordial and Baroque-era instruments – harmonica and soprano viola da gamba respectively – often played synchronously if not in harmony. Interlaced among these textures, which at points can suggest ratcheting percussion or harmonium-like euphony, are protracted silences. Their frequent but intermittent presence becomes as much a part of the album’s soundtrack as the tones which sometimes swell northwards of pianissimo. Overall, many of his narrative tones seem as fine as micron wire. Eventually though, the peeping wheezes and single-string sweeps attain polyphonic crosstalk encompassing varied tempi and pitches. Likely using non-standard tuning to extend his viola da gamba’s range and techniques during certain passages, Martel produces electronic-reminiscent tones acoustically. With the track’s concluding minutes enlivened by a brief harmonic upsurge of bell-like peals before subsiding, the unique program continues to makes its haunting presence felt as much through cerebral memory as aurally. Ken Waxman Concert Note: Pierre-Yves Martel plus pianist Philip Zoubek and tubaist Carl Ludwig Hübsch will perform at Gallery 345 on October 14. Pacific Alban Darche Pépin & Plume P&P 004 (pepinetplume.com) !! As serene and amicable as the word it describes, this session by French alto saxophonist Alban Darche is his salute to the polyphonic West Coast jazz of the 1950s. But like dramatists who recast an oft-told story in a new setting to point out the universality of the art, Darche’s Cool Jazz doesn’t copy the concepts advanced by the likes of Gil Evans, Lee Konitz and Paul Desmond. Instead of re-recording some Cool Jazz classics, the CD consists of ten Darche compositions played by a quintet consisting of some of Europe’s most accomplished young veterans: trumpeter Geoffroy Tamisier, trombonist Samuel Blaser, Jozef Dumoulin on piano and Fender Rhodes and drummer Steve Argüelles. Dumoulin’s electric keyboard is particularly important: like an iPhone plugged into a stereo outlet, its distinctive shimmers are prototypically contemporary, not mid-20th century. This is especially obvious when a snatch of the original California-style music is quoted on the sardonically titled Birth of the Coocool and when other Cool School motifs are especially obvious on Pacific 2, Fugue nº3. Pre-eminently a group effort, frequently balancing on the bucolic harmonies available via unison horn buffering, Darche leaves enough space for brief solos. His own work updates Desmond and Konitz with enough steel glimpsed through the silkiness to mix it up with feathery piano chording on Pacific 3 or advance in concordance with trombone slides on Kenny. On the same tune, Swiss-native Blaser, whose low notes add definition to the horn’s musical shape elsewhere, is involved in hide-and-seek with Dumoulin’s piano. More defining still is the fissure resulting when Blaser’s muted mellifluousness is contrasted with lead guitar-like ringing strokes from the pianist on Pacific 2, Fugue nº3. Usually muted, Tamisier confirms that standout improvising can also be selfeffacing; while Argüelles is so tasteful he’s felt rather than heard. If Pacific has a drawback it’s that, like its antecedents, too often the band whispers and noodles instead of shouts. But if the reverse took place, wouldn’t it upset the delicate balance here? Ken Waxman Concert Note: Samuel Blaser brings his European-American quartet to Hamilton’s Artword Artbar on October 13. POT POURRI Momentum Turbo Street Funk Independent TSFCD002 (turbostreetfunk.com) !! My first introduction to Turbo Street Funk was witnessing their live Toronto street corner bouncing performances which made any lengthy wait for public transit a joyous experience. Their busker street spirit is remarkably captured on this, their second release, though now they can also be heard playing lively gigs at festivals, clubs and on air! The nine tracks feature both original tunes and covers. The original title track Momentum is a big rock concert hall funky anthem with sing-along arm-waving melodies. In contrast, the jazzier original Never Been to New Orleans moves along in blues-based 68 | October 1, 2016 - November 7, 2016 thewholenote.com

harmonica and sax solos, and fun doubletime speedy Cajun-flavoured middle and ending sections true to their street roots. The other originals are good too and indicative of their developing songwriting skills. Covers are the band’s forte especially in Seven, an unlikely combination of the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army, the Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) and yes, Edvard Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King. Technical performance precision, precise listening skills and superb individual musicality weave an almost new musical genre highlighted by in-your-face guitar solos and dance-in-your-living-room grooves. Each Turbo Street Funk band member is an accomplished musician whose youthful artistic essence is captured by the excellent recording production. Infectious musical energy, a driving beat, booming bottom end tuba, wailing solos and boisterous vocals make Momentum a jubilant release. Tiina Kiik Ice Age Paradise Sienna Dahlen Independent SEN06 (siennadahlen.com) Dream Cassette Joel Miller; Sienna Dahlen Origin Records 82713 (originarts.com) !! Sienna Dahlen follows the great line of Canadian vocalists who commit to disc the poetry of music written from the heart. She also reveals that she is a queen of bright timbre and contrasting colours; a lyrical vocalist par excellence. On Ice Age Paradise she plays characters that are elementally flawed and tragic, revealing the raw wounds of their emotions as they rise up in the throat. The performance is a visceral one that flirts dangerously close to music’s nerve endings. Dahlen has in her sights a pure kind of poetry. How beautifully Venezia dances its ghostly waltz here, the flowing speed perfectly judged by conductor Andrew Downing to give the rhythms a lift and allow Dahlen to phrase the poem in unbroken sentences with total naturalness. Throughout, Dahlen is an engaging storyteller who brings to life a narrative almost completely visualized in monochrome. But as surely as night turns to day, voice, piano and bass, horns and cello, guitar and drums open the door to an attractive, songful luminosity that glimmers as if from a rainbow-coloured gossamer web. On Dream Cassette, Dahlen teams up with an extraordinarily gifted multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Joel Miller who, in each of 12 original songs here, has tempered his arsenal of sophisticated compositional resources with fond and haunting reminiscences reflecting the contours of New Brunswick’s rich and yet starkly dramatic cultural landscape. The mostly unfamiliar tunes serve as unifying devices, which in the hands of Miller and Dahlen, together with a crack ensemble, elevate their intentions through deconstruction in a variety of unexpected ways. Songs such as Flying Dream and Corey Heart are densely evocative and hypnotic musical embroideries while the audacious Streamlined is at once raucous and poignantly eloquent. There is a wonderful kaleidoscopic palette of vocal colours from Miller’s saxophones throughout, with plenty of sonorous bloom for high and lonesome notes. For her part, Dahlen brings an ethereal beauty to this recording, singing gloriously as she rises fluently to the stately melodic lines of Miller’s music. Raul da Gama Concert Note: Sienna Dahlen launches Ice Age Paradise at the Music Gallery on October 29. Emilyn Stam and John David Williams Emilyn Stam; John David Williams Independent (emilynandjohn.com) !! This self-titled CD is a fetching collection of original tunes by the Torontobased duo Emilyn Stam (on fiddle and accordion) and John Williams (on clarinet and harmonica). Drawing on their individual and joint experience in a broad range of musical genres, they deftly blur the lines between the traditional/ folk and experimental/improv worlds with inventive artistry. Fiddle and clarinet are the predominant colours throughout; these blend remarkably well here – kudos to the engineer for capturing such a great sound from the tricky-to-record clarinet! Whether in waltzes, jigs, blues or moreoutside-the-box tunes – my personal favourites being the Tim-Burton-meets-theklezmorim Sleepless Waltz and the quizzical Waltz from Hawaii Bar – there’s a whole lot to enjoy here. Stam and Williams play with colourful and expressive nuance, and their enjoyment of what they’re doing is palpable. Much instrumental virtuosity is on display here too but it’s all in good service to the music, and the occasional forays into what some of us might call “extended techniques” just add to the pleasure. Some very hot clarinet playing can be heard in The New Rule, and when Stam switches to accordion halfway through this tune, the blend of the two reed colours is brilliant. This is creative, witty and beautiful music making, and I hope we all hear a lot more from this duo. I first knew of Emilyn Stam’s playing through her work with the late great Oliver Schroer; as I listen here, I can almost see him beaming in the background. Alison Melville Little Hinges Qristina & Quinn Bachand Beacon Ridge Productions BRP15 (qbachand.com) !! Little Hinges is the third album by Qristina and Quinn Bachand, a brothersister folk/roots duo from the West Coast. Split into two distinct sections, this album is a curious blend of old and new – traditional songs are mixed with original tunes, and numerous sound fragments (such as steps, doors, crackles – adding an interesting textural component) are incorporated throughout. The first half of the recording, although containing a couple of original tunes, has a traditional Celtic roots feel to it. The moving Crooked Jack is a standout with captivating vocals, textured claw-hammer banjo and lovely violin lines. The short interlude Little Hinges sets the mood for the second half of the album – dreamier, darker, with a hint of the cinematic, a glimpse into a different world. Hang Me is dark and gloomy, with many textural layers and beautiful arrangements. Three Little Babies smartly increases the distorted textural sounds throughout to emphasize the emotion of the song. The album concludes with a bright traditional tune with a homey feel – Hangman’s Reel – showcasing both Qristina and Quinn on fiddles. I appreciated the notes and descriptions relating to each song in the liner notes – it added a layer of intimacy, a sense of familiarity with the music. Although young, Qristina and Quinn are both award-winning musicians and engaging performers. Their synergy captivates the listener on every level – truly enjoyable. Ivana Popovic thewholenote.com October 1, 2016 - November 7, 2016 | 69

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