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Volume 28 Issue 1 | September 20 - November 8, 2022

  • Text
  • Thewholenotecom
  • Arts
  • Jazz
  • Violin
  • Composer
  • Orchestra
  • October
  • November
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  • September
  • Toronto
Our 28th season in print! “And Now, Back to Live Action”; a symphonic-sized listings section, compared to last season; clubs “On the move” ; FuturesStops Festival and Nuit Blanche; “Pianistic high-wire acts”; Season announcements include full-sized choral works like Mendelssohn’s Elijah; “Icons, innovators and renegades” pulling out all the stops.

ichly expressive

ichly expressive possibilities. H (2008) comes from a period when Cameron was exploring folk music and assembled an Alison Cameron Band in Toronto for those ends. Here she plays banjo, bass harmonica and toy piano with Eric Chenaux and Stephen Parkinson, on acoustic and electric guitars respectively, forging a folk-like lament that’s at once somber, resilient and distinctly homespun. Similar qualities infuse the longer works performed by Apartment House. Pliny (2005) and the three-movement Retablo (1998) reflect a sensibility as much formed by the deliberated calm of medieval music as by contemporary works. The former, inspired by Jorge Luis Borges’ tale Funes, the Memorius, initially invokes a serene clarity that is gradually permeated by a spreading dissonance; the latter suggests both order and mystery in a three-movement work inspired in part by Tarot cards. An interview with Cameron discussing these pieces on Another Timbre’s website provides enriching insights into her work and the playful dimension of her creativity. Stuart Broomer Finola Merivale – Tús Desdemona New Focus Recordings FCR327 (newfocusrecordings.com) ! Finola Merivale is an Irish composer currently living in New York. Her works have been performed around the world including at the Bang on a Can festival in NYC and Vox Feminae in Tel Aviv by groups as diverse as Talea Ensemble, PRISM Saxophone Quartet and Bearthoven. Tús, which is the Irish word for “start” and the album’s five works represent ten years of Merivale’s compositions. They are performed with rigour and compassion by the Desdemona ensemble. My favourite piece is the opening Do You Hear Me Now? The liner notes describe this as «a direct riposte to the entrenched malaise of academic music institutions.» I love the aggressive opening: with its loud and looping lines it possesses an electric and frenetic exuberance. The 17-minute work goes through many phases, is always intense and ends with a fearless finish. In contrast, The Silent Sweep as You Stand Still was composed just prior to the COVID lockdown and contains softly dissonant sections that are almost silent and louder sections that are more angular and provocative. It builds a tonal landscape which walks the listener through spaces of anxiety and unease. Merivale is an innovative composer who continues to work on her craft and Tús is an engaging collection of her work. Ted Parkinson Daniel Janke – Body in Motion Various Artists Centrediscs CMCCD 29522 (cmccanada. org/shop/cd-cmccd-29522) ! Canadian composer/musician/filmmaker/ media artist Daniel Janke is a respected musical creator in various artistic environs/genres. Edmonton-born, he grew up in Ontario and is now based in Whitehorse, Yukon spending time in Montreal and Berlin. Some compositions from his dancers/choreographer collaborations are featured here. Janke perfectly balances rhythms and musical sounds in his storytelling dance works. Opening Martha Black’s Reel (1996), commissioned by Dancers With Latitude, is a fast Celtic-influenced work featuring violinist Adele Armin’s exciting legato “fiddle” lines, jumping intervals, string plucks and slight atonalities above Janke’s grounding, at times low drone, prepared piano. The four-movement String Quartet No. 2 “River” (2011) is ambiently performed by violinists Mark Fewer and Aaron Schwebel, violist Rory McLeod and cellist Amahl Arulanandam. Part 1 low- and high-pitched held notes create a meditative sound. Part 2 has tension building slightly melancholic atonal sounds and plucks. Part 3 features fast legato turning lines reminiscent of a river current. Part 4, which accompanies the short film River, is slow, dark and moody yet comforting with simultaneous low and high strings, and subtle grooves. In the Badu Dance commission Yaa Asantewaa -- Part 1 (1995), Adele and cellist brother Richard Armin play dancer friendly close, at times fragmented, conversational lines against Alan Hetherington’s ringing percussion, in another memorable recording by the late violinist, who died in June 2022 after a long battle with cancer. Virtuosic The Bells (1987) has Janke playing solo piano wide-pitched melodies/effects to closing ringing bell-like pitches. It’s wonderful listening to dance music from Janke’s decades-long illustrious output. Tiina Kiik Seen Joseph Petric Redshift Records TK519 (redshiftrecords.org) ! Internationally renowned Canadian accordionist Joseph Petric is a respected solo/chamber performer. In his first full-length release since 2010, Petric performs his five commissions spanning his decades-long career, and one other work. It is illuminating to hear him here play solo accordion, and also accordion paired with electroacoustic sounds. Petric shares compositional credit with composer David Jaeger in the opening track Spirit Cloud (2021) for accordion and electronics, a reworking of an earlier Jaeger solo cello work. An energetic wide-pitched fullreed, solo accordion beginning with fast trills and lines leads to the addition of electroacoustic soundscape effects like echoing, held tones and washes, in an equal-partner duet. Composer Norbert Palej writes with precise instrumental understanding and purpose in the spiritually themed three-movement title work SEEN (2019). Petric’s amazing bellows control shines in legato single-note melodies, and challenging high/low pitched contrasts. Robert May’s Fadensonnen (1994) is another exploration of varying accordion colour and meditative dynamics. Peter Hatch’s Pneuma (1986) is an interesting blend of accordion and electronics, from faint electronic high tones, rock-groove-like accents and held tones matching the acoustic accordion sound. There’s more traditional electronic washes, rumbles and echoing with driving accordion repeated detached chords in Erik Ross’ Leviathan (2008). The closer, Torbjörn Lundquist’s Metamorphoses (1964), is the only work not commissioned by Petric. A classic virtuosic solo accordion piece from the past, Petric plays many fast runs, accented chords, accelerando and short, almost-film-music sections with colourful ease. All in all, great accordion sounds! Tiina Kiik David Tudor – Rainforest IV Composers Inside Electronics Neuma 158 (neumarecords.org) ! American avantgarde pianist turned electronic composer, David Tudor’s masterwork Rainforest had a long gestation. Beginning in 1968 Tudor created four distinct versions culminating in 1974 when he gathered a group of eager young composers, musicians, circuit benders and maverick solderers to form a “family” of collaborators. They called themselves Composers Inside Electronics (CIE). Tudor’s initial concept was deceptively simple: a collection of mostly everyday objects are suspended in space and set into audible vibration by small electromagnetic transducers. Each object responds to input audio signals in idiosyncratically non-linear, unpredictable, changing ways. Serving as acoustic filters, the objects modify the sounds electronically fed into them. As a visitor to Rainforest IV‘s Canadian 60 | September 20 - November 8, 2022 thewholenote.com

premiere at York University in February 1975, I recall walking into the installation. The exhibition space was populated by transformed sculptural loudspeakers, the acoustic environment eerily evoking Tudor’s descriptive title. The CIE performance of Rainforest IV on this album was taped in 1977 at the Center for Music Experiment in San Diego. We’re greeted by a dense aural ecosystem of twittering, squawking and chattering sounds reminiscent perhaps of nighttime insects, amphibians, bird calls and choruses. Clanging, clicking, whistling, sustained underwater and alien sounds slowly crossfade during the record’s almost 69 minutes. The scene was vividly captured by two musicians, who traversed slowly through the space, wearing binaural microphones on their heads. While not a definitive documentation of the work, listened to with headphones this evocative binaural recording is as close as you can get without being in the space. There’s something magical in Tudor’s synthetic forest of sight and sound. Andrew Timar JAZZ AND IMPROVISED Tactile Stories Colin Fisher; Mike Gennaro Cacophonous Revival Recordings CRR-015 (cacophonousrevivalrecordings. bandcamp.com) ! Following their first release, Sine Qua Non, guitarist and saxophonist Colin Fisher and drummer Mike Gennaro – two of Canada’s most visible improvising experimental musicians – have recorded their second album, Tactile Stories, an exhilarating four-track collection of free-improvised pieces. Fisher and Gennaro play off of one another with impressive musicality and effusive bravura. Their combined sound is lavish but never swanky and the delivery of ideas is as brilliant as it is ravenous – the two musicians truly connected in their improvisatory impetuses. The first track, Ex Nihilo is a powerful example of why Fisher and Gennaro have become some of the most in demand improvising experimental musicians in Canada. The music is virtuosity set free in the wild while making room for more contemplative interludes. Dynamic and driving explorations continue in the tracks Ekstasis and Epinoia while the track Esse offers a more sensitive atmosphere. Fisher’s guitar playing is a stunning combination of swells, prickly quirks and dramatic runs. Gennaro draws from an endless cache of stylistic realms that makes for a propulsive energy. Tactile Stories is exactly that – a collection of sonic narratives revealing why these two musicians are at the fore of free-improvised music. Adam Scime The Lighting of the Lamps Grant Stewart Quartet w/Bruce Harris Cellar Music CM110521 (cellarlive.com) ! Picture the city at dusk, a shroud of darkness blanketing the bustling life within, bringing a certain air of mystery and veiled passion. The collection of tunes on famed tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart’s newest release calls forth images just like that in the listener’s mind. The tenorist himself mentions that listening back on this session, he was “reminded not of daybreak but rather, dusk… as the city becomes a buzz of activity once more.” Stewart has gathered a group of top tier musicians to bring these pieces to life; Bruce Harris on the trumpet, David Wong on bass, Tardo Hammer on piano and Phil Stewart on drums. The songs are mostly original compositions, arranged by the likes of Elmo Hope and Thad Jones. For the jazz lover looking to add a little pizzazz to their collection, this is a record to get your hands on. For musicians, the nightlife is when things really start moving, when the magic truly starts happening. This album is filled with a sense of new beginnings, teetering on that border of exciting tension just waiting to spill over into passionate energy; just as the approach of dusk brings a “second awakening” to the city. Tunes like Little Spain and Mo Is On are spectacular examples of the quickness and vigour of city life whereas Ghost of a Chance is a representation of the other side of nightlife, the mellowness and suppressed desires. Kati Kiilaspea Just the Contrafacts Adam Shulman; Jeremy Pelt; Cory Weeds; Grant Stewart; Peter Washington; Billy Drummond Cellar Music CM110321 (cellarlive.com) ! The pandemic was a hard hit on the music industry, with the absence of live music and limited use of physical studio spaces. But it also ended up being a chance for several musicians to produce “COVID albums,” many of which are excellent examples of how music can be a voice and outlet during the toughest of times. Renowned pianist Adam Shulman’s newest release is an example of a stellar album born out of lockdown. A hark back to traditional jazz, with a certain whimsical and hopeful twist added, this collection is a surefire way to get your head bopping along on the darkest of days. All tunes are penned by Shulman himself; a backing band of fantastic musicians featuring Jeremy Pelt on trumpet, Billy Drummond on drums and Cory Weeds on alto saxophone, among others, allows these tunes to soar to new heights. What makes this album unique is the fact that these songs are all contrafacts as the title of the record suggests, meaning “new melodies [written over] the chord structure of standard tunes” or borrowed chord progressions. Shulman has masterfully added soaring and catchy new melodies overtop chord progressions taken from songs from the Great American Songbook, adding his own unique mark to them. These pieces are filled with a lightness and playfulness, an “[escape] to different times,” letting the listener be carried away from hardships as only the power of music can do. Kati Kiilaspea Orbit of Sound Max Johnson Trio Unbroken Sounds U01 (maxjohnsonmusic.com) ! Equally proficient as composer and double bassist, New York’s Max Johnson has the invaluable help of Canadian tenor saxophonist/flutist Anna Webber and local drummer Michael Sarin to interpret five of his intricate but easygoing tunes. That’s easygoing not easy, for Johnson’s bass thumps or sul tasto strokes, Weber’s reed cries and gurgles and Sarin’s power pops and rim shots are anything but elementary. Instead, the sometime slippery and often buoyant tunes evolve with defined and emphasized heads and narratives that usually involve double or triple counterpoint and brief solos. Johnson’s touch can be stentorian but on an extended piece like Over/Under his timbral digging involves high-pitched scraps to contrast with low-pitched body tube murmurs and mid-range blowing from Webber. After reed split-tone yelps stand out over other-directed percussion strokes, measured bass thumps relax the exposition back to the initial theme. Nearly continuous string drones provide an effective balance, scenesetting on The Professor, then joined to strident reed bites and drum ruffs. Webber’s reed-biting whorls and arabesques advance to irregular tongue stops and percussive smears, but the reassuring narrative, anchored by bass strokes, preserves the flow and holds the exposition to defined swing elaborations. thewholenote.com September 20 - November 8, 2022 | 61

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