1 year ago

Volume 25 Issue 8 - May / June 2020

  • Text
  • Choir
  • Performing
  • Performances
  • Orchestra
  • Musicians
  • Jazz
  • Recording
  • Toronto
  • Musical
  • Concerts
"COVID's Metamorphoses"? "There's Always Time (Until Suddenly There Isn't)"? "The Writing on the Wall"? It's hard to know WHAT to call this latest chapter in the extraordinary story we are all of a sudden characters in. By whatever name we call it, the MAY/JUNE combined issue of The WholeNote is now available, HERE in flip through format, in print commencing Wednesday May 6, and, in fully interactive form, online at Our 18th Annual Choral Canary Pages, scheduled for publication in print and flip through in September is already well underway with the first 50 choirs home to roost and more being added every week online. Community Voices, our cover story, brings to you the thoughts of 30 musical community members, all going through what we are going through (and with many more to come as the feature gets amplified online over the course of the coming months). And our regular writers bring their personal thoughts to the mix. Finally, a full-fledged DISCoveries review section offers cues and clues to recorded music for your solitary solace!

Bassoonist as Pool and

Bassoonist as Pool and Fukasawa perform such Knable-created city-sound effects as trilling birds, rhythmic marching and a distant subway piano pedal echo. Knable clearly understands the bassoon’s vast possibilities beyond its traditional instrumental setting. His compositional expertise grounds his explorative instrumental creations and answers his own question “Why does this work have to exist?” Because it is great! Tiina Kiik And That One Too Sandbox Percussion Coviello Contemporary COV91918 ( ! Brooklyn NY Sandbox Percussion ensemble members Jonny Allen, Victor Caccese, Ian David Rosenbaum and Terry Sweeney have created longterm close collaborations with the composers who write for them, resulting in smart, diverse, challenging contemporary musical works. Their debut release features four of these. Andy Akiho’s Haiku 2 observes the 5-7-5 haiku form with minimalistic repetitive hits coupled with tuned percussion sounds. Each movement of David Crowell’s Music for Percussion Quartet was inspired by different environments. Mov. I - Fluctuation and Mov. III - Oscillation feature polyrhythms on drums and vibes, creating a busy city sound. Mov. II - Sky, with its slow meditative ringing vibes and hypnotic repetitive tonal sequences perhaps sound like the sky at dusk. Low resonances abound in Mov. IV – Landscape. Composer/vocalist Amy Beth Kirsten performs her composition she is a myth with great tonal colour on multiple tracks, with Sandbox playing opening percussion like paper, sandpaper and scratches, and subsequent toe-tapping rhythms. Thomas Kotcheff’s not only that one but that one & that too is divided into three parts, each focusing on a different percussion type. Part I features wooden instruments with the opening attention-grabbing “what is this” woodblock taps leading to a wooden percussion sound panorama of pitch and rhythm. Part II is all about drumming rhythms and rolls, while in Part III, pitched metal instruments and finger cymbals create calming effects. Sandbox Percussion plays brilliantly with musical accuracy and nuance. Tiina Kiik JAZZ AND IMPROVISED Fortunes Ways + Simon Toldam Lorna 12 ( ! Ways is the Toronto duo of alto saxophonist Brodie West and drummer Evan Cartwright, formed in 2012. This is the group’s first recording, and it comes from a Copenhagen session with Danish pianist Simon Toldam. West’s music has a distinct rhythmic focus. His quintet includes two drummers, the octet Eucalyptus adds an additional percussionist and a pianist, and both groups include Cartwright. If a piano might blur instrumental typologies, Toldam’s approach is definitely percussive. The strings are variously prepared to alter decays and ambiguate pitches. West even pushes the saxophone into the percussion family, often working within a restricted pitch range while creating complex staccato patterns. This rhythmic focus links to a corresponding interest in timbre that immediately distinguishes the trio. The opening Fame contrasts passages of saxophone and prepared piano with passages of drums, with saxophone and piano sounding like next of kin, the former’s pointillist pops synched to the latter’s muffled, echoing, repeated phrase. On Love, the three create a complex pattern while sometimes reducing themselves to single notes: West’s wispy sounds are mere amplified breaths; Toldam’s notes, punctuation marks; Cartwright’s kit, a single drum. The activity gradually expands: Money II is a virtual explosion of anxious, rapidfire saxophone ricocheting through harpsichord-like piano figures and suddenly dense drums, yet still as closely knit as to suggest a single organizing mind on works credited to all three musicians. The ultimate results are as invigorating as they are unusual. Stuart Broomer GGRIL Plays Ingrid Laubrock GGRIL; Ingrid Laubrock Tour de Bras TDB900039 / Circumdisc microcidi015 ( ; www. Le Rnst Xavier Charles; Pierre-Yves Martell; Éric Normand; Matija Schellander Ambiances Magnétiques AM254 CD ( ! Since 2003, Éric Normand has been building a unique musical empire, a thriving hub of free improvisation in the city of Rimouski on the Gaspé Peninsula. There he’s assembled an orchestra, created a record label and festival, and brought major figures to appear as guest soloists and conductors. He’s also managed to arrange performances for that orchestra, GGRIL, or Grande Groupe Régional d’Improvisation Libérée as far afield as Europe, building increasingly strong links. The measure of Normand’s Rimouski achievement is apparent immediately on GGRIL Plays Laubrock, with the orchestra hosting German-born, New York-resident Ingrid Laubrock, a brilliant saxophonist and improviser whose work extends to conducting Ligeti’s Poème Symphonique for 100 metronomes and her own large ensemble pieces released as Contemporary Chaos Practices (Intakt). Here she leads a 16-member GGRIL in three pieces, covering a series of divergent methodologies. It’s a heterodox ensemble mixing electric guitars and bass with winds, strings, a harp and assorted percussion; a lightly plucked cello can share space with droning feedback, but it’s a group in which sharp contrasts take on a unity of their own. The opening Silent Light is a graphic score with inserted conductions, moving between spacious textures and sudden forceful interludes, its delicately plucked strings merging with dense explosions and structural trumpet blasts. Laubrock’s tenor saxophone comes forcefully to the fore in its later moments. Strak Dark is composed, developing passages of muted electronics and pensive bowed strings, while the concluding Palindrome is a collective improvisation with set dynamic markings. The intense performance testifies both to the orchestra’s creative range and Laubrock’s inventiveness with minimalist structural inputs. Another side of Normand is evident in Le Rnst, a single 34-minute improvisation that combines two Quebecois musicians with two Europeans, Austrian Matija Schellander is playing an acoustic double bass, Normand is playing his homemade electric bass as well as objects and fellow Quebecer Pierre-Yves Martel is playing viola de gamba as well as harmonicas. French clarinetist Xavier Charles completes the group. Recorded in l’église Saint-Merry in Paris, the church’s resonance performs a major role in the performance, adding scale and a special depth, and highlighting a gradual and detailed interaction in which the instruments’ harmonics take on a life of their own. Charles is a great sonic explorer, summoning unknown avian species within the confines of his clarinet, even creating the illusion of an alto or even a bass version of the instrument. The various bass string players are similarly 46 | May and June 2020

esourceful, sometimes functioning as electronic drones or hand drums, depending on an individual instrument’s characteristics, while an extended passage of spacious long tones manages even to blur their identities with Charles’ clarinet. It’s free improvisation of a rare, sustained and tranquil beauty. Stuart Broomer Occupational Hazard Jacek Kochan & musiConspiracy Roots 2 Boot Roots2Boot 1912 ( ! Polish-Canadian drummer, composer, bandleader, arranger and producer Jacek Kochan has gathered several well-renowned musicians together for his newest release – talents such as vocalist and pianist Elizabeth Shepherd, bassists Rich Brown and Adrian Vedady, alto saxophonist Luis Deniz among a long list of other fantastic musicians. This unique album is highly recommended for any jazz fans looking for an interesting take on mixing jazz, improvisation and rock together into an eccentric musical jambalaya. All compositions are written and arranged by Kochan himself, with Marta Kochan penning the lyrics. For anyone looking for a true musical adventure, the album “weaves rhythms and harmonies from around the world into an eclectic and infectious mix sure to please the ears of any adventurous listener.” The album starts off with the track Fear No More, a slightly haunting piano riff amplified by Shepherd’s vocals. The song progresses into a foot-tapping number with Kochan’s constant drum groove and sizzling solos by Brown on electric bass, Deniz and Petr Cancura on saxophones and Jerry De Villiers Jr. on electric guitar. The title track of the record features a very captivating vocal duet by Shepherd and Sari Dajani and a positively groovy riff thanks to Mo Boo on electric bass. Soliloquy is perfectly fitting for spring with its intense energy and infectious drum and bass rhythms. This record is a perfect mix of contemporary with just enough structure to each piece mixed in to keep the listener enraptured. Kati Kiilaspea Lift Off Mark Segger Sextet 18th Note Records 18-2018-3 ( ! Sophisticated, supple and swinging sextet sounds, Lift Off shows off the advanced compositional and arranging skills of Edmonton-based drummer Mark Segger, helped immeasurably by contributions from his five GTA associates. With echoes of feathery neo-classicism mixed with technical explorations, Segger’s eight tunes become even more animated when filtered through brassy provocation from trombonist Heather Saumer and trumpeter Jim Lewis; the expressive inflections of tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Peter Lutek; keyboardist Tania Gill’s note-perfect comping; and the solid grounding of bassist Rob Clutton. Case in point is For the Bees, with the horns providing the buzzing motif as the theme evolves from a canon with a West Coast Jazz-like feel into more solid sound expressions helped by swirling piano lines and as the climax, pinched notes from Lewis. Meanwhile, despite its title, the concluding Bassline is actually a trombone feature with a mixture of rapid-fire blasts and slinky slurps from Saumer. After the trumpeter’s Mariachi inflections and thick piano patterns expand the tune, a jumpy finale confirms its unforced jollity. Meanwhile, One Note is more complex than imagined, since the emphasis is on each player creating a distinctive variation without violating the unfolding limitations of the slow-motion idea. Limiting his playing to timekeeping and distinctive accents that help propel the peeps, slurs and trills that personalize his creations, there’s no question of Segger’s mastery of his triple role. The only question is why this authoritative 2016 date took so long to be released. Ken Waxman Exalta Calma Alain Bédard Auguste Quartet Effendi Records FND158 ( ! Gifted Quebecois jazz bassist, composer and president of the forward-thinking Effendi Records, Alain Bédard, has just released the latest project from his Auguste Quartet, which features the equally gifted Félix Stüssi on piano, Mario Allard on soprano and alto saxophones and the facile Michel Lambert on drums. The majority of the intriguing compositions here have been penned by Bédard, with two fine contributions from Stüssi (the evocative Debout au bout du Bout-du-Bank and Insomnia), as well as one gem from J.P. Viret (NY – Pas encore). The opener, PouTiti, begins with a subtle Afro-Creole beat that underscores the quirky melody, with delightful and melodic soprano sax contributions from Allard. Bédard establishes the steady pulse with his undulating bass lines, while Lambert develops an intricate second-line-inspired framework, and on La Silva Major ll, Bédard’s nimble bass exploration leads the way into an exotic, sonic journey. On Stüssi’s Debout au Bout du Bout-du- Bank, a unison piano/sax intro segues into a groovy, boppish construct, written to delight the ear and stimulate the imagination. A standout is Queen Ketchup, where a concentric swing propels the players into a symbiotic dance that fully illustrates not only the ego-less democracy of this ensemble, but their ability to communicate almost telepathically. An inspired bass solo punctuates the piece brilliantly. The closer, Insomnia, is the perfect postscript to a thoroughly gorgeous, well-recorded, conceived and performed contemporary jazz recording. With an almost futuristic West Coast Jazz feel, this final track again displays the wide skills of all of the players, captured in the act of creation. Vive Montréal! Vive Québec! Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Old Flames Never Die Peter Campbell Independent ( ! Respected NYC vocalist, Peter Campbell, has long been a muchloved presence at top cabaret and jazz venues across North America; in 2012 he brought his gorgeous voice and superb musical taste and settled in Toronto. With the release of this new recording, Campbell has gifted us with an inspired smorgasbord of musical delights. Diverse, inter-generational composers and lyricists are represented here, including Dorothy Fields, Cy Coleman, Irving Berlin, Joni Mitchell, Fred Hersch and Oscar Peterson. Campbell also serves as producer/ arranger and has assembled a group of fine musicians, with co-arranger Adrean Farrugia on piano, Reg Schwager on acoustic and electric guitars, Ross MacIntyre on bass, Kevin Turcotte on trumpet and flugelhorn and Michael Occhipinti on electric guitar and effects. The opening track, Stars, is a gem of a tune, written by genius pianist Hersch and the incomparable jazz singer Norma Winstone. May and June 2020 | 47

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