6 years ago

Volume 22 Issue 9 - Summer 2017

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CBC Radio's Lost Horizon; Pinocchio as Po-Mo Operatic Poster Boy; Meet the Curators (Crow, Bernstein, Ridge); a Global Music Orchestra is born; and festivals, festivals, festivals in our 13th annual summer music Green Pages. All this and more in our three-month June-through August summer special issue, now available in flipthrough HERE and on the stands commencing Thursday June 1.

Lunchtime Chamber Music

Lunchtime Chamber Music series. As the name suggests, these Hogtowners combine excellence with wit, in a tasty six-piece program featuring compositions and arrangements by trombonist RJ Satchithananthan. His inventive, Spanish-inflected Solea and bluesish Stray Goat avoid clichés of their styles, taking off in unexpected directions as the latter’s title suggests. As a composition student I was advised not to use “too much tuba” in a brass quintet. Tubist Andrew Nowry belies that nostrum with wellcontrolled dynamics and endurance in Solea and an exuberant solo in Stray Goat. The setting of Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered features Satchithananthan’s own lyrical trombone. With light syncopated staccatos and interlocking accompaniment figures from trumpeters Tristan Tye and Matthew Ross, Nowry’s agile tuba bass line and Jason Austin’s sustained horn background gluing it all together, this is fun and first-rate work. An arrangement of Mascagni’s Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana by Satchithananthan works surprisingly well because of the players’ sensitive shaping of melodies distributed among instruments. Of two pieces arranged by others, J.S. Bach’s difficult Contrapunctus IX from The Art of Fugue sounds well on brass, but there are a few places where intonation or evenness could be better. After the disc’s close with an affecting A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, I was left awaiting more from the Hogtown Brass Quintet! Roger Knox Concert Note: The Hogtown Brass Quintet shares the bill in a free concert with the Dialectica Saxophone Quartet at the Church of the Redeemer at 7pm on June 26 as part of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival. Blue Verdun Quinn Bachand’s Brishen Beacon Ridge Productions CP102 ( L/R !! Quinn Bachand is an old soul in a 21-year-old body. Or maybe he’s a time traveller from the ’30s who’s simply (and successfully) channelling the gypsyjazz souls of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli. Whatever the case, Victoria, BC’s multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist Bachand is a seriously impressive young artist. Blue Verdun, Bachand’s second album with his group, Brishen, is an unabashed celebration of all things swing, and a showcase for Bachand’s exceptional musicianship and versatility. With Bachand on violin, guitar, banjo, bass guitar, lapsteel and vocals, along with Brishen bandmates Connor Stewart (horns), Maude Bastien (drums), Paul Van Dyke (bass) and Béatrix Méthé (vocal harmony), Blue Verdun takes us on a magical romp through the musical landscapes of gypsy jazz and Western swing. Remarkably, save for one track the tunes are all Bachand’s – inspired, fresh takes on old traditions, demonstrating a profound respect for that marvellous music of “yesteryear.” Moreover, Bachand clearly relishes this stuff and, as is apparent on every track, is determined to help keep it relevant and alive. The album is a joy. Reinhardt and Grappelli are never far from mind, but it’s Bachand’s masterful performances on his lilting Cheyenne (Quit Your Talkin’) and virtuosic Swing ’96 that take centre stage. I swear I heard hints of a young Chet Baker (singing) on Fading Light, and of Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World on Lonely Star, attesting to Bachand’s having done his homework. He has also made it nearly impossible to remember that he is only 21! Sharna Searle Concert note: Quinn Bachand’s Brishen performs throughout the region in the coming weeks: June 27 – TD Toronto International Jazz Fest; 28 – Old Church Theatre, Trenton; 29 – The Loft Theatre, Cobourg; 30 – TD Ottawa International Jazz Fest; July 4 – TD Montreal International Jazz Fest; 6 – Moonshine Cafe, Oakville; 7 & 9 – TD Sunfest, London; 8 – Utopia Hall, Utopia (Barrie); 10 – Burdock Music Hall, Toronto. Where the Galleon Sank Kobo Town Stonetree Records ‎ST-302 ( !! Calypso: with roots in African, European and Caribbean rhythms, melodies and instrumentation, the highly hybrid music genre originated last century in Trinidad and Tobago. The music made by the JUNOnominated Torontobased band Kobo Town, founded in 2004 by Trinidadian- Canadian songwriter and singer Drew Gonsalves, illustrates calypso’s evolution in the 21st century, staying relevant with global audiences. Keeping it real, Gonsalves named his band after the Kobo Town neighborhood in Port-of- Spain, its putative place of origin. Early in life he was attracted by the allure of calypso music as well as by its charismatic bards, relating that he “was blown away by the cleverness and the wit of these calypsonians and also their engaging interplay with the audience.” The very assured album Where the Galleon Sank places the poetic narrative of Gonsalves’ lyrics front and centre. And his music also shows respect to the roots of calypso, while at the same time inventively mixing other Caribbean music influences including ska, dancehall reggae and dub. It’s all narrated by his rich Trini-accented voice and layered acoustic-centred instrumentation. The supporting horn section of trumpet, trombone, and the meaty baritone sax lines played by Linsey Wellman particularly caught my ear. Gonsalves has addressed his idiosyncratic – to a certain degree made-in-Canada – take on the received calypso tradition. “It is calypso inspired and derived, but it’s a conscious departure from the way it developed back home… For me, the calypsonian is a singing newspaperman…with an attitude halfway between court jester and griot.” For me, much of Where the Galleon Sank qualifies for my definition of “infectious music.” Andrew Timar Something in the Air Unusual Guitar Pairings KEN WAXMAN Although the keyboard may challenge it for top spot, the guitar may be the most popular musical instrument in the world. Think of any genre from pop to so-called classical and there’s a six-string player associated with it. Especially when electrified, the guitar’s adaptability gives it this popularity, and nowhere is this more evident than in improvised music. These five guitarists, matched with musicians playing five different instruments, demonstrate this. Cheating a bit, Québécois guitarist René Lussier and clarinetist Robert Marcel Lepage have the backing of Quatuor Bozzini on some selections of Chants et Danses…with Strings! (Tour de Bras TDB 900019 CD tourdebras. com), but all the strings do is create backgrounds from which Lepage and Lussier’s sounds rise like the contours of a raised-relief map. Wedded to folk and blues, Lussier makes use of long-lined strumming or curt bottleneck-like phrasing to make his point on tracks such as Comment faire de l’argent avec une clarinette where Lepage’s riposte varies from Morse codelike bites to trills. On Le sextour hors position, any strings-added romantic inferences are quickly swept aside by catgut flanges and buzzing reed vibrations, with the guitarist outputting countrified mandolin-like twangs from his instrument and the clarinetist specializing in 88 | June 1, 2017 - September 7, 2017

an unvarying flat-line solo. With Chants et Danses’ 13 tracks specific to its time and place, the tunes which most clearly highlight the duo’s individuality and societal concerns are those such as Vers un capitalisme à visage humain, which works string whacking and reed bites into a jazz-like call and response; or Comment garder le feu sacré sans brûler son capital, where a near light-music introduction is subverted by multiphonic bedlam with the clarinet horking and snuffling like an elderly man with asthma and Lussier’s heightened string rubs sounding as though created by sandpaper instead of fingers. The sonic narrative on track ten, whose 18-word title begins with Comment remettre l’éthique en politique… sums up the duo’s interaction most succulently, politically and meaningfully. While Lussier’s bottle-neck whines may upset the exposition, Lepage’s moderato lines ensure the track is as buoyant as it is discordant. In a divergent relationship with a horn and the guitar are two Köln-based improvisers, trombonist Matthias Muche and guitarist Nicola L. Hein, whose five extended improvisations on 7000 Eichen (JazzWerkstatt JW171 are dedicated to German sculptor, installation and performance artist Joseph Beuys (1921-1986). Only as programmatic as Chants et Danses, the duets here are more representational in title than application. However, Beuys’ Fluxus-affiliated disdain for convention could have influenced them. Like sculptures that reveal antithetical aspects when viewed from different angles, Muche and Hein are more interested in what seemingly non-brass-like and non-string-like timbres their instruments can produce, rather than conventional tones. This is where the guitar’s adaptability is exhibited. Throughout, using thumb pops, hand taps and slurred fingering, Hein’s rhythmic accompaniment could be from percussion, instead of from a stringed instrument. As on the introductory Stahlwille, though, he can still take a shrill undulating solo with the crunch of Johnny Ramone and the tautness of Sonny Sharrock. As for Muche, like any auto racer, he’s unafraid of speed, buzzing out one set of arpeggiated notes after another. Not only does he bend grace notes with brassy adroitness, but on tracks such as Zwitschern he digs deep into the instrument’s bottom range. At the same time, his relayrace-like concept ranges from staccato to slur, as if he’s manipulating two trombones; this is showcased best on Dick Vermummt. 7000 Eichen’s defining track is the last: Künstlerhaus II. The architectural plans for this “second artist’s house” gives the duo almost 15 minutes to cogitate. Over a backdrop of patterning from Hein as pervasive as the sound of a hamster’s wheel, Muche outputs crying, plunger and burbling tremors which intensify as the piece evolves. Reaching a climax when ringing flanges and strums from Hein match Muche’s emotional release in the track’s penultimate minutes, a detour into a grotesque variant on Taps leads to one perfect growly note which both output simultaneously, as if reaching mutual euphoric satisfaction. Euphoria is the main attribute you ascribe to Noise from the Neighbours (Setola di Maiale SM3160, with the performance more concerned with fun than ferocity. Still, Italian guitarist Enzo Rocco and tenor and baritone saxophonist/ bass clarinetist Carlo Actis Dato are sophisticated comedians, never letting guffaws get in the way of musical excellence. With their frenetic string chording, fluid reed vibrations and overblowing, plus frantic melodies, they could be court jesters, but like those clowns they also speak the truth. That’s why a series of tarantella-like tracks are followed by Briciole, where bent plucks from Rocco and rugged honks from Dato add up to an Italian blues. This transition from silly to serious and back again permeates the album, reaching its zenith on the extended Kumano. As the saxophonist bellows a low-pitched continuum, the guitarist contorts his string technique to sound like a sitar or a banjo. Later adding a blues sensibility, the two are like halves of a walnut, keeping the rhythm going as Rocco scrapes at his strings and Dato blows animated air every which way. The following La Ronda del Visconte has a jolly, circular and instantly memorable melody. This convivial noise goes on for all 12 tracks, ending with Rumbabamba confirming the duo’s smarts. It begins low-key and cool and ends with pointed rasgueado strums, plus tongue slaps and guffaws from the reedist. More pointed and stinging is Shadowscores (Creative Sources CS 368 CD, since Berlin-based guitarist Olaf Rupp and cellist Ulrike Brand’s improvisations emphasize harsher interactions. Despite supposed limitations in tone, the two, like scientists who discover a new compound by ignoring convention, come up with a series of multi-sectional works whose performance minimizes electronic and acoustic property as well as the gap between foreground and background. A track such as Moorkolk, where Brand sequences parts that could have come from a multi-cello sonata and Rupp scratches and scampers with withdrawn pressure, proves the duo’s capability to improvise at the slowest possible tempo, while tracks such as Labeling Approach and Quellmoor demonstrate the exact opposite. Soon after Brand’s Paganini-styled spiccato creates a vivid exposition on the first tune, Rupp’s knob-twisting reveals a thumping ostinato that resembles cymbal crashes. Off-handed picking and string buzzing from the cellist is lubricated by rubs and tugs by the guitarist, leading to rugged below-the-bridge responses from Brand and, eventually, multiphonic flanges from Rupp. (All this while maintaining the theme on top of the cellist’s shifting continuum.) Any of Brand’s attempts at long-string romanticism on Quellmoor are quickly subverted by rocket-like interjections from Rupp. Moving forward and back like square dancers, the two continuously change places, with scrubs and plucks from Brand meeting string twangs or barks from Rupp. Rupp sneaks in the odd rock riff, and Brand adds some passages that would be elegant if not so high-pitched and strained. Chamber music with a difference, these improvisations show what conventional instruments are capable of when utilized to their limits. The story is similar with Kontaktchemie (Boomslang LC 09496, as Swiss guitarist Christy Doran and Belgian drummer Alfred Vogel demonstrate the versatility of common jazz or rock music configurations. Of course, their setup is less than traditional since Doran also uses an FX box, whose sound-card input adds effects, while Vogel has a double drum set and an electronic Octopad with patches allowing for sound triggering, modulation and pitch blending. Throughout it appears as if the two spend time deciding whether their function is outputting the most hushed free music or the most grandiose jazz-rock. But while tracks are sometimes noisy, heavy-metal head-bangers will be disappointed. The changes appear Janus-like on most tracks. Fremdeinwirkung begins with slippery moves up the guitar neck, followed by drumming clanks and clatter, which eventually turn into faster cascades joined by flying flanges and intimation of an electric bass line. The key track in this style is Das Gelbe vom Ei, where a feeling of late-night summer silence is interrupted first by percussion clanks, detailed guitar theme exposition and finally a moderated drum backbeat - the perfect verdant backing for string storytelling. With spacey sounds available from the add-ons, which often take the form of organ-like patterning, Kontaktchemie actually comes across as the most traditional of these discs, since psychedelia is now part of the tradition. Aus Zwei wird Eins, the final track, even includes a throwback-to-the-sixties sonic jape. After four minutes of guitar rasps and drum shuffles accelerating to a freak-out climax, ten minutes of silence follow, then suddenly an additional nine minutes of free form improvising becomes audible with buttery slides and drones from Doran, plus crackles and clips forged into a steady beat by Vogel. That track title translates as “From Two Will Be One.” On evidence of the complementary creativity on all these discs, it could be applied to any session here. June 1, 2017 - September 7, 2017 | 89

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