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Volume 27 Issue 2 - November 2021

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  • November
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  • Jazz
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Live events on the up and up while creative live-and livestreamed hybrids continue to shine. October All-star Sondheim's Follies at Koerner Hall headlines the resurgence; Zoprana Sadiq brings MixTape to Crow's Theatre; Stewart Goodyear and Jan Lisiecki bring piano virtuosity back indoors; Toronto Mendelssohn Choir's J-S Vallee in action; TSO finds itself looking at 60 percent capacities ahead of schedule. All this and more as we we complete our COVID-13 -- a baker's dozen of issues since March 2020. Available here in flipthrough, and on stands commencing this weekend.

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accurately and authentically in his transcriptions. The reader is treated to a thorough artist biography, essays by Mays on various topics, and insights about the genesis of the compositions. One particularly fascinating essay recounts how Piscitelli came to know and work with Mays on both the songbook and Eberhard projects. Piscitelli deserves special acknowledgement for his great work on this long-awaited volume. Taken together, Eberhard and The Music of Lyle Mays form a vivid musical portrait of a remarkable artist whose legacy should endure for generations to come. Barry Livingston POT POURRI Baked Cafe Glenn Chatten Independent (glennchatten.com) ! All of us who grew up in the Yukon knew it was a special place and were never surprised when “cheechakos” would arrive to work for a summer and wind up staying for years and making a life there. Glenn Chatten waited until later in life to move to Whitehorse, and had already recorded several albums as a songwriter and fingerstyle acoustic guitarist. His “Yukon” album, Baked Cafe, is named after one of my favourite places to eat and hang out in Whitehorse (known as the “Wilderness City”). The title song has a grooving beat and makes “flying to Whitehorse on a Saturday” sound exciting and intense, especially if it is to meet a very special person at the Baked Cafe. Liam’s Lylt, Tagish Morning and Sima (named after a nearby mountain that has skiing and a zip line) are three marvellous instrumentals that showcase Chatten’s fretboard dexterity. Although Chatten is a relative newcomer to the North, his lyrics show a clear appreciation for the landscape and people. In One Land he sings “beyond the sun dogs, and the ice fog, beyond the deep woven aspen tree, lies a quiet, part of nature, from the mountains to the Arctic Sea.” The words evocatively capture the essence of the Yukon’s territory. In addition to Chatten’s fine acoustic guitar and insightful lyrics, the many excellent local musicians add a spirited community vibe to this work. Baked Cafe is expertly engineered and mastered by Bob Hamilton who has been part of the Yukon music scene for decades. Chatten’s album is uplifting and insightful and I hope he remains a permanent part of northern culture. Ted Parkinson On My Way To You Shirley Eikhard Independent SEM2021 (shirleyeikhard.ca) ! Internationally renowned awardwinning Canadian songwriter, lyricist, singer and multi-instrumentalist Shirley Eikhard is back with this collection of 12 songs dating from 1982 to present day. This is a fabulous overview of the creative artistic output of one of Canada’s foremost musicians. Recorded in her home studio in Mono ON, Eikhard produced, arranged, recorded and performed all instruments and vocals here. Opening track Anything is Possible (2020) is a positive, engaging song. Eikhard sings lead and backup vocals above repeated cadential pattern instrumental grooves and uplifting minimalistic melodies with such lyrics as “I refuse to be frightened,” and closing line “anything is possible…”, making my COVID fears miraculously vanish! Title track On My Way to You (2019) has a more traditional folk feel with longer phrases, guitar accompaniment and colourful sultry vocal tones. Great contrast is Good News (1982) showcasing her superb keyboard skills and lyrical singing. Especially powerful are the detached piano chords and vocals to the words “I wish I could bring you good news” while in the Good News reprise track (also 1982) her lyrical keyboard and vocal duet is passionately tear-jerking. The so-current, popmusic-flavoured What I Wish (For You) (2021) features an amazing wind solo. Bound to be a giant hit, My Final Chapter (2020) is a rhythmic up-beat dance and singalong song with such attention-grabbing lyrics as “I am not angry anymore.” Another all-encompassing, riveting musical masterpiece from Shirley Eikhard! Tiina Kiik Party for Joey – A Sweet Relief Tribute to Joey Spampinato Various Artists True North Records 270573 (truenorthrecords.com) ! Singer, songwriter and bassist Joey Spampinato co-founded NRBQ (New Rhythm and Blues Quartet) in 1969. Perhaps not a household name, fans appreciated this multigenre-influenced rocking band’s and, specifically Spampinato’s, musical greatness, resulting in subsequent gigs for him. Sadly, Spampinato was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, and has been recovering ever since. Many of the musicians here were invited by his wife Kami Lyle and producer Sheldon Gomberg to record a Spampinatocomposed song for this benefit tribute album, as well as other generous musicians, who all recorded/donated their proceeds to the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund to financially support him now. Highlights include the opening track You Can’t Hide featuring former NRBQ member Al Anderson singing and playing his rockstar heart out, until a classic, crashing rockstar drum ending. Los Lobos adds accordion and sax Cajun-tinged solos to their rocky Every Boy Every Girl rendition. Ben Harper’s clear vocal tone and repeated short melody line keep the lyrics up front in full rocking band Like a Locomotive cover, which features a Keith Richards guitar solo. Unexpected free improv atonal opening and closing of Don’t She Look Good contrasts the rest of The Minus 5 rock performance. Touching, hopeful lyrical ballad last track, First Crush, has Kami Lyle and Joey sing in tight, vocal blends. Other musicians, including Bonnie Raitt, Penn and Teller and Steve Forbert cover Spampinato strong earworm songs. Time to party with these 14 tunes, and to support a worthy cause. Tiina Kiik Notes for the Future Yo-Yo Ma Sony (yo-yoma.com) ! Renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s new album Notes for the Future is a series of intimate and heartfelt studio collaborations with singers from five continents. The album’s nine tracks feature Ma with well-known divas and a few names new to me: Angélique Kidjo, Mashrou’ Leila, Tunde Olaniran, Jeremy Dutcher, Andrea Motis, ABAO, Lila Downs and Marlon Williams. Ma, United Nations Messenger of Peace, writes that this album’s global musical journey explores “how culture can help us imagine and build a better world, featuring vocals in Arabic, Zapotec, Catalan, Paiwan, Spanish, Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqey, Ewe, Maori, and English.” Celebrating the “wisdom of the generations that were and the possibility of those to come,” Ma aims to express “our fears and hopes, reminding us that the future is ours to shape, together.” Given that stirring mission statement, how does Notes for the Future deliver musically? 52 | November 2021 thewholenote.com

To answer, I’d like to focus on Honor Song, the collaboration between Ma and tenorcomposer Jeremy Dutcher. Juno and Polaris Prize winner, Dutcher, a member of the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, describes Honor Song as “a Mi’kmaq anthem […] that invokes our collective responsibility to care for the planet we share.” Dutcher’s soaring and emotion-filled Wolastoqey vocal is brilliantly counterpointed by Ma’s lyrical bass-heavy cello and powerful chordal accompaniment. Dutcher wrote: “This collaboration changed my life, and I’m so grateful to him for sharing his platform and allowing so many more people to hear our songs + languages!” I found the entire album a stirring journey. Andrew Timar Something in the Air KEN WAXMAN Suba Omar Sosa; Seckou Keita Bendigedig BEND18 (grigorian.com/ webstore/view.php?iid=2188258) Understanding Pianist Paul Bley’s Musical Legacy Although Paul Bley died in 2016 the extent of his legacy and associations are still being felt. That’s because the pianist was one of the few jazz players who moved through several musical areas and made his mark on each. Born in Montreal on November 10, 1932, he would have been 89 this year. A piano protégé, Bley began as a teenage swing pianist in his native city. Yet he became so proficient a bopper after his move to New York in the early 1950s that he was soon playing with Charles Mingus and Charlie Parker. An encounter with Ornette Coleman allowed him to bring freer ideas to his improvising and composing during the 1960s and he worked with members of the burgeoning free jazz movement during that decade and afterwards. Later on, while continuing to play contemporary jazz with various acoustic bands, he expanded his interests into early experiments with the Moog synthesizer and when he started his own record label he made sure that visual as well as audio tracks were created. He also taught part-time at the New England Conservatory (NEC) and over the years collaborated and recorded with a cross section of international musicians. Read a more detailed view of Bley’s life and career in the February 2016 issue of The WholeNote. By the time Touching & Blood Revisited (ezz-thetics 1108 hathut.com) was recorded in 1965/1966, Bley had already perfected his mature style. The herky-jerky evolution he brought to his own compositions reflects those of his ex-wife Carla Bley plus Thelonious Monk’s quirkiness. Other tracks written by Carla or his then-wife Annette Peacock delineate phraseology that moves from animated runs on bouncy tunes to paused interludes on the slower numbers. These trio sessions also make particular use of Barry Altschul’s drumming. As the pianist varies the exposition with theme repetitions and unexpected asides, powerful press rolls, cymbal pops ! Every now and then the world is graced by an album that has a certain kind of gentleness – the gentleness that contains compassion for humanity and the quest for change. Suba, meaning sunrise in Mandinka, is a melodious microcosm of quietude and hope. There is nothing forced in the music on this album. Each song unfolds in a moment, unhurriedly, as it is just meant to be. Omar Sosa (piano) and Seckou Keita (kora, voice) have a knack for creating music that is harmonious with the world and placatory in its core. Both are masters of their instruments, distinguished artistic voices that bring traditions of Cuba and Senegal to the forefront. Sosa plays piano soulfully, as if he is always aware of the preciousness of the moment. On the other end of this collaboration is Keita, whose playing and singing have a beautiful lightness, subtle and captivating. Suba is rooted in Africa and its traditions, with the occasional spice of jazz elements. Equally divided between instrumental and vocal pieces, the album also features a fantastic team of musicians, most notably Jaques Morelenbaum on cello. The opening vocal piece Kharit and the percussively driven Allah Léno establish the atmosphere of longing and peace that persists throughout the album. The music always moves forward and the beauty is always present. No One Knows concludes the album with a sonic sparseness that leaves the listener with a profound sense of peace. Ivana Popovic and reverb help preserve the tracks’ broken-chord evolution. A gentle ballad like Touching gives space to bassist Kent Carter’s widening plucks, with keyboard rumbles added for a dramatic interchange. Peacock’s writing is most spidery on Both, with the narrative created as shaded keyboard tones vibrate at quicker and quicker speeds alongside overt drum ruffs. On the other hand the almost-19-minute Blood from a year later with Mark Levinson on bass is more overtly rhythmic as the bassist and Altschul shake and rustle alongside Bley’s theme depiction. The pianist first outlines the exposition with hand pressure, adds thickening variations mirrored by drum ruffs and concludes with a dramatic keyboard flourish. Fluctuating between methodical and munificent, Closer and Pablo, two Bley originals, display the resolved contradictions in his playing and writing. Driven by single notes, the former is atmospheric and animated, working through muted expression; it swings without increasing the tempo. Just the opposite, Pablo rolls out a piano introduction that is as hard and heavy as Carter’s caustic pizzicato stops and Altschul’s smacks and tone shattering. The finale contrasts Bley’s rolling narrative with Altschul’s clips, rolls and ratamacues. Although defining experiences in more energetic improvising with Sonny Rollins and others would be in the future, the introspective approach in Bley’s developed style resulted from the two years he was in Jimmy Giuffre’s chamber-jazz trio. With only Bley’s piano and Steve Swallow’s bass backing him, the clarinetist created introspective miniatures that emphasized mood over motion. Free Fall Clarinet 1962 Revisited (ezz-thetics 1119 hathut.com) was the final session before the trio disbanded. Like the subsequent fame of the Velvet Undergound’s LPs, the Giuffe3’s sets were neglected in the early 1960s, but have since been recognized as the template for much subsequent free music. Giuffre projects his astringent a cappella clarinet solos with squeaks and peeps, yet his extended glissandi without pause on a track like Dichotomy presage circular breathing passages that are now almost commonplace. Not only did the group not include a drummer, but also (for the most part) avoided pulse and melody. Instead, eccentric harmony predominated, marked by Bley’s key clips and Swallow’s intermittent string pumps. Sticking to clarion or higher registers, Giuffre’s flutter tonguing and splayed trills connect often enough with keyboard pressure to keep tracks linear as on Spasmodic. At the same time his playing is often wide bore enough to suggest tonal extensions with interludes like that on Threewe completed against a thewholenote.com November 2021 | 53

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