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Volume 24 Issue 5 - February 2019

  • Text
  • February
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Arts
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Performing
  • Orchestra
  • Symphony
  • Composer
In this issue: A prize that brings lustre to its laureates (and a laureate who brings lustre to the prize); Edwin Huizinga on the journey of Opera Atelier's "The Angel Speaks" from Versailles to the ROM; Danny Driver on playing piano in the moment; Remembering Neil Crory (a different kind of genius)' Year of the Boar, Indigeneity and Opera; all this and more in Volume 24 #5. Online in flip through, HERE and on the stands commencing Thursday Jan 31.

solos are interspersed

solos are interspersed with ensemble sections and melodic fragments. Highlights include Looking Up which begins with Ragnelli’s subtle drum intro. Then Au plays a beautiful looping melody over clever rhythmic punctuation, an ostinato bass pattern interrupts before the melody returns and leads into an elegant piano solo. Red Herring begins with a syncopated minor melody over funky and jagged beats. As the piece progresses, Pentney’s Prophet Rev2 adds an ominous texture for some additional tension. The piece winds its way down a number of genre alleys (as its title suggests) and is ultimately satisfying and not at all misleading. Wander Wonder is an exquisite album that balances introspection with some terrific solos. Ted Parkinson Autoschediasm Karoline Leblanc; Ernesto Rodrigues; Nicolas Caloia Atrito-Afeito 010 (atrito-afeito.com) !! Autoschediasm (the term indicates something improvised, offhand or casual) presents a three-segment collective improvisation created by Montreal-based pianist Karoline Leblanc and bassist Nicolas Caloia and Portuguese violist Ernesto Rodrigues. All are accomplished improvisers, but each brings different threads: Leblanc’s background stresses the classical avant-garde; Caloia’s career emphasizes free jazz; Rodrigues, who leads several distinct improvising orchestras in Lisbon, has championed free improvisation for over 30 years, appearing on scores of CDs. While the title suggests something casual, the music sounds appropriate to its Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal setting, the trio bringing a high modernist discipline and precision to the work. The opening movement flows with an energy that is dense and light. Sparked initially by LeBlanc’s imaginative keyboard flights, in its later stages it settles into a churning rhythmic pattern that ignites Rodrigues’ radical virtuosity, resulting in a flurry of microtonal lines that sometimes create their own counterpart. Offhand? Casual? The only thing that distinguishes it from composed music is the challenge of writing it down. The second movement takes a contrasting approach, developing little sounds, arising discreetly, sometimes pointillist, at times muffled, at others percussive, a gently humming underbrush alive with detail. The final segment moves from delicate sonic events to a turbulent, vibrant world that recalls the opening, a formal motion that exaggerates a pattern evident since the early classical era. It’s an act of “autoschediasm” rich in taut attention to nuance and form. Stuart Broomer Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds Kim Myhr; Quatuor Bozzini; Caroline Bergvall; Ingar Zach Hubro HUBRO CD 2612 (hubromusic.com) !! Initially commissioned and performed at FIMAV in Victoriaville, Quebec, Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds is a musical rumination on immutable nature and human disruption, composed by Kim Myhr, the Norwegian guitarist whose strums underscore the narrative that ululates through this six-track suite. Accompanied by Norwegian percussionist Ingar Zach and framed by the harmonies of Montreal string ensemble Quatuor Bozzini (QB), the music shares space with the idiosyncratic recitation by French-Norwegian poet Caroline Bergvall. Her distinctive phrasing helps set up a rhythmically charged program where her vocal narrative adds as much to individual sequences as the QB’s intermittently buzzing glissandi, the percussionist’s hand pops and vibrations, plus the guitarist’s string strokes and spanks on 12-string acoustic, which constantly move the theme forward. Moving efficiently through word images that range among simple instances of nature appreciation, chimerical retelling of dreamlike surprises, and astute allusions to political events involving refugees and dangerous water crossings, Bergvall sets up hypnotic sequences whose resolution depends as much on the feints and fancies of instrumental virtuosity as the players’ strategies depend on her verbal concoctions. With its echoes of folksay, impressionism, stark improvisation and poetics, Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds is a distinctive creation which can be experienced more than once – which is precisely what can be done by listening to this CD. Ken Waxman Linger Benoît Delbecq; Jorrit Dijkstra; John Hollenbeck Driff Records CD 1801 (driffrecords.com) !! Reshaping improvisational parameters, Dutch alto saxophonist Jorrit Dijkstra and French pianist Benoît Delbecq add flexible oscillations to the ten performances here by also improvising on, respectively, Lyricon and preparations for synthesizer, aided by the flexible percussion patterning of Montreal-based John Hollenbeck. With instrumental additions that can process tones as they’re created, the Europeans’ secondary voices multiply interactions past standard trio voicings to suggest enhanced melodic lyricism and rhythmic vigour, often simultaneously. On Stir for instance, reed smears and outer-spacelike oral currents vie for supremacy challenged by wave-form squibs and measured keyboard chording. Unfazed by timbre multiplicity, the drummer not only keeps a backbeat going, most powerfully on Push, but also bluntly asserts his agenda with individualistic rolls and ruffs plus cymbal splashes there and throughout the CD. Dijkstra and Delbecq don’t just depend on texture supplements as they aptly demonstrate on Dwell, where irregular saxophone trills and split tones confront a flowing keyboard narrative plus inner piano string stops; or on Stalk, where modulated piano clusters create an impressionistic theme that complements inchoate Lyricon echoes as well as cursive beats plus drum-rim rubbing from Hollenbeck. Contrapuntal yet communicative, the textural sound-melding throughout the disc suggests that Dijkstra and Delbecq, who first met at the Banff Jazz Workshop in 1990, should collaborate more often. As it is, the two, plus Hollenback’s fluid and inventive patterning, have created a session over which one can beneficially linger. Ken Waxman Eric Dolphy – Musical Prophet Eric Dolphy Resonance Records HCD-2035 (resonancerecords.org) ! ! When Eric Dolphy died in a diabetic coma in 1964 at 36, he represented a special loss to jazz: a master of three distinct woodwinds (alto saxophone, bass clarinet and flute) whose exalted technical acumen and creative intensity contributed immeasurably to great recordings by John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, George Russell and Oliver Nelson, among many others. Musical Prophet is a 3CD set that expands the 1963 sessions that produced the LPs Conversations and Iron Man. Ranging from unaccompanied saxophone solos (Love Me is an expressionist masterpiece heard here in three versions) to a tentet, from jazz standards like Fats Waller’s Jitterbug Waltz (on flute) to Dolphy’s own dense, swarming Burning Spear, it’s the finest portrait of the breadth of Dolphy’s genius available. There are no finer examples of the “third stream” impulse than Dolphy’s duets with bassist Richard Davis, abstract weavings that press Ellington’s Come Sunday and the standard Alone Together into 80 | February 2019 thewholenote.com

classics of improvised chamber music. On Music Matador, his bass clarinet roars with celebratory abandon. Dolphy’s breadth is as apparent in his range of collaborators, from bassoonist Garvin Bushell, who recorded with Mamie Smith in 1922, to 18-year-old trumpeter Woody Shaw, here making his recording debut. Along with the expansive and illuminating alternate takes, the set includes a remarkable bonus, A Personal Statement, with an extended musical dialogue that includes pianist Bob James (yes, that Bob James) and countertenor David Schwartz. Stuart Broomer La Fenice Keith Jarrett ECM ECM2601-02 (ecmrecords.com/ catalogue) !! A new release from the Keith Jarrett concert archive is always a welcome occasion. Such is the case with La Fenice, the ECM label’s latest offering from the virtuoso pianist, which comes to us as a twodisc set featuring an improvised solo concert recorded at Gran Teatro La Fenice, Venice, in 2006. By this time, Jarrett had adopted a concert format during which he would improvise a series of relatively short pieces, as opposed to the long uninterrupted sets that he favoured on earlier iconic recordings such as La Scala and Bremen/Lausanne. Interestingly though, Jarrett begins La Fenice by breaking these self-imposed format limits, as he launches into a mostly atonal musical exploration which clocks in at over 17 minutes, until its final unexpected resolution in F-sharp Major. In Part 3, the pianist visits one of his more familiar trademark styles wherein his left hand lays down an ostinato pattern while the right hand improvises fluid gospel/blues lines. Rhythmic clarity, direction and superb melodic development are present throughout, as Jarrett pulls off one amazing pianistic feat after another with apparent ease. The music then segues into an achingly beautiful ballad, possibly one of the most breathtaking improvised pieces he has ever recorded. On disc two, the pianist breaks up more complex harmonic territory with a bittersweet Gilbert and Sullivan tune (The Sun Whose Rays), before proceeding on to a straight-out blues romp. We are also treated to several encores, including My Wild Irish Rose, Stella by Starlight and a stunning Jarrett original, Blossom. On Stella, the pianist is clearly enjoying himself as he weaves complex bop lines over a left hand walking bass, while also tapping his foot on beats two and four: a one-man band! All told, La Fenice is a deserving addition to Jarrett’s long and distinguished recording legacy. Barry Livingston POT POURRI (I) Les vents orfèvres; (II) Les entrailles de la montagne Jean-François Bélanger Les Productions de l’homme Renard (jfbelanger.com) !! Jean-François Bélanger is a specialist in period and contemporary string instruments. Between 2015 and 2018 he completed an enduring diptych dedicated principally to the Swedish folk instrument the nyckelharpa. However, unlike Olov Johansson of the Swedish group Väsen and renowned exponent of the three-rowed nyckelharpa, the music created by the Montréalais Bélanger seems to fuse a myriad of musical idioms, drawing from Swedish and Celtic ones, on his single-rowed instrument. The first of Bélanger’s diptych of recordings is Les vents orfèvres, a piercing journey into the interior landscape of the artist’s mind, “dedicated to matters of the spirit,” as Bélanger explains. There is an astonishing variety of music here, from the spinetingling and airy Ouverture tirée à quatre épingles and Le pensoir with their eloquent silences punctuated only by the sound of the keys as they are depressed, to serve as frets to change the pitch of the string, to the knockabout Suite norvégienne with its highly theatrical and dance-like gestures that closes out this disc. Throughout we hear music-making of great vividness and immediacy; the songs seem to traverse not just time, but also a musical topography infinitely more vast than the relative insularity of the instrument. It bears mention too that Bélanger also plays numerous other stringed and percussion instruments and is accompanied by 12 other virtuoso musicians who play a staggering range of instruments from the Jew’s harp and the Brazilian caxixi to the Indian bansuri and the viola da gamba. The second part of his celebrated diptych Les entrailles de la montagne is infinitely more adventurous. The music unfolds and with it the metaphor of the mountain takes shape. As the disc progresses the music seems to pour out of the instruments in a proverbial volcanic mix that melds opulent orchestral arrangements with a percussive folksy theatre that seems to crisscross the earth’s music. But to describe it as such gives the impression of overcooking when in fact the whole project is a masterpiece of subtlety. Somehow Bélanger’s nyckelharpa appears to give way more frequently to other instruments from his pandora’s box that even includes the sitar and tampuri-swarmandal. Here too, Bélanger is accompanied by 15 musicians plus a string quartet, each deeply attuned to his vision. The surprises, when they come, are effective but discreet: a gamelan-like riff played as pizzicato harmonics and a delicate curlicue of a bass line that sounds like a Gaelic lament and, as in La brouseaille – Chemin de traverse, a close-knit passage that develops from a single phrase. Small wonder that Bélanger received the Instrumental Solo Artist of the Year prize at the 2018 Canadian Folk Music Awards for Les entrailles de la montagne. Raul da Gama Concert notes: Jean-François Bélanger has many performances around the province of Quebec in February and March. Full details can be found at jfbelanger.com/spectacles/. Before You Alicia Hansen Independent (aliciahansen.com) !! Alicia Hansen does not write party music. What the Vancouver-based singer and piano player does write are artistic, original and harmonically complex songs. Her propensity for minor keys and stark lyrics make her latest album, Before You, feel a little dark at times, but her beautiful voice and vulnerability more than make up for it. Hansen’s third studio release comprises 11 tracks all written by her and produced by JUNO Award-winner, Jesse Zubot, who also plays violin on the album. Zubot and cellist Peggy Lee’s string work add to the haunting quality of many of the tunes, such as Who I Am or the opener Disintegrating Heart which explores themes of love and relationships, as many of the songs do. Other themes are emotional growth, self-acceptance and the rejection of standards set by others. In Fame and Glory Hansen writes, “So I hope that you’re not waiting for me, to turn into something that I’ll never be.” And that sums this record up well. Hansen’s work is worth exploring for anyone tired of formulaic pop offerings and keen for fresh, interesting, yet accessible songs. Cathy Riches Concert note: Alicia Hansen performs at Merge in Vancouver February 15. thewholenote.com February 2019 | 81

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2019)

Volume 25 Issue 2 - October 2019
Volume 25 Issue 1 - September 2019
Volume 24 Issue 8 - May 2019
Volume 24 Issue 7 - April 2019
Volume 24 Issue 6 - March 2019
Volume 24 Issue 5 - February 2019
Volume 24 Issue 4 - December 2018 / January 2019
Volume 24 Issue 3 - November 2018
Volume 24 Issue 2 - October 2018
Volume 24 Issue 1 - September 2018
Volume 23 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2018
Volume 23 Issue 8 - May 2018
Volume 23 Issue 7 - April 2018
Volume 23 Issue 6 - March 2018
Volume 23 Issue 4 - December 2017 / January 2018
Volume 23 Issue 3 - November 2017
Volume 23 Issue 2 - October 2017
Volume 23 Issue 1 - September 2017
Volume 22 Issue 9 - Summer 2017
Volume 22 Issue 8 - May 2017
Volume 22 Issue 7 - April 2017
Volume 22 Issue 6 - March 2017
Volume 22 Issue 5 - February 2017
Volume 22 Issue 4 - December 2016/January 2017
Volume 22 Issue 2 - October 2016
Volume 22 Issue 1 - September 2016
Volume 21 Issue 9 - Summer 2016
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Volume 21 Issue 6 - March 2016
Volume 21 Issue 5 - February 2016
Volume 21 Issue 4 - December 2015/January 2016
Volume 21 Issue 3 - November 2015
Volume 21 Issue 2 - October 2015
Volume 21 Issue 1 - September 2015

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