Archive for the ‘concert review’ Category

verglas cd release, toronto, nov 20. a non-review

verglas. ice rain. sienna’s voice and music is anything but icy.

lush, rich, light and dark, angular, sweet, fascinating.

melodies exploring, seeking words, landing on notes on a phrase to a glorious repetition.

a study of contrasts; english freely moving into french, clarity into reverberated mist, a rainbow of colour poured into the dark vessel of winter.

jazz, folk, traditional hints, free, improvised, carefully structured

magnificently played by andrew downing, nick fraser, ted quinlan and guest justin haynes.


here’s a link to Peter Hum’s interview with Sienna complete with musical examples

sienna dahlen website

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The movement of the singers, stage hands and scenery was like watching the frames of a film. It reminded me of a Tai Chi class I once took. Moving as though space itself had body, weight, density, matter. We move through it frame by frame.

Nothing is harder than the repetition of one note. or a phrase. matching the tone, weight, balance, timbre. and then slightly changing the phrase one strand of hair at a time.

Music is architectural. It builds on itself. now 4-4; 4-5; 5-5; 5-6; 6-6. but what are numbers? 123123123123…they’re all 3’s and 2’s. the building blocks of time.

It’s not about the individual, though there were some who stood out – the vocal soloists, violin, tenor saxophone. It was about the whole, and taken from the perspective of the mezzanine balcony with lots of space around me was a transformative experience. It just wasn’t the same when I moved down to the orchestra for an hour. The distractions were too exhausting: people walking in and out, focussing on the individuals on the stage. It’s a different kind of theatre; one that could take in everything at once, building phrase by phrase, movement by movement, note by note.

atom by atom.

Einstein on the Beach.




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note: This piece is not intended to be a review of last night’s wonderful Soundstreams concert, The Gismontis at Koerner Hall, but rather a rhapsodic reflection.

Egberto Gismonti exists in multiple dimensions. Listening to him play the piano or guitar is an aural experience of a great mystery: the mystery of living in an exquisitely beautiful multi-dimensional world.

I would have gone home joyously happy after the first solo piano piece on the program, Anéis. The fact that the piano was unmiked and in an acoustically wonderful hall really highlighted the profound depth of his playing. Every aspect of his playing had layers upon layers of great beauty. From a whispering pianisissimo to a thundering triple forte there were always multiple dimensions of sound and clarity. A crescendo that could build and build over a very long stretch of time or a sudden switch: dark to light, joy to sorrow, divine, playful, absurd.

Polyrhythm, (how many meters can ten fingers play at once?) polytonality, polytimbre, polyeverything, really. but never intellectual. poetry in motion.

oh. and did I mention his virtuoso guitar playing? his incredible and fun to play compositions? his gorgeous duets with his son Alexandre and with Jane Bunnett? (bravo Jane!!) but this is not a review…

here’s a taste from a solo piano concert in 2009:

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It took until midway through the first tune for me to realize they were playing “All of You”. After all, the 11PM set on Wednesday night at the Village Vanguard started with a drum solo followed by dialogues between bass/drums, bass/piano. The tune unfolded slowly revealing itself as fragments of melodies were thrown back and forth, slowly and carefully developed by the three of them. Geri Allen, Esperanza Spalding and Terri Lyne Carrington are at the top of their game – virtuosic, musical and creative. “No offense to you”, Spalding said with a conspiratorial grin to the audience, “we’re just excited to be playing together”.  And playing together is exactly what they did. Solos, dialogues, trios, textural variations, rhythmic displacements and curve balls made each composition into a journey of discovery. It was gorgeous chamber music with all three supporting, listening, reacting, and surprising each other. They even shared the microphone duties introducing tunes and each other. We were eavesdropping on an exciting creative project and mutual admiration witnessing them “fly by the seat of our pants”, as Carrington said later in the evening.

A couple of highlights:

Spalding sang one tune the entire set – the beautiful “Unconditional Love” written by Geri Allen, featured on Terri Lyne’s Grammy nominated (Feb 2012) The Mozaic Project CD (which features Allen, Spalding and many other fantastic female musicians.) Here is the excerpt from the CD:

The show closer, Charlie Parker’s “Au Leu Cha” at breakneck speed began with a fast descending line played by bass and piano. Allen managed to keep this upbeat ostinato going as she navigated through the melody creating some crazy ear-bending counterpoint. It was breathtaking.

Here they are at the Red Sea Jazz Festival in 2007:

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