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Volume 9 Issue 5 - February 2004

  • Text
  • February
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • Arts
  • Musical
  • Symphony
  • Choral
  • Composer
  • Quartet

mous Etirly One Morning,

mous Etirly One Morning, the Friendly Giant's theme song. Renee joins forces with (probably) Europe's top jazz orchestra, directed by Jim McNeely in a programme of eight selections, five of them her own tunes. McNeely provides the scores for Renee's Black Holes and Quiet Earth, and wrote/ arranged the lovely In This Moment, featuring a yearning flugelhorn solo by Thomas Fryland. Michael Phillip MossmaFj scored the latin-flavotired Ancestors and the rollicking Bulldog's Chicken Run, written by Renee'for a longtime associate, 'bassist Ray Drummond. JJ Johnson's Lament is played as a tribute to the pianist's former ·boss, with whom she often p'layed the tune as a duet. Trombonist Vincent Nilsson is featured on his own spacey and free-flowing bossa arrangement, which I didn't much like at first, but has grown oh me with repeated hearings. You' II be offering the same to the whole release, and will be looking forward to her next one, no matter what direction she takes. Renee Rosnes is one of the great talents in jazz today, and, my my: to think ·she's one of ours! Ted O'Reilly Past Present Future Charlie Gray w/ Kirk MacDonald, Neil Swainson, Rob Piltch and others Independent (www.charliegray.ca.) SMCD-03 Trumpeter and flugelhorn player, Charlie Gray,. has been a stalwart on the Toronto jazz and ' musical theatre scene for over 25 years, although he has just recently rel eased his first CD. "Past, Present, Future" is a pleasant collection of jazz tunes and Mr. Gray wrote all seven tracks. Although there is a mix of up-tempo tunes 'and ,ballads, the slower tunes are where Mr. Gray's strength as a writer and arranger come through. In particular The Reunion stands out as a lovely and somewhat quirky ballad with its unusual instrumentation. (Although it's no~ credited I could swear there's an oboe on the track.) Mr. Gray has assembled a fine group of players and given them Jots of room to solo and exhibit their own style as musicians and arrangers. The main group consists of Kirk MacDonald on tenor sax, Gary Williamson on piano, Neil Swainson on bass and Bob McLaren on ,drums. In addition, Oliver Schroer appears on violin, Ben Grossman plays percussion and Scott Alexander adds electric bass on one track. Rob Piltch lends some beautiful guitar work to the aforementioned Reunion. "Past, Present, Future" doesn't break any new ground and won't shake up the jazz world with its innovation, but it will provide many hours of listening pleasure to anyone who adds it to their collection. Cathy Riches Lost in the Stars Guido Basso; String Orchestra; Phil Dwyer CBC Records TRCD 3007 Past Present Future I new CD release from Charlie Gray order online www.charliegray.ca "instrumental jazz with heart & soul" Countless jazz artists have record- Africa with Ethiopian singing star, ed with strings but the results have Aster Aweke, gigging locally and generally been disappointing. The backing singers such as Holy Cole, few albums that really worked Molly Johnson and Carol Weisman, shared a common element: the peo- and playing in such diverse musiple who wrote the string arrange- cal settings as those provided by Joe ments were either jazz musicians Sealy, Jane Bunnett and The themselves or writers with strong Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band. This feelings for jazz. varied background may explain the Guido Basso and CBC producer wide range of music on this CD: Mark Steinmetz made a similar Bop, Latin, Reggae and some funky wise choice when planning Lost in R&B. In spite of such a mixed bag, the Stars. All the arrangements on the album holds together and is conthis CD are by saxophonist/pianist sistently rewarding. Phil Dwyer. Dwyer's done a mag- "Culmination" features an array nificentjob, crafting ideal settings for of Toronto talent, fourteen musi­ Basso's elegant flugelhorn, offering ·· cians in all, although never more much more than that simple carpet than seven on any one number and of sourid we've come to expect from sometimes as few as three, in a "with strings" albums. Just sample varied and interesting programme the title track and I guarantee you 'II consisting of Barnes' own compobe hooked. It's obvious Dwyer is sitions and standards ranging from totally familiar with Guido Basso's Coltrane's Equinox to an updat~d brass mastery and knows just how to version of After You 've Gone writbest showcase it. ten by John Turner Layton and It'snotoftenthatGuidoBassois Henry Creamer in 1918. Five heard on record as a leader and he O'Clock Shadow is the opener and makes the most of the opportunity I almost resisted the temptation to here. He's backed by a 16-piece say it grows on you! string orchestra directed by Dw- Strong solos by the horns of yer, together with the jazz trio of William Carn, Kevin Turcotte and Lorraine Desmarais, piano, Kelly Jefferson and a catchy theme Michel Donato, bass, and Paul set the tone. There is also a healthy Brochu, drums. Basso's flugelhorn dose of Mike Murley on the album artistry has seldom been heard to and that never ever hurt anybody, such advantage. His playing is mas- while on pi1mo Robert Botos adds terful. He improvises expressive- a sure touch, displaying maturity ly and with great feeling on themes beyond his years. But this is defiworthy of his talent. The set closes nitely a Daniel Barnes showcase, with a pair of live tracks without both as a drummer and a composthe strings. On Dizzy Gillespie's er/arranger. Tour de Force Basso's trumpet is Jim Galloway paired with Phil Dwyer's .urgent tenor saxophone. The set's closer is a charming performance featuring Basso on harmonica with Dwyer at the piano. Highly recommended. Don Brown Culmination Daniel Barnes w/Kevin Turcotte; Mike Murley; Kelly Jefferson et al · Independent ROM07 Daniel Barnes is no newcomer to the scene, having toured for periods of time over a ten year span in Europe, U.S., Caribbean and POT POURRI The Home Fields James Brown, w/ Ernie Toller; Jim Vivian Independent (www .jamesbrown.ca) NGP-CDOl James Brown has released a new CD and boy does' papa ever have a brand new bag. Okay, it's not that James Brown. This one is a Toronto composer and guitar player, whp draws on classical and jazz traditions for his inspiration, "The WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM FEBRUARY1 2004 - M ARCH 7 2004

Home Fields" is touted as a jazz disc, but jazz purists might be disappointed, since a lot of the tunes are rather light on traditional jazz characteristics such as improvisation. Perhaps we should call it new music or easy listening with an edge. Whatever you want to call it, this is a really good disc. I have to confess that I'm a sucker for guitar music, especially when played on a classical guitar, and I can definitely recommend "The Home Fields" to fellow guitar addicts. Anyone else who is looking for a stylish CD. whether a huge guitar fan or not, should also check it out. Mr. Brown has written all of the tunes (and there are 16 of them, so lots of music for your money .. . ) and has kept the instrumentation to a minimum. Only Ernie Tollar and Jim Vivian add support on soprano saxophone and acoustic bass, respectively. So one drawback to the disc is a lack of variety to the arrangements - tere's only so much a guy can do with three instruments. But no matter, there are still plenty of ear-treats here. Cathy Riches Concert Note: James Brown & Ernie Tollar will perform music from "The Home Fields" at Victoria-Royce Church on February 14 at 2:00. Strut Michael Kaeshammer ALMA ACD14272 This is a clever, slick and wellproduced CD, which should do well in sales and sell tickets for his live shows. The backup musicians - Brian Barlow, Richard Bell, Kevin Breit, Michael Dunston, John Johnson, Johnny Vidacovich and Ben Wolfe - are solid players whose supporting work allows Kaeshammer to "strut his stuff'. The.material - roughly half covers, and half originals by Kaeshammer (co-writers Kevin Breit and Peter Cardinali on the cut Soundtrack To Something Beautiful) - features two vocal numbers and the rest instrumentals. Unfortunately, that intriguing feel of Comes love that first attracted me is a bit overdone; that strutting groove thing keeps reappearing throughout the disc and overshadows Kaeshammer's rapidfire technique and playful musicianship. The different styles experimented with (of note the rhythmic minimalistic beginning of Now?) could also have been further developed. But when Kaeshammer and the other gentlemen slow things down the finest work emerges - You 're A Good Dancer, Johnny! has a natural, gradual build and the final cut, Maybe Tomorrow, is a beautiful tune respectfully executed. Both penned by Kaeshammer, they forecast what should be a fine compositional and performing future . All in all a good recording worth exploring on a cold winter's night. Tiina Kiik Concert Note: Michael Kaeshammer performs his "swampy dance tunes, jazz, blues and gospel, hairraising boogie, and mainly just a raucous good time" at the Jane Mallett Theatre on February 28. Quiet Night - The Intimate Rogers and Hart John Alcorn, vocals; Richard Whiteman; Steve Wallace; Daniel Barnes Independent (www.johnalcorn.com) JA002 GREAT ~OOK.S GREAT Ml:JSfC SfC>f:Cf AtJZf NG f N CtASSfCAt &JAZZ '\ I was introduced to Michael Kaeshammer's aptly titled CD "Strut" The vocalist, producer, arranger upon hearing the cut Comes love John Alcorn, possesses a smoky on the radio. A bouncy tango/ smooth crooner voice reminiscent swing feel combined with Kaes- of Frank Sinatra or Mel Torme. He hammer's clear, precise vocals and gently coaxes the emotion out of the piano sty lings twigged my interest. song lyrics. That, along with the FEBRUARY 1 2003 - M ARCH 7 2004

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