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Volume 28 Issue 2 | November 1 - December 13, 2022

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  • Thewholenotecom
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Available now for your online "flip-through" reading pleasure, The WholeNote Volume 28 no.2. For Openers, my uncle had a barn; then: Trichy Sankaran at 80; the return of the professional chamber choir; what makes music theatre more than just theatre; how to fit three violin concerti into one concert; and more.

Aspire – Jofre;

Aspire – Jofre; Piazzolla; Villa-Lobos Seunghee Lee; JP Jofre; London Symphony Orchestra; Enrico Fagone Musica Solis MS202208 (musicasolis.com) ! Clarinetist Seunghee Lee and Argentian bandeonist/ composer/arranger JP Jofre met in New York City where Lee first heard Jofre’s compositions. She was very “intrigued” by the bandoneon which totally makes sense as both their instruments share similar reed sound production. Lee requested something for clarinet and bandoneon. Their resulting collaboration is heard here in eight compositions and arrangements on Lee’s independent label. Jofre has a perfect, respectful vision of Argentinian music including that for the tango. His Lee commissioned clarinet/ orchestra arrangement of Piazzolla’s Tango Étude No.3 is spectacular, remaining true to the Piazzolla sound with lush florid virtuosic clarinet lines and contrasting rhythmic orchestral sounds, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra under Enrico Fagone. Lee’s clarinet (instead of voice) and eight cello arrangement of Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No.5 Aria (Cantilena) is slower, with colourful low/high pitch contrasts and tight doubled instrumental lines. Six Jofre originals are featured. The upbeat Primavera has clear virtuosic interchanges between clarinet, bandoneon and orchestra. The three-movement Lee-commission Double Concerto for Clarinet, Bandoneon and Orchestra draws from tango, popular and classical music. I. Vals Irreal has short gloomy to energetic clarinet and bandoneon solo/duet ideas above the orchestra. Dramatic exciting III. Aboriginal combines rhythmic instrumental fun to its closing percussive blast. Perfect blending of moving lines and held notes in two clarinet/bandoneon duets, Como el Agua and Sweet Dreams. More tango neoclassical sounds in Tangodromo, and the mood-changing Taranguino, each for clarinet, bandoneon and piano (Steven Beck). A must-be-heard exploration of styles passionately composed and performed. Tiina Kiik Nick Storring – Music from Wéi 成 Nick Storring Orange Milk Records (orangemilkrecords. bandcamp.com) ! Torontobased Canadian composer/musician Nick Storring was commissioned by his frequent Toronto collaborator/choreographer Yvonne Ng (of tiger princess dance projects) to compose music for her five-dancer piece Wéi ( 成 ). Starting in a December 2017 Banff Centre residency, and completed in 2021, Storring takes a single instrument – the piano – and composes, performs and records layered multi-tracks on grand and upright pianos and a Yamaha computer-controlled acoustic Disklavier piano to create sounds ranging from traditional to prepared piano to full orchestral soundscapes and silences. A short Wéi 成 YouTube clip with dancers reaffirms Storring’s detailed understanding of creating dance music. It is equally fantastic as listening music. The opening I introduces the listener to Storring’s multi-faceted music. A contemplative held-note gradual crescendo from silence opens. A piano single line widely spaced lyrical melody follows, then gradual introduction of tonal to atonal chords. A fadeout section is followed by a crescendo of repeated notes, effects, loud rumbling sounds like a dramatic full orchestra then back to more quiet atonal electronic keyboard effects, to closing wobbling held notes fading directly to the next track. Other sections build on these, including subtle tastes of jazz, rock low notes, romantic and contemporary sounds in III; full orchestral sound with wide-pitched electronic effects in V; and funky musical ideas from drum-like rocking cymbal crashes and guitar-like grooves to the closing quiet ending in VI. Storring’s experimental compositions and performances, ranging from ambient calm to shorter tense qualities, are inspirational. Tiina Kiik Parisa Sabet – A Cup of Sins Various Artists Redshift Records TK478 (redshiftrecords.org) ! Iranian- Canadian composer Parisa Sabet’s six compositions here draw on Iranian traditional music and Western music like minimalism, atonalism and romanticism, perfectly performed by Jacqueline Woodley (soprano), Christina Petrowska Quilico (piano), Laurel Swinden (flute), Peter Stoll (clarinet), Robert Grieve (electric guitar), Matthias McIntire (violin/viola), Dobrochna Zubek (cello), Robert Grieve (electric guitar) and Joshua Tamayo (conductor). Highlights include the upbeat chamber piece Shurangiz, a well-orchestrated Western/Iranian influenced composition with rhythmic repetitive grooves, lush clarinet and flute lines, and colourful repeated piano notes, inspired by contemporary Iranian Tar player/composer Ali Ghamsari. Woodley and Petrowska Quilico perform the threemovement Dance in your Blood, a setting of an English translation of a Farsi poem by Rumi. It combines classical art song like the Movement I opening piano solo and gentle vocals, and wild free expression Movement II with modern vocal effects like the repeated word “love,” and atonal piano chords. Violin solo Geyrani, inspired by Iranian kamancheh virtuoso/composer Kayhan Kalhor, has colourful held notes, alternating high/ low pitched lines and high squeaky notes. McIntire’s amazing performance sounds like more than one violinist playing! Set to a text about sexual violence and trauma by poet Simin Behbahani, A Cup of Sin is for soprano, clarinet, viola, piano, electric guitar and cello. The opening contemplative prelude with long held drone and spoken text leads to the longer “not-so-easy listening” dramatic middle movement encompassing sudden surprising loud crashes, vocal squeals and spoken words, concluding with a calm postlude. Sabet successfully incorporates her life experiences in these unique compositions. Tiina Kiik JAZZ AND IMPROVISED Fire in the West Neil Swainson Cellar Music CM111821 (cellarlive.com) ! Canadian bassist extraordinaire and composer Neil Swainson’s newest release is a jazz aficionado’s dream. Blazing trumpet and saxophone melodies, catchy rhythms and energetic yet mellow bass riffs come together to form a stellar, oh-so-pleasing-to-the-ear record. It may be a surprise to some, but this is the first time in his 35-year-long career that Swainson is leading a quintet… but what a fantastic job he does yet again as a bandleader. Featuring famed musicians on the roster, such as Renee Rosnes on piano, Lewis Nash on drums, Brad Turner on trumpet and Kelly Jefferson on tenor sax, this record sees a set of fiery tunes lifted to new heights via a scintillating backing band. The album is chock-full of Swainson’s original works, serving as a great example of not only his musical talents but also his compositional prowess. The talented bassist says of the formation of the record: “In the process of preparing for that re-release [49th Parallel], I thought that it was time to do something in a similar vein, using the same… format on some current tunes I’d written.” “Current” being the keyword there, in the way that Swainson does a truly great job of bringing the traditional jazz sound into the contemporary musical world, modernizing melodies and rhythms while maintaining a perfect balance with a hark back to the past. A great addition to any jazz-lover’s collection. Kati Kiilaspea 62 | November 1 - December 13, 2022 thewholenote.com

Small Bridges Robert Diack; Patrick O’Reilly; Jacob Thompson; Brandon Davis Independent (robertdiack.com) ! Torontobased drummer, composer and producer Robert Diack has released a scintillating sophomore album, taking the listener on a meandering journey through genres. The record is finely tuned throughout, a true audiophile’s dream; a sonic landscape emerges right in front of the listener and instantly transports them to another musical dimension. All pieces are penned by Diack himself along with occasional co-writers from amongst the band, truly showcasing the young drummer’s compositional talents as well as unique conceptualizations reflected within his music. The cream of the crop of famed young Canadian musicians have been gathered together for this album: Patrick O’Reilly on guitar; Jacob Thompson on piano; and Brandon Davis on bass. A perfect companion to the picturesque scenes and landscapes of autumn, this is a great addition to the explorative jazz-lover’s collection. The album draws upon influences from several genres, including both contemporary and traditional jazz, post-rock, fusion and country; blending them together and transitioning between them seamlessly. The result is a poignant hodgepodge, evoking a mix of emotions and images in the mind’s eye within every track. Diack himself has said that with this set of tracks, he “wanted to explore a broader swath of genre and texture” and delve into a diverse musical landscape, which he does brilliantly. Beautiful, captivating melodies layered over complex rhythms make for a must-have for the jazz aficionado who wants a true sonic experience. Kati Kiilaspea The Astrud Project Anne Walsh A to Zinc Music (annewalsh.com) ! Now that the dog days of summer have passed and the transition into chillier fall weather has occurred, a warm little pickme-up may be much appreciated. What better way to do that than with a fresh bossa nova album, a time-travelling musical journey back into warmer, joyful times. Massachusetts-native, jazz vocalist Anne Walsh’s latest release transports the listener right to sunny Brazil through blazing interpretations of bossa nova tunes popularized by Astrud Gilberto. The classic mellowness and rhythmic complexity attributed to songs from the aforementioned genre come through incredibly well, brought even more to the forefront through superb audio quality and a certain spaciousness heard throughout the album. A sizeable group of talented musicians boost this record to new heights, featuring well-known names like Mitchell Long, Tom Zink and Kevin Winard. Walsh’s excursion into bossa nova began when she penned lyrics to Gilberto’s scatted Não Bate O Coração. This led to her further fascination with Gilberto’s catalogue of songs and so this record, including compositions by the renowned Antonio Carlos Jobim, was born. The talented vocalist’s airy and sweet timbre contribute to her unique interpretation and take on these classic tunes; less rhythmically centred vocals than typically heard in the genre bring to the forefront the more melodious and dulcet facets within the pieces. Fans of bossa nova and jazz will be thoroughly pleased with this album as a whole, a worthy record for any collection. Kati Kiilaspea Hey There Jeremy Wong; Ardeshir Pourkeramati; Chris Gestrin; John Lee; Jesse Cahill; Alvin Brendan Cellar Music CM100321 (cellarlive.com) ! With the release of his debut CD, compelling jazz vocalist Jeremy Wong has arrived on the scene with a rather marvelous recording, loaded with content, talent and of course, Wong’s evocative, mellifluous and finely honed vocal instrument. The Vancouver native also wears the producer’s hat here, and his talented ensemble includes Chris Gestrin on piano, John Lee on bass, Jesse Cahill on drums, Alvin Brendan on guitar and gifted arranger/co-writer and tenor saxophonist, Ardeshir Pourkeramati. There are ten compelling tracks, all drawn from the Great American Songbook, American cinema, the Broadway stage and the pens of some of the hippest jazz composer/ lyricists who have graced our planet. Wong also contributes two original compositions with both melodic appeal and clever lyrics. The opener is Rodgers and Hart’s classic Where or When. A lovely guitar/vocal intro swings into a sumptuous quartet arrangement, and Wong’s sibilant, sensual and perfectly intoned tenor/baritone vocal sound is reminiscent (but not derivative of) Chet Baker, Kurt Elling and Mark Murphy. On Invitation, the band is tight and filled with gravitas, as they move like a single-celled being through this challenging jazz standard, with the vocal line punctuated perfectly by Pourkeramati’s dynamic sax work. Only a Dream, a charming original waltz that deftly dances us through the sadness of a lost love, features a fine bass solo from Lee. Other delights include a fine arrangement of Frank Loesser’s Never Will I Marry, which clearly displays Wong’s ability to swing and scat. A total standout is the rarely performed gem from Fran Landesman and Tommy Wolf, Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most. Wong’s maturity as a vocalist is clear here, as he imbues meaning into every word, and effortlessly sails through the rather gymnastic melodic line. A fine debut from a highly talented emerging jazz vocalist! Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Meditations on Mingus Ethan Philion Sunnyside Records SSC 1666 (ethanphilion.com) ! Just in time for iconic bassist/ composer Charles Mingus’ centennial celebrations, noted Chicagobased bassist and arranger Ethan Philion has released Meditations on Mingus, a stunning collection of Mingus’ most seminal compositions, arranged by Philion and featuring a talented all-star tentet of which the core trio is Philion on bass, Alexis Lombre on piano and Dana Hall on drums. Mingus was a complex and contradictory individual – an eccentric genius, a poet, a powerful, muscular bassist, a social activist and also someone who coped with severe mental health issues – and it was all part of his unique, creative mojo. Philion, has said: “My goal was to put together a program of pieces that speak to current events; racism, prejudice, identity, economic inequality are all still relevant in the world today.” The opening salvo, Once Upon a Time There Was a Holding Corporation Called Old America, begins with trumpeters Russ Johnson and Victor Garcia’s legato intro, which morphs into a paroxysm of angst followed by bold, chordal configurations and ultimately a swinging and joyous romp that then descends into chaos. Lombre’s exceptional piano work here is both skillful and breathtaking. Other highlights include Self Portrait in 3 Colors – a reflection of Mingus’ feelings about mental health, replete with a gorgeous solo from Johnson; Meditations for a Pair of Wirecutters – a flag waver for Mingus’ noted mid-1960s sextet (the band that propelled Philion into this project), and the final track, Better Git It In Your Soul, which is a superb interpretation of Mingus’ funky, soulful anthem, rendered here with all of the swing and heart possible. Mingus would be proud. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke thewholenote.com November 1 - December 13, 2022 | 63

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