Views
3 months ago

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

  • Text
  • Thewholenotecom
  • Arts
  • Jazz
  • Violin
  • Composer
  • Orchestra
  • October
  • November
  • Symphony
  • 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.

The one flute track is

The one flute track is dryly balladic and Sarin’s ruffs and rebounds add advanced percussiveness elsewhere. But all in all the harmonic balance expressed among writing, narratives and singular expression make this one orbit of sound in which a listener would want to circle. Ken Waxman Red List – music dedicated to the preservation of our endangered species Brian Landrus; Various Artists Palmetto Records PM2023 (brianlandrus.com) ! With the release of his 11th recording as a leader, highly respected multireed player, arranger and composer, Brian Landrus, has not only created something of incredible musical beauty, but is simultaneously highlighting the looming global crisis of species extinction. There are 13 compositions here written by Landrus, representing 13 endangered species on the Red List that could be lost forever. Landrus is collaborating with the organization Save the Elephants and is joined here by half a dozen horns and a stellar rhythm section. First up is Canopy of Trees – a percussive journey through the majesty of an ancient forest or jungle, made all the more mystical by Landrus’ complex solo and the superb arrangement. The title track reflects chaotic energies and also the brave push back against obliteration, while Geoffrey Keezer’s intriguing synth patches elicit ancient sensations… a connection with Mother Earth. The ensemble is in complete symmetry, punctuated by Landrus’ dynamic soloing. Giant Panda features a well-constructed baritone solo by Landrus, which effortlessly segues into Nocturnal Flight, which is defined by eloquent, elegant guitar work from Nir Felder and parenthesized by sumptuously arranged horns as well as a spellbinding piano solo from Keezer. Save the Elephants is a standout, and with an irresistible reggae-ish motif, Felder’s rhythmic guitar, Keezer’s Hammond B3 and potent percussion and drumming from John Hadfield and Rudy Royston as well as wellplaced vocals, one can almost envision the beautiful elephants strolling regally through the African Savanna. Of special beauty is Only Eight, which begins with a resonant and complex bass solo from the iconic Lonnie Plaxico and morphs into a spacious, etheric expression – a shared vision of a better, more caring world. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Qui Qu’en Grogne Yannick Rieu Généération Quartet Yari Productions YARICD2022 (dev.yariproductions.com) ! Montreal-based multi-saxophonist and composer, Yannick Rieu, has long been recognized as a significant contender on the world jazz stage, evoking (but not derivative of) greats such as Lee Konitz with big helpings of Sonny Rollins’ lyricism. Rieu is joined here by his Génération Quartet, so named as the group is comprised of both emerging and established jazz artists: Gentiane Michaud-Gagnon on piano; Guy Boisvert on bass and Louis-Vincent Hamel on drums. The title track is an archaic, 15th-century French expression, meaning “I don’t care what people think about what I’m doing,” which certainly informs the ethos of creative freedom, open inter-generational communication and the fearlessness of Rieu’s eight original compositions, as well as the fine musicians performing them. This track is replete with a spunky call and response and a contrapuntal, elastic and satisfying melodic line – a tune in search of a cinema noir film (in French or English)! Time is, Life Was is another outstanding track – a lovely ballad, featuring sumptuous chord changes and lighter-than-air motifs from Rieu and Michaud-Gagnon. When the full rhythm section enters, bassist Boisvert is front and centre with a pensive and melancholy solo, rife with emotional content. Le Philosophe is a gem – stylistically bi-locating between the very roots of improvisational jazz and the distant limits of musical possibilities – and Prétexte demonstrates a quirky bebopish sense of humour and delight. Another standout is the stark and beautiful Pharaon, calling to mind Bill Evans and an imaginary collaboration that he might have had with Steve Lacey. The closing track, Porta di cinese includes a stunner of a solo by Michaud-Gagnon and synergous ensemble work. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Live at the Mezzrow Sheila Jordan w/Alan Broadbent; Harvie Cellar Music CMSLF002 (cellarlive.com) ! The new release from jazz chanteuse extrordinaire, Sheila Jordan, was recorded “LIVE” at New York City’s Mezzrow on October 25, 2021. The recording is not only a major triumph for the esteemed vocal jazz icon, whose career spans over 70 years, but also marks the first release of the SmallsLIVE Living Masters Series under the umbrella of Vancouver and NYC-based saxophonist/producer Cory Weeds’ Cellar Music Group. Smalls and Mezzrow owner/pianist Spike Wilner and Weeds serve as executive producers here, and Jordan’s musical partners include the brilliant Australian/American pianist/composer, Alan Broadbent as well as her longtime collaborator, NYC’s Harvie S on bass. Jordan includes unique be-bop-centric versions of beloved standards from the likes of Ray Noble, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart and Hoagy Carmichael, as well as more contemporary tunes from Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Shirley Horn. The common threads of this diverse material are the gorgeous and challenging melodic lines, which Jordan has imbued with her own spontaneous and honest improvisations. Top tracks include Abbey Lincoln’s Bird Alone – a moving ballad that Jordan saturates with meaning and gravitas and Noble’s The Touch of Your Lips, which captures the humour of the delightful Jordan, and includes the rarely performed “verse” which effortlessly segues into a gently swinging soufflé of boppish scatting. The Bird & Confirmation (Horn/Parker) is an inspired medley, and a true highlight. The passion with which it is performed is part and parcel of Jordan’s unique perspective of establishing a lyrical line that later morphs into an exploration of time, tones and ‘tudes. Of special note is Vernon Duke’s immortal Autumn in New York featuring an exquisite arco solo from Harvie, Broadbent’s meaningful touch and the inimitable Jordan crooning a love song to the exciting, confusing, endlessly creative city that remains the epicentre of jazz. A triumph! Lesley Mitchell-Clarke El Tinajon Luis Deniz; Rafaelo Zaldivar; Roberto Occhipinti; Amhed Mitchel; Jorge Luis Papiosco; Adis Rodriguez Galindo Modica Music (modicamusic.com) ! Since his arrival from Cuba, saxophonist and composer Luis Deniz has placed his distinctive mark on both the Canadian and international jazz scenes. His warm, distinctive and technically skilled sound on alto and soprano saxophones is celebrated here with the release of his new recording – which embraces his emotional journey from a young Cuban émigré to a highly respected jazz stalwart. Deniz’s gifted compadres here include pianist/keyboardist Rafael Zaldivar, bassist Roberto Occhipinti, drummer and vocalist Ahmed Mitchel, vocalist Adis Galindo and percussionist Jose 62 | September 20 - November 8, 2022 thewholenote.com

Luis (“Papiosco”) Torres. All nine evocative and powerful compositions on this superb collection were composed by Deniz and deftly produced by noted pianist Teri Parker. The title refers to a type of clay pot, brought to Cuba by the Spanish, which eventually became the trademark of the province of Camaguey – Deniz’s culturally rich and soulful place of origin. The opening salvo, Reflexiones is rife with languid, riveting tones from Deniz’s horn that drive the ancient rhythmic modalities with inspired and emotional improvisational sequences channelling the very pulse of Mother Earth herself. This seamlessly segues into La Ceiba de Mayuya, a swinging contemporary jazz exploration featuring a dynamic acoustic bass solo by Occhipinti. Of particular note is Rumba para Camaguey/Equality – a sumptuous, lyrical duet performed by Deniz and Zaldivar. Bolero is almost unbearably beautiful, plummeting the depths of sensuality and Gesture adapts the mood by generating pure joy, enhanced by the unison piano/vocal line, masterful piano work and Deniz’s dazzling compositional style. Also of special note is the thoroughly lovely Dutch Flower, dedicated to Deniz’s talented wife. The rousing closer, Conga para Florida is nothing short of magnificent with dynamic soprano work, an indigenous percussive melange and delicious vocals. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke First Move Aaron Seeber; Warren Wolf; Sullivan Fortner; Ugonna Okegwo Cellar Music CM103121 (cellarlive.com) ! Most jazz musicians – no matter what instrument they play – agree that you feel free to go wherever the music takes you when you have a drummer who knows when to fly rhythmically and when he has to “stay in the pocket” so others can fly. It’s clear after the first song on First Move that Aaron Seeber is exactly that kind of drummer. He shows the elegantly raucous side to his musicianship, with great artistry and flamboyance right from the get go. The pinnacle of the disc comes on the drummer’s First Move, a fast piece that shows not only his ability to play inside the beat and around it but also to run circles and spirals around the burgeoning music, This program is also spiced with many classics played in the (so-called) bebop style. During this daring music, Seeber evokes the ghost of Billy Higgins with the melodic chatter of the drums and the incessant hiss of cymbals. Seeber shows uncommon maturity in his playing of Charles Mingus’ classic ballad, Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love, (and later with molten rhythms on Mal Waldron’s Fire Waltz) with slow and quietly balletic drumming that seems to sing. For long sequences in the pocket, listen to Seeber on Charlie Parker’s Klactoveedsedstene. Being accompanied by altoist Tim Green, pianist Sullivan Fortner, vibraphonist Warren Wolf and bassist Ugonna Okegwo also helps make this a fiery debut disc by a truly fine drummer. Raul da Gama Isabela Oded Tzur; Nitai Hershkovits; Petros Klampanis; Johnathan Blake ECM 2739 (odedtzur.com) ! On the questing music of his album the eloquent saxophonist Oded Tzur pours out a range of feelings possibly dedicated to his muse – Isabela – together with a quartet (featuring pianist Nitai Hershkovits, contrabassist Petros Klampanis and drummer Johnathan Blake) which interprets the music’s lyrical profundity. The five songs – or movements, perhaps – on this meditative album brood, sing, dance and soar heavenward. Throughout this expressive music, Tzur’s lead tenor saxophone voice exquisitely intones his aural emotions glazed with evocative Phrygian modes. The rest of the ensemble follows suit as if they were written into Tzur’s music too. Each of the artists shows immense sensitivity for the composer’s feelings. Thus the repertoire on the album Isabela unfolds with warm and sweeping beauty. In Noam and especially in Isabela (the song), for instance, every phrase is vibrantly sculpted and placed within the context of eloquent conversations among piano, bass and drums. Countering the moist tenor of Tzur’s saxophone and the cascades of Hershkovits’ piano is the low rumble of Klampanis’ contrabass and the hiss and sizzle of Blake’s cymbals. This makes for some of the most sensitive performances on the album. On Love Song for the Rainy Season Tzur reveals uncommon depth of thought and musical ingenuity as he weaves disparate Middle Eastern and Asian influences into the music. The other musicians remain alert to nuance and dynamic contrasts, providing requisite quotas of passion. Raul da Gama When I Get Low Tia Brazda Flatcar Records FCR022 (tiabrazda.com) ! Going out on a limb it is not so risqué to proclaim that you won’t find another singer who vocalizes music – including this classic music – quite like Tia Brazda. While Brazda may owe much to both Billie Holiday and Amy Winehouse, she has a fully formed style that is wholly her own. Her wide-open articulation, characterized by the sultry, aspirated “ah” when she uses the first person pronoun “I” is as unique as it is beckoning, and it is something you are not likely to tire of as she glides through these nine songs on her fifth disc When I Get Low. Brazda traverses the mezzo-soprano tonal range with ease. But her intonation is uniquely smoky. Moreover, she has a singing style that is made for the pathos of songs such as Lullaby of Leaves, When I Get Low, I Get High and Smile. She can catch both pathos and agitation with tenderly softened tones, made for the graceful love repertoire on this disc (such as the spectacularly evocative I’ll Be Seeing You). The members of the ensemble that back Brazda prove themselves to be both subtle and idiomatic interpreters of these songs which they illuminate (as if) with dim gaslight on the darkened alleys off Broadway. Soloists Mike Freedman (guitar), Joel Visentin (piano), Alexis Baro (trumpet) and Drew Jurecka (violin, bandoneón) create an atmospheric setting for Brazda’s gorgeously sullen, long-limbed narratives and floating and spinning lines to unfold with bewitching beauty. Raul da Gama Dream Dancing Melissa Stylianou; Gene Bertoncini; Ike Sturm Anzic Records ANZ-0080 (melissastylianou.bandcamp.com) ! This writer purchased Melissa Stylianou’s 2006 release Sliding Down after hearing her perform in Toronto, which was my introduction to the vocalist’s tasteful singing and composing. It was also my introduction to guitarist Kim Ratcliffe whom I knew of but hadn’t heard, and a chance to hear Kevin Breit who I had just gotten to know. When offered the chance to review Dream Dancing, I delighted in the opportunity to revisit Stylianou’s music over 15 years later, accompanied by yet another great guitarist, Gene Bertoncini. thewholenote.com September 20 - November 8, 2022 | 63

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)