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Volume 25 Issue 9 - July / August 2020

  • Text
  • Composer
  • Orchestra
  • Concerts
  • Symphony
  • Musicians
  • Artists
  • Musical
  • Toronto
  • August
  • Jazz
July/August issue is now available in flipthrough HERE, bringing to a close 25 seasons of doing what we do (and plan to continue doing), and on stands early in the week of July 5. Not the usual bucolic parade of music in the summer sun, but lots, we hope, to pass the time: links to online and virtual music; a full slate of record reviews; plenty new in the Listening Room; and a full slate of stories – the future of opera, the plight of small venues, the challenge facing orchestras, the barriers to resumption of choral life, the challenges of isolation for real-time music; the steps some festivals are taking to keep the spirit and substance of what they do alive. And intersecting with all of it, responses to the urgent call for anti-racist action and systemic change.

establish the tune’s

establish the tune’s horizontal groove which she then decorates with repeated note patterns sequentially squeezed from the high and low pitches. While her aggressive capillary asides and the bassist’s juiced twangs sometimes threaten to upset the session’s ambulatory pace, the trio is sophisticated enough to avoid sonic stalemates. You can hear this on Hooray Norway, the final, extended track which includes Allemano answering her own brassy trills with tongue flutters, as string slaps and cymbal beats help preserve a notable theme which emphasizes grace as well as melancholy. Overall, Allemano’s tale of two cities has an obviously happy ending. Ken Waxman Toronto Streets Tour Harrison Argatoff Independent (harrisonargatoff.com) ! With the release of his debut solo recording, ubertalented, Torontobased tenorist Harrison Argatoff has rendered a recording of remarkable creativity. In 2019, Argatoff undertook a daunting project – he performed 30 consecutive solo concerts on the streets of the Tdot, which were exclusively promoted by releasing only the postal codes of the concert locations! Subsequently, the (I assume) highly motivated music listeners had to embark on an urban quest (throughout the revealed postal code area) for the exact location of the concert in question. Originally from Kelowna, B.C., Argatoff is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto jazz program. He has included nine original compositions here, as well as the traditional Zimbabwean folk song, Muroro (taught by Moyo Mutamba) and the haunting Russian lullaby White Acacia, which comes directly from Argatoff’s own Doukhobor heritage, and which he heard sung by his grandmother as a child. Both Argatoff’s gorgeous singing voice and his lyrical tenor sound are featured here. On Wait, Argatoff presents us with not only the hiss and whirr of Big Smoke traffic, but also a trance-inducing, Philip Glass-ish piece, rife with circular breathing and an almost whimsical air. Conversely, the delightful Muroro bobs and weaves through melodic intervals and comforting triads. A true standout is the deeply moving Rainfall, which seems to conjure all of the sadness and longing that the human heart can hold. Long, powerful, sinuous tones define this piece and also underscore Argatoff’s considerable technical skill. With Flicker, Argatoff transforms his tenor into a resonant fog horn, a helicopter and perhaps the sprockets of a Super 8 projector; while Outro perfectly parenthesizes this innovative, and thoughtprovoking recording. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Day by Day Cory Weeds Quartet Cellar Music CM082619 (cellarlive.com) ! Cory Weeds has made so many recordings with David Hazeltine that you wouldn’t be wrong in assuming that the two are musical twins. Day by Day offers more evidence of this. The recording, an exquisite borehole into the jazzy stratum, reveals a treasure of both standards and original material, masterfully arranged by Hazeltine. Joining in the festivities are two other West- Coast masters: percussion colourist Jesse Cahill and Ken Lister, a bassist with a glorious rumble. Far from being on the sidelines, they play themselves into the proverbial thick of things. Trios have captured our musical imagination from Art Tatum to Oscar Peterson, Keith Jarrett and Jimmy Giuffre among others. But this quartet does so too, reminding us of another classic quartet where magic occurred time and again. Weeds’ alto saxophone and Hazeltine’s piano are the lead voices and they sing mighty songs – song after song – as they jostle and joust with one another. Two bodies, one brain is a phrase that comes to mind. Once Blues de Troye kicks things off there’s no stopping them. This repertoire is riveting from start to finish. Not many recordings have that quality these days. Hazeltine’s arrangements ensure that there is plenty of showtime for all four musicians. The joys of this music are also heartily celebrated by Cahill whose fizzing brushes and sticks are goaded by Lister’s gravitational bass. Put this all together and indeed you have the classic Canadian quartet. Raul da Gama Baker’s Dozen – Celebrating Chet Baker Johnny Summers Cellar Music CM100819 (cellarlive.com) ! How timely, amid this global pandemic, with folks who have never so much as turned on an oven now cultivating sourdough starters and baking up a storm, that I have the pleasure of reviewing Calgary-based trumpet player and vocalist, Johnny Summers’ Baker’s Dozen: Celebrating Chet Baker. Most notable, and impressive, about Summers’ tribute to the jazz great is that rather than emulate Baker’s style, he takes us on a refreshing journey of some of Baker’s classics, putting his own distinctive spin on each track, of which there are 13 (as you likely surmised by the album title). Take My Funny Valentine for example. While Baker’s approach is spare and ruminative, here Summers ingeniously employs the talents of both a string quartet and the 17-piece Calgary Jazz Orchestra, which he founded in 2004 and leads with his trumpet. The result is a lush and layered arrangement, featuring Summers’ warm, inviting vocals and beautiful horn work. Other lovely, and lively, turns can be heard in the strictly instrumental versions of Time After Time and You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To, where the bass, piano and drums really swing, and Summers’ solo work is stellar! Summers’ vocal work on Embraceable You and You Go To My Head is also outstanding: luxurious, sensitive and sensual; some serious crooning there. So, while you’re waiting for that loaf of sourdough to rise, kick back with a julep or two and enjoy some time with this delectable Baker’s Dozen. Sharna Searle Resist Gordon Grdina Septet Irabragast Records 012 (gordongrdinamusic.com) ! Vancouverbased guitarist and oud player Gordon Grdina has emerged forcefully over the past decade, whether integrating jazz and Middle Eastern music or blending free jazz and fusion with a series of all-star bands. Resist is his most ambitious recording to date, both as composer and bandleader. The group combines two of Grdina’s Vancouver ensembles, his trio with bassist Tommy Babin and drummer Kenton Loewen and the East Van Strings with violinist Jesse Zubot, violist Eyvind Kang and cellist Peggy Lee. There’s also a special addition, saxophonist Jon Irabagon, whose intensity and invention often come to the fore. The title track is the main event, a 23-minute suite that begins with an elegiac string passage that compounds a distinctive musical language from the Second Viennese School and microtonal elements that suggest Middle Eastern modes. Other movements include an oud interlude that dramatizes an intense isolation, while passages of tumult are focused by Irabagon’s inventive squall. At the conclusion, rising string patterns express resolute determination. Two other tracks isolate and develop materials from Resist: Resist the Middle intensifies a central passage, with Irabagon and the classical strings slashing and twisting through one another’s phrases; Ever Onward revisits a passage of the strings and oud with a stark, welling drama. There are also two distinct pieces that hold promise for the future: an evocative classical guitar composition, 56 | July and August 2020 thewholenote.com

Seeds 11, and the incandescent free jazz of Varscona from Grdina, Babin, Loewen and Irabagon. Stuart Broomer Irrational Revelation & Mutual Humiliation Peripheral Vision Independent (peripheralvisionmusic.com) ! Peripheral Vision could be described as “cerebral grooving jazz” where any of the tunes can effortlessly change course throughout their performance. The catchy titles (Mutual Humiliation Society, Neo-Expressionism for Pacifists or Title Crisis), off-kilter melodies and changing textures show this group is always thinking the big post-bop jazz thoughts. Compositions are by guitarist Don Scott and bassist Michael Herring. Drummer Nick Fraser is always highly inventive and works to actively shape the music, dynamically changing the beat and inflections from one moment to the next. Trevor Hogg’s saxophone lines are restrained and sinewy combining melodic patterns with a touch of swagger. Some highlights include Brooklyn’s Bearded which was inspired by some Eastern European jazz heard at the famous Brooklyn music venue Barbès. It begins with a moody sax line over top of a lazily contrapuntal guitar, then works into an elegant sax solo, a very beautiful, circus-like whirl of major key sound in the middle and into an intense, yet precise, guitar solo. For Kent Monkman is breezy with an elegant melody over a fast walking bass. Michael Davidson’s vibraphone adds a kind of 50s Mad Men feel so the tune mixes periods just like the famous artist does with his paintings. Irrational Revelation is this group’s fifth album and a double one at that; it offers delightful surprises and great playing on every track. Ted Parkinson Supernova 4 Félix Stüssi; Jean Derome; Normand Guilbeault; Pierre Tanguay Effendi Records FND159 (effendirecords.com) ! Montreal-based musicians Jean Derome (alto/baritone saxophone, flute), Normand Guilbeault (double bass) and Pierre Tanguay (drums) were approached by Swiss/Montreal-based pianist/composer/ producer Félix Stüssi to combine musical forces to perform his works. Recorded live in 2019 at Montreal’s Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur and at Oscar Peterson Concert Hall, this is out-of-this-world uplifting music. Stüssi’s compositional style encompasses the traditional to modern jazz with tons of inherent improvisational opportunities. Highlights include the opening track, T.R.T (Tapir Racing Team) an upbeat, happy, tonal toe-tapping tune, with contrasting slower solo sections, showcasing formidable tight ensemble work and solo musicianship. The exuberant Bagatelle features an underlying humorous jazz feel contrasted by intermittent slow rubato sections and Stüssi’s flashy, fast-trilled piano solos. Guilbeault’s contrasting high and deep low resonating held and plucked bass solo opens Urubu, a more atonal piece highlighted by quasiunison piano/sax lead-line playing and subsequent full-band loud section. The closing more modern-sounding Super 8 features more solos and a full band finishing with a bang and cymbal crash. Also included is Jean Derome’s composition La Nouvelle Africaine which opens with an extended Tanguay drum kit solo with singing cymbal effects, leading to upbeat clear ensemble playing and a rapid, intense, clever Derome sax solo. Supernova 4 with its unique compositions and solo/ensemble performances are equal if not superior to April’s supermoon or a supernova star blast – memorable, breathtaking and powerful. Tiina Kiik Brain Drain Gorilla Mask Clean Feed CF 540 CD (cleanfeed-records.com) ! With the power of an oil derrick pumping, Gorilla Mask’s Peter Van Huffel uses his baritone saxophone throughout to unearth subterranean textures, in order to extract robust dynamics that slam against Roland Fidezius’ electric bass hammering and percussionist Rudi Fischerlehner’s comprehensive battering. All eight tracks composed for this Berlin-based band by Kingston, Ontario-native Van Huffel straddle metal force and improvisational exploration. Despite leaning towards the former, the trio never strays into excess. Sonically defining the difference between a headbanger and a Hoser on a track named for the Ontario taunt, the narrative of sutured bass and saxophone outbursts are almost too thick to be partitioned. But the drummer’s oblique ruffs and rebounds retain a whiff of the unexpected. In the same way, Fidezius uses effects to suggest ringing guitar-like licks on tunes like Barracuda; and the saxophonist sometimes turns from baritone rumbles or altissimo squeaks to airy alto saxophone trills. Additionally the group is versatile enough to brush against bedrock funk on Caught in a Helicopter Blade, as reed honks, drum pops and string sluices up the excitement level. But the best demonstration of balancing insight and intensity comes on the extended Drum Song where intense kinetics radiate from Fischerlehner’s cymbal clashes, bell ringing and rim shots, as electronic-fattened dual reed timbres and bass twangs steamroll the theme forward. While Canada’s musical loss may be Germany’s gain, the result is a notable and individual band identity. Ken Waxman POT POURRI Impressions of Debussy Lori Sims; Andrew Rathbun; Jeremy Siskind Centaur Records (andrewrathbun.com) ! With its evocative harmonies and imaginative rhythms, the music of Debussy particularly lends itself to jazz interpretations and the blending of the two idioms meld perfectly on this Centaur recording featuring nine of Debussy’s Préludes played by pianists Lori Simms and Jeremy Siskind together with soprano saxophonist Andrew Rathburn. The disc is a delight! Comprising 18 tracks altogether, the wellordered sequence features Sim’s performance of a prelude as it was originally written, immediately followed by the same piece reimagined by either Siskind or Rathburn and performed by the duo. The arrangements were first presented at the Gilmore Keyboard Festival in 2016. Sims’ performance is poised and sensitive, at all times beautifully nuanced. And what is particularly appealing is the manner in which the jazz interpretations reinvent the original in such a creative way that frequently the piece is transformed altogether. As an example, the esoteric and mysterious mood of preludes such as Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir and Feuilles mortes is almost abandoned in the jazz version and replaced instead by the use of a brisker tempo and jazz harmonies in an amiable conversation between the two parts. Yet other re-interpretations are closer to the original, such as Minstrels with its quirky rhythms and slapstick good humour. Throughout, the duo plays with a freshness and spontaneity that truly breathes new life into traditional repertoire in a very convincing way – how could Debussy not have approved?! Impressions of Debussy is perfect listening for a summer evening – or anytime for that matter. Recommended. Richard Haskell thewholenote.com July and August 2020 | 57

Volume 26 (2020- )

Volume 26 Issue 1 - September 2020

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volume 25 Issue 9 - July / August 2020
Volume 25 Issue 8 - May / June 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)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)