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Volume 24 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2019

  • Text
  • Orchestra
  • Listings
  • Concerts
  • Quartet
  • Musical
  • Theatre
  • Jazz
  • August
  • Toronto
  • Festival
In this issue: The Toronto Brazilian bateria beat goes on; TD Jazz in Yorkville is three years young; Murray Schafer's earliest Wilderness forays revisited; cellist/composer Cris Derksen's Maada'ookkii Songlines to close Luminato (and it's free!); our 15th annual Green Pages summer music guide; all this and more in our combined June/July/August issue now available in flipthrough format here and on stands starting Thursday May 30.

musique actuelle, but

musique actuelle, but also embrace guitarbased vernacular genres such as blues, progressive rock, flamenco and the electric guitar sounds popularized by 20th-century innovators Duane Eddy and Link Wray. If you enjoy virtuoso electric guitar shredding, edgy minimalism, jaggedly incisive rhythms, noisy textures and rock’s propulsive energy paired with the guitar’s gentler voice – soft harmonics, cantabile slide guitar and sustained tones – then this is an album to savour and add to your collection. Andrew Timar John Robertson – Virtuosity Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra; Anthony Armoré Navona Records NV6223 (navonarecords.com) !! In my review of a CD of orchestral works by John Robertson (Navona NV6167) that appeared in the September 2018 issue of The WholeNote, I called his neo- Romantic music “unfairly neglected” and praised his “lyrical gift… colourful and inventive scoring, unpretentious and essentially cheerful.” Not all of Robertson’s music is “essentially cheerful,” however, as shown by this latest CD. In three concerted works featuring as soloists three principal players of the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kingston-based Robertson (b.1943) reveals his more inwardlooking side, at times tinged with melancholy. His “lyrical gift,” though, remains evident and continues to please in his Concerto for Clarinet and Strings Op.27 (1989), Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra Op. 58 (2013) and the tone poem Hinemoa and Tutanekai Op.22 (1987), based on a legend of two Maori lovers from rival warring tribes. In it, Hinemoa hears and responds to the plaintive sound of Tutanekai’s flute as it wafts across the lake that keeps them apart. Robertson’s even darker side is displayed in the opening Andante of his 27-minute Symphony No.3, Op.71 (2017), filled with dramatic foreboding, sinister repeated arpeggios and pounding rhythms. The mood lightens with the syncopated, Latino-like accents of the Vivace, while the concluding Allegro is lighter still, even “cheerful.” In my previous review, I wrote that Robertson’s music “should be welcomed by Canadian orchestras and audiences.” The increasing exposure of his music on CD might just be what it takes to make that happen. Michael Schulman Victoria Bond – Instruments of Revelation Chicago Pro Musica Naxos 8.559864 (naxos.com) !! Four works dating from 2005 to 2011 display some of the wide expressive range of American Victoria Bond (b.1945). Three figures from tarot cards are portrayed in Instruments of Revelation: The Magician (in Bond’s words “mysterious…dexterous”), The High Priestess (“wisdom…passion”) and The Fool (“comedy…chaos”). Cleverly scored for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano, the first two movements are very engaging and attractively descriptive, while The Fool, in wild confusion, lurches and falls across many slippery glissandi. In Frescoes and Ash for clarinet/bass clarinet, string quintet, piano and percussion, six artworks from Pompeii are depicted, most strikingly in the raucous Street Musicians (the CD’s cover image) and the languid rippling of Marine Mosaic. The seventh movement, Ash: Awareness of Mortality, is a haunting dirge for the doomed city. “I’ve been drawn to Ulysses… since high school… because the writing resembles the way I think… in fleeting images and allusions, in a stream of consciousness.” Bond previously set Molly Bloom’s soliloquy and here, in her 20-minute Leopold Bloom’s Homecoming (from Episode 17), tenor Rufus Müller, accompanied by pianist Jenny Lin, speaks the questions and sings Bloom’s answers. However, Joyce’s convoluted text, included in the booklet, renders moot whether the music, lyrical or dramatic, fits the words. Finally, pianist Olga Vinokur performs Binary, a heavily percussive seven-minute piece whose first movement reminded me of Thelonious Monk, followed by a set of variations on a Brazilian samba, ending a disc of very mixed imagery, pleasures and perplexity. Michael Schulman Migration Fuego Quartet Ravello Records RR8010 (ravellorecords.com) !! The Fuego Quartet (Nicki Roman, soprano; Eric Elmgren, alto; Harrison Clarke, tenor, and Gabriel Piqué, baritone) was founded in 2015 at the Eastman School of Music. Their album Migration’s sophistication shows how far the saxophone quartet’s repertoire has moved from predominantly French composers and Scott Joplin rags. For example, David Maslanka’s five-part Recitation Book recomposes Bach chorales. Many of the pieces are quite meditative and the Fuego Quartet blends together seamlessly with little vibrato to create a gentle wall of harmony. The final track, Fanfare/Variations on “Durch Adams Fall,” is a lengthy piece combining the boisterous with the liturgical. William Albright’s Fantasy Etudes is a sixpart work opening with a Prelude which combines elements of the other sections and then moves into A Real Nice Number, an ironic homage to Debussy’s Claire de Lune. Pypes is a lilting piece evoking bagpipes; The Fives for Steve is dedicated to the memory of a composer friend; and the Phantom Galop was inspired by the Lone Ranger. Harmonium, based on childhood memories of the instrument, possesses an incredible and quiet intensity and could be my favourite on the album. The final section, They Only Come Out at Night, is a tribute to 50s and 60s cop shows on TV. David Clay Mettens’ Ornithology S is a ten-minute tour de force based on Juan Fontanive’s animated sculptures of birds that are a remarkable re-imagining of flip books. It involves complex rhythmic sections, intricate pad clicking, subtle multiphonics and delicate slap tonguing, and demonstrates how impeccably the quartet plays together as they interpret difficult pieces. Ted Parkinson David Liptak – Dove Songs Tony Arnold; Alison d’Amato; Renée Jolles; Margaret Kampmeier; Dieter Hennings Yeomans; Steven Doane; Barry Snyder New Focus Recordings FCR224 (naxosdirect.com) ! ! American composer David Liptak composes texturally rich, colourful and contrasting musical sounds in four compositions here. The title track, Dove Songs, is a six-part song cycle composed for soprano Tony Arnold, who performs it with superb pianist Alison d’Amato. Arnold’s enchanting voice grasps all the contrasting storytelling/musical elements of the work, based on poetry by 1987 Pulitzer Prizewinner Rita Dove. Great moments include the dramatic vocal high pitches and piano tinkling like snow and frost in The Snow King, short phrases with subtle humourous undertones emulating domestic life’s ups and downs in Beauty and the Beast, and faster lighter lines with a final high-pitched vocal note and piano flourish in Flirtation. More intense lyricism and held notes feature in Impromptus, composed for and played by violinist Renée Jolles with pianist Margaret Kampmeier. The duo shines in the contrasting conversational solo lines 94 | June | July | August 2019 thewholenote.com

which shorten until they overlap simultaneously in the second movement, Lyrical. The seven-movement guitar solo suite, The Sighs, explores the melancholy of seven artists. Guitarist Dieter Hennings Yeomans brings out the clever compositional use of Rameau’s Baroque counterpoint in the fluctuating guitar line in the Les Soupirs and Petite Reprise movements. The extremely moving musical sentiment of Beautiful Dreamer, based on the Stephen Foster song of the same name, is unforgettable. Sonata for Cello and Piano has cellist Steven Doane and pianist Barry Synder perform a zippy second-movement race to the finish! David Liptak’s memorable, lyrical, original compositions are timeless! Tiina Kiik JAZZ AND IMPROVISED Kick It ’Till You Flip It Eucalyptus Lorna 10/ HAVN 054 (brodiewest.com) !! Alto saxophonist/composer Brodie West makes music that’s both exploratory and engaging, growing from varied experiences playing jazz and its transmutations in Toronto and further afield, including stints with Dutch drummer Han Bennink and Ethiopian saxophonist Getatchew Mekuria. West’s groups typically emphasize rhythm (his eponymous quintet has two drummers), but his octet, Eucalyptus, takes it further. Drummers Nick Fraser, Evan Cartwright and Blake Howard feed data to West and trumpeter Nicole Rampersaud as they bounce around the multi-directional polyrhythms and ostinatos. West’s compositions can suggest African pop music, but they also have affinities with a broad swath of work, from Terry Riley to Ornette Coleman. Something Sparkly is perfectly dreamlike, its slow theme weaving through bright electric guitar and exotic overlapping rhythms. It suggests Sun Ra’s stately early music, a resemblance heightened by Ryan Driver’s trebly clavinet, a keyboard Sun Ra called a “solar sound instrument.” West’s solo seems suspended between melody and birdcall. The title track develops with the horns playing a short, taut figure, then gradually moving out of synch with one another amidst the various rhythmic paths at hand. The entire LP testifies to West’s artful concision, but his compressed, expressionist solo here is a miracle of improvisational economy. The final track, Triller, is another beautiful floating mystery, its minimalist components ultimately weaving a complex whole; it’s enhanced by Alex Lukashevsky’s bending guitar tones, until parts drop away and only electric bassist Mike Smith’s pulsing ostinato remains. Stuart Broomer One Night In Karlsruhe Michel Petrucciani; Gary Peacock; Roy Haynes SWR Jazzhaus JAH-476 (naxosdirect.com) !! Michel Petrucciani, who once said, “I think someone upstairs saved me from being ordinary,” followed up his proclamation with a vast discography of truly extraordinary music. He had the virtuosity of an Oscar Peterson and the fluttering lyricism of Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett. However, his playing is characterized by a singular voice driven by an almost primal energy and an edgy emotionality. Although he was marked, throughout his short life, with monumental pain from osteogenesis imperfecta, his music expressed unfettered feelings of joy. One Night in Karlsruhe, made at a live performance in July 1988, captures him at the height of his pianistic powers and he appears to be made completely of music. Petrucciani always had an infectious way with dancing rhythms and the program is rich in expressive contrasts and diverse song forms in which dance and variation occupy a position of importance throughout. His playing – on 13th, In a Sentimental Mood, Embraceable You and a signature bravura version of Giant Steps – has a particularly magical touch to it and he responds to the diabolical changes on the latter with spontaneity – while at the same time communicating the music’s sense of colour and of pageant. Petrucciani also approaches the music’s harmonic boldness and astringency with a kind of vivid bas-relief. He is accompanied, on this sojourn, by bassist Gary Peacock and living legend, drummer Roy Haynes. The intensity of this power trio is magnificently captured on this recording. Raul da Gama Living in a Dream Kalya Ramu Independent (kalyaramu.ca) !! One of my favourite songs to request is You Go To My Head – a gorgeous ballad that, admittedly, is not all that easy to pull off if you haven’t done your homework. So when a singer nails it, I am won over, as I was upon hearing Torontobased jazz vocalist Kalya Ramu’s sultry and soulful version, one of 11 beautifully rendered tracks featured on her debut album, Living in a Dream, which includes four of her original compositions. Ramu’s voice has a warmth, depth and maturity to it that belies her 25 years. As a young girl, she fell under the spell of Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee, and it shows; I also hear hints of Helen Merrill and Doris Day. Like her jazz vocalist heroines, Ramu understands the importance of phrasing (something often lacking in younger singers), allowing time for the natural arc of a line to wend its way to the next one, as is evident in her sensuous rendition of What’s New, as well as in her lovely ballad, Find in Me, and her torchy/sexy She Drinks Alone. The woman can also swing! With stellar assistance from tenor saxophonist and clarinettist Jacob Gorzhaltsan, pianist Ewen Farncombe, bassist Connor Walsh and drummer Ian Wright (and assorted special guests), Ramu serves up spirited takes on Just You Just Me, Four or Five Times and It’s A Good Day. A singer warranting your attention, Kalya Ramu’s debut CD is dreamy, indeed. Sharna Searle Somebody Special Jean Derome Ambiances Magnetiques AM 249 (actuellecd.com) ! ! Saxophonist/ composer Jean Derome’s work ranges from explorations of modernist masters like Monk and Mingus to his own conceptual epics like Résistances, his orchestral homage to the North American electrical grid. Here he explores the work of Steve Lacy (1934-2004), a key influence on Derome who advocated strongly for Thelonious Monk’s compositions and developed the foundations of free jazz with Cecil Taylor. Lacy also created a large body of art songs unique in modern jazz. Derome explores the range of them here, including settings of works from ancient China to the Beat Generation. Derome brings his regular trio partners to the project, bassist Normand Guilbeault and drummer Pierre Tanguay, masters of propulsive and varied grooves. They’re joined by pianist Alexandre Grogg and the singer Karen Young, whose eclectic background matches the varied demands of Lacy’s music. The text settings include surprising authors like Lao Tzu, Thomas Gainsborough and Herman Melville; the latter’s Art initiates the program with a minimalist setting that suggests Japanese court music. While those lyricists are as famous as they are unlikely, several of the highlights here come from Lacy’s association with the thewholenote.com June | July | August 2019 | 95

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
Volume 21 Issue 8 - May 2016
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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