6 years ago

Volume 22 Issue 8 - May 2017

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • Arts
  • Musical
  • Jazz
  • Festival
  • Symphony
  • Theatre
  • Choir
  • Orchestra
  • Quartet
From science fact in "Integral Man: Music and the Movies," to science fiction in the editor's opener; from World Fiddle Day at the Aga Khan Museum to three Canadians at the Cliburn; from wanting to sashay across the 401 to Chamberfest in Montreal to exploring the Continuum of Jumblies Theatre's 20-year commitment to the Community Play (there's a pun in there somewhere!).

ass and drum solos that

ass and drum solos that bring the trio’s individual strengths to the fore. While this lacks the surprise of the recent Some Other Time: The Lost Session from the Black Forest (Resonance), an unknown studio recording from 1968 with drummer Jack DeJohnette, On a Monday Evening is a fine addition to a still-expanding body of work. Stuart Broomer No Favorites!: For Lawrence “Butch” Morris Rova: Orkestrova New World NW80782-2 ( !! Dedicated to Lawrence “Butch” Morris (1947-2013), who structured improvisations without compromising individual freedom, Rova swells to orchestral size to adapt the concept. Adding acoustic string players, an electric rhythm section and, on one selection, a conductor, to Rova’s four saxophones is like adding bright colours to a room decorated in shades of white. Yet so attuned to the concept is everyone’s playing that the now euphonious sounds remain hard-edged not ornamented. Interlacing sequences from other compositions that are sutured and separated by hand signals and graphic scores, the 11-piece ensemble makes the formations sound harmonically and rhythmically whole, with space for interjections ranging from buzzing string spiccato and guitar flanges to sharp reed keening and drum resonation, often wrapped in group polyphony. Following shorter tunes like sprints before a marathon, the most spectacular instance is the lengthy Contours of the Glass Head. Opening with Rite of Spring-like juddering counterpoint with electric instruments’ droning continuum, the exposition features theme-shredding via reed tongue slaps, altissimo cries and sibilate razzing even as it’s stabilized by moderated string and drum ostinato. The ensuing narrative makes room for double bass low plucks and upper register violin strokes plus a disorderly rock-like sequence of guitar flanges, backbeat drumming and screeching saxophone trills that are half-R&B and half-Free Jazz. Finally intermittent saxophone bites allow an underlying ruggedness to peek through the gauze. The CD is a fine instance of Orkestrova’s art and a fitting salute to a departed innovator. Ken Waxman The Joy of Being François Carrier; Rafal Mazur; Michel Lambert No Business Records NBCD 97 ( !! Continuation of the unique Polish- Canadian partnership between Montrealers alto saxophonist François Carrier and drummer Michel Lambert, plus Krakow’s acoustic bass guitarist Rafal Mazur, this session finds the parts meshing like Polish perogies and Québécois beer: unusual but nourishing. Mazur is ambidextrous in that his work utilizes both guitar-like intonation and double bass-like resonation. His fluid strokes create a walking-bass-like foundation on tracks such as True Nature allowing the others freedom to improvise; while his solo forays such as Omnipresent Beauty, vibrate sophisticated tonal asides which frequently refocus the narratives. As adept at squeezing rhythmic inferences from his drums and cymbals with the attention of a doctor performing microsurgery, Lambert’s motion subtly reinforces the program so that most beats are implied. Although tracks such as True Nature exultantly stretch Carrier’s solos almost to the edge of infinity so that that every variation, extension and partial, is exposed, these choppy asides don’t negate the saxophonist’s other side. His wide vibrations and thoughtful timbre elaborations on Blissfulness and Mystery of Creation, for example, are as artful as Paul Desmond’s ballad style. With the hushed and hardy parts of the trio’s work constantly available, the title tune is the most distinctive showpiece. Producing yelping split tones from a Chinese oboe, Carrier strains to outline Mazur’s crackling runs and Lambert’s undulating slaps. With Carrier back on alto by the finale, The Joy of Being becomes yet another instance of the trio’s complete communication. Ken Waxman Trillium Falls University of Toronto 12TET U of T Jazz ( !! It appears that the University of Toronto is, happily, going to be known for more than medicine and other sciences. For now, let fine arts take centre stage as we are treated to an album of exhilarating songs (and some soaring, yet elegiac balladry) – Trillium Falls. Here we have director Terry Promane, low-brass specialist, writer and arranger, as producer of this fine eight-song set. Trillium Falls plays to the strengths of a select group of Promane’s students from the bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate programs from which the light of young stars will no longer remain hidden within the stark, academic environs of Walter Hall. Truth be told, several members of the band have stepped into Toronto’s jazz spotlight before and those who haven’t yet done so surely will. This finely crafted unit is more valuable than a proverbial well-oiled machine, although the refined machination of the band is one of its main attractions. It’s hard to imagine this ensemble without Emily Denison’s trumpet and flugelhorn, or Modibo Keita’s trombone or both the Argatoffs’ saxophones. And on evidence of her luminous, wordless vocals Jacqueline Teh is sure to journey to the stars. There is, of course, much more for the 12tet to be proud of, such as the riveting Song for Lia written by pianist Noam Lemish, Terry Promane’s atmospheric title track and, of course, performances by other members of this wonderful ensemble, not named here for want of space. Raul da Gama Discoveries on tracker action organs Veryan Weston Emanem 5044 ( !! Veryan Weston is an English improviser and composer, a brilliant free-jazz pianist whose works include Tessellations, a structure for improvisation that moves permutationally through 52 pentatonic scales. Weston is inspired by the behaviour of different keyboard instruments and by the possibilities of microtonality, two passions that came together on the 2014 Tuning Out tour with violinist Jon Rose and cellist Hannah Marshall (Emanem 5207). In preparation, Weston visited old churches, exploring some 30 tracker action organs, small mechanical instruments in which “there is only a short gap between the touch of a key and the pipe making a sound.” Weston was concerned with the instruments’ individual characteristics: “When each stop is very gradually pulled out (or pushed back in) while a key is pressed, you can hear many stages of the sound being made; from breath to whisper…Often microtones seem to bend toward a final pitch.” The material here has been drawn from Weston’s recorded research, exploring the sonic quirks and minutiae of various instruments, making fresh discoveries in the lightly swirling runs of Quiet Fanfare (from St. Mary the Virgin in South Croxton), the low-pitched chords with foghorn effects of Proceeding with Caution (All Saints in Horstead) and the playful, calliope-like Fair with Ground (St. Anselm Hall in Manchester). The 24-minute Numerous Discoveries (All Saints in York) is a work of sustained 78 | May 1, 2017 - June 7, 2017

invention, with Weston finding sub-vocal bleats and wails as well as beat patterns between close frequencies. This is fascinating music, a fine companion to Messiaen’s improvisations and Áine O’Dwyer’s Music for Church Cleaners. Stuart Broomer POT POURRI Jobim 90 Fernanda Cunha Independent AA1000 ( !! There is no question that Antonio Carlos “Tom” Jobim is the most significant, seminal Brazilian composer/musician of this – or any other – time. Without the late Jobim (who would be 90) and his starring role on the tidal wave of bossa nova and Brazilian music in general, there would be no Ivan Lins, Hermeto Pascoal, Gilberto Gil or even Sérgio Mendes. His music remains as stunning, mysterious and indestructible as the pyramids – always gracefully lending itself to a phalanx of interpretations – from the symphonic to the pristine, authentic and vocally driven ensemble that the listener will find here in this exquisite collection. Producer and powerful alto vocalist Fernanda Cunha has selected ten of Jobim’s familiar (and also infrequently performed) tunes, and brought together a delicious ensemble of collaborators, including Zé Carlos and Reg Schwager on guitar, Jorjão Carvalho on electric bass, Helbe Machado and Edson Ghilardi on drums and Camilla Dias on piano – with all arrangements by members of this tight, skilled unit. First up is the lilting Aguas de Março (The Waters of March) with its deceptively poetic narrative (which is actually a string of clues to a very infamous 1950s murder in Rio). The song is refreshingly rendered here with musical and vocal precision, and no overwrought Romanticism. Other jewels in this musical crown include the intensely sensual Samba Da Avião; a lovely version of Two Kites sung in English (and featuring the always tasty Schwager on guitar) and the lighter-than-air Chovendo Na Roseira. This fine recording is the result of Cunha’s glorious vision of Jobim’s achievement of the perfect symbiosis of melody, lyric, emotional content, musicianship and soaring spirit. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke The Right Frame of Mind Rodrick Dixon; Edward Mallett; Alvin Waddles Blue Griffin Records BGR 411 ( !! Take three accomplished performers on the unlikely combination of the tuba-like euphonium, piano and tenor voice, energetically performing music ranging from classics, show tunes and traditional, and a curiosity becomes an uplifting, unusual musical experience. Each performer is having so much fun! Rodrick Dixon’s tenor voice is over-the-top enjoyable in flair, diction and spirit. Edward Mallett on euphonium is equally solid in keeping the bottom end in place but really shines when he takes the lead on the melody. Pianist Alvin Waddles plays with dynamic conviction, technical flair and colourful jazzy lines. As all three performers joined forces in arranging the selections, each respective part Something in the Air is playable and inventive. The opening track I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’ from Porgy and Bess immediately showcases all the great music to come with an upbeat piano lick and bouncy horn melody opening followed by a stadiumfilling vocal rendition. Nessun Dorma from Turandot starts on a more traditional operatic setting with piano and voice, and when the euphonium joins in on both melody and accompaniment, a full orchestral-sounding performance transpires. A Patriotic Salute is an uplifting witty medley of American standards such as Stars and Stripes Forever which fits the instrumentation perfectly. The performers’ mutual respect of the music and each other is evident throughout. It may be a bit too extreme in sentiment for some yet it is really difficult not to at least smile if not laugh out loud when listening! Tiina Kiik The Cello Comes into Its Own as Improvising Instrument KEN WAXMAN Heir to a long and prominent role in notated music, exploration of the cello as a frontline partner has a shorter history in improvised music. Yet like a visual artist’s apprentice who subsequently envisages novel ways to utilize painterly techniques that surpass earlier conventions, today improvisers’ cello showcases expose the four-string instrument in a multitude of unexpected and interactive situations. Virtuosity is the most universal method of expressing instrumental skill and there are 13 examples of cello prestidigitation on D’éclisses (Ambiances Magnétiques AM 233 CD Quebec City’s Rémy Bélanger de Beauport contorts the sound of his instrument into so many unexpected variables that he could be the musical equivalent of Harry Houdini and/or Mandrake the Magician. A mathematician with a fondness for dance, noise rock and electronic music, de Beauport’s skill is such that it appears as if more than one instrument is present or that his cello is amplified, while creating completely acoustic textures without overdubs. Entonnoir treize, for instance, begins with a resonation that could be from a drum set, but is quickly revealed to be a powerful string pluck. Meantime two separate tones, one strident and high-pitched, and the other moderato like Baroque continuo, move in parallel fashion across the narrative. As the piece flashes by with bullet-train-like speed, de Beauport’s techniques suggest at points he’s ripping the finish off his strings while accelerating sul ponticello sweeps that eventually reach a vibrating finale. Similar dark-light/ pliable-immovable tones are on Brasier as the simultaneous timbres contrast bird-like whistles with jackhammer-like thumps. But despite these outré gestures moderato strokes are still audible and the track moves with an offbeat swing. De Beauport can perform a sequence on a single string with enough twists in it to resemble an uncoiling snake as on Meet das Berger or he can unearth his buried past as guitarist on Kokosberge where he twangs as if playing a folk song. Most of the CD’s tracks showcase not only the cellist’s ability to slice notes so quickly that he could be whittling a tree into a toothpick in record time, but also his resolute ability to maintain a narrative despite distractions. Almost all improvisations showcase partial extension as well as the notes themselves, making D’éclisses a near-textbook example of what a freemusic cellist can attain. May 1, 2017 - June 7, 2017 | 79

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)