2 years ago

Volume 25 Issue 7 - April 2020

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After some doubt that we would be allowed to go to press, in respect to wide-ranging Ontario business closures relating to COVID-19, The WholeNote magazine for April 2020 is now on press, and print distribution – modified to respect community-wide closures and the need for appropriate distancing – starts Monday March 30. Meanwhile the full magazine is right here, digitally, so if you value us PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK AS WIDELY AS YOU CAN. It's the safest way for us to reach the widest possible audience at this time!

Let Your Honesty Shine

Let Your Honesty Shine – The Simon Project Heidi Lange Independent ( !! Talented jazz vocalist and professor Heidi Lange’s newest release is a pleasant modern jazz take on famed singer-songwriter Paul Simon’s music, mixing in elements of pop and rock to create a unique whole. With current jazz greats like Mark Kieswetter on piano, Jordan O’Connor on acoustic bass, Eric St-Laurent on guitars and Ben Riley on drums, the album is a perfect soundtrack for a rainy day, for contemplation or relaxing. Lange’s voice is a balanced combination of wispiness and depth, pulling in the listener and invoking complete focus on her. Each track features a prominent piano melody that blends in outstandingly with Lange’s timbre and is further supported by beautiful guitar riffs, a moving, yet calming, drum rhythm and a sultry bass line. A touching version of Bridge Over Troubled Water is a definite highlight of the album, as is the unique take on Dazzling Blue and the captivating Another Galaxy. Standing out from the rest of the tracks for its upbeat tempo and slightly more driving melody and rhythm is The Boy in the Bubble, also unique for the fact that the entire band sounds the most blended here, intricacies of each instrument played out to create a cohesive but dynamic whole. This is where the listener can hear just how well these talents merge together. For longtime fans of Paul Simon’s work or for music fans interested in a modern jazz sound, this album is a definite recommendation. Kati Kiilaspea The Scrapper John Sneider Cellar Music CM072819 ( !! In the same way a plethora of Canadian jazz fails to reach our neighbours to the south, there are also many American artists that we are not exposed to here. This is why I was delighted to see trumpeter and composer John Sneider’s first release under his own name in over 20 years appear on the Canadian Cellar Live label. Sneider’s album The Scrapper fits in perfectly with Cellar Live’s usual programming, which hosts artists from both sides of the border who play “timeless, swinging, heartfelt and resonant” music, as their website states. The core members of Sneider’s band remain the same as on his last release Panorama from 2000: John Hart on guitar, Larry Goldings on organ and Andy Watson on drums. It is the shared influences among these veterans of the New York City scene that give the group its contemporary yet grounded sound. The tracks on the album are a unified flow of originals by Sneider and Goldings, small-group arrangements of two Duke Ellington pieces, and tracks that feature its guest artists: vocalist Andy Bey and young trumpeter David Sneider. Bey contributes a conversational rendition of Miles Davis’ classic Solar, and Sneider demonstrates he shares his father’s mature yet playful compositional style on the two-trumpet closer Dinosaur Eggs. Overall, The Scrapper is an excellent release that pays homage to the tradition while still sounding current in 2020. Sam Dickinson Cast of Characters Nick Finzer Outside In Music OiM 2000 ( !! With the release of his new 14-song concept recording, respected trombonist, producer and educator, Nick Finzer, has pushed the creative envelope into new, vital and challenging emotional territory. Long known as a formidable storyteller, Finzer’s new opus is a musical exploration of influential archetypes who are often common to the human experience, e.g. inter-connections with those individuals who inspire us, disappoint us, break our hearts, support us tirelessly and love us unconditionally. Finzer’s stellar sextet includes Lucas Pino on reeds, Alex Wintz on guitar, Glenn Zaleski on piano, Dave Baron on bass and Jimmy Macbride on drums. There is no gratuitous soloing on this project, but there is intense and emotional, post-bop group exploration in which all of the members have a voice. On the evocative opener, A Sorcerer, the Ellingtonia is palpable. The sextet is pristine and swinging, gliding over the complex musical motifs with skill, insight and taste, and Pino’s inspired sax solo is full of longing and youthful joy. Another outstanding track is Evolution of Perspective – a sobering introspection that bounces back with a gymnastic, rapid-fire solo from Finzer, as well as equally superb, vibrant solos from the ensemble. Other standouts include Patience, Patience – a haunting ballad perfectly parenthesized by Zaleski’s luminous piano work, and Venus – a sensuous rhapsody, silkier than the finest satin. With this thought-provoking recording, Finzer guides the listener on a journey through seemingly chaotic, quantum entanglement, which eventually morphs into our sense of self as so eloquently put by the title of the last offering in the cycle, We’re More than the Sum of Our Influences. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Air Asmus Tietchens; Dirk Serries New Wave of Jazz nwoj 0026 ( ! ! Not lighter than air, but certainly as omnipresent, Air is a singular instance of what could be termed brazen (un)ambient music. Belgian Dirk Serries improvised sounds on accordion, concertina, harmonica, melodica and clarinet, which were then used as source material manipulated, splintered and sewn together again by the computers and electronics of German composer Asmus Tietchens. The result is a collection of six tracks that challenge much more than they soothe. On a sequence like Air Akkordeon for instance, as tremolo accordion reaches a juddering crescendo that spreads over the track like jam on toast, fragments of those vibrations, treated by Tietchens’ computer, are reflected mirror-like back into the mix, moving with hints of aviary whistles that hover alongside Serries’ initial tones, before both glide away. That type of scenario evolves throughout the disc, as wafting clarinet quivers confront Big Ben-like repetitive chiming or minimalist concertina squeezes and/or harmonica breaths mix with whispery vocal-like echoes that ascend to ululating choral refrains. Carefully layered through granular synthesis and pitch manipulations, these congruent tones transcend solo instrument-like resemblance, to become mechanized or otherworldly-like vibrations by the final Air Klarinette 2. Becoming louder and more diverse, the layers of interspaced oscillations negate “real” or “treated” origins to become almost symphonic with impressionistic colourations. Overall though, what’s also distinctive about Tietchens’ and Serries’ program is that kernels of impulsive audacity and strength can be heard beneath the unfolding ambience. Ken Waxman 64 | April 2020

Canada Day Quartet Live Harris Eisenstadt Clean Feed CF 533 CD ( !! Perhaps an inadvertent comment on Canadians’ welcoming nature, this iteration of Toronto-born drummer Harris Eisenstadt’s Canada Day band is filled out by American trumpeter Nate Wooley, British pianist Alexander Hawkins and French-German bassist Pascal Niggenkemper. However, the equality expressed as the four animate Eisenstadt’s eight compositions in his Poschiavo series could relate to the harmonious melting pot-ideology that was a mark of the pre-Trump US. Relaxed, but with a powerful, though understated rhythmic pulse, the tracks often feature hand-muted plunger expositions or open-horn clarion rasps by Wooley, a band member since it began in 2009. These are propelled in double counterpoint with the swift shading and lightly voiced textures by Hawkins, with whom the drummer plays in other bands. Leisurely or accelerated percussion ruffs, rolls and raps encourage this interaction. Meanwhile Poschiavo Four-Voice 4 is the one time Niggenkemper moves upfront with creaking sul tasto extensions and later col legno recoils which usher in moderato keyboard animation and a final lyrical brass blend. Still, it’s the extended Poschiavo 36 that is most outstanding. As Wooley’s insentient bestial yaps sourced from trumpet innards dominate the exposition, double-bass stops and expressive piano patterning subsequently lighten the narrative. The climax exposes a melodic groove seconded by drum backbeats and expressed by the trumpeter in warm heraldic tones. For followers of expressive improvised music this live disc should be as welcome as Canada’s July 1 holiday. Ken Waxman POT POURRI Kora Flamenca Zal Sissokho Analekta AN 2 9171 ( !! Zal Sissokho is a griot, continuing the grand oral traditions of his Mandinka people of Senegal in Montreal where he settled in 1999. His long clan lineage and deep improvisation skills are on full display when he plays the 21-string kora and sings in Malinke and Wolof as a solo performer and collaborator with numerous bands. Ever since he heard flamenco performed live in Seville, Sissokho dreamt of combining Andalusian music and the Mandinka culture of his native West Africa. Kora Flamenca – a musical collaboration with composer and virtuosa flamenco guitarist Caroline Planté – is the result. The album’s ensemble also includes percussionist Miguel Medina, firstcall Montreal oudist Mohamed Masmoudi and bassist Jean Félix Mailloux. Sissokho explains, “I sought to expand the limits of my instrument, the kora, as far as possible. Inspired by soaring improvisational flamenco riffs, I tried to create a hybrid style… [To me] musical inspiration begins with respect for the instrument’s tradition, history and sounds. Then… I sought to… push my collaborators to create music in which composition, technical prowess and improvisation unite…” Musically and stylistically, kora and flamenco guitar are worlds apart. Linked by their common plucked string heritage however, Sissokho and Planté find ample common musical ground on which to hang flights of melodic fancy. Characterized by fast tempi, pop-forward arrangements, brief modal improvisations and Sissokho’s vocals, this set of ten concise songs makes a convincing case for combining kora and flamenco. Andrew Timar Levantine Rhapsody Didem Başar Analekta AN 2 9172 ( !! Didem Başar is a professionally trained player of the kanun, or Turkish zither. On this CD, she unites Turkish and Western classical music under her own compositions, scoring them for kanun and Western instruments played by Guy Pelletier (flutes), Brigitte Dajczer (violin), Noémy Braun (cello) and Patrick Graham (percussion). Başar works with the Centre des Musiciens du Monde, which enables such cross-cultural experiences to happen. Başar’s initial composition Devr-i Raksan will immediately remind visitors to Turkey of that country’s rich musical heritage; listen to its thoughtful kanun solo sections as they build up to a climax of plaintive string playing, a lively flute part and vigorous drumming. Often, the compositions are short; Bird Song lasts just 2:26, but I challenge anyone to find so many variations on percussion instruments to create as many bird sounds as there are on this single track! On one occasion, Başar dips into classical Turkish music. She states that Kantemiroğlu’s Rast Peşrev still has the power to inspire even though that composer died almost 300 years ago; complex playing by all the instrumentalists contributes to an arrangement unfamiliar to Western ears. Başar offers Cry as a plea for all those suffering the consequences of deadly conflicts. The endless wanderings of refugees are echoed in the flute part as it intermingles with the kanun to represent pain and sorrow. Riddle is her other intensely personal composition. Short but intense and loud phrases on the kanun and cello are intended to represent contrasting feelings: is life itself not a riddle? And Canada is not forgotten. 5 à 7 is “happy hour” in Quebec. What with the five- and seven-beat textures of Başar’s composition of that name, it is just the right time to invite guests round to enjoy traditional Turkish cuisine to the backdrop that is Levantine Rhapsody. Michael Schwartz Traces Jessica Deutsch and Ozere Independent ( ! ! The music of Jessica Deutsch on Traces may not appear to require a virtuosic, highflying performance on the violin but make no mistake; it is diabolically difficult to play. There is great demand for atmospheric playing complete with subtle innuendo, dynamics and colour. Deutsch has this in spades and brings all of it to the repertoire on the album. Each of the works – exquisite miniatures borne aloft by her lonesome violin, supported by mandolin or guitar, glued together by cello and contrabass, with occasional keyboards and voices – is laden with intimacy and an emotional intensity that can only be described as the poetry of feeling. Deutsch’s performance throughout is lightly perfumed and evocative, especially in the slower songs, where her sensitivity shows best. The ephemeral Traces and The Bones of Clouds, with its wispy imagery not unlike the early poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, are superb examples of her playing. Deutsch creates a perfect blend of delicacy and muscularity. Her ingenuity enables her to combine phrasing and touch with subtle shifts of emphasis that refashions phrases in an unexpected but utterly convincing manner. Her playing throughout, combined with cello and bass is highly redolent of the rustle of expensive raw silk. The rest of the group is completely harmonically and rhythmically entwined with Deutsch’s artistry. Their performances are altogether remarkable, possessing sinewy vigour and dynamism which contributes to putting a unique stamp on this music. Raul da Gama April 2020 | 65

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