1 year ago

Volume 27 Issue 4 - February 2022

Gould's Wall -- Philip Akin's "breadcrumb trail; orchestras buying into hope; silver linings to the music theatre lockdown blues; Charlotte Siegel's watershed moments; Deep Wireless at 20; and guess who is Back in Focus. All this and more, now online for your reading pleasure.


OTHER FINE VINTAGES Live Roswell Rudd; Duck Baker Dot Time Records ( ! A master of blues, ragtime and folk idioms, Duck Baker has long applied his fingerstyle acoustic guitar skills to modern idioms as well, from recording the compositions of bop masters like Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols to free improvisation. This CD pairs him with a musical hero of his youth, Roswell Rudd, the first significant trombonist of free jazz but also a throwback who restored his instrument’s traditional jazz voice, with all its burps, smears and bellows along with its legato sweetness as well. Assembled from club recordings in New York City in 2002 and Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2004, these performances range from broad entertainment to high art. Jelly Roll Morton’s Buddy Bolden’s Blues exemplifies Rudd and Baker’s shared joy in roots jazz, with Rudd’s vocalic expressionism and Baker’s crisp blues phrases coming to the fore. Melancholy People is just that, the lachrymose Streisand anthem drenched in as much excess sentimentality as can be dredged up for the occasion. There are a few Monk tunes in versions that are both expressive and precise with the two dedicated interpreters managing that fine balance on Well, You Needn’t and Bemsha Swing. Baker’s long solo stretch on Light Blue is a joyous account of a lesser-known Monk composition. The duo is capable of playfulness and genuine sentiment, creating a sense of authentic dialogue on Going West, while the extended Church is lifted by Rudd’s exuberant use of mutes. Stuart Broomer Best of the Best Live Sharon, Lois & Bram Elephant Records CAS-CD-42150 ( ! Award-winning Canadian children’s/ family entertainers Sharon, Lois & Bram toured and performed extensively for decades since their founding in 1978 to astounding success with their generationsspanning fans and audience members. They also had their own television shows. After Lois retired in 2000 and then died in 2015, Sharon and Bram continued as a duet. This is the trio’s first new album release in 21 years, featuring 22 unedited live tracks recorded during their North American performances in different venues from 1989 to1995. Listeners will not be disappointed with the choice of songs, the trio’s verbal banter, the performances and the quality of the recordings. The tracks are seamlessly connected in attention-grabbing sequence. Classic song versions like She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain and Alphabet Song feature them encouraging audience singing and movement participation, to backing band upbeat accompaniments. The witty How Much is that Doggie in the Window? has Bram barking and teaching the audience to sing as violin countermelody, waltz tempo and closing harmonies drive the song. Sharon, Lois & Bram’s signature song Skinnamarink is a (to be expected) highlight, replete with audience singing exchanges and a background rocking-band closing. The included (and well-deserved) audience cheers and applause make one feel like you are live in the audience. The respectful performing relationship between Sharon, Lois & Bram and their band flourishes in tight harmonies, changing tempi, and dance and singalong moments, making this a “greatest of the great live” collection for fans of all ages! Tiina Kiik Reviewed in this issue 34 J.S. Bach / Karlheinz Essl: Gold.Berg.Werk Xenia Prestova Bennett & Ed Bennet 34 20C Remix Standing Wave Society 35 Inner Landscapes Xander Simmons, Collectif Novart 35 Pozgarria da Petar Klanac & ensemble 0 New to the Listening Room 36 Fire & Grace Alma 37 The Sound and the Fury The Shea - Kim Duo 39 Brian Field - Vocal Works Brian Field 40 Johann Sebastian Bach: Goldberg Variations Sarah Hagen 42 Mozart. Post Scriptum Sergei Kvitko 44 Metamorphosen Maiburg Ensemble 46 Vintage Americana Christina Petrowska Quillico 47 Glorious Clouds Dai Fujikura 48 Bell Threads Adam Roberts 49 You Are the Light and the Way Alex Bird & the Jazz Mavericks 53 Equanimity: A Futuristic Jazz Tale ViO Previously reviewed, in Volume 27 no. 3 55 ... and then there’s this Artifacts 55 Libre Jesse Cooke 55 Uprooted Matt Sellick: 37 As She Sings David Tanenbaum 37 Brahms String Quartets The Alexander String Quartet 45 confined.speak Ensemble Dal Niente 46 Plays Well With Others loadbang Read the reviews here, then visit 58 | February 2022

BOOKSHELF Two Takes on a Tumultuous Time Mark Miller Oneliness The Life and Music of Brian Barley Éric Normand L’Atelier de musique expérimentale (tour de bras) STUART BROOMER The late 1960s/early 1970s were a tumultuous time for various musical genres with new forms arising, often aligned with social and political foment. These recent works focus intensely on that period in Canada through the related lenses of jazz and improvised music. Mark Miller’s Oneliness: The Life and Music of Brian Barley is a biography of the forward-looking, Toronto-born jazz saxophonist, while L’Atelier de musique expérimentale, assembled by musician-producer Éric Normand, focuses on a performance space for Montreal’s experimental musicians. The works share a vital connection in artist/writer Raymond Gervais, Barley’s Montreal roommate and a founder of L’Atelier de musique expérimentale. Miller is the essential chronicler of Canadian jazz, the focus of eight of his 13 books, including recent biographies of Claude Ranger and Sonny Greenwich. While those musicians made extended contributions, Brian Barley, who died in 1971 at age 28, was a tragic figure of immense promise. Oneliness (the term comes from the mystic G.I. Gurdjieff, an interest of some in Barley’s circle), is alive with the detail that distinguishes Miller’s writing. It’s an evocative tracing of Barley’s Toronto, from his Etobicoke childhood to Royal Conservatory and University of Toronto training to long-lost jazz venues like the First Floor Club, and his time spent in Vancouver and Montreal before his death in a Spadina Avenue rooming house. Barley, a gifted classical clarinet student, singled out for early praise, was increasingly preoccupied with the expressive possibilities of jazz. From membership in the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Barley advanced to work with the Cleveland and Vancouver orchestras. As he built jazz skills in Vancouver, a defining event occurred in his life. Driving to Seattle in May 1966 to hear the Bill Evans Trio, Barley crashed, suffering brain injuries. He spent weeks in hospital and was left with epilepsy and a dependency on medications that caused intense headaches and other symptoms, which he self-medicated with cannabis as he followed his jazz muse east to Montreal. There he met his most compatible musical partner, drummer Claude Ranger, with whom he recorded his enduring testament, The Brian Barley Trio, 1970. Miller’s scrupulous account of Barley’s life is constructed out of the traces left by periodical reviews and the memories of fellow musicians. Miller first chronicled Barley in 1982, in a segment of Fourteen Lives: Jazz in Canada, and his research includes 40-year-old interviews, creating a portrait that would otherwise be impossible to assemble today. Oneliness has a tragic dimension: and Miller’s scrupulously gathered details develop a looming resonance issuing from the chasm that separates Barley’s promise from the accomplishment ultimately betrayed by that head injury. By contrast, the French language L’Atelier de musique expérimentale, which documents a shortlived collective performance space (AME), is virtually a playground, whether considered as a book accompanied by a CD or vice versa. It’s a sequence of distinct writings that range from reproduced typescripts to grey-scale copies of newspaper articles. Historian Eric Fillion and musician/producer Éric Normand have previously been responsible for chronicling Quebec’s radically politicized free jazz in both book and CD form, Fillion in his Jazz Libre et la révolution québécoise: Musique-action, 1967- 1975 (M Éditeur: 2019), Normand in the four-disc Musique-Politique: Anthologie 1971-1974 by Le Quatuor de Jazz Libre du Québec ( L’Atelier… has a scholarly account of the collective by Fillion, followed by illuminating typescripts by Raymond Gervais, including an omnibus account of the scene. Barley sometimes seems limited by the scenes in which he works, while the Atelier is at the cutting edge of its era. The CD of previously unreleased improvisations by Le Trio Expansible (clarinetist Robert M. Lepage, guitarist Bernard Gagnon and bassist Yves Bouliane) presents unstructured interactions that are still slightly startling, often percussive and usually exploring unusual timbre, whether minimalist, pointillist or conversational. The close listening is such that similarities arise among the instrument’s sounds. Oneliness concludes with Gervais’ 1986 audio-visual tribute to Barley, called “Oneliness”, with a soundtrack provided by a Gurdjieff piano piece; Atelier… includes a photo of Gervais, circa 1977, setting up an installation with four turntables. Oneliness can be ordered at: music/products/oneliness-the-life-and-music-of-brian-barley. L’Atelier de musique expérimentale can be ordered at Stuart Broomer writes frequently on music (mostly improvised) and is the author of Time and Anthony Braxton. His column “Ezz-thetics” appears regularly at February 2022 | 59

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