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Volume 25 Issue 4 - December 2019 / January 2020

  • Text
  • Faculty
  • Performing
  • Musical
  • Arts
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • Symphony
  • December
  • January
  • Toronto
Welcome to our December/January issue as we turn the annual calendar page, halfway through our season for the 25th time, juggling as always, secular stuff, the spirit of the season, new year resolve and winter journeys! Why is Mozart's Handel's Messiah's trumpet a trombone? Why when Laurie Anderson offers to fly you to the moon you should take her up on the invitation. Why messing with Winterreisse can (sometimes) be a very good thing! And a bumper crop of record reviews for your reading (and sometimes listening) pleasure. Available in flipthrough here right now, and on stands commencing Thursday Nov 28. See you on the other side!

the opening contrapuntal

the opening contrapuntal interplay between guitar, bass and drums which propels us forward to the busier middle section that showcases some excellent and articulate guitar chops leading to a thoughtful bass solo. Legault’s “process” works to create a fascinating album that is introspective with bursts of melodic and rhythmic intensity. Ted Parkinson Perdidox Aurochs All-Set Editions (all-set.org) !! Aurochs is an improvising group consisting of Ali Berkok (piano), Pete Johnston (bass), Jake Oelrichs (drums) and Mike Smith (live signal processing electronics) with a monthly Friday night residency at the Tranzac club in Toronto. Perdidox contains two longer improvisations, Grammar Architect and Perfect Future, which the group describes as “long slow atmospheric disturbances.” These works contain many elements including minimalism, jazz, funk, pointillism and general avant-garde mayhem. The addition of Smith’s electronics to the classic jazz trio instrumentation creates sounds that are repeated with delay, reverb and other treatments that blur distinctions between what is live and what is sampled and regenerated. Both works have a strong rhythmic impulse for most of their span which drives the narrative forward. Grammar Architect maintains a sustained and funky forward momentum with many tasty riffs from Oelrichs, from shuffle to hypnotically off-centre snare, which plays off Johnston’s juicy bass sound. Perfect Future has a great break around the seven-minute mark where a simple bass riff is sampled and looped but most of the bass timbre has been taken away. The other players drop away and allow this riff to create a space before the second major section of the work which involves much tapping and scratching of instruments. The final portion contains many piano interjections that mix some Romantic elements with angular modernist riffs; towards the end, the drums and bass find a jazzy marching groove. Perdidox is being released on SoundCloud which is becoming common in this age of multiple streaming platforms. Ted Parkinson amplified clarinet & trumpet, guitars, nimb Sound of the Mountain with Tetuzi Akiyama and Toshimaru Nakamura Mystery & Wonder MW008 (mwrecs.com) !! Sound of the Mountain is the duo of clarinetist Elizabeth Millar and trumpeter Craig Pedersen, significant younger figures in the Montreal musique actuelle community. Their work includes orchestral roles, free jazz and free improvisation. This CD, titled by its instrumentation, comes from a 2017 Tokyo encounter with guitarist Tetuzi Akiyama and Toshimaru Nakamura, who plays “nimb” or no-input mixing board, plugging its output into its input and creating an array of controlled feedback sounds. There are two improvisations here, identified by the numbers 1 (clocking in at 18:39) and 2 (16:51) and that instrument list. The music proceeds with its own developing form, a collection of shifting sounds, sometimes spacious, like an isolated guitar passage, some gently picked reflective notes, some longitudinally scraped strings, these matched with a few electronic burbles. At other times there’s a crumbling wall of sound: diverse feedback, a delicate clicking of clarinet keys, some lip-smacking kissing sounds from the trumpet. Such literal description gives nothing of the actual experience of the music, which possesses an inner logic, sometimes jangling, sometimes a reverie in an industrial park. It’s a communion of sounds, linked in an experiential continuum rather than through fixed harmonies and rhythms. Ten minutes into 2, there’s a passage that sounds like a very wise child is gently plucking at a guitar for the first time, a trumpet plays muffled lines and there’s a hive of electronic sound. It’s a moment of perfect multi-dimensional calm. Stuart Broomer internal/external/focused/broad PCP Trio Mystery & Wonder MW 004 (mwrecs.com) !! Specializing in the outer limits of tones and timbres, Montreal’s PCP Trio works through one short and one extended improvisation on this brief – less than 25 minutes – CD, where the distinctions among pure sounds are exalted without a need for melody, harmony or rhythm. Writ large on Extended Listening Blues, the parameters set up include laconic watery burbles from Craig Pedersen’s amplified trumpet, off-handed slaps from drummer Eric Craven and a cornucopia of licks from guitarist Alex Pelchat that sputter, twang and clang among high-volume distortions. Except for the occasional percussion thump or cymbal crash, the guitarist and trumpeter dominate the action with broken octave lines and dual counterpoint that initially evolves in a parallel fashion without intersection. By the mid-point however, the trumpeter’s dissected whistles and hums and the guitarist’s harsh string rubbing and metallic clangs reach a droning concordance, culminating in a finale of vibrating strings and measured brass breaths. Not easy listening in any way, internal/ external/focused/broad shouldn’t be frightening either. In their own ways free music and heavy metal practitioners have set up challenges to familiar and comfortable music. Stripping sounds to primeval levels is what the PCP Trio also does here, and the adventurous should want to check it to see how these experiments are proceeding. Ken Waxman Blue World John Coltrane Impulse B0030157-02 (vervelabelgroup.com) ! ! John Coltrane is among jazz history’s most influential musicians, and any unheard work demands attention, witness last year’s reception for Both Directions at Once, a lost session from 1963. Blue World isn’t quite so startling: it’s a June 1964 soundtrack session for Montreal filmmaker Gilles Groulx’s Le chat dans le sac, a film that’s been available online. However, the one complete take and three fragments on the soundtrack total less than 11 minutes, so there’s plenty of unheard material on this 37-minute CD of the studio session. Groulx’s request list favoured Coltrane’s work from 1957 to 1960: all but one composition originated then, most prior to Coltrane assembling the “classic quartet” heard here, with pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Jimmy Garrison. It’s an opportunity to hear some of Coltrane’s earlier material performed by his most celebrated band, at its peak, in Rudy Van Gelder’s legendary studio. What’s here may be relatively brief, but it’s very special: there are two takes of Coltrane’s luminous Naima. A couple of tracks run past six minutes, but they’re half the length of earlier versions. The title work, a blues recast from Coltrane’s 1962 arrangement of Harold Arlen’s Out of this World, has comparable power with added tension from Coltrane’s evolving tone and focus. There’s also a driving version of Traneing In, a piece dating from his earlier harmonic investigations. Often a relentless explorer, Coltrane was also a 96 | December 2019January 2020 thewholenote.com

masterful editor: here he’s emphasizing that side of his extraordinary craft. Stuart Broomer Hiding Out Mike Holober’s Gotham Jazz Orchestra Zoho Music ZM 201906 (zohomusic.com) !! With the release of his new double- CD project, wellrespected and in-demand New York City-based jazz pianist, composer and band leader, Mike Holober has done the near impossible – assembled an A-list group (The Gotham City Orchestra) to perform 11 fresh, original, large ensemble jazz compositions in a way that displays each musician’s gifts within the framework of ego-less, challenging arrangements. Holober is at a point in his musical maturity and creativity that this contemporary take on the traditional big band jazz format is all about the music itself. Esteemed members of the GTO include many of Holober’s longtime collaborators, all of whom have paid their metaphorical New York dues many times over… such as reed players Billy Drewes, Jon Gordon, Dave Pietro, Steve Kenyon and Adam Kolker; trumpeters Tony Kadleck and Marvin Stamm and guitarist Jay Azzolina. The two-CD collection (arranged in two Suites, entitled Flow and Hiding Out) is comprised of Holober’s original compositions as well as a compelling rendition of Jobim’s Caminhos Cruzados. The first suite kicks off with Jumble, featuring some face-melting solo work from guitarist Jesse Lewis, and then segues into the ambitious four-movement work, Flow, which includes the evocative Tear of the Clouds, Opalescence, Interlude and the high-energy, bop-infused Harlem, featuring the always swinging Drewes on alto. The second disc contains the five-movement, Hiding Out, beginning with Prelude, featuring a woodwind intro followed by the thrilling entrance of brass, followed by Compelled, Four Haiku and Interlude… ending with the skillfully crafted, dynamic, full-band opus It Was Just the Wind. This brilliant project closes with an inspired take on Jobim’s classic, which was made even more stunning by the work of iconic trumpeter/flugelhornist, Stamm. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Plastový Hrad Elliott Sharp Infrequent Seams IS 20 (infrequntseams.com) !! Aural essays in bass clarinet adaptation Plastový Hrad’s three tracks composed by American Elliott Sharp challenge the player(s) in varied fashions. Commissioned by the Brno Contemporary Orchestra to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Czech Republic, the opaque moody title track has Lukasz Daniel chiselling a place for the horn’s distinctive harmonies among the polyphonic narrative propelled by the ensemble. Lyrical yet rhythmic, in contrast, Gareth Davis’ bass clarinet on Turning Test is the sole foil to the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, whose six singers harmonize and hocket as they move through this contemporary art song. Based on a graphic score, rather than through-composed like the others, Oumuamua features extended and unexpected sonic techniques expressed by Sharp’s own bass clarinet and programmed electronics. Propelled full force, the episodic structure of Plastový Hrad allows for several dramatic moments as when bass clarinet trills flutter upwards to maintain the narrative among gathering motifs propelled by kettle-drum smashes and flaring horn-section harmonies. Eventually the caustic horizontal theme is maintained with speedy coloratura emphasis from Daniel. On Oumuamua, intonation that can sound like two separate clarinets is broken into shards or reconstructed, then amplified with signal-processed pumps before ending with straight-ahead twisting trills. As for Turing Test, lower case continuum from the clarinetist finally blends with the layered voices for a lyrical finale. Overall both the country and reed exploration are properly honoured musically here. Ken Waxman Masked Kathryn Ladano Independent (kathrynladano.com) !! I have it on good authority from the most celebrated virtuosos of the bass clarinet that it is a challenging instrument to play and certainly diabolically difficult to master. In ensemble, the ink-dark character of its sound is featured prominently in the wall of lower register instruments, used almost percussively by its virtuosos to often create the effect of deep, staccato repetitions, played beneath the melody to conjure a feeling of slowly fluctuating cycles. Those who approach the instrument are extremely brave. The great bass clarinetist Eric Dolphy certainly was. Together with Gunter Hampel, Don Byron, James Carter and Paul Austerlitz he led a tiny tribe of others that now includes Kathryn Ladano. Masked is the second solo album for bass clarinet by Ladano. Its title comes from her PhD thesis, The Improvising Musician’s Mask: Using Musical Instruments to Build Self-Confidence and Social Skills in Collective Free Improvisation. Like Austerlitz, an academic and performer whose work probes the relationship between Vodou, improvised music and altered states of being, Ladano also pays close attention to extra-musical aspects of improvisation as she translates elements of her thesis in the music of Masked. Things socio-psychological, philosophical and spiritual apart, Ladano’s music gives wing to emotion. The plaintive bleats, nasal drones and breath-like human smears combine in yammering snorts, phrases and long, loping lines whose long and winding improvisations don’t always have beginnings and ends but often make you gasp in abject wonderment. Raul da Gama POT POURRI From a Dream Orchid Ensemble Independent OE 2018 (orchidensemble.com) ! ! Lan Tung (erhu, vocals), Yu-Chen Wang (zheng) and Jonathan Bernard (percussion) are the Vancouverbased trio Orchid Ensemble. Established in 1997, the trio incorporates Chinese musical instruments and traditions with global sounds, regularly commissioning scores from North American composers. One of its goals is to develop “an innovative musical genre based on the cultural exchange between Western and Asian musicians.” True to its mandate, this album is a collection of works by Canadian composers, along with two arrangements of Chinese originals. The title track From a Dream by American- Canadian composer Dorothy Chang was inspired by images of China’s Huangshan (Yellow Mountain). Chang reflects the poetic qualities of this spectacular landscape, by turns evoking in her deftly wrought impressionistic score the stillness, strength, delicacy and resilience of this iconic site. No Rush, by Vancouver composer and conductor Jin Zhang, also explores contrasts – though here sourced from within – segueing from tenderness and strength, forcefulness thewholenote.com December 2019January 2020 | 97

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

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
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

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

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Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)