Monday, September 28, 2009
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Kala Ramnath: Raga Bhatiyar from Kala (Sense Music)
A girl is born in India in 1967. She doesn't get to play or hang out much because her grandfather violinist Vidwan Shri Narayan Iyer took her as his student when she was very young and he was a real taskmaster. She was also taught by her aunt Dr. N. Rajam, who was
kinder. Her aunt introduced her to Pandit Jasraj who became her guru and main violin teacher. Now she is a renowned classical violinist in the south Indian tradition, sometimes collaborating with western musicians, and sometimes, as on this CD, playing classic ragas purely, with just tabla accompaniment. Check out her website. And you can watch her perform here.
Eric Dolphy: You Don't Know What Love Is from Last Date (Limelight)
I bought this piece of vinyl when it came out in 1965 and I have always loved Eric Dolphy's playing and loved who he was as a man: in an era of jazz musicians who were often drug-addicted or wildly eccentric or justifiably bitter, the friends Dolphy and Coltrane walked a path of integrity while remaining creatively innovative, and Dolphy was known as a kind and actively generous person. He was an extremely brilliant musician who died at age 36 from complications of diabetes. Dolphy was primarily an alto saxophonist and pioneered the use of the bass clarinet as a solo jazz instrument, but he was also a wonderful flute player and this piece is his real legacy on that instrument. This was his last recording before he died, hence the album title.
Kimi Djabate: Djalia and Fololon, from Karam (Kumbancha)
This young man is a griot from Guinnea-Bissau, who learned to play the Balafon (West African marimba when he was three. He's also a guitarist and singer and one of the charming things about this music is the occasional chorus of female voices.
Yo Yo Ma: Antonin Dvorak: Silent Woods, Humoresque in g-flat major ( both with Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa) and Songs My Mother Taught Me (with Patricia Zander, piano) from The Dvorak Album (Sony)
Most of this album is taken up with Dvorak's Cello concerto which I did not play but might one day. The rest has several short pieces or segments of larger pieces by Dvorak, all lovely, and they finished off this hour perfectly.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
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Maryem and Ernie Tollar: Il Matar, Taksim Kamanga, Gigue, Longa Baladi, and Heartsoul, from CAIRO TO TORONTO (Independent)
A girl is born in Cairo in 1968 and her family moves to Halifax. When she is 12 they move back to Egypt for five years. Maryem rebels at the uprooting, rejecting Arabic music, language and culture. She begins to sing pop music. In 1994 she goes to work for her musician brother in a project that requires Arabic singing, and that changes everything. She embraces her roots, takes lessons with the Toronto-based Egyptian musician George Sawa, and goes to study in Syria and Egypt. She sings in a group called Ritual Party, where she meets the saxophonist and flute player Ernie Tollar. They get married and this CD has several pictures of them and their three young children.
This CD is a great example of the melding of Arabic, jazz, and western folk. I started this set with Il Matar, which of all the tracks I think best bridges east and west because of the assertive jazz harmonies. Maryem Tollar is a great singer and these musicians, mostly Arab-Canadians, are a band that sounds like it knows where it's going. The Cairo violinist who joins them for a few tracks, Alfred Gamil, is beautiful.
I just discovered that Maryem Tollar played at the Our Way Home Reunion in Castlegar in 2007. There's a YouTube video of one song from the Brilliant Cultural Centre.
Allen Toussaint: St. James Infirmary, Blue Drag, Solitude, and Winin' Boy Blues from THE BRIGHT MISSISSIPPI (Nonesuch)
Remember that song Workin in a Coal Mine by Lee Dorsey? Or another one by Dorsey: Everything I Do Gon be Funky From Now On……or Pain in my Heart recorded by Otis Redding, or Fortune Teller recorded by a bunch of people including the early Stones. The list all the people Allen Toussant has written for, produced, arranged, played piano for, is long.
Well Allen Toussaint may have made his living writing and producing music like that: rock, rhythm and blues, and soul, but something of old New Orleans is in his blood, and late in his career he has made an album celebrating that, and this is it, The Bright Mississippi, with a relaxed and sociable visit to tunes written by jazz greats like Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, Django Reinhardt, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, and Billy Strayhorn, backed by a great band including clarinetist Don Byron, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, guitarist Marc Ribot, and bassist David Pilch. It's friendly and authentic music.
Vivaldi: Autumn from The Four Seasons performed by Virtuosi di Roma conducted by Renato Fasano (EMI)
A tribute to the new season that's upon us-- I know because riding my bike down to the station to do the show in the early morning I regretted not wearing gloves.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Arve Hendriksen, Mitsuko Uchida, Ravi Shankar & Philip Glass, Leonard Cohen, Herbie Hancock: playlist for The Open Window September 14, 2009
You can download a podcast of this show here: http://cjlypodcast.net/openwindow/openwindow_sept14_2009.mp3
Arve Henriksen: From Birth and Before and Afterlife from Cartography (ECM)
This group consists of Arve Hendriksen's trumpet and a bunch of programmers and samplers plus the odd guitar or bass or drum kit. The trumpet often does not sound like a trumpet-- mostly it moves imperceptibly back and forth between the sounds of trumpet and Japanese flute. These pieces are moody shape-shifting tableaux led by a trumpet, reminiscent of but neither as funky as nor as transcendent (sorry) as Jon Hassell's music which I have played recently here.
Mozart, Sonata in A, Mitsuko Uchida, piano, from Mozart Sonatas (Philips)
A girl is born in Japan in 1948. She is fascinated by European classical music and especially Mozart, and she starts piano lessons. Her father is appointed Japanese ambassador to Austria, so the family moves to Vienna which just happens to be the place Mozart composed many of his masterworks. She studies, and performs her first concert at age 14. The family moves back to Japan after five years but she stays. Since then Mitsuko Uchida has become known as the "high priestess of Mozart." I felt honoured to bring this music to you.
Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar: Offering from Passages (Private Music)
This is a piece of orchestral music based on a Ravi Shankar raga, with no sitar in sight, from one of the most successful collaborations between unlikely musicians that I have ever heard.
Herbie Hancock and Leonard Cohen: The Jungle Line from River: The Joni Letters (Verve)
This Joni Mitchell song was on her album The Hissing of Summer Lawns from the 1970s.
So: Joni Mitchell, lyrics; Leonard Cohen, vocals; Herbie Hancock, piano. What a team!
Monday, September 7, 2009
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Evelyn Glennie with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra directed by Paul Daniel: Concerto for Marimba and String Orchestra by Ney Rosauro from Rebounds- Concertos for Percussion (RCA)
Evelyn Glennie is a world-renowned Scottish concert percussionist who has been deaf since she was a teenager. Yet she manages to play stage-fulls of marimbas, tympani, drums, chimes, gongs, etc., and she does it in her bare feet because that is apparently how she hears it. On a TED talk, Glennie talks and plays, telling us how her main mission in life is to help people learn to listen.
The piece I played on the show is a lovely thing by the Brazilian composer and percussionist Ney Rosauro. Evelyn Glennie will be appearing at the Charles Bailey Theatre in Trail, B.C. with the Winnipeg Chamber Orchestra on Sept 15 and I'm going to it with the awesome Rosie.
Allen Toussaint: Egyptian Fantasy, Dear Old Southland, Winin Boy Blues from The Bright Mississippi (Nonesuch)
This is one of those CDs with no weak tracks. It's the legendary producer, arranger, composer, pianist who influenced R&B so much especially in the 60s and 70s, this time delving into traditional New Orleans jazz sounds, accompanied by a bunch of much younger jazz musicians who are not normally associated with that music at all except trumpeter Nicholas Payton who is joined by Don Byron, clarinet, Marc Ribot, guitar, David Pilch, bass, and Jay Belarose, drums.
The formidable pianist Brad Mehldau comes in for one track and plays a two-piano duet with Toussaint. Joshus Redman guests one track. Marc Ribot plays old-timey, which I have never heard before-- fascinating. The real glory here is Allen Toussaint's piano playing and the happy blues sound this CD has.
Mascato Youth Choir: Likonelam, Dubula, and Ntyilo, from Namibian Rhythms in Spain (Independent)
I bought this CD a few years ago in Nelson when this wonderful group sang here. They came with Edmonton's Kokopelli with whom they have a sibling choir relationship, and Kokopelli in turn is a big city version, and a dear friend, of Nelson's Corazon.
Steve Dawson: 1000 Year Old Egg from Telescope (Black Hen)
Vancouver's Steve Dawson has been studying pedal steel with Greg Leisz, and he's good at slide guitar too, and I love both instruments.