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

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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.

through playing music,

through playing music, we can all find a little just from listening to this poignant opus. Sam Dickinson Poetic Jonathan Barber & Vision Ahead Independent (jonathanbarber.bandcamp. com/album/poetic) ! Connecticutnative, famed drummer Jonathan Barber has released a scintillating third album with Vision Ahead, a group of musicians he’s been pushing the limits with for over a decade. Barber has worked on refining his sound on this record, honing in on a unique modern sound with just enough of the classic mixed in to intrigue both older and newer fans of the genre. Featured are all original compositions, not only by the drummer himself but also by guitarist Andrew Renfroe, alto-saxophonist Godwin Louis and keyboardist Taber Gable. A journey through a beautiful musical landscape, this album is sure to catch the attention of many a listener from the first note. Barber mentions that “the album showcases… the striking cohesiveness of a band who have performed by each other’s side…” and that is certainly very apparent throughout the record. Within each piece, each musician’s talents are very much showcased, but there’s a blending of sounds and instruments, of vibes, that only comes from having a true understanding of your fellow musicians. What lends a truly specific and interesting dimension to the pieces is how they are very much driven by rhythmic grooves but not in an overpowering way, it all comes together for a captivating whole. From beginning to end, this album pushes the boundaries of the genre in the best ways possible, leaving the listener waiting for the next musical statement from this extraordinary musician and group. Kati Kiilaspea What Does It Mean To Be Free Anthony Fung; David Binney; Luca Mendoza; Luca Alemanno Independent (anthonyfungmusic.com) ! Drummer/ composer Anthony Fung was born in Richmond Hill and raised in Canada, but has studied and lived in the United States for several years. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Berklee and a master’s from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance. What Does it Mean to be Free? is his third album and was recorded in L.A. where he currently lives. This an exciting album with eight original compositions and a great arrangement of Wayne Shorter’s Sighteeing, all played with an intense yet grooving style by some stellar musicians. In addition to the core quartet (Fung on drums; David Binney, alto sax; Luca Mendoza, piano; Luca Alemanno, bass) several tracks have special guest performers. On the title track, Andrew Renfroe brings some blistering guitar work including a high intensity exchange with Binney on sax. Defiance features Braxton Cook on a tender yet intense alto sax melody throughout and Alemanno with a pretty bass solo. Let Us Not Forget to be Kind has Roni Eytan providing some beautiful Toots Thielmans-influenced harmonica. Throughout the album Mendoza’s piano is spectacular, providing tasteful accompaniment and solos on the slower tunes and effortlessly complex bop lines on the up-tempo numbers. Fung’s drums are propulsive and complex while still providing a solid backing to the proceedings. What Does it Mean to be Free? At least part of the answer has to be: free to make great music. Ted Parkinson For Simon H. Fell Rhodri Davies Amgen 04 (rhodridavies.com) ! A studied requiem for UK bassist/composer Simon H. Fell (1959-2020), Welsh harpist Rhodri Davies uses transformative prestidigitation on this eponymous disc to exhibit the assemblage of timbres, pitches and rhythms he can induce from the acoustic pedal harp. Davies and Fell were members of the imposing string trio IST for 25 years – cellist Mark Wastell was the third participant – and although most of this salute evolves at moderato and lento tempos, it’s no lachrymose dirge. Instead, the performance includes interludes of bubbling drama, heartfelt emotion and coiled percussiveness. Interspaced with pauses and reverberations, Davies’ almost hour-long creation forges unique harp timbres, which alternately resemble vibraphone reverberations, tombaklike drum strokes, keyboard-like vibrations and woody rubs against unyielding material. All are used for emphasis and sequence shifts. Expected thick glissandi, multi-string drones and singular staccato echoes figure in as well, so that by midpoint multiple strokes are layered into an almost opaque squirming mass. Its subsequent division into singlestring high and low twangs and plinks that move forward and ricochet back into the concentrated narrative, suggest not only IST’s multiple string tropes, but the sort of unique compositions Fell wrote, arranged and played. Properly saluting a fellow string player and improviser, this session also confirms Davies’ innovative ability to come up with nearorchestral, multi-string motifs sourced with compelling skill from the attributes of only a single stand-alone harp. Ken Waxman Blue Journal Ester Wiesnerova Independent (esterwiesnerova.com) ! The eloquent vocalist Ester Wiesnerová bids you to sink into her very private world with this elaborately packaged Blue Journal: 11 songs, and an illustrated, 120-page book. Here Wiesnerová invites us to enter what appears to be a musical portal. Listening to the opening bars of her very first song – Sinking Deep – you will find it hard to resist relocating yourself into her world. Her voice is like a warm, inviting, whispered breath as the poetic alluring lyrics are released into air. Wiesnerová is accompanied by musicians completely attuned to her vision and artistry. Sam Knight’s questing horn soars above tumbling cascades of Charles Overton’s radiant harp. Kan Yanabe’s percussion colourations glued together with the gentle rumble of Michal Šelep’s bass also invite us with impassioned conviction into Wiesnerová’s private world. Wiesnerová beckons you between the sheets (so to speak) of the Blue Journal. She lures you into this music of unsentimental intelligence, with her clear, beguiling tone. At the heart of her artistic conception is Nightingales and Maple Trees, a song that lies at the heart of Wiesnerová’s secret soundscape deep inside her Blue Journal. Throughout this repertoire, warmth and affection abound, befitting the delicately amorous subjects of the songs. For her part the inimitable Wiesnerová breathes her way into this extraordinary music with imagination and infectious musicality. Raul da Gama Justice – The Vocal Works of Oliver Lake Sonic Liberation Front and the Sonic Liberation Singers Hugh Two HT038 (sonicliberationfront.com) ! Decades ago I was a young saxophone player attending university in Edmonton and saw a poster for an Oliver Lake solo concert. It had only a picture of him 58 | July 1 - September 20, 2022 thewholenote.com

standing alone holding an alto saxophone. Intriguing. In that concert Lake chanted, shook beads and other percussion, hummed and spoke a few words between long soliloquies on his horn. The evening was a meditation that moved from one mood and thought to another and it was entrancing. Since then, Oliver Lake has performed and composed with an incredibly diverse range of musicians including the World Saxophone Quartet, and released over 40 albums as leader and more as a sideman. The Sonic Liberation Front invited Lake to write for their unique instrumentation of violin, tenor sax, acoustic bass and drums with a vocal quartet. Lake wrote eight pieces which include two poems. This album has a great energy, which moves freely amongst all the players. What is funky and has an uplifting and syncopated melody played together by saxophone, violin and vocalists. It then moves into a scrappy but swinging sax solo by Elliot Levin while Veronica Jurkiewicz’s phased violin solo reminds me a bit of Jean-Luc Ponty. Dedicated’s beautiful flute line, combined with the smooth vocals, sounds like a strange and misplaced Burt Bacharach composition. I love it! Ain’t Nothin’ Real BUT Love is one of the two pieces based on Lake›s poetry and has only some delightful a cappella background vocals accompanying the emphatic statements about how love «moves independently of our fears and desires.» Justice manages to be loose, edgy, groovy and heartfelt all at the same time. Ted Parkinson POT POURRI Confluence – Balkan Dances and Tango Neuvo Zachary Carrettin; Mina Gajić Sono Luminus DSL-92256 (sonoluminus. com/store/confluence) ! Confluence marks the second release for the acclaimed Sono Luminus label by husband-and-wife duo, pianist Mina Gajić and violinist Zachary Carrettin. The pairing of Marko Tajčević’s folky Balkan Dances with the contemporary tangos by Ray Granlund may seem risky at first glance but it works very well and is a reflection of the cultural influences that are meaningful to these two performers. Here we have a flowing together, a merging of two different compositional languages, coming from regions that are geographically distanced but complementary with their distinct rhythmicity and melodic flavour. The selected tangos were written for Carrettin and it is obvious how much he enjoys playing them. The passion and lyricism, mixed together in both the writing and interpretation, are truly engaging. Granlund leaves room for improvisation and plenty of interpretative choices, and Carrettin thrives on the explorative freedom the tangos are providing. His sound is mellow and intense at the same time, as if he is daring us to get up and join him in dance. Tajčević’s Balkan Dances, written for solo piano, are not as exuberant but they have an absolutely relentless rhythmical drive, reminiscent of Bartók, and the melos and sturdiness of Balkan music. Gajić brings the percussiveness to the forefront and she does it with both grace and conviction. TangoNometria, one of the pieces on the album, easily links all the aspects of the music and performances on display here – ever-shifting rhythms, visceral melodies and thrilling interpretations. Ivana Popovic Ottoman Spendours Lamia Yared; Ensemble Oraciones Analekta AN2 9176 (analekta.com/en) ! Diverse does not begin to describe the musical heritage of the Ottoman Empire. Full credit then to Lamia Yared, who has assembled a suitably diverse CD, drawing on Sephardic, Turkish, Hebrew and Greek music. Full credit to Didem Başar for her plaintive settings of most of the songs on the CD. The backbone of the collection comprises a group of Ladino songs, some of which feature melodies that would not be out of place among the courts of medieval Europe; Dicho me habian dicho is a case in point with the haunting singing of Yared and its vivacious string accompaniment. Ensemble Oraciones’ interpretations of the Turkish songs bring home the liveliness of this tradition; for example, Niçin gördüm seni highlights all the Ensemble’s players, one by one, in a spirited performance enhanced by Yared’s yearning voice. Perhaps the most eccentric tracks on the CD are the songs written by Greek composers. Kouklaki mou (My Doll) begins with a clarinet intro by Yoni Kaston in full accordance with the rebetiko tradition of the Greek underworld. The tune may have been borrowed by Judeo-Spanish musicians but Kouklaki mou has its own place in Greek music – performed by women singers delivering their song within the hashish dens of Athens (the little doll is not the sort of woman you would want to bring home to any Jewish mother.) Mention should certainly be made of the instrumental contributions, for example the staccato drumbeats of Tres morillas eventually interweaving with the urgency of the kanun part. The versatility of the kanun is in fact proven by Başar’s own playing. The performers were very brave in condensing music from a whole swath of Europe onto one CD – which demonstrates how right they were to amalgamate their exceptional talents. Michael Schwartz Home Les Arrivants Analekta AN 2 9175 (analekta.com/en) ! Les Arrivants is a positive COVID-19 pandemic creation. The three musicians -- Amichai Ben Shalev on bandoneon, Abdul-Wahab Kayyali on oud, and Hamin Honari on percussion -- independently settled in Montreal between the summers of 2019 and 2020 where they met and found a musical common ground playing together as an ensemble. They each draw on their personal backgrounds, resettlement experiences and respective musical expertise of Argentinian tango, classical Arabic music and traditional Persian rhythms with Montreal contemporary/traditional/improvised music and life during COVID to make unique music Each musician is also a composer. Title track Home (Chez Soi) by Honari has his repeated percussion rhythm grounding the bandoneon’s modern wide-pitched, held notes and chords midstream, then an oud solo and a closing upbeat group build. Kayyali’s Burkaan (Volcan/Volcano) is fast and fun, more traditional oud music, with the band members doubling and answering the oud lines. Each member performs a solo track. Shalev’s bandoneon composition Solitude is a musical contemporary storytelling take on the tango genre with swells, held notes and wide-pitch ranges. Special guests Reza Abaee on gheychak, and Pierre-Alexandre Maranda on double bass, appear on select tracks like the closing Nava by Parviz Meshkatian, showcasing the band’s world, improvisation and popular style musicianship. Special thanks to artistic residency support from the Montreal-based Centre des Musiciens du Monde in collaboration with Analekta for this album. Les Arrivants’ tight seamless blending of styles and instrumentals creates accessible, colourful, world/popular music for all to enjoy. Tiina Kiik thewholenote.com July 1 - September 20, 2022 | 59

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