8 months ago

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

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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.

Renowned New York

Renowned New York bassist Ike Strum is the third bandmate on this recording, and does an exquisite job filling in spaces left by voice and guitar. In this chamber jazz setting devoid of drums, there is simultaneously a rhythmic responsibility to be aware of, as well as the freedom of knowing that each note and chord can be heard clearly. Bertoncini throws an occasional harmonic curveball Stylianou’s way, as any exciting and interactive guitarist will tend to do, but each of these interesting challenges are responded to in a sensitive yet sophisticated manner. The album’s penultimate and final numbers My One and Only Love and It Might As Well Be Spring both attest to this, with the NYC-based Canadian vocalist adjusting range and phrasing to fit best with her bandmates. Dream Dancing is a great vocal album yhat transcends the jazz vocal realm enough to be enjoyed by instrumentalists and listeners of all genres. Sam Dickinson Concert Note: Melissa Stylianou performs October 8 (8pm) at Jazz Bistro, Toronto and October 9 (4pm) at The Jazz Room, Waterloo. Epistle Jacob Chung; Christian Antonacci; Felix Fox-Pappas; Thomas Hainbuch; Petros Anagnostakos Three Pines Records TPR-008 ( epistle) ! It is always exciting to hear a young musician sound fully formed, simultaneously recognizing the tradition that created this art form while innovating as well. Just because there is youthful energy present doesn’t mean the music has to become overly futuristic or avant-garde, and saxophonist Jacob Chung does a brilliant job of bringing new ideas to the table while respecting the old guard. Epistle stimulates the listener seconds after pressing play on a CD player or streaming platform. The recording quality and aesthetic brings to mind Verve, Blue Note and Impulse releases, but maintains a modern clarity that eludes many musicians/engineers’ attempts to achieve such a sound. Chung has surrounded himself with a group of likeminded and competent young musicians, the oldest being just 24. Trumpeter Christian Antonacci matches Chung’s phrasing, giving the group a unified sound as they traverse several intricate melodies. Some of these melodies come in the form of lines written over pre-existing chord changes, notably Triage with chords penned by Billy Strayhorn, and Bouncin’ at Bonafide which shares a progression with Charlie Parker’s classic Confirmation. These compositions are very tastefully executed by Chung and his band, and their borrowed chord progressions are in no way a cop-out. Epistle 1, 2, 3 and 4 are all unique offerings that provide us with contrasting characteristics, from gospel to swing and everything in between. If this is how Jacob Chung is sounding in his early 20s, the future of jazz in Canada and beyond looks bright. Check out Epistle and stay tuned for what’s next! Sam Dickinson Nate Wooley – Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes Columbia Icefield Pyroclastic Records PR 20 ( album/ancient-songs-of-burlap-heroes) ! Composer/trumpeter Nate Wooley possesses focus and drive to match his creativity, embarking on projects that shift and reappear at intervals of years, expanding exponentially. Between 2007 and 2020, his Seven- Storey Mountain grew from a trio accompanied by electronic tapes to 14 musicians and a 21-member choir. Columbia Icefield, a stellar quartet launched in 2019 with guitarist Mary Halvorson, pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn and drummer Ryan Sawyer, is growing conceptually. Wooley sometimes quotes 19th-century American authors like Herman Melville, and this work invites terms like “epic” and “monumental.” The looming intensity, even dark energy, can suggest Moby Dick. Wooley’s poetic invocation describes the “burlap hero” as “one who marches – consciously or not – back to the sea in hopes of making no splash, who understands and embraces the imperfection of being, and in that way, stretches the definition of sainthood to fit.” The CD booklet includes aAron [sic] Munson’s grimly evocative photos of an Inuit village in Nunavut, one depicting a frozen whale carcass. As a trumpeter, Wooley extends the lyric, expressive tradition of Miles Davis and Wadada Leo Smith, adding extended techniques, eerie electronics and over-dubbing. Brief impressionistic inter-tracks suggest submerged struggles, while the three long movements are developed instrumental dialogues, with guest appearances on one track each by violist Mat Maneri and electric bassist Trevor Dunn. The concluding Returning to Drown Myself, Finally, based on the Swedish song, Nu är midsommar natt, is awash with sea sounds before Wooley’s unaccompanied trumpet comes to the fore, then surrenders to the guitarists’ burbling liquid microtones. Stuart Broomer Mesmerism Tyshawn Sorey Trio Pi Recordings ( ! Tyshawn Sorey has a strong profile as both drummer and composer, creating extended works on several fronts, exploring both improvisation and composition, including concert pieces dedicated to key influences (For Roscoe Mitchell and For George Lewis), probing hypnotic works (Pillars, a three-CD magnum opus exploring low frequency improvisation), and assorted collaborations with pianists Vijay Iyer and Marilyn Crispell. Here Sorey takes a different turn, recording a series of favourite jazz tunes, several of them standards, in an ad hoc trio with pianist Aaron Diehl and bassist Matt Brewer, a “project with only an hour or two of rehearsal, … with a group of musicians who never performed on stage together.” That’s both harsh reality and ideal in jazz, a test of the spontaneous creativity that defines the art, and this trio performs magnificently, working through a program that combines traditional standards – Detour Ahead, here a 14-minute voyage into harmonic extension, and Autumn Leaves, a spare masterpiece – to works by master pianist-composers, like Horace Silver and Duke Ellington. It’s a trio that can achieve mystery and clarity simultaneously, with Silver’s Enchantment moving from hanging resonant chords to soulful modal blues and Paul Motian’s From Time to Time effectively suspending time amidst the piano’s sustain and Sorey’s cloudlike cymbals. Muhal Richard Abrams’ Two Over One and Duke Ellington’s REM Blues, have a muscular vigour and avoid verbosity, reflecting Diehl, Brewer and Sorey’s creativity and precision. Mesmerism may be a commonplace project, but the results are often majestic. Stuart Broomer Desert Bloom Florian Hoefner Trio Alma Records ACD52022 (florian-hoefner. com/music-shop) ! Pianist/ composer Florian Hoefner states that the concept behind his latest album Desert Bloom is the behaviour in certain arid locations where a huge rainstorm will occur every few years: the dormant seeds of the wildflowers “suddenly germinate” and “the colours explode.” That image resonates 64 | September 20 - November 8, 2022

throughout the evocative and tasteful works comprising Desert Bloom. The opener, Between the Lines, is beautifully hypnotic with a repeating piano line that is joined by a contrapuntal bass and when the drums enter it switches effortlessly to a funky groove. The title song begins with a bowed bass, elegant cymbal strikes and sporadic piano chords, works into a nice bass solo until a very funky ostinato theme emerges. Hoefner’s compositions are subtle, nuanced and always moving; the album is a jazz delight because of the interplay amongst all three musicians. Andrew Downing’s bass work is precise and funky, Nick Fraser’s drumming is a masterclass in keeping the groove going while sprinkling in surprising and enlightening percussive elements; and Hoefner’s piano can be understated, driving, impressionistic or whatever else is required. Ted Parkinson Golden Hour Jocelyn Gould Independent JGDC0422 ( ! Nothing can beat an album intro like this one. Beautiful rubato guitar melodies weave together overtop lush piano chords, punctuated by patient pauses. As the lead voice leans into the last note, the rest of the band hangs onto it, giving the impression of a soft exhale. The spell is eventually broken by catharsis via drum pickup, which manages to feel like a definitive statement without being overly forceful, as if to say “welcome.” This is not to overanalyze 30 seconds of music, because one could loosely apply the previous description to the entirety of Golden Hour. It flows perfectly, is extremely dynamic, and has the calming effect of a slow, deep breath. Everything fits snugly in place. With her sophomore effort, Jocelyn Gould proves herself to yet again be a masterful curator, bandleader and improviser, refining so much of what made 2020’s Elegant Traveler so mesmerizing. From that preceding album, the energy itself is largely dialed back, to inject the overall tone with the quietude of observing a sunset. This atmosphere is aided by Gould’s approach to song, both through interpretation and composition. Her original music feels every bit as polished and timeless as the jazz standards she chooses to tackle. Serendipity evokes the meaning of its title with grace, with pleasant surprises to be found throughout its form, culminating in an outro that sums up everything the music’s about: pure, unbridled unity. Yoshi Maclear Wall The End and The Beginning RedGreenBlue Astral Spirits AS190 ( ! The End and the Beginning defines the slow burn; establishing a drone and then, armed with nothing but patience, allowing it to grow organically into something truly profound. The whisper of synth wizard Paul Giallorenzo’s reassuringly consonant droning note both begins and ends the album. At first so subtle you almost need to squint to hear it, this initial monophonic drone in The Beginning signals the only viable musical direction to be skyward, and then in The End allows space for the rubble to clear. Charlie Kirchen comes in shortly after, creating a simple bass line that lends itself to the tranquil atmosphere while managing to add as much harmonic context to the drone as needed, not unlike what Charlie Haden provided to the music of Don Cherry. It is on this foundation that the music begins to gather wholly satisfying momentum. Citing Terry Riley as an influence, RedGreenBlue accomplishes something staggering, managing to evenly bridge the forms of minimalism and improvisation, revealing their marriage to warrant unceasing exploration. Percussionist Ryan Packard’s ability to impeccably imply pulse while stealthily adding aspects to the groove is key here, allowing for the sound to expand outward while also shifting imperceptibly. The end of The Beginning is an undeniable climax, but the stripped-down Giallorenzo solo passage during the next piece is every bit as evocative. In this kind of music, process is given equal emphasis as product, and RedGreenBlue embody that concept. Yoshi Maclear Wall Transmit Slow E3 by Alex Lakusta ( transmit-slow) ! Numerous points in Transmit Slow can place a listener in a unique state between dissociation and transfixion, peacefully swaying as blissful minutes evaporate. Drawing from numerous palates of ambient and electronic sound, the trio finds their signature from the outset. Alex Lakusta’s bass playing is the definition of substance over style, only playing the notes that lay a necessary harmonic foundation for the ensemble. Drummer Keagan Eskritt and keyboardist Josh Smiley play similarly devoid of superficiality. Transmit Slow is a masterclass in what a rhythm section can achieve artistically when solely focused on grooving as hard as possible. Just as additive are the production efforts of Robert Diack, who adds the perfect amount of polish to the low end; greatly benefiting the music’s textural clarity. Brad Eaton rounds out this cast of consummate professionals, guesting with extremely restrained trumpet playing that does nothing more than needed to further contextualize Lakusta’s arrangements. Due to the consistency of Lakusta’s refined bandleading style, the tracks blend together almost as if they were parts of a suite, arriving at nary a single passage in contrived fashion. Quite a bit of the overall cohesion is helped by Smiley’s patience when it comes to creating drones with his organ, allowing for a profoundly hypnotic throughline. This effect is particularly present on the track All Static/ Frequency Lost, which seamlessly switches metre and pulse halfway through. That’s the thing about E3, they always stick the landing. Yoshi Maclear Wall Anatomy Billy Mohler; Nate Wood; Chris Speed; Shane Endsley Contagious Music CGM007 (billymohler. ! It is perhaps fitting that Anatomy – an album most defined by its clarity and attentiveness – is so profoundly anchored by brief, improvised passages. If the track list were to be split into three, the songs titled Abstract would open each side. As it pertains to the pristine arrangements surrounding these vignettes, these solos serve as a sobering reminder of how fruitless and unnecessary a task it can be to draw a hard line between creative processes. There is still that element of cleanliness and craftsmanship present, mainly due to the fidelity of Billy Mohler’s bass. Through the hypnotic layering and reverb of Abstract 1, one can almost hear the exact point in which fingers make impact with string. But through his diatonic explorations within a fixed range and found resolutions of phrases in real time, it is not only pure spontaneous expression but an admittance that he isn’t one to have an entire arrangement suddenly appear in his head. By bringing the listener through a process, a greater appreciation is gained for the premeditation going into a track such as Equals. The song lives in a ping-pong match between septuple metre sections for long enough that its brief forays into standard time feel like subversive interludes. Mohler understands the power of a well-intentioned bridge, serving September 20 - November 8, 2022 | 65

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