5 years ago

Volume 23 Issue 3 - November 2017

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  • Toronto
  • November
  • Jazz
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In this issue: conversations (of one kind or another) galore! Daniela Nardi on taking the reins at "best-kept secret" venue, 918 Bathurst; composer Jeff Ryan on his "Afghanistan" Requiem for a Generation" partnership with war poet, Susan Steele; lutenist Ben Stein on seventeenth century jazz; collaborative pianist Philip Chiu on going solo; Barbara Hannigan on her upcoming Viennese "Second School" recital at Koerner; Tina Pearson on Pauline Oliveros; and as always a whole lot more!


Volume Two Collective Order Independent ( !! What separates Volume Two from the 2016 album Volume One by Collective Order is the fact that on this second edition the music comprises original charts written by members of the ensemble, a “community,” as it is referred to in the notes to this package. While it is impossible to imagine a group without at least a musical director, Collective Order prefers to keep that function anonymous in its determination to maintain the communal spirit of these largeensemble works, no doubt. So far this strategy appears to be working to the group’s advantage, as these 12 charts prove yet again and with good reason. Incredibly the work of composition too is well-spread, including contributions from Andrew McAnsh, Liam Stanley, Ethan Tilbury, Ewen Farncombe, Jocelyn Barth, Connor Newton, Chris Adriaanse, Laura Swankey, Jon Foster, Connor Walsh, Belinda Corpuz, Andrew Miller and Joel Visentin. This represents a total of 13 members from the 19-member ensemble; something unusually democratic in any configuration of a music group. Even more remarkable is the fact that despite coming from so many different pens, there appears to be a wonderful uniformity of sound suggesting a kind of rare musical intimacy between the members of the band. Whether evocative of rarefied realms, such as in Laniakea, or for a deep attachment to terra firma, as in Outside My Window, each chart takes us into some wild or wonderful place with trusted and inspiring musical friends. Raul da Gama The Tide Turns Brad Cheeseman Independent BCM1701 ( !! This exploratory borehole into the atmospheric stratum of contemporary music is only the second in the career of bassist Brad Cheeseman. Unlike other early recordings made by musicians of his generation, The Tide Turns redeems itself from self-indulgence by being original (all but one of the compositions is by Cheeseman) and moreover, each is accessible enough to not require any decoding on the part of the listener. Secondly, this is a musical snapshot captured in the process of – as the bassist puts it – “change, self-discovery and reinvention.” To those aspects of the music’s source one might also add a blending of idioms in music that also retains much emotional intensity and originality. On this disc Cheeseman shows that a musician can set out to find his own voice; and coming ever closer to doing so, might still retain the early echoes of his idols and those who influenced his playing. Happily the accolade of winning the 2016 Montreal Jazz Festival’s Grand Prix de Jazz has not made Cheeseman either wool-headed or a musical stuffed shirt. This is immediately recognisable in the music, which is all born of a questing quality combined with a rhythmically rocksolid yet splendidly discursive style designed to create music that seems to be contemplative rather than chatty. Despite moments which are unnecessarily garrulous and interrupted by frequent solos, this is energetic music exemplified in the swinging of Falling Forward. Raul da Gama Float Upstream Tom Rainey Obbligato Intakt Records CD292 ( !! There’s a special relationship between jazz and the Great American Songbook, that collection of old popular songs, Broadway show tunes and movie themes largely assembled from the 1920s to the 1950s. Whether approached casually, romantically, harmonically or ironically, that songbook links performers from Louis Armstrong to Anthony Braxton and almost everyone in between. Drummer Tom Rainey has explored it in depth in association with pianists Fred Hersch and Kenny Werner; with his band Obbligato, he has found a distinctive path, combining standards with collective improvisation. Obbligato includes frequent Rainey collaborators, saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and the émigré Canadian pianist Kris Davis, along with the similarly distinguished trumpeter Ralph Alessi and bassist Drew Gress. They establish an identity immediately, the collectivist Stella by Starlight extending the theme’s moody haze with the horns’ exchanges until Davis initiates a bright, fluid approach, animating the piece along with sparkling eruptions from Gress and Rainey as well. The advanced harmonic language suggests composer George Russell at times, but Laubrock and Alessi also thrive on the original melodies, developing pointillist moments on Sam Rivers’ Beatrice and a pensive luminosity on I Fall in Love Too Easily. The counterpoint and sheer rhythmic energy of What Is This Thing Called Love? recall the invention of Sonny Rollins at his most exploratory, while the extended What’s New? takes the quintet furthest afield, a unique cross breeding of 50s cool jazz lyricism and contemporary impulses that’s at once familiar and fresh. Stuart Broomer Another Time – The Hilversum Concert Bill Evans Trio Resonance Records HCD-2031 ( !! In 2016, Resonance released Some Other Time, an unknown studio recording by the Bill Evans Trio from 1968, only the second recording issued by the group that included drummer Jack DeJohnette as well as Evans’ longstanding bassist Eddie Gomez. The label has now released this live radio studio broadcast from the Netherlands, recorded just two days later. The recording quality is every bit as good and the presence of an audience adds to the performance’s vitality. Evans was a master of ballad reveries that extended the harmonic language of jazz with a Scriabin-like passion for modes and chromaticism. On his greatest recordings, however, he thrived on the most aggressively creative supporting musicians that jazz ever had to offer, the bassist Scott LaFaro and the drummer Philly Joe Jones, who never appeared together in Evans’ recorded legacy. This trio with the relentlessly busy Gomez and DeJohnette, a highly inventive drummer between appointments with Charles Lloyd’s quartet and Miles Davis’ band, is as close as we’re liable to hear. The complex dynamic exchange adds to You’re Gonna Hear from Me, Evans’ dense chords subtly ambiguating the song’s determined self-confidence, and it only develops from there, whether it’s illuminating the contemporary Who Can I Turn To? or animating the superior ballad Emily. The concert unfolds beautifully, through DeJohnette’s feature Nardis to superb renditions of Evans’ own Turn Out the Stars and a brief, explosive version of Five. It’s an essential recording for Evans enthusiasts. Stuart Broomer Vein plays Ravel Vein (featuring Andy Sheppard) Challenge Records Int. DMCHR 71179 ( ! ! Claude Debussy was at the head of the re-emergence of a complete French school in music that began as a reaction against Wagnerism. His most famous lieutenant was Maurice Ravel who, however, never completely followed Debussy’s lead into the 80 | November 2017

world of extreme formal and tonal ambiguity. It was Ravel who cultivated a style that combined the Classical with the contemporary and famously – especially in Le Tombeau de Couperin – fostered a more complex hybrid that included Romani music, jazz, Spanish culture and the music of the Far East. It is with that iconic suite composed originally for solo piano that Vein begin their unusual tribute to Ravel. On Le Tombeau de Couperin Vein employs the jazz trio format to re-imagine Ravel’s suite, adding to the subtle colours and evanescent textures of the music. In the hands of pianist Michael Arbenz, bassist Thomas Lähns and drummer Florian Arbenz, the listener is not merely dazzled by sound, but rather introduced to Ravel’s marvellous sense of melody and structure. This tribute to the dead, written during World War I, is brought back to life by Vein with unconventional and progressive harmonies. A horn section on Bolero finds saxophonist Andy Sheppard its most skilful advocate. Florian Arbenz never loses concentration either, adopting a welljudged pulse and joining the full group in moulding a wonderfully rich orchestral texture. Vein plays Ravel is classic jazz. Raul da Gama Flauto Dolphy Dominik Strycharski Fundacja Sluchaj FSR 03/2017 ( !! Jazz avatar Eric Dolphy (1928- 1964) was proficient playing alto saxophone, bass clarinet and especially flute in Charles Mingus’ and John Coltrane’s groups. Here, his compositions and improvisations are saluted by Dominik Strycharski. Moving confidently through the eight tracks during a live session that leaves little space for miscues, the Polish polymath serves up unaccompanied interpretations of the Dolphy canon using soprano, alto, tenor and bass recorders, as if this is the most normal musical showcase. Such Dolphy classics as Gazzelloni (named for the classical flutist) and Hat and Beard (saluting Thelonious Monk) are sophisticatedly reconstituted. That’s because Strycharski’s technical skills allow him to build up the second piece from atomsized bites that are both percussive and triple-tongued, to a selection of dissonant pitches. Meanwhile Gazzelloni divides into exploding multiphonics seemingly squalled from more than one recorder at once, only to descend into a delicately tonal coda. Screeching atonality that brings out the instruments’ pseudo-metallic buzz on Iron Man confirms Strycharski’s skilful appropriation of both solo and accompaniment functions. Meanwhile his own composition, the concluding Sam, sets up ecstatic airy whorls and whirls that are as vocalized as they are played, yet still manage to capture and salute the melodic as well as the militant attributes of Dolphy’s art. Ken Waxman Golan Volume 2 Hubert Dupont Ultrarack UT 1005 ( !! More cosmopolitan than curious, French bassist Hubert Dupont’s idea is for his quintet to intertwine Arabicrooted sounds with strands of improvised music. Golan does so by stripping away the tinge of exoticism, treating the Middle Eastern instruments and melodies no differently than if both were part of the Western canon. Having players flexible in both idioms helps. Besides Dupont, who has worked in many jazz formations, the band includes countryman clarinetist Matthieu Donarier who has similar improvised music experience. Flutist Naïssam Jalal is French/ Syrian, and she and Tunisian violinist Zied Zouari play jazz as well as traditional music. Meanwhile Palestinians, oud player Ahmad Al Khatib and percussionist Youssef Hbeisch, work both in Europe and the Middle East. Accept the Changes, with its dual-meaning title, is a perfect example of this formula. Beginning with spiccato lines from the violinist that are quickly given jazz underpinnings by double bass strokes, a Maghreblike rhythm from Hbeisch’s darbouka joins at the same time as contralto clarinet glissandi arrive as counterpoint. With cymbal slaps and conga-like raps added, the piece crosses and re-crosses figurative borders without losing fluidity. Themes expressed by various soloists include a flamenco-like showcase for Al Khatib’s oud on Furatain completed by sly contemporary plucking from Dupont, plus a harmonized clarinet and flute lilt on Midday Promise that suggests 17th-century Graz more than present-day Gaza. Ken Waxman Concert Note: Hubert Dupont’s Golan is in concert at Brampton’s Rose Theatre on November 4. POT POURRI Neither of Either Jordana Talsky Independent JT-17-02 ( !! Although Neither of Either is the second album released by Jordana Talsky, it feels a little like a debut, since this one is almost exclusively original songs. The Torontobased singer-songwriter (and lawyer) teamed up with JUNO Award-winning producer, Justin Abedin. It’s a happy collaboration, for although the songs are harmonically and rhythmically straightforward at their heart, the textures added by the arrangements and production lend complexity and richness. The predominant style of the album is indie-pop but there are touches of jazz and soul throughout, making it an interesting listen. It’s even a little bit country on Ways, which has a hook worthy of any Nashville hitmaker. Sick veers into fist-pumping rocksong territory except it’s done almost all a cappella, which gives it an unusual twist. The techno-tinged Bitter Sweet Heart (co-written with J. Gray) is another standout with its pretty chorus. Talsky’s voice is warm and appealing – powerful when needed, at times pure and sweet – and her style is refreshingly free of artifice. Her singing and arranging skills really shine on the unaccompanied pieces (like her take on Alanis Morissette’s You Oughta Know, the only cover) where it’s all her – no other singers, no band – and it’s impressive. Cathy Riches Tea for Three The Willows Flatcar Records FCR-005 ( ! ! There is a plethora of upbeat happy performances in the debut release by the vocal trio The Willows – Krista Deady (contralto), Lauren Pederson (mezzosoprano, composer/arranger) and Andrea Gregorio (soprano). Their website bios state that they were involved in dance together from childhood, both in their hometown of Edmonton and here in Toronto at Ryerson University’s dance program. A chance public Ryerson music class vocal performance encouraged them to further explore the music world together. They are definitely dancers who can confidently sing with clear diction, colour, pitch, love of life and tight harmonies. November 2017 | 81

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