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Volume 27 Issue 8 | July 1 - September 20, 2022

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  • Thewholenotecom
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Final print issue of Volume 27 (259th, count 'em!). You'll see us in print again mid-September. Inside: A seat at one table at April's "Mayors Lunch" TAF Awards; RCM's 6th edition "Celebration Series" of piano music -- more than ODWGs; Classical and beyond at two festivals; two lakeshore venues reborn; our summer "Green Pages" festival directory; record reviews, listening room and more. On stands Tuesday July 5 2022.

Brian Baumbusch –

Brian Baumbusch – Effigy CSU Fullerton Wind Symphony; Other Minds Ensemble; Dustin Barr Other Minds Records OM 1032-2 (otherminds.org) ! Hard to know whether I would have felt the same way about this quirky and interesting music had I opted not to read the extensive liner essay, by Oscar Smith, that accompanies the roughly 60 minutes of music by Brian Baumbusch on Effigy. It would be fair to say the reading was less interesting than the listening, yet unfair to call the essay uninteresting; a bit lengthy, a bit academic, but certainly informative. Knowing Baumbusch’s complex processes aroused some skepticism, and I was relieved to hear that the resulting textures and colours are much more than an exercise in synchronous unmatched pulse. The science of polyrhythm guides but doesn’t completely determine Baumbusch’s aesthetic. There are what feel and sound like multiple layers of events randomly superimposed one on the other, but the effect is distinctive and listenable. Kings, a multi-movement piece for chamber ensemble including strings, percussion, piano and clarinet, occupies the longer half of the disc. Written as a kind of homage to composer Lou Harrison, the fourth track, Interlude, is a rhythmic canon. Among Harrison’s innovations was an 11-limit just intonation guitar (a tuning system based on the harmonic overtone series). Played by Baumbusch on Boru, the fifth track of the disc, it leaves me feeling more enamoured of just intonation than before. The other work on the disc is Isotropes, for large ensemble. Clever title, clever writing, cleverly played by the Cal State University Fullerton Wind Symphony, each member having recorded their part in isolation. One has to wonder what amount of tailoring and refitting might have been needed to coax uniformity from the large (c. 60-voice) ensemble. Max Christie Passages Through Time – The Music of Rain Worthington Various Artists Navona Records nv6398 (navonarecords.com/catalog/nv6398) ! In the May 2019 WholeNote, I reviewed a CD of music by five composers, praising Rain Worthington’s ten-minute In Passages for violin and string orchestra as “a sustained, moody beauty, imbued with Middle Eastern melodic melismas and glissandi.” That recording reappears here along with seven other works, lasting four to 12 minutes, by the New York-based Worthington (b.1949). Composed between 2011 and 2020, mixing “antique” and world-music modes, late- Romanticism and minimalism, they provide lots more “moody beauty.” Three pieces feature the cello: Resolves for solo cello (expressing, writes Worthington, “a sense of acceptance and inner strength”), Full Circle for cello and small orchestra (“the cycles of emotion that emerge and recede throughout life”) and the ominously perturbed Shadows of the Wind for small orchestra (“an approaching storm… shifting shadow patterns…”). More “shadows”: Balancing on the Edge of Shadows for violin and piano evokes plaintive Judaic or Islamic chants (“quite beautiful, mysterious, with delicate subtlety”). Intense yearning fills Night Stream for two violins (“reflecting on the flow of life and time, imagined impressionistically as lights streaming across a rain-streaked window”). Brooding, pulsating melodies pervade two works composed during the pandemic: Within Deep Currents for string orchestra and Dreaming Through Fog for small orchestra (“a continuous undercurrent of tragedy and uncertainty, mixed with cycles of waiting and moments of hope”). Worthington is a rare contemporary composer who unabashedly calls her own music “quite beautiful,” but she’s absolutely justified in doing so! Michael Schulman What is American PUBLIQuartet Bright Shiny Things (brightshiny.ninja) ! What is American is the most recent album by the PUBLIQuartet and purposefully titles the work as either a question or a statement, a summons to rediscover the roots of classical European music that bind to American Indigenous and Black music. But the string quartet doesn’t stop there; though as a group they are found under “contemporary classical” they are known for their boundary-crossing genres, and the compositions are demanding of each performer’s skills in jazz, blues, improvisation, chopping, folk and swing. Beginning with the inspired re-working of Dvořák’s “American” Quartet, an arrangement retracing the African Indigenous and Black roots of the music giving it a somewhat ironic tone, to Vijay Iyer’s Dig the Say, a rich and rhythmically textured work in four movements dedicated to the music of James Brown and highlighting the group’s finely honed ensemble work. Each interpretation is outstanding. PUBLIQuartet has a knack for keeping to the score while playing freely and with joy. What is American includes the world premiere recording of Roscoe Mitchell’s 2020 composition Cards, as well as a collection of four original compositions by the quartet from their MIND THE GAP series, further exploring improvisations on compositions by Ornette Coleman, Alice Coltrane, Ida Cox, Betty Davis, Tina Turner and Fats Waller. Rhiannon Giddens’ At the Purchaser’s Option, an emotional exploration of an 1830s newspaper advertisement selling a young Black woman, including her nine-month-old child “at the purchaser’s option” is powerfully arranged by the quartet and is both heartbreaking and dynamic. Take a moment to look up the actual ad to bring that piece home. It is followed by Pavement Pounding Rose exploring Waller’s Honeysuckle Rose as a tribute to Madam C.J. Walker and beautifully narrated by Walker’s great-great-granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles. The track list for this album numbers 20, and a paragraph could be dedicated to each. The Fifth Verse, based on Oliver Wendell Holmes’ denouncing slavery in his writing of the unofficial fifth verse of the Star-Spangled Banner some 50 years after Key’s original, is then shadowed later in interrupted fragments that took my breath away, keeping the messaging on track like connective tissue to arms and legs. This album is dedicated to reminding us of our current culture, where we came from, and simultaneously hoping and fearing where we could be going. Cheryl Ockrant 54 | July 1 - September 20, 2022 thewholenote.com

Impulse Jordan Bak Bright Shiny Things BSTC-0162 (brightshiny.ninja) ! Jordan Bak’s debut album, Impulse, transports the listener into a viola dreamland from the very first note. Here is the place we get to hear the viola in all its glory and bask in all its abundant colours. And we hear it through diverse compositional voices of contemporary composers of vastly different backgrounds. The young Jamaican-American violist pulls out all the stops on this album. Bak is a powerhouse musician, with a strong voice and compelling sound. He is not afraid of occasional grittiness in service of music but generally favours an aesthetic of beauty and refinement in sound. Impressively, and true to the title of the album, Bak’s interpretations and phrases are often flowing and shifting, firmly rooted in one moment and flexible in another, yet always maintaining rhythmical clarity. The album opens with the lush, impressionistically Romantic Untitled, written by early-20th-century violist and composer Rebecca Clarke, and closes with the monumental A String Around Autumn by Toru Takemitsu arranged by Toshio Hosokawa. Pianist Ji Yung Lee is an astute collaborator on these pieces, well attuned to Bak’s style of playing. In between, there are five compositions for solo viola. Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti’s ko‘u inoa and In Memory by Quinn Mason create meditative worlds, one from constant movement, the other from stillness. This album also features the world premiere of Tableau XII for Solo Viola by Tyson Gholston Davis, an expressive monologue that continues with Joan Tower’s Wild Purple and Jeffrey Mumford’s wending. Impulse would make a great addition to the music libraries of contemporary music aficionados. Ivana Popovic Ben Duinker; Architek Percussion – 6 Changes Architek Percussion Independent (architekpercussion.com) ! The Montrealbased quartet Architek Percussion, founded in 2012 by McGill University music graduates, has established itself along the lines set in the last century by other classical music-based percussion groups such as NEXUS. They are equally comfortable in the 20th-century percussion ensemble repertoire now considered “classic,” as well as in new works generated via commissions and collaborations. Consisting of Noam Bierstone, Ben Duinker, Alexander Haupt and Alessandro Valiante, Architek Percussion has toured Canada multiple times and commissioned works by composers from some 11 countries. Six Changes, an extended collaboration between Duinker and his bandmates, takes the group in a novel direction. In six parts, the album charts a stylistic path referencing electronica, percolating pulse-based minimalism and the experimental fringes of rock, all snapped to attention by a closely miked drum kit. Stock keyboard percussion instruments also make an appearance, as do airy synth chord pads, which drift in and out, occasionally interrupted by growling bass synth melodic lines. Yet another element here is the transformation of rhythms the inventive Duinker has encountered in daily life. For example, his transcribed rhythms from an MRI machine feature in On Sitting the Next Few Plays Out, layered into a multi-pulse mesh. And he first heard the ostinato in Dark Horse Fan in a malfunctioning ceiling fan. It took much of the album to get fully into Six Changes, but in the end the superimposition of clever rhythms, vernacular harmonic modulations, kicked in the pants by an assertive groove, won me over. Andrew Timar JAZZ AND IMPROVISED Lou Pomanti & Friends Lou Pomanti & Friends Vesuvius Music VMI - 009 (loupomanti.com) ! Consummate pianist/arranger/ composer/producer Lou Pomanti has often been recognized for his impressive list of professional collaborations, but here Pomanti speaks in his own creative voice by presenting a project rife with original compositions and inspired pairings with artists with whom Pomanti has previously co-created. The jazz, R&B and pop luminaries here include vocalist Emilie-Claire Barlow, iconic trumpeter Randy Brecker, soulful vocalist and lead singer of Blood, Sweat and Tears David Clayton-Thomas, contemporary crooner Matt Dusk, masterful singer/songwriter Marc Jordan, the funkadelic Oakland Stroke blue-eyed soul singer John Finley, gifted vocalists Dione Taylor, Irene Torres, June Garber and Robyn Black, drummer Larnell Lewis and guitarist/synth wizard Sam Pomanti. The material here is a virtual potpourri of eclecticism and perfectly curated tracks – effortlessly pairing the right artists with the right tunes, brilliantly arranged and performed by the A-List musicians in the stirring charts created by Pomanti. First up is a largo, come-hither take on Lennon/McCartney’s Come Together featuring the magnificent Jordan and emerging vocalist Black, set in an inspired arrangement that oozes sophistication. A true standout is the swinging and soulful rendition of Mose Allison’s Your Mind is On Vacation featuring the made-in-heaven vocal match of Findley and Clayton-Thomas, followed by the irresistible Laura Nyro hit, Stoned Soul Picnic, reimagined by Pomanti, replete with an in-the-pocket tempo and featuring the breathtaking Barlow as well as a groovy facemelter from Brecker. Pomanti’s “ten piece touring funk juggernaut, Oakland Stroke” is represented here with a bluesy and thrilling version of Me and Mrs. Jones, graced by the incredible pipes of George St. Kitts. Of special, luminous beauty is the haunting Windmills of Your Mind perfectly rendered by the incomparable Garber – who doesn’t just sing the lyrics, but imbues them with deep emotional content and flawless interpretation. Of special note is Pomanti’s composition, What Remains – a loving tribute to his adored wife of more than 20 years – made all the more moving by featuring the still-besotted Pomanti on vocals. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Venez donc chez moi Laura Anglade; Sam Kirmayer Justin Time (justin-time.com) ! Francophone jazz lovers rejoice. Laura Anglade and Sam Kirmayer have released an album of 11 songs, entirely in French. The French-American singer, now based in Toronto, and the Montreal-based guitarist collaborated on this collection of classic songs from the not-toodistant past made famous by artists such as Barbara and Charles Aznavour. Unadorned by other instruments (except for accordion on two tracks) or fancy production tricks, Venez Donc Chez Moi (So Come to My House) is simply two exceptional musicians presenting beautiful songs. Some swing gently, but ballads dominate and Anglade’s gorgeous voice and Kirmayer’s solid and sensitive guitar accompaniment handily navigate all paces and styles. Both Kirmayer and Anglade get in some brief, melodic improvisations – not easily done in such a stripped-down environment – otherwise the songs are delivered in a straightforward, true-to-the-original manner. The most familiar songs (to this Anglophone) thewholenote.com July 1 - September 20, 2022 | 55

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