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Volume 23 Issue 6 - March 2018

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Arts
  • Faculty
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Symphony
  • Orchestra
  • Quartet
  • Performing
In this issue: Canadian Stage, Tapestry Opera and Vancouver Opera collaborate to take Gogol’s short story The Overcoat to the operatic stage; Montreal-based Sam Shalabi brings his ensemble Land of Kush, and his newest composition, to Toronto; Five Canadian composers, each with a different CBC connection, are nominated for JUNOs; and The WholeNote team presents its annual Summer Music Education Directory, a directory of summer music camps, programs and courses across the province and beyond.

solos. It’s

solos. It’s characterized by this kiss, composed for a Romeo and Juliet project, which embeds pianist Mat Mitchell’s dynamic theme elaborations within a buoyant, sprightly narrative. That said, the introductory lud is built around multiple idiophone vibrations, cushioned by horn breaths that quickly draw you into Hollenbeck’s multiple creations. The final track The Model, lifted from the repertory of German electronica band Kraftwerk, is light, bracing and wraps up the session with hints of a spirited I Love Paris-like vamp. Still, the paramount performances salute two of the composer’s deceased heroes. Kenny Wheeler is celebrated with a galloping arrangement of his Heyoke, where flugelhornist Matt Holman personifies Wheeler’s expressiveness within waves of brass accompaniment even as trombonist Jacob Garchik’s hairy outbursts confirm the arrangement’s originality. Theo Bleckmann’s wordless scatting adds distinct harmonies to Heyoke, but he’s put to even better use on All Can Work, saluting New York teacher/big band trumpeter Laurie Fink. Treating phrases from Fink’s humorous emails as found poetry, the sumptuous performance subtly builds up to an atmospheric crescendo, where the sung words and instrumental passages become virtually indistinguishable. With Hollenbeck now teaching at McGill, this CD is another reminder of the US’ loss to Canada. Ken Waxman Number 9 François Bourassa Quartet Effendi Records FND150 (effendirecords.com) !! With the release of his ninth CD, François Bourassa reminds us why he is considered to be one of the jazz world’s finest pianist/composers. All of the superb material here has been written and produced by Bourassa. His talented group includes longtime collaborators André Leroux on tenor sax, flute and clarinets, Guy Boisvert on bass and Greg Ritchie on drums. From the downbeat, this is a group that communicates on a psychic level, soaring together through the highest realms of musical creativity and jazz expression, travelling via the emotional pathway of the heart. The compositions reflect a nostalgic reverie for Bourassa – melodic portraits of people, places and events, now revisited with a big dose of mature vision as well as the muted and misty sepia-toned colours of memory. All members of the Quartet are really time travellers who (in addition to firm linear time) also intuitively understand the quantum multi-dimensional nature of spacetime, and that the “now” is the conceivable and creative aspect of all that is. Standouts include Carla und Karlheinz, which was written in honour of avant-garde pianist/composer Carla Bley and electronic music pioneer Karlheinz Stockhausen. The clever juxtaposition of styles here is simultaneously mindbending and delightful. Bourassa’s technical skill on this challenging track is also thrilling, and Leroux sizzles on his gymnastic solo. Also evocative are Frozen, which conjures isolated, inescapable fields of nothingness, and Past Ich, featuring gorgeous, melodic playing from Bourassa, punctuated by Leroux’s alternately caressing and yowling soprano sax. Clearly, this profound, beautifully recorded project will be considered one of the finest international jazz recordings of the year. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke I Can See Clearly Now Kathleen Gorman Independent (kathleengorman.bandcamp.com) !! Kathleen Gorman is already an accomplished pedagogue, adjudicator and clinician. Add to these a light and high-sprung rhythmic pianism, and this recording adds yet another prismatic facet to her multidimensional musical personality. Gorman’s three compositions reflect the evolution of a pianist deeply immersed in the forms and performance of classical music, with the touch-sensitive music of Arabesque and Mysterioso, redolent of dazzling runs and parabolic arpeggios. Influence, played in a dark, minor mode, is wonderfully arranged to capture the characteristic mystique of what has come to be called the Blue Note sound, one that recalls not just early iconic Herbie Hancock but also Freddy Hubbard and Wayne Shorter. And in all songs Gorman reveals a singular virtuosity that eschews showmanship and accentuates a phrasing style pregnant with emotion. Other works reflect a composer-like skill in re-harmonization of original melodies to reflect a new angular perspective on the songs. Gorman does this by turning the original tonal colours of a piece into black and white before recolouring it in her own unique new way and guiding her wonderful ensemble into performing each new piece memorably. Both Sides Now, which also features her seductive voice, is a poignant example, as is the instrumental Over The Rainbow. The entire repertoire makes this a disc to die for. Raul da Gama Amparo Phoenix Jazz Group Independent (phoenixjazzgroup.ca) !! The Phoenix Jazz Group may not be a prominent blip on everyone’s radar but among cognoscenti and musicians alike, keyboards player John McLelland, saxophonist and clarinetist Andy Klaehn, bassist Greg Prior, and drummer and percussionist John Goddard are held in high esteem. Their third album, Amparo, reflects the myriad styles in which the members of the ensemble are fluent. This stretches in a wide swathe from New Orleans and the ebullience of second-line marching rhythms to the swinging momentum of early jazz, fused with broad hints of 1970s’ and contemporary rock. It is in the fusion of these myriad styles that the group’s music speaks best. The vivid and fierce imagery created by the cover on the CD package not only relates to the song Falcon (Revisited) but strikes at the very heart of the group’s virtuoso artistry that is heard on songs such as Sojourn, with its questing melody, and Tribute, where the individuals’ technical facility may be heard at its best – from the short arco burst of Prior’s bass to McLelland’s gracious arpeggios, Goddard’s percussion colouring and Klaehn’s startling glissandos. The title of the recording suggests that music is a “refuge,” or safe place. This can be felt throughout the short album, but nowhere more strongly than in the profound beauty of Amparo, the title track itself. Raul da Gama Have You Heard? David Mott; Vinny Golia Pet Mantis Records PMR011 (2baris.com) ! ! Low reeds and woodwinds equate to musical gravitas, and when combined with the pronounced erudition of musicians such as David Mott and Vinny Golia, magical things happen. From the suggestive disc title Have You Heard? and the ethereal mystery of each track name to the questing music itself, this disc seems to contain echoes of another universe, as well as a yearning for the profound melodic intellect of the music to be reflected in our own planet. Lest this seem like the description of something resembling science fiction, it is important to clear the air immediately – for it is anything but that. Music such as that contained in Power of Serenity, Serendipitous Ruminations and Urban Pastorale is an example of how loaded with meaning this album is. It is, however, in the dark and delicious rumble of two baritone saxophones locked in an interminable melodic double helix – often with magical counterpoint – that the music’s vivid and changing colours most resemble the rich didacticism that ensues from deep philosophical discourse. 78 | March 2018 thewholenote.com

Although they are two distinct musical voices, Mott and Golia are so attuned to each other’s artistry that they had to be separated into two audio channels. But it’s not hard to tell who’s who aurally. David Mott’s tone is sharp, a reflection of the ululating voices in Eastern music that so fascinate him, while Golia’s fat, rounded notes line up in sap-like, viscous phrases. Together they make dark, beautiful music. Raul da Gama Résistances Jean Derome Ambiances Magnétiques AM 235 (actuellecd.com) !! In 2015 at the annual Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, Jean Derome launched a year-long series of performances to mark his 60th year with Résistances, a singular composition inspired by the 60 cycles per second (Hz) frequency to which all North American electricity is tuned. This has rich metaphoric content for Derome, who imagines the constant tuning process of a continent, as well as Quebec’s houses grounded through the plumbing to the St. Lawrence River. The orchestra here is tuned to 60Hz (including Jew’s harp and kalimba). The piece, exactly 60 minutes long, has 16 wildly varied segments, from the abstract Tableau with its de-tuned piano to the speaking-in-tongues boogaloo of Vamp, to the strange dislocations of Trois orchestres and the frantic trills and free expression of Turbine, virgule. In the process, the concept of “résistances” extends from electrical resistance to social and political resistance through wit, humour, manic juxtaposition, sheer lyricism and enthusiastic chaos – a work that extends beyond the concert hall to engage the environment and the power grid. Derome eschews his usual saxophone and flutes for the conductor’s role and such incidentals as a trumpet mouthpiece and an iPad. However, he has the 19-member Ensemble SuperMusique, an orchestra of fluent interpreters and improvisers playing traditional strings, analogue synthesizer, turntables, electric guitars and winds, with multiple drummers and bassists. Touching on virtually any sound available in contemporary music, Résistances is a bracing experience. Stuart Broomer Flaneur Michael Adkins Quartet hatOLOGY 745 (hathut.com) !! This CD presents two mysterious figures. One is the titular “flaneur,” the wanderer in the city as an ideal of the artist, proposed by Charles Baudelaire in the 1860s as “reproducing the multiplicity of life and the flickering grace of all the elements of life.” The second is Michael Adkins himself, a tenor saxophonist of stunning lyric gifts who left Ontario for New York City two decades ago, has recorded little and last toured Canada in 2013. With little backstory, Adkins released Rotator on the Swiss label hatOLOGY in 2009 (full disclosure: I wrote the liner note). The CD achieved critical acclaim, but since then nothing has appeared until this release, a brilliant companion to Rotator, similarly recorded in 2008 with Adkins’ compositions and the stellar support of pianist Russ Lossing, bassist Larry Grenadier and the late drummer Paul Motian, with whom Adkins sometimes performed. As the title suggests, it’s a stroll through the city, at medium-slow to medium tempos. There’s a constant sense of edgy motion, but much of it is sideways rather than forward. The pulse is constant, but there’s a subtle shuffle, as if no one has to address it directly. Adkins’ sound is mobile, throatier than John Coltrane’s with some of the upper frequencies shaved off. Further, Flaneur has a reflective depth and wisdom that resembles Coltrane’s Crescent. Adkins’ lines are consistently imaginative trails, at once focused and nuanced. It’s work as profoundly elegiac as any a Canadian musician has produced. Stuart Broomer Music for David Mossman Evan Parker; Barry Guy; Paul Lytton Intakt Records CD 296 (intaktrec.ch) !! If musical publicity ran even with musical quality, there would be no need to introduce the trio of saxophonist Evan Parker, bassist Barry Guy and drummer Paul Lytton, a group with individual ties running back to the late 1960s that were formalized in this trio in 1980. It might be convenient to think of them as one of the signal groups of European improvised music, British chapter, but their roots and ties run further back and further afield, to post-bop and free jazz and the stunning tenor-bass-drums trios led by Sonny Rollins and Albert Ayler. The music may be tender or explosive (it would be easier to detect if it were slowed down), but its dominant texture is that of philosophical dialogue, a rapid conversation in which participants discourse while responding to the simultaneous intrusions of partners in the fray, who may quibble or launch counter-offensives, sending the first speaker to submit background material or new support for his previous theses. Contrarily, it’s like a romantic Paris street fight among kickboxers and ballet dancers, or the sound of Tibetan throat singers polyphonically amused at a genuinely cosmic joke. Are there individual highlights? Everywhere, including the first segment which begins with Lytton throwing down all the Latin and African drum patterns you might imagine at once, or the middle zone of the long third segment in which Guy sounds like a bass duet and Parker introduces a circular-breathing reverie. Stuart Broomer POT POURRI The Subject Tonight is Love Kate McGarry; Keith Ganz; Gary Versace Binxtown Records (katemcgarry.com) ! ! With their debut trio recording, vocalist/composer Kate McGarry, guitarist/bassist Keith Ganz and pianist/accordionist Gary Versace have realized a project that has been in preparation for more than a decade. Friendship, love and creativity propel this ensemble. McGarry and Ganz are life partners, and Versace has been a close friend and musical collaborator to both. The trio act as producers/arrangers here, exploring the many facets of love with both original and venerable material, perfectly synthesized through McGarry’s uniquely cinematic musical perspective. The CD opens with the title track, which features a brief poem from the 14th-century Persian poet and mystic Hafiz, underscoring McGarry’s belief that “love is the sub-stratum of all things.” The music for the brief, stark, spacey piece was actually improvised over the theme of Ganz’ arrangement of the standard Rodgers and Hart classic, My Funny Valentine (which is gorgeously rendered in full on the CD by McGarry). A delightful inclusion is Sammy Fain’s Secret Love, positioned here as the polar opposite of the familiar Doris Day version – capturing an innocence and purity of first love, and featuring a sumptuous and agile guitar solo as well as seamless transitions from straight ahead, to a lilting bossa and back again. Equally wonderful is the trio’s take on the rarely performed Benny Golson/Kenny Durham tune Fair Weather. McGarry’s effortless, pitch-perfect and thoroughly gorgeous voice belongs in the rarified company of Julie London and Irene Kral. The ideal bookend to this skillfully crafted, uplifting CD is the Lennon and McCartney hit, All You Need is Love – delivered with a fresh, second-line feel. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke thewholenote.com March 2018 | 79

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volume 25 Issue 9 - July / August 2020
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Volume 25 Issue 7 - April 2020
Volume 25 Issue 6 - March 2020
Volume 25 Issue 5 - February 2020
Volume 25 Issue 4 - December 2019 / January 2020
Volume 25 Issue 3 - November 2019
Volume 25 Issue 2 - October 2019
Volume 25 Issue 1 - September 2019
Volume 24 Issue 8 - May 2019
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Volume 24 Issue 6 - March 2019
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Volume 24 Issue 4 - December 2018 / January 2019
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Volume 24 Issue 2 - October 2018
Volume 24 Issue 1 - September 2018
Volume 23 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2018
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Volume 23 Issue 7 - April 2018
Volume 23 Issue 6 - March 2018
Volume 23 Issue 4 - December 2017 / January 2018
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Volume 23 Issue 2 - October 2017
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Volume 22 Issue 9 - Summer 2017
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Volume 22 Issue 4 - December 2016/January 2017
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Volume 21 Issue 9 - Summer 2016
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