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Volume 23 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2018

  • Text
  • Festival
  • Listings
  • August
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
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  • Quartet
  • Orchestra
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.

saxophonist Gerd Dudek

saxophonist Gerd Dudek and Schoof, the band’s eldest member at 80 in 2016) and seven significantly younger newcomers. Among the members are some of the most lyrical of improvisers (Dudek and trumpeter Tomasz Stańko [both joined in 1970]) and great sonic explorers (saxophonist Evan Parker [also 1970] and trumpeter Axel Dörner [2006]). From the pointillist beginnings in which the members assemble in pecking isolation, the work moves organically through subensembles and solo turns and moments of full-tilt incandescent glory. The trumpeters and trombonists – functioning with nothing resembling a conventional score – stretch a swing-era harmonic model to a mindmelding vision. The ultimate 44-minute piece celebrates the joy of untrammelled improvisation, testimony to the invention, openness and generosity of its members. Stuart Broomer Echo Painting Peggy Lee Songlines SGL1626-2 ( !! The artistic genius of Vancouverbased composer/ performer/leader Peggy Lee is in top form in Echo Painting, a suite commissioned by the 2016 Vancouver International Jazz Festival. The Lee-composed tracks touch on free improvisation, jazz, and classical genres, providing her new ten-piece ensemble (comprising veteran and younger Vancouver area musicians) eloquent music to interpret. The opening Incantation sets the stage with mellow, slow, full ensemble held-note soundscapes and a jazz-tinged tenor saxophone solo against florid drumming. A Strange Visit touches on many styles with its fast, almost minimalistic string opening leading to a slower atonal improvisational section, and finishing with a march-like groove. More diverse style references emerge in Snappy, as Lee’s opening cello improvisation leads to atonal squeaks and repetition. A surprise polka-sounding section with string lead follows, with more fun in the subsequent wall-of-sound drum section. It all ends with crackling new music sounds. Hymn is a relaxing, reflective work with classical tonal harmonic changes. which develops into a more modern-day jazz number. All but three tracks were composed by Lee, the most notable being a straightforward cover of Robbie Robertson’s The Unfaithful Servant sung by guest vocalist Robin Holcomb, a surprising yet gratifying closing musical moment. Lee and her musicians move seamlessly between musical ideas with tight ensemble playing whether from notated scores or improvising. This is an original, detailed, unique recording. Tiina Kiik The Core-Tet Project Dame Evelyn Glennie; Jon Hemmersam; Szilárd Mezei; Michael Jefry Stevens Naxos 8.573804 ( !! All of us who love to free improvise (and all the rest of you too) need to listen to The Core-tet Project improvising over 70 minutes of in-themoment illuminating, live musical sounds. Members Dame Evelyn Glennie (percussion), Jon Hemmersam (guitar), Szilárd Mezei (viola) and Michael Jefry Stevens (piano) are each musical superstars, but the big surprise here is how well they create music together. From the initial piano ping in Steel-Ribbed Dance, each soloist joins the cohesive tight group with virtuosic rapid lines, beating repeated notes and tinges of guitar and piano jazz flavours. The Calling is a quieter, slower soundscape. I love the hypnotic percussion and piano opening leading to a classic middle free improv section with piano and percussion strikes, guitar lines and viola slides. A sense of humour and individuality shines in Walk of Intensity. From the opening pacing piano feel, each instrumentalist runs at their own pace, building to a higher pitch, then gradually subsiding to a final piano note. Silver Shore is a moving, expressive piano and viola duet with its counterpoint and harmonies emulating a notated piece of music. Black Box Thinking features a wall-of-sound setting with the percussion and viola in a “Who will win this percussive banging conversation?” contest. The closing Rusty Locks has a fun groove-driven upbeat dance feel. The booklet notes, penned by Glennie and Stevens, give a sneak peek to each track. Recording is clean and alive. Enjoy! Tiina Kiik D’Agala Sylvie Courvoisier Trio Intakt Records CD 300 ( !! Nearly 15 years of collective rumination about the jazz trio tradition has led to this collection of original compositions by Swiss pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, dedicated to many of her inspirations. Here, Courvoisier is joined by her American associates, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Kenny Wollesen. Intense, but not insensate, Courvoisier’s tunes are unique enough to equally incorporate brooding meditations, solemn threnodies and springy acknowledgments. Dedicated to pianist Geri Allen, for instance, D’Agala is actually more reminiscent of Bill Evans’ trio elaborations, where emphasized keyboard tones move forward crab-like, as each texture is shadowed by connective double bass thumps and underscored by echoing bell-tree-like and chainshaking percussion that frames each carefully thought-out pattern. Éclats for Ornette, honouring saxophonist Coleman, jostles with a wobbly effervescence as the semi-blues melody and walking bass emphasis work into a clanking climax that’s as self-possessed as it is solid. South Side Rules for guitarist John Abercrombie is as sparse, distant and darkened as his work, yet each isolated note is kept from formalism by cymbal swirls and drum shuffles; while Fly Whisk, for Irène Schweizer, isolates the celebrated pianist’s distinctive keyboard tapestry, relieved by bursts of forceful chording, without every compromising Courvoisier’s singular identity. Immersing herself in these nine demonstrations of jazz trio wizardry, the pianist does more than appropriately honour her important influences. Her playing and compositions confirm her membership in the coterie of innovative improvising keyboardists. Ken Waxman Thoughts Become Matter Zero Point MTM 006 ( ! ! Controlled free improvisation of the precise kind, this quartet demonstrates that free music doesn’t have to reach zero point – the lowest form of energy – to foam. Harmonized like a chemical formula, without one element missing, the band is Swiss guitarist Marius Duboule, Canadian bassist Michael Bates, plus Americans, drummer Deric Dickens and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter. Never exceeding the boiling point on any track, the group improvisations are nudged along by Bates’ paced and responsive thumps and Dickens’ mediated shuffles and nerve beats. From that point, sound actualization usually depends on whether Duboule is accenting his acoustic guitar strings or crunching rough timbres from his electric instrument, as Carter moves with equal facility among flute, clarinet, trumpet or soprano, alto and tenor saxophones. Carter slips from one to another with such discretion that he’ll often be playing another instrument instants before you’ve finally identified the first. Arabesques and flutter tonguing 86 | June | July | August 2018

from his flute highlight storytelling beauty on Go for the Gold, with the same skill that his muted trumpet has on Crystal Lattice, as it hovers beside vibrating guitar strums until they harmonize at the perfect moment. Even Duboule’s electric projections on the title track simply contrast with alto saxophone refinement long enough to ensure Carter’s subsequent harmonizing defines the piece as ductile and dense. The CD’s one drawback is that its longest track is shorter than eight minutes. Fewer tracks and more protracted improvising would allow Zero Point to stretch its imaginative concepts still further. Ken Waxman Shine Sister Shine Ian Shaw Jazz Village JV550005 ( !! Consummate jazz vocalist and pianist Ian Shaw first emerged onto the international jazz scene after his warm and agile voice was heard on the soundtrack of Richard Curtis’ hit film, Four Weddings and a Funeral. Since his auspicious debut, the Welsh-born and London-based Shaw has created some of the most intriguing jazz vocal recordings in recent memory – and his latest offering is no exception. In his own words, Shine Sister Shine is a “celebration of the actions and art of extraordinary women.” Shaw – who arranged the CD and is joined by his fine trio of Barry Green on piano, Mick Hutton on bass and David Ohm on drums – is also an activist, focused on working with refugees. He contributes two original compositions here, Keep Walking (dedicated to a brave Eritrean mother) and Carry On World, written in praise of women and their steely strength. The other fine tracks on the CD include Shaw’s innovative interpretations of compositions by Peggy Lee, Joni Mitchell, Phoebe Snow and Carly Simon. Things get cooking with Carry On World (Starring Everyone), which is a supple, contemporary jazz tune with luscious multitracked backing vocals by Shaw. Shaw’s pitchperfect baritone is recognizably his, while still manifesting nuances of iconic jazz vocalists such as the late Mark Murphy. On Not the Kind of Girl, Shaw demonstrates his innate and compassionate ability to communicate the deepest of human feelings. The closer, a piano/voice re-imagining of Carly Simon’s Coming Around Again, is a triumph. Without question, this is one of the finest jazz vocal recordings of the year. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke POT POURRI (Ex)Tradition The Curious Bards Harmonia Mundi HMN 906105 ( !! Hands up, those organizing an Irish ceilidh or Scottish Burns Night. Look no further for your music. These pieces were performed for the most part in the 18th century and what emerges is a highly individual blend. The Curious Bards received formal training in Baroque musical instruments. They have gone on to apply their expertise – and such instruments as the viola da gamba – to perform Irish and Scottish music which has emanated from a variety of sources. The Curious Bards start with three Scottish reels collected by Robert Bremner in 1757: see if your guests can keep up with the raw energy of The Lads of Elgin! The Irish are not to be dissuaded, with their own opening trio. While some pieces are more melancholic than their Scottish counterparts, The High Road to Dublin displays the spirited quality of the works of Ireland’s renowned bard Carolan. The most imaginative arrangements on the CD must be the Highland Battle. Just as other Renaissance composers, for example, Byrd and Susato, set the sounds of a battle to music, so the Caledonian Pocket Companion of 1750 conveys the battle via flute and violin, even down to the mournful Lamentation for the Chief. And so the jigs and reels continue (not least the Reel of Tulloch), enough for an evening’s Irish and Scottish celebrations. This choice by Baroque-trained musicians is strange, but it should not deter anyone. There is a crispness to the interpretations, which that very training brings out. Michael Schwartz Rosewood Café Margaret Herlehy Big Round Records BR8950 ( !! In Rosewood Café, a small band of Latin jazz performers, fronted by an oboe of all things, presents a sweet collection of songs in the South American popular idiom. Oboist Margaret Herlehy has a lively sense of rhythm and phrase. She matches well with the more typical elements of a Latin jazz combo: drums, guitar and piano. The CD title gives a good indication of one likely market for this product: it’s exactly the sort of fresh sound one might hear for the first time over a latté in the local coffee haunt, played slightly below the surrounding murmur of conversation and clicking of laptop keyboards. One approaches the server to inquire and one sees that it does indeed feature the oboe in this atypical mix, and one revisits one’s sense of what exactly the oboe can or should do. It’s lovely to hear the pairing of oboe and flute racing to the finish of track six, Diabinho maluco by Jacob do Bandolim, the only really uptempo cut on the collection, by. Apart from the final track, Astor Piazzolla’s Café 1930, the composers featured are fairly unknown to the non-aficionado of popular Latin music, and in spite of a promise of an online listing, neither the disc nor the website provide any great detail about them. Interesting to note that the one most often featured is Brazilian guitarist Celso Machado, who lives, according to Google, in British Columbia. Max Christie Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa Jeremy Dutcher Independent jd003 ( ! ! Jeremy Dutcher is a multi-gifted artist who also expresses his humanity as an activist and musicologist. Dutcher is a member of the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, and he began this remarkable project by transcribing Wolastoq songs from vintage 1907 wax cylinders at the Canadian Museum of History in Halifax. The voices and souls of Dutcher’s people reached out to him through those cylinders, which were rife with unfamiliar songs and lore. The 11 deeply moving compositions on this CD are the result of Dutcher’s “collaboration” with those ancestral voices, as well as his almost classical piano approach and dynamic vocal instrument. Each track is also enhanced and integrated with Wolastoq spoken word and singing that was preserved on those cylinders. Dutcher has surrounded himself here with a scintillating wall of sound, including himself on piano and vocals, Devon Bate on electronics and an array of strings, brass and percussion – all the voices of a classical orchestra. He has said that he is doing this remarkable work in part because there are only about 100 Wolastoqey speakers left, and “It’s crucial for us to make sure that we’re using our language and passing it on to the next generation.” In the initial track, Mehcinut/Death Chant, Dutcher’s voice soars in power, strength and purity, moving contiguously with the voice from a wax cylinder recording. Other June | July | August 2018 | 87

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