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Volume 29 Issue 1 | September 2023

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Bridges & intersections: Intersections of all kinds in the issue: the once and future Rex; philanthropy and music (Azrieli's AMPs); music and dance (TMChoir & Citadel + Compagnie); Baroque & Romantic (Tafelmusik's Beethoven). also Hugh's Room crosses the Don; DISCoveries looks at the first of fall's arrivals; this single-month September issue (Vol. 29, no.1) bridges summer & fall, and puts us on course for regular bimonthly issues (Oct/Nov; Dec/Jan; Feb/Mar, etc) for the rest of Volume 29. Welcome back.

is a deep dive into the

is a deep dive into the emotional power of resonances. Liner notes here take particular pride in the album’s incorporation of the booming low-end warble of the maikotron contrabasse, which could very much devour all it touches, and Lambert unleashes teeth-clattering fury out of its deep drone. However, when transferring registers there is a distinctly phlegmy break in its sustained tones, allowing for it to envelop Raoul Björkenheim’s flowy guitar harmonics rather than engross. In this sense, this almost offers a thesis for the first leg of Ars Transmutoria; painting around the lines rather than purely within, resembling that elusive dustpan-adjacent sketch in the companion art for Un Jour dans la Forêt. Iku-Turso and Primati Primi mark the beginning of a new era. Lambert says: “The visual scores for those two releases are a bit different. There are 12 of them divided in two recording sessions. One took place in Helsinki, Iku-Turso and the other in Rome, Primati Primi.” Gone are the monochromatic motifs of yesteryear; enter zoomorphism. Resurrected are the poetic pivot points from Rouge, with Iku-Turso proving that Jeanette Lambert’s profoundly tuneful approach to conveying language and image is better than ever. For a specific example, note the musicality of the ng sound in Self-Distancing, in which the word fries as it decays, creating an illusory effect that obscures the phrase’s ending while conveying the universal feeling of lingering on a thought longer than expected. Lambert is all melody while rapper/ poet Beamer(!) is decisive, comping rhythms, painting thick lines around Michel Lambert’s trembling snare patterns like if the Orange maikotron could burn books with a tongue so precise it proves that words can briefly take back the mantle from pictures. This victory is brief because nary a discipline owns the mantle. Yoshi Maclear Wall Of What Remains Melissa Pipe Sextet Odd Sound 005-28 ( ! Sporting a highly appropriate name for a reeds player, Montreal-based baritone saxophone/bassoonist Melissa Pipe’s disc is refined chamber jazz with an emphasis on darker textures. That’s because timbres arise not only from Lex French’s trumpet, Geoff Lapp’s piano and Mili Hong’s drums but also from lower tones encompassing Solon McDade’s double bass, Philippe Côté’s bass clarinet and tenor saxophone plus Pipe’s larger horns. It deepens even more when Michael Sundell’s contrabassoon is added on three tracks. Most notable of these is the multi-sectional Ici, ainsi that moves slowly over drum rumbles and a walking bass line before portamento trumpet and saxophone breaks give way to a mellifluous double bassoon expression that moves up the scale while the pulse stays horizontal. Eventually reed stress turns to decorations as drum rim shots and piano comping complete the piece. More overt chamber jazz affiliations arise on a track like Day, where a dramatic undercurrent which harmonizes a snarling bassoon ostinato with plunger trumpeting remains constant as keyboard clinking outlines the balladic theme. Other tracks such as La part des anges and Apothecium. are arranged with a light West Coast jazz feel. yet they’re also distinctive. That’s because these otherwise straight-ahead foot-tappers that climax with modal blends of baritone saxophone smears and sparkling pianism are interrupted when French interjects Maynard Ferguson-like skyscraper-high triplets into the mix. This sophisticated and promising debut leads us to anticipate her realization of the next musical Pipe dream. Ken Waxman Goldstream Julian Gutierrez’s Project Goldstream Independent (juliangutierrezsproject. ! Following the well-known saying “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” why beat the summer heat when you can make the best of it with this fiery, scintillating mix of tunes? Cuban-born pianist Julian Gutierrez brings the best of both Latin and jazz music on his latest album, melding the two worlds together flawlessly. He adds his own twist to the record, arranging the collection of songs for a big band which brings a whole new, expansive sound to the repertoire. All tunes are originals penned by Gutierrez and arranged by both him and bassist Jean- François Martel. Duality is a strong theme throughout this album, not only from a genre-based perspective but also in an imaginative way. Gutierrez explains that the music reflects “…nature, both the landscapes of my homeland… and the beauty and poetry that emanate from the landscapes of Canada, my host country.” This duality is especially noticeable in pieces such as Canard Goûteux, where the rhythmic influence of his Cuban roots, seen in Martel’s bass line combined with the groove of drummer Axel Bonnaire, is blended with the alternating mellow chord progressions and blazing piano riffs of Gutierrez, reflecting more of the Canadian, tempered side within the chords. Featuring a full lineup of stellar international musicians, the prolific pianist’s vision for this album is propelled to new heights. Jazz lovers looking for a foray into a pleasant musical landscape, this is for you. Kati Kiilaspea POT POURRI Taraf Syriana Omar Abou Afach; Naeem Shanwar; Noémy Bruan; Sergiu Popa Lula World Records LWR029 ( ! Montrealbased quartet Taraf Syriana was founded in 2020. Its international virtuoso musicians who had moved earlier to Montreal are Romani/Moldavian Sergiu Popa (accordion), Syrian-based Omar Abou Afach (viola) and Naeem Shanwar (qanun), and Swiss Noémy Braun (cello). In this self-titled debut ten track release, the quartet interprets, arranges and performs Syrian and Romani folk music, with other folk traditions from the region like Balkan and Kurdish, showcasing their dedication to this music. Opening track Me Dukhap Tuke features Popa and Braun with guest instrumentalists Nazih Borish (oud) and Mohammed Raky (darbouka) accompanying famed Romani guest vocalist/guitarist Dan Armeanca in his happy, exuberant song featuring soaring vocals above florid accordion lines and attention-grabbing vocal shots during instrumental solos. Armeanca also sings his Romani lyrics Come dance to my song above these supportive tight instrumentalists in the upbeat Sare Roma. Raky joins the quartet in the traditional Kurdish folk song Kevoke (The Dove), an accessible rendition with melodic musical accordion alternating with other instrumental solos. A surprise is Abdul- Karim’s Tango by Mohammed Abdul-Karlm, a “tango” in which its composition and Taraf Syriana’s instrumentation change the traditional tango sound colour while maintaining some familiar stylistic qualities. Guest vocalist Ayham Abou Amar and all instrumentalists perform the Syrian folk song Al Maya in an almost pop-sounding rendition. Taraf Syriana play their meditative, reflective composition Dialogue intimes. Each slow carefully placed musical note to closing fade shows a different 50 | September 2023

side of the ensemble. This Taraf Syriana release is perfect, uplifting music. Tiina Kiik Little Bit a ‘ Love Denielle Bassels Independent ( ! Vibrant and fresh are two descriptors that are worn easily by delightful and innovative vocalist, tunesmith and arranger, Denielle Bassels. With the release of her second studio project, Bassels shines and establishes herself as one of the most intriguing jazz/pop singer/songwriters on the current scene. Harkening to the swing era, and yet firmly contemporary, Bassels is joined here by talented musicians throughout, including her core band, bassist Russ Boswell, violin/viola player Drew Jurecka, vibraphonist/guitarist Thom McKay (who, along with Bassels, serves as co-producer here) and noted percussionist Chendy Leon, as well as guests. The majority of tunes here were both composed and arranged by Bassels, and the uplifting opener (and title track) incorporates irresistible swing motifs with Bassels’ smoky, sultry, sonorous voice, accented by sweet background vocals. Another treat is Tangled Thread, the complex rhythmic and melodic vocal line reminiscent of the sassy Boswell sisters, replete with a fine acoustic guitar solo from Tak Arikushi. Another stunner is Lazy Gazing – a perfect marriage of melody, lyrics and arrangement. The bluesy Gone is a heartrending and soulful romantic idyll rendered with intensity and heart, and the inclusion of McKay’s vibes on the Cinema Noir-ish Big Bad Wolf is genius. The closer, I Wanna Be Like You, is consummately performed by Bassels, and with the clever addition of Jacob Gorzhaltsan’s stirring clarinet work, the listener is magically transported to a lower east-side speak easy where they are regaled by a talented, luminous chanteuse! Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Weyn Allah Al Qahwa Independent ( album/weyn-allah) ! Depending on who you talk to, the word multiculturalism is either meaningless, or a politically correct supercharged word, especially in a post-pandemic world where everyone becomes easily overheated about everything. If the media is to be believed even Canada has not been spared the blushes of intolerance, and there seems no reason to doubt this. However, Canadian artists like the oneworld-one-voiced Al Qahwa have always fought back against any form of divisiveness in the exquisite poetry of their music, sometimes with subtly crafted lyrics and at other times with more overt sounding words. The album Weyn Allah feels slightly different, not only because the title asks (and translates to) Where is God? But more than that there appears to be a more elemental, haunting cry that emanates from this music. The song of the same name hits the proverbial right spot in every way: poignant lyrics, elegant music and perfect execution. Elsewhere, on Dunya Farewell chromatic notes sigh, but the harmonic cushioning rarely falls where you anticipate. Vocalist Maryam Tollar embodies this elegance in the plaintive evocations of her vocals sung with Jono Grant’s excellent performance on nylonstring guitar. The lonesome wail of Ernie Tollar’s reeds and winds is breathtaking. Meanwhile, the delicately knitted single notes from Demetri Petsalakis’ oud, framed with the deep rumble of Waleed Abdulhamid’s bass and the resonant thunder of Naghmeh Faramand’s daff all make for a truly affecting experience. Raul da Gama Your Requests Laila Biali Imago EMG607 ( ! Gifted pianist and vocalist Laila Biali has just released an all-star recording with an interesting twist; in addition to welcoming vocal luminaries Kurt Elling, Emilie-Claire Barlow and Caity Gyorgy, the repertoire is based on requests that she has received from audience members during her performances. There are ten exquisite tracks here. Biali’s instrumental collaborators include clarinetist Anat Cohen, Grégoire Maret on harmonica, Michael Davidson on vibes, Kelly Jefferson on tenor/soprano sax, George Koller on bass, Ben Wittman (who also shares arranging and production credits with Biali) and Larnell Lewis on drums and Maninho Costa on percussion. First up is the classic standard, Bye Bye Blackbird, arranged with a contemporary and rhythmic sensibility, replete with a dynamic sax solo from Jefferson. Directly following is a diaphanous take on Oscar Levant’s Blame it on My Youth. Biali’s voice is sultry and emotive here, perfectly interpreting the story of the poetic lyric. Also of note is Rogers and Hart’s immortal ballad My Funny Valentine, rendered here (with palpable musical chemistry) as a lovely duet between Biali and the inimitable Elling. A true highlight is an inspired duet with Barlow on Rogers and Hammerstein’s My Favourite Things. Barlow and Biali harmonize effortlessly and easily manifest a joyous track. Additionally, Biali shines on both piano and voice on a sumptuous take on Autumn Leaves. Her interpretation of Johnny Mercer’s renowned lyric is perfection itself, enhanced by another dynamic soprano sax solo from Jefferson and sensitive and creative bass work from Koller. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Nowhere Girl Nicky Schrire Anzic Records (nickyschrire.bandcamp. com/album/nowhere-girl) ! This is singersongwriter Nicky Schrire’s first release in ten years and she’s come a long way since then, both geographically and musically. Born in London, England, raised in South Africa and educated in New York, Schrire has made her home in Toronto for the last few years. Her previous jazz recordings had a healthy dose of covers from the Great American Songbook, with a smattering of originals, but Nowhere Girl’s 11 tracks are all (but one) written by Schrire. Whether this is a jazz album is debatable, if you care about such things, but what’s not in doubt is the high quality of the songwriting, singing and playing. Supported by the Canadian jazz trio, Myriad3 (Ernesto Cervini, drums, Dan Fortin, bass and Chris Donnelly, piano) and local luminary saxophonist Tara Davidson, there’s plenty to satisfy jazz fans. Starting with the driving title track and finishing in a similar high energy style with My Love featuring Mozambican Julio Sigauque’s guitar work. In between is a collection of lilting, poetic songs delivered with Schrire’s pretty, unaffected voice that lends a somewhat Celtic feel to many of the tracks. Her travels inform a lot of this new album both literally, with songs like In Paris and This Train (about New York City), and also musically, as styles from various cultures subtly leave their marks. Cathy Riches September 2023 | 51

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