5 years ago

Volume 23 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2018

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  • Festival
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  • August
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
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PLANTING NOT PAVING! In this JUNE / JULY /AUGUST combined issue: Farewell interviews with TSO's Peter Oundjian and Stratford Summer Music's John Miller, along with "going places" chats with Luminato's Josephine Ridge, TD Jazz's Josh Grossman and Charm of Finches' Terry Lim. ) Plus a summer's worth of fruitful festival inquiry, in the city and on the road, in a feast of stories and our annual GREEN PAGES summer Directory.

Libération – Jazz

Libération – Jazz Flute François Richard Effendi Records CMFR004 ( !! How many times can one reach the pinnacle of his compositional and fluteplaying powers? Well, if you are the Québécois virtuoso François Richard, then the answer is probably several times; in fact, it might even be a bit risqué to suggest a definitive figure. He may scale even greater heights in future, but if he never achieves anything better than Libération he still has ample reason to be proud. Richard’s take on the lineage of the cool, spacey flute is infinitely less than conventional here, seeing him summoning woody tones from the instrument that float benignly over Guillaume Martineau’s languid piano, the growling gravitas of Rémi-Jean Leblanc’s contrabass and the delicate thunder of Martin Auguste’s drums. Each musician takes turns adding rich and not entirely predictable harmonic inventions to the music. The opener Ponctuation is a joyous, dancing piece which engages the senses. It’s followed by Winter Blues, a slow, slightly mysterious and ballad-edged tune with a rueful feel. Winter Blues features a thoughtful melodic solo by Richard, as does Une tempête, which reminds one of the leaping virtuosity of the late, great Eric Dolphy. Richard continues to ring in the changes in mood, structure and tempo, making Libération a program of constantly interesting repertoire. The considerable degree of balance and integration of melody, harmony and rhythm, of composition and improvisation, of exploration, individuality and tradition, is impressively maintained throughout. Raul da Gama Pardes Amos Hoffman; Noam Lemish Independent ( !! Pardes (pronounced par-DES) is the Hebrew word for orchard or “fruit garden” and, according to the liner notes, the origin of the word “paradise.” This makes a lot of sense: listening to Pardes, the Amos Hoffman and Noam Lemish Quartet’s first collaborative CD release, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported to a musically intoxicating Garden of Eden. Both Israeli-born and exceptional musicians, oudist, guitarist and innovator Hoffman, now based in South Carolina, and Toronto-based pianist and composer Lemish, have been collecting Jewish melodies from around the world for over 20 years. With Pardes, Kurdish, Ladino, Yemenite, Moroccan, Russian, Bukharian and Israeli songs have been uniquely transformed by Hoffman and Lemish’s shared jazz sensibilities and inspired arrangements. The results? These songs – many well-known and beloved – have been reimagined into sultry, sexy, evocative, compelling and just plain gorgeous jazzinfused jewels. Each track is worthy of its own review but for now, some “quick pick” standouts: Hoffman’s stunning oud work on Adon Haslichot; Lemish’s exhilarating piano on Dror Yikra; the exquisite contribution by guest clarinettist Jacob Gorzhaltsan on Äji Tü, Yormä, Äji?; the exuberant exchanges between guitar and piano on Tchol Hamitpachat; and the deeply expressive work by both Lemish and Hoffman on Ets Harimon. Guest tombak player, Pedram Khavarzamini, adds yet another layer of beauty on three tracks, and the Gray brothers, Justin (bass) and Derek (drums and percussion), round out this remarkable quartet with their skilful and sensitive musicianship. Plug into Pardes and enjoy your stay in paradise! Sharna Searle Concert note: The Amos Hoffman/Noam Lemish Quartet performs at Lula Lounge on June 3, co-presented by Jewish Music Week in Toronto and Lulaworld 2018; June 7, 8pm Silence in Guelph; June 8-9 Diese Onze, Montreal; June 10, 9pm Black Squirrel Books, Ottawa; June 24, 12pm Toronto Jazz Festival OLD Stage Yorkville Park. Blued Dharma Adrean Farrugia; Joel Frahm GB Records GBCD1804 ( !! It was while on tour with drummer Ernesto Cervini’s band in 2014 that the idea of recording a duo album emerged for Toronto-based pianist Adrean Farrugia and New York City-based saxophonist Joel Frahm. Fortunately for us, Blued Dharma, released last month, is the result of a splendid idea taken seriously and brought, beautifully, to fruition. Farrugia and Frahm are masterful musicians and improvisers. And clearly, these two mutual fans and musical friends revel in playing together. Simpatico, musical connection, uncanny understanding, empathy – call it what you will – these two have it, and it permeates the CD. Of the album’s eight tracks, five are originals by Farrugia – as insightful a composer as he is a pianist – two are utterly refreshing and intriguingly different turns on Roy Noble’s Cherokee, and track five is Farrugia and Frahm’s joyful jaunt through Kern and Hammerstein’s Showboat classic, Nobody Else But Me; listen for the brief, playful nod to Over the Rainbow. The title track sounds like what you’d imagine something called Blued Dharma would: contemplative, expressive, deeply personal. The third track, For Murray Gold, is a heartaching ballad. If someone ever writes a piece of music for me, please let it be that gorgeous! Farrugia and Frahm do not merely improvise. They complement, interact with, enhance, cajole, inspire, coax and charm each other. Blued Dharma is nothing short of magical. You, too, will be charmed. Sharna Searle Plant Éric Normand & Jim Denley Smeraldina-Rima 26/Tour de Bras TDBLP990002 ( ! ! Quebec’s smaller cities sometimes spawn radical music. Michel Levasseur has produced 34 annual editions of the epic FIMAV festival in Victoriaville, while Éric Normand has created an extraordinarily active scene – complete with record label and improvising orchestra – even further afield in Rimouski. One of Normand’s ongoing collaborations is with Australian saxophonist/flutist Jim Denley: they first recorded together in a Rimouski quintet in 2010 on Transition de Phase. Plant, available as a beautifully packaged, limited-edition LP or a download, presents the two in a 2013 performance. If the title suggests organic growth, a first hearing suggests it’s a pun, linking garden and industrial plants. If the combination of flute or saxophone and electric bass might suggest sparse work, that’s hardly the case here. There are dense, sustained sounds, whether alternating or layered, coming from Normand’s electric bass and Denley’s “field recordings” of a clothing factory. Whether playing flute or saxophone, Denley often focuses on the slow alternated notes and trills, sometimes sustained with circular breathing. Normand and the field recordings suggest the factory, Denley’s winds in the glade. Together they create a kind of post-industrial pastoral in which the vibrating amplified strings and machinery ultimately fuse with Denley’s minimalist, gestural language, his flute sound almost a kind of first brush with music in a primeval forest. The result is an extended meditation on the nature and meaning of sound, its threats, codes and ambiguities transfigured into resonant repose. Stuart Broomer 84 | June | July | August 2018

Returnings Jakob Bro ECM 2546 ( !! Danish guitarist Jakob Bro appears here in a stellar quartet that includes two elders of Scandinavian jazz, trumpeter/ flugelhornist Palle Mikkelborg and Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen. The result is a classic program in the Nordic school that ECM has perfected, a clear, spacious essay in spare melodies, nuanced emotions and subtle background shadings. While Christensen and American bassist Thomas Morgan supply optimum, empathetic foundations with subtle comments and suggestions only occasionally coming to the fore, much of the music feels like a close collaboration between Bro and the 77-year-old Mikkelborg, who composed and produced the orchestral suite Aura with Miles Davis in 1985 when Bro and Morgan were young children. The profound affinity between guitarist and trumpeter even inflects their luminous timbres as well as their economy of line, Bro’s electric guitar sound clarified to the point that it might be a brass instrument. Their empathy is apparent immediately in the opening tracks in which the two develop ballads with contrasting moods. The opening Oktober is pensive and introspective, foregrounding Mikkelborg’s Harmon-muted trumpet, while Strands is pure reflection in pastoral hues. The title track provides contrast: it’s a collaborative composition between Bro and Mikkelborg with an edge of metallic feedback to the guitar and an echoplex for the trumpet, summoning up something of Miles Davis’ electric period. The concluding track, Mikkelborg’s yearning Youth, restores the dominant texture. While this description might suggest background music, the CD would likely prove too distractingly beautiful for that. Stuart Broomer Masters Legacy Series Volume 2 Emmet Cohen featuring Ron Carter Cellar Live CL062917 ( !! Masters Legacy Series Volume 2, from New York-based pianist Emmet Cohen, represents a confluence of multiple productive collaborations. The first: between Cohen, drummer Evan Sherman, and bassist Ron Carter, the latter of whom, for the unfamiliar, is the titular master whose legacy is being celebrated. Now 81, Carter has appeared on over 2000 recordings, and came to prominence in the 1960s as a member of Miles Davis’s “second great quintet,” along with Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and Wayne Shorter. The second collaboration: between Cohen and Vancouver-based record label Cellar Live, helmed by Cory Weeds. Initially a label that predominantly released live recordings made at the nowdefunct Cellar Jazz Club in Vancouver, Cellar Live has grown into an independent powerhouse, with over 120 releases since its inception in 2001. The third collaboration, in a somewhat broader sense: between New York and Vancouver. Weeds and Cohen first met in 2016, as part of an annual Weeds-conducted jazz-centric tour of New York, and Masters Legacy Volume 2 was recorded at Vancouver’s Pyatt Hall. With 12 tracks and over 70 minutes of music, the album is packed with interesting material. All Of You kicks things off, recalling, in its tasteful, playful minimalism, the work of Ahmad Jamal, another living jazz master. The Carter-penned blues It’s About Time is an album highlight, with strong, swinging playing from the trio, and a fiery, temposhifting Joshua closes the show, showcasing Carter’s propulsive facility. A strong album, both in concept and execution. Colin Story Ninety-Nine Years Satoko Fujii Orchestra Berlin Libra Records 211-047 Bright Force Kira Kira (Satoko Fuji) Libra Records 204-048 ( !! The brilliant Japanese avantgarde composer and improviser Satoko Fujii, who happens to play piano and accordion and conduct three separate orchestras on three continents, celebrates her 60th year in 2018. Japanese tradition calls it kanreki, which is best explained to a Eurocentric as literally coming full circle in life. The Japanese (lunar) calendar, unlike our Gregorian one, completes a whole cycle covering 12 junishi or animals – mouse, cow, tiger and so on. But with each animal comes the mystical elements, measures of space and time or five jikhan which, when factored in means that a person completes a life cycle at 60 (12x5). And so Satoko Fujii has been born again. To mark the fire and brimstone of youth Fujii has decided to celebrate her 60th year with 12 new albums, one for each junishi. This very unique and year-long Japanese birthday fête also means that we get to experience the full force of Fujii’s creativity. It’s clear from the fecund surge in the music of two of the 12 albums that Fujii’s music comes from a part of her being that is highly imaginative. The music that ensues is audacious and is propelled through her body to the nerve endings of her fingertips, from where it explodes out of the instruments that she plays. Magically, on the music of Ninety-Nine Years with Orchestra Berlin and on Bright Force with the quartet Kira Kira, the spark of the Fujii-electricity also reaches the members of both ensembles in such a manner as to ignite each one like a nuclear burst from the corona of the sun. On the former recording Fujii simply acts as conductor; the proverbial catalyst in the detonation of her musical bombs. There are five songs on Ninety-Nine Years – each forming a vignette in an unravelling scroll that begins with a mystery in Unexpected Incident, and ends with another one, Follow The Idea, as well. Meanwhile each work on the disc is linked to the other like a series of arresting complexes of musical events characterized by movement, from immobility through acceleration, to a vanishing point propelled by both metronomic pulses and effusive lyricism. The music of Bright Force – as the album title suggests – emerges from its own proverbial solar explosion and is resolved in the quietude of the mysterious Luna Lionfish suite, a strikingly lyrical feature that closes an extraordinarily edgy album. Raul da Gama Globe Unity – 50 Years Alexander von Schlippenbach; Globe Unity Orchestra Intakt Records CD 298/2018 ( ! ! Recorded at Jazzfest Berlin in 2016, this CD marks the half-century of an experiment that has become a great instrument and a flexible institution. In 1966, pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach was invited to present a free jazz big band at the same festival. He created the 13-member Globe Unity Orchestra, combining and expanding the Manfred Schoof Quintet and the Peter Brötzmann Trio. The group has frequently reconvened, with nine to 19 members, demonstrating that minimal organization and committed listening can create both order and ecstatic chaos. By current standards of inclusion, it represents a small “globe,” but it celebrates an ambition that began in the European Union and crossed the Iron Curtain. This edition has 18 members – three from the 1966 assembly (Schlippenbach, June | July | August 2018 | 85

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