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Volume 27 Issue 3 - December 2021 / January 2022

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  • December
  • Quartet
  • Jazz
  • January
  • Musical
  • Toronto
  • Symphony
  • Theatre
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Many Happy Returns: the rebirth of Massey Hall -- from venue to hub; music theatre's re-emergence from postponement limbo; pianist Vikingur Ólafsson's return visit to to "Glenn Gould's hometown"; guest writer music librarian Gary Corrin is back from his post behind the scenes in the TSO library; Music for Change returns to 21C; and here we all are again! Welcome back. Fingers crossed, here we go.

kin, echoes of the

kin, echoes of the musical traditions of India, Africa, the Middle East and Brazil are never far away. Viswanathan’s evocative bansuri (Hindustani bamboo transverse flute), Aaron Lightstone’s oud solo and Ravi Naimpally’s supportive tabla playing are examples of how inextricably – and beautifully – these elements are woven into the fabric of the music. Andrew Timar Stir Crazy Heavyweights Brass Band Slammin’ Media (heavyweightsbrassband.com) ! The Torontobased Heavyweights Brass Band always brings the spunk and this latest release definitely doesn’t fall short in that respect! Featuring rhythms that get you moving and a mix of unexpected covers as well as original compositions, this album is a tantalizing musical journey that you’ll find you just can’t get enough of. Most tracks have been arranged or written by saxophonist Paul Metcalfe or tubist Tom Richards which really draws attention to the fact that the songs are driven heavily by prominent tuba riffs. Opening the album is catchy Sweet Pauly’s Boogaloo, a fitting introduction to the musical virtuosity showcased throughout the record. Feel Like Makin’ Love is a cover of the great soul and R&B vocalist Roberta Flack’s tune, featuring an amped-up bass line and a captivating groove, courtesy of Richards and drummer Lowell Whitty. The title track is a tune that truly brings forth every musician’s talents; with soaring trumpet and saxophone melodies conjured by John Pittman on the former and Metcalfe on the latter, as well as a winding and rhythmically complex tuba line from Richards. The band is known for collaborating with famed musicians and this time is no different; rounding out the throwback and vintage sound of the album is Joel Visentin (of JV’s Boogaloo Squad fame) on the unique Hammond C3 organ. For the fan of contemporary jazz looking for an energizing boost, this is a great addition to the collection. Kati Kiilaspea Beneath Hannah Barstow; Mike Murley; Reknee Irene Harrett; Keith Barstow Independent (hannahbarstow.com) ! It’s always refreshing to see younger talents in the music world finding their places and voices and Hannah Barstow has done just that on her latest release. The album showcases her talents as a pianist, vocalist and composer; tracks range from calming and mellow to fast-paced and positively toetapping – a perfect accompaniment to the dreary days that are upon us. Supported by a band of well-known musicians such as Mike Murley on saxophones, Reknee Irene Harrett on bass and Keith Barstow on drums, this record is a great addition to any jazz lover’s collection. Most tracks are penned or arranged by Barstow herself, a talent that she has clearly mastered. Starting off the album is the title track, Beneath, a waltz-flavoured tune that shines a spotlight on the vocalist’s warm and sultry timbre and how it intertwines with her flowing piano melodies. Throughout the record is the way in which Barstow manages to give an expressive voice to the piano, almost as if there was a second vocalist accompanying her and blending with her own vocals. A standout track is Love Can Never Lose, featuring a faster tempo and a catchy swing feel carried by Harrett’s bass riffs and Barstow’s dance-worthy rhythms. For Now brings the album to a fitting close, with an intricate melody that brings forth hopeful and positive vibes for the future and for what else is in store from this talented young musician. Kati Kiilaspea Montréal Jazz Trio Steve Amirault; Adrian Vedady; Jim Doxas Odd Sound ODS-20 (steveamirault.com) ! Montreal has always been a unique city, maintaining a consistent and identifiable character amidst a cultural melting pot. Tourists from elsewhere in North America point out European aspects, those from Western Canada observe its truly Quebecois nature, and this Toronto-born writer always notices an American grit to the island metropolis. All of these influences and more are present in the music created by pianist Steve Amirault, bassist Adrian Vedady and drummer Jim Doxas, who make up the Montréal Jazz Trio. This latest self-titled offering from the group features originals, arrangements of jazz standards, and two of Amirault’s pieces – All Those Lovely Things and Nowhere – based on well-known progressions from the genre. The latter of those tracks features a beautiful bass solo from Vedady, which prefaces him taking the melody of Wray, a tribute to pianist Wray Downes. Other originals include Empathy and Soho Dreams by Amirault, which are both melodic and modern sounding. Alongside his role as the trio’s drummer, Doxas mixed the nine tracks heard on the recording at his home away from home, the Boutique de Son studio on Montréal’s West Island. Doxas’ father George was behind the controls during the recording of the album and is renowned for the excellent sounds he achieves on countless albums per year. The production, repertoire and personnel heard on this recording give it a delightful “hundred-mile diet” sensibility, and transport its listeners to La Belle Province from wherever they may be. Sam Dickinson Naufragés Alex Lefaivre Quartet arteboreal (alexlefaivre.com) ! Alex Lefaivre’s latest quartet outing is a delightfully sequenced blend of energy and lightness that makes for a compulsively listenable project. As a listener, I’ve found that my most memorable experiences often occur when I can tangibly sense how much musicians relish interacting with each other, and this recording is a prime example of such synergy. Lefaivre’s basslines and guitarist Nicolas Ferron’s rhythmically inclined blowing on standout original Reset serve as a wondrous showcase for two musicians who are fully engaged with each other, listening intently. Meanwhile, Alain Bourgeois’ drumming is sensitive and understated, playing nothing but the bare functional necessities for most of the album’s duration, releasing only the occasional outburst for the most exciting moments. The band is locked in and Lefaivre is the primary driving force behind their sound. In the compositional sense, his lines propel the forward motion of the rhythm section while anchoring the melodic content, particularly on the rather animated track Sly. Lefaivre’s time feel is rock-solid and assured, helping to firmly ground the ensemble during the eccentric time signatures of tracks like Sneaked. He also fashions the bass into a highly effective comping instrument, providing a springboard for Erik Hove’s alto showcase on Sin City. All in all, Lefaivre has assembled both a group of artists and a set of tunes (playfully including a Led Zeppelin cover) that have allowed him to refine his band, leading chops in a very enjoyable way. Yoshi Maclear Wall 48 | December 2021 thewholenote.com

Imaginary Structures Levi Dover Sextet Three Pines Records TPR-004 (levidover.com) ! In his debut as a leader, Montreal bassist Levi Dover has concocted something refreshingly original while also remaining true to his post-bop influences. From the very moment they hit the listener’s ears it’s apparent Dover’s compositions have a methodical quality to them; every statement of a tune’s central melody utilizes his entire sextet to its full expansive potential. Each line trickles into the next smoothly, as if the instrumentalists are finishing each other’s sentences. Musical phrases possess the easy flow of a daily conversation between friends. Dover is a very deliberate arranger, and one of his most interesting creative decisions (that ends up being greatly to the benefit of the music) is heavily featuring two functionally similar instruments: vibraphone and piano. Additionally, pianist Andrew Boudreau and vibraphonist Olivier Salazar are often playing the same material in tandem, creating an incredible textural effect that almost feels like an aesthetic marriage of Andrew Hill and Bobby Hutcherson. While a fair bit of Dover’s ornate writing brings to mind vintage mid-60s Blue Note, his personal progressive and classical leanings also shine through on immensely electrifying standouts like L’Appel du Vide and Galapagos. Boudreau is more often than not an effective mouthpiece for Dover’s vision, grounding the band through the more complex passages of rhythmic counterpoint and constantly serving as the primary accompanist for Dover’s own playing. Imaginary Structures is beautiful, and Dover establishes himself as an artistic force throughout eight masterful ensemble performances. Yoshi Maclear Wall Galeanthropology Darrell Katz & OddSong Jazz Composers Alliance JCA1806 (darrellkatz.com) ! Any considered exposé of Darrell Katz’s oblique, still under-appreciated genius is always welcome, especially one that is inspired by – and evocative of – his late wife, Paula Tatarunis’ poetry. Galeanthropology is an elliptical metaphor that connects Katz’s literary and musical pursuits, from the conventional to the experimental, the mechanical to the emotional. Making a leap from that almost illusionary promontory, this repertoire traces an evolutionary arc as if falling off a proverbial cliff and is comprised of elongated melodic, harmonic inventions with the rhythmic aspect provided by the radiant mallet percussion colours of the marimba and vibraphone. Tatarunis’ extraordinarily expressive poetic canvas derives from life as a jazz cat and her lyrical canticles come alive together with Katz’s stylishly delivered instrumental contributions. Making the most of Tatarunis’ deeply elegant poems requires a particular sensitivity to linear shape, lyrical articulation and clarity of texture, not least in order to infuse it with the pungency of the harmonic language that this music breathes into it. The most striking example of this is certainly not restricted to the song Galeanthropology with its quote from Charlie Parker’s iconic, Ornithology. Katz’s ingenious hipness comes alive on his especially free-floating take on Charles Mingus’ Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love, James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James and the traditional I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger; the latter being a profoundly consequential musical experience for the listener. The elegantly idiomatic performance all around is fronted by Rebecca Shrimpton’s lustrous, poignantly executed vocals. Raul da Gama Beyond Here Beth McKenna Independent (bethmckenna.ca) ! Beth McKenna really showcases her versatility as a bandleader, writer and improviser on her most recent effort, Beyond Here. Throughout the record, the sextet of McKenna on woodwinds, François Jalbert on guitar, Guillaume Martineau on keys, Oliver Babaz on bass, Peter Colantonio on drums and Sarah Rossy on voice, manages to generate a versatile sound that often borders on the sublime. The album’s mood changes significantly but never in a manner that feels jarring, as the unwavering richness of the arrangements and production helps maintain cohesion. McKenna’s care for her craft ensures that the ensemble thrives as a unit, and her graciousness as a bandleader allows the spotlight to be evenly distributed among musicians. Rossy’s talents are featured most sparingly, but they are perhaps utilized most effectively, often at the end of pieces when the energy reaches its apex. McKenna and Colantonio’s impassioned playing complements the overall tone beautifully and adds a fair bit of substance to the music. The overall quality of improvisation is outstanding, particularly with the breathtaking interplay between members of the rhythm section in tracks such as From Divided to One. Yoshi Maclear Wall What we're listening to this month: thewholenote.com/listening Songbook Dizzy & Fay Songbook - The debut album by Canadian jazz songwriting duo Dizzy & Fay. 12 original songs written as a love letter to the American Songbook. Augmented Reality Benjamin Deschamps This album takes a more electric, powerful and lyrical direction. The sextet formation delivers introspective, robust and ingenious original compositions. Worldview Avatar In an innovative marriage of ancient and modern, jazz and world music intersects with cinematic atmospheres and soaring melodies, creating fresh, emotive sonic experiences. Eberhard Lyle Mays Lyle Mays' final recording "Eberhard" is a 13-minute, multimovement work featuring 16 musicians, in tribute to the great German bass player Eberhard Weber. thewholenote.com December 2021 | 49

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