Gordie Downie of the Tragically Hip dies.

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Of course we all knew it was coming but it still seems so sudden. It’s 12 months since that last nation wide televised concert. There have been a lot of tributes on the news last night (Wednesday, 2017/10/18) including a very tearful farewell from the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau. Perhaps among the tributes this one below will rank high on the list.

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AUTUMN TONES

AUTUMN TONES is a chamber music ensemble of local musicians with Nicola Everton on clarinet, Sue Gold on piano and Martine denBok on violin and viola. All three musicians are associated with the Symphony of the Kootenays as either members of the orchestra or as visiting soloists. Nicola and Sue have performed many times in the area, along with cellist Jeff Faragher, in the classical chamber music ensemble THE SELKIRK TRIO. In both the Selkirk Trio and Autumn Tones the intent seems to be to explore the modern edge of classical music as well as excursions into the realms of the traditional classical repertoire, Jazz, Latin, Klezmer or anything else that strikes their fancy. On this beautiful fall afternoon in the lobby of the Key City Theatre that is the musical realms they set out to explore.

They kicked off the afternoon with Darius Milhaud’s Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano. For me it was a moment of unbelievable synchronicity. On the drive to the theater I had been listening to some Brazilian Choro on the car CD player (yes, some of us still listen to CDs). On this beautiful fall afternoon what could be more appropriate than bouncing down the highway to the warm rhythms of Brazilian Choro. From the opening bars of the Milhaud piece the choro music I had just been listening to immediately came to mind and I began mentally adding in the percussive sounds of the Brazilian Pandeiro to the trio on stage.The Pandeiro is a Brazilian tambourine that is the heart beat of  samba. That mental notion is completely understandable when you consider Darius Milhaud’s musical associations with Jazz and Brazilian music.  He was one of the most prolific modern classical composers of the last century and was influenced by the sounds of Jazz and Brazilian music. While it is not his only claim to fame he was a musical mentor to the Jazz musician Dave Brubeck. So much so that Brubeck named his son Darius after the composer. One of Milhaud’s former students was the popular songwriter  Burt Baccharach. Milhaud is reported to have told Bacharach, “Don’t be afraid of writing something people can remember and whistle. Don’t ever feel discomfited by a melody.”.  This Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano lived up to that standard with lots of melody, rhythm and musical interplay between the instruments.

Popularity in music usually means world tours and mega arena performances. Modern classical composers do not rate that sort of popularity or attention and yet, in the realm of classical music, Arvo Part is probably the most popular modern classical composer of the last few years. This Estonian composer of classical and religious music uses self invented compositional techniques in the minimalist style (think Phillip Glass with darker Eastern European overtones). For this afternoon’s performance the trio selected Part’s popular Spiegel im Spiegel written in 1978. “Spiegel im Spiegel” in German literally can mean both “mirror in the mirror” as well as “mirrors in the mirror”, referring to an infinity mirror which produces an infinity of images reflected by parallel plane mirrors: the tonic triads in the composition are endlessly repeated with small variations as if reflected back and forth. The piece was originally written for a single piano and violin. Other versions exist with cello or viola, double bass, clarinet, trombone, flute etc.  This performance is for piano, clarinet and violin and is in F major in 6/4 time.

Aram Il’yich Khachaturian (1903 – 1978) was a Soviet Armenian composer and conductor and is best known for his composition  the Sabre Dance. He was the most renowned Armenian composer of the 20th century and is considered one of Soviet Russia’s  leading composer. While following the established musical traditions of Russia, he broadly used Armenia and, to a lesser extent, Caucasian, Eastern & Central European, and Middle Eastern peoples’ folk music in his works.  His style is “characterized by colorful harmonies, captivating rhythms, virtuosity, improvisations, and sensuous melodies”. The trio performed movements 1 and 3 from his Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano.

In the vernacular the clarinet has been referred to as a liquorice stick. Maybe it is the colour of the instrument but I like to think it is because of the liquid smoothness of the music of Mozart when played on the clarinet. Autumn Tones pulled us away from the “edginess” of contemporary classical music into the smooth mainstream of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio, K498 in E flat Major for piano, clarinet and viola. No composer before Mozart had written for this combination of instruments. The origin of the nickname Kegelstatt is interesting. The German word Kegelstatt means “a place where skittles are played,” akin to a bowling alley. Mozart is reputed to have written this while playing skittles. At the time the clarinet was a relatively new instrument and in the first performance the then vituoso Anton Stadler played clarinet, Mozart the viola, and Franziska von Jacquin the piano. This trio composition, along with his Clarinet Quintet and Clarinet concerto helped increase the instrument’s popularity. The piece is in three movements: Andante /  Menuetto /  Rondeaux: Allegretto

 

For the final piece the trio took us back to the edge for a little slice of Yiddish Klezmer in the tune Moldavanke. This style of music is mostly associated with Eastern European Jewish traditions and is performed in a lively bouncing style with overtones of Jewish humor and melancholy. Nicola has fallen in love with the style and wants to put together a Klezmer band.

  

Autumn Tones would like to thank The Kootenay Cultural Alliance and sponsors that have made this tour possible.

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A BONUS: By it’s very nature music is of the moment. As soon as the musical note leaps into the air it is in the process of dying and until the invention of sound recordings that was it. All we had left were memories.  The recording industry has changed all that and performances can become more permanent if they are recorded. Unfortunately not all performances make it “onto wax”. This concert by Autumn Tones is now but a pleasant memory. Perhaps some day Autumn Tones and The Selkirk Trio can be persuaded to record those musical gems that over recent years they have cast to the winds. To make up for that here is a bonus for you from YouTube –

Darius Milhaud: Suite op.157b for Clarinet, Violin and Piano – Cologne Chamber Soloists

ENJOY

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YouTube Pick (#17) – Anouar Brahem

Anouar Brahem performing ASTRAKAN CAFE

Jazz record labels tend to have a specific persona and ethos that is consistent during their successful years. Verve Records was the brain child of jazz impresario Norman Granz and the recordings the company released in the early years bore his imprimatur. Similarly, the ethos of BlueNote records reflects the founder Alfred Lyons’ view of the jazz soundscape and, along with the masterful sound engineering of Rudy Van Gelder, created the BlueNote sound. On the other side of the Atlantic in Munich, Germany  Manfred Eicher founded the ECM label (Edition of Contemporary Music) that, like Verve and BlueNote, created a specific persona and sound. In this case it was unmistakably a creation of the founder Manfred Eischer. The ECM catalogue is filled with unique and interesting musicians and music. The label marketed, and continues to market, an incredible collection of some of the most significant jazz musicians of the day including Keith Jarret, Ralph Towner, Pat Metheny, Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Charlie Haden, Dave Holland, etc.   Although,mostly a jazz recording label, it has explored many alternative approaches to music. Most notably in the recordings of Jan Gabarek, L. Shankar,  Steve Tibbetts and, of course the music of the Tunisian Oud player Anouar Brahem. My first encounter with this musician was the ECM recording Astrakan Cafe that, along with the Oud playing of Anauor, also featured the percussion of Lassad Hosni (bendir and darbuka) and the clarinet of Turkish musician Barbaros Erkose. First of all, Anauor Brahem plays the Arab Oud, an instrument that is the ancestor of all guitar like instruments. His approach is a little different from the classic Arab musician in that as well as the folkloric repertoire he explores a number of eclectic musical offerings within a number of unique musical configurations. As mentioned in Wikipedia his playing style is often compared to  the Lebanese musician Rabih Abou-Khalil who is well known for fusing traditional  Arab music with Jazz, European Classical music  and other styles. Anouar’s compositions are considered to be more mellow and spare and this he achieves by utilizing ensembles of three or four musicians and unusual combination of instruments. A quick glance at his ECM discography gives you some idea of his musical approach.

  • Barzakh ECM 1432 (1991) with fellow Tunisian musicians Bechir Selmi on violin and Lassad Hosni on percussion.
  • Conte de L’Incroyable ECM 1457 (1992) with Barbaros Erkose (Turkish) on clarinet, Kudsi Erguner (Turkish) on the Ney Flute and Lassad Hosni (Tunisian) on percussion.
  • The Silences of the Palaces (1994) Film music for the Tunisian movie of the same name.
  • Khomsa ECM 1561 (1995) with Richard Galliano  (French) on accordion; Francois Couturier (? French) on piano and synthesizer; Jean Marc Larche (?) on soprano sax; Bechir Selmi (Tunisian) on violin; Palle Danielsson  (Swedish jazz musician) on double bass; Jon Christensen (Norwegian jazz musician) on drums. The album was recorded in Oslo. Norway 
  • Thimar ECM 1641 (1998) with John Surman (British jazz musician) on soprano sax and bass clarinet; Dave Holland (British jazz musician) on double bass. Also recorded in Oslo, Norway
  • Astrakan Cafe ECM 1718 (2000) with Barbaros Erkose (Turkish) on clarinet and Lassad Hosni (Tunisian) on percussion. Recorded in a monastery in Austria.
  • Le Pas du Chat Noir ECM 1792 (2002) with Francois Couturier (? French) on piano and  Jean-Louis Matinier (French) on accordion recorded in Zurich.
  • Le Voyage de Sahar ECM 1915 (2006) with Francois Couturier (? French) on piano and  Jean-Louis Matinier (French) recorded in Lugano, Switzerland.
  • The Astounding Eyes of Rita ECM 2075 (2009) with Klaus Gesing: bass clarinet; Björn Meyer: bass; Khaled Yassine: darbouka, bendir. Recorded in Udine, Italy.
  • Souvenance  ECM 2423/24 – 2 CDs (2014) with Francois Couturier on piano; Klaus Gesing on bass clarinet and soprano sax; Björn Meyer (Swedish) on double bass; and Orchestra della Svizzera italiana / Pietro Mianiti: conductor. Recorded in Lugano, Switzerland

I have been, and still are, completely captivated by ethereal sound of the Astrakan Cafe ECM 1718 (2000) recording and the title track is one of my all time favorite pieces of music. So much so that I got my hands on a Godin MultiOud. This is an instrument manufactured in Quebec and for want of a better description it is a recent attempt to emulate the traditional Oud for a guitar friendly clientele. It is a fret less nylon strung instrument with a single bass string and the remaining 10 strings as 5 courses of unison strings. The strings  can be tuned in a number of traditional systems (Turkish, Turkish/Armenian, Arabic, Syrian or Egyptian). Godin, the manufacturer of the instrument, suggests using the Syrian  system – F A D G C F (low string to high). I believe this is the system Anouar Brahem uses. Because I play a number of other similar instruments I have chose to use a modified Syrian system – D A D G F C). Like the traditional Oud the MultiOud is played with a unique plectrum called a mezraab/mizrap in Farsi and Turkish and Reesha in Arabic. While purists are probably not convinced that the MultiOud is a valid vehicle for authentic Oud music it is, to my ear, pretty convincing. It has a number of advantages over the traditional Oud. The friction tuning pegs have been replaced with the more conventional guitar tuners. The flat backed body is more comfortable for a performer. The cut away body makes it easier to reach higher positions on the neck. The built in Fishman Tuner and pickup has a number of variable parameters to  allow the performer to sculpt a preferable sound. For guitarists one of the major hurdles to playing the Oud or the MultiOud is getting used to the fret less fingerboard. I am still struggling with the MultiOud but my ambition is to one day play a credible version of the Astrakan Cafe.  Check the above link to see and hear the tune in all its glory and revel in the incredible sound and ambience of the music and marvel at Anouar’s snappy syncopation and improvisations.

Below are a couple more links of Anouar in small ensemble environments.

Of the three, the last one Stopover at Djibouti, is my favorite.  I particularly like Björn Meyer tapping five string bass part  and Khaled Yassine adroit combination of of the Turkish darbouka and the bendir (frame drum). I believe the bass clarinet is played by Klaus Gesing. When you stop and think about it. It is an unusual combination of “instruments in the basement”, bass clarinet, electric bass and Oud all way down there with the darbouka and bendir flitting around to provide sonic relief and rhythmic integration. All in all it is very interesting stuff.

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Kimberley Pipe Band 90th Anniversary Tattoo

 


 Tattoo Weekend Schedule

Friday, July 14th, 2017

  • 11:00 am     Musical Taste of the Tattoo – Free Platzl Concert
    • Cowichan Pipe Band
    • BC Regimental Band

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

  • 09:30 am    Rotary Pancake Breakfast – Centre 64
  • 10:00 am     Parade of Bands – Centre 64 to Civic Centre
  • 5:45 pm       Doors open – Civic Centre
    • Concession Opens – Support the Dynamiters
  • 6:00 pm       Kimberley Community Band – Civic Centre
  • ​7:00 pm       Tattoo Performance – Civic Centre
  • 9:15 pm       Ceilidh / Dance with Johnny McCuaig Band

For the past 90 years the Kimberley Pipe Band has been an integral part of most major parades and festivals held in the Kootenay region and beyond.  Every 10 years, since their 50th anniversary they have hosted a major music and marching performance known as a Tattoo. The 2017 Kimberley Pipe Band’s 90th Anniversary Tattoo featured a 2 hour show of music, pipes, drums and dancing; a street parade featuring over 200 drummers

FREE PLATZL CONCERT – FRIDAY 14th, 2017, 11 am

              

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AT THE KIMBERLEY ARENA, SATURDAY JULY 15, 2017 (in the evening)

Kimberley Community Band

KIMBERLEY PIPE BAND

 

JAMES NEVE “On the Road to Passchendaele”

                

That was not the end of the festivities, the evening concluded with a kitchen party in the Arena.

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Post script: Here’s something that puzzled me. I have been in Canada over forty years and as usual the Canadian national anthem was played during the evening but this is the first time in all those years that I have been at an event where they played “God Save the Queen”. I find the playing of “God Save the Queen” in Canada a little weird. That’s the British national anthem.

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YouTube pick (#16) – Another way to play Mandolin

Mandolin music has a long European history that is usually associated with Italian  Neapolitan music. When the instrument migrated to North America in the early part of the twentieth century it underwent some physical changes. The traditional round back gave away to relatively thin flat backed instruments in a number of shapes (A-Style; F-Style and others). The most famous of these North American instruments were those designed by Lloyd Allayre Loar. He was a sound engineer and master luthier  with the Gibson company in the early part of the 20th century. His instruments, including the famous F5 model mandolin, are expensive ($100,000 +) and are much sort after instruments that have become associated with Bill Monroe and Bluegrass music. The mandolin “chop” that emulates the back beat of a snare drum is one of the most characteristic sonic signatures of Bluegrass music.

 

Now, theoretical physicists have often held sway with the notion that there are multiple simultaneous universes that can  co-exist. The notion does stretch the mind somewhat but in the world of mandolin music it almost seems that it is a possibility. While the Neapolitan mandolin migrated to North America, underwent physical changes and came to prominence in the hands of unique virtuosos like Bill Monroe, a similar but different transformation was taking place half a world away in Brazil. The mandolin in Brazil probably came out of Portuguese traditions and became rooted in a musical style called Choro. Although contemporary flat backed styles of mandolin are used in Brazil  the Portuguese instrument also underwent changes. An extra course of strings was added to a slightly larger body with a wider neck. The result is a five course instrument called a Bandolim (pictured below) that is tuned C G D A E.

North America has Bill Monroe; Brazil has Jacob do Bandolim. As documented in Wikipedia, he was born under the name Jacob Pick Bittencourt (December 14, 1918 – August 13, 1969). He adopted a stage name to reflect the the name of the instrument he played, the Bandolim. He has become intimately associated with Choro, a genre also popularly known as chorinho (“little cry” or “little lament”). This popular Brazilian genre is a musical synthesis of European salon music and Brazilian rhythms. As a  perfectionist, Jacob was able to achieve from his band Época de Ouro the highest levels of quality. Jacob hated the stereotype of the “dishevelled, drunk folk musician” and required commitment and impeccable dress from his musicians who, like himself, all held “day jobs.” Jacob worked as a pharmacist, insurance salesman, street vendor, and finally notary public, to support himself while also working “full time” as a musician. In addition to his virtuoso playing, he is famous for his many choro compositions, more than 103 tunes, which range from the lyrical melodies of “Noites Cariocas” , Receita de Samba and “Dôce de Coco” to the aggressively jazzy “Assanhado“, which is reminiscent of  bebop. He also researched and attempted to preserve the older choro tradition, as well as that of other Brazilian music styles. Outside of Brazil Choro seems to be under going a surge of interest. The Israeli clarinetist Anat Cohen has recently released a number of new recordings with the Trio Brasileiro. The trio  features Dudu Maia on Bandolim; Alexander Lora on Pandiero (the driving Brazilian samba tambourine that is the heart beat of Brazilian music) and his brother Douglas Lora on seven string nylon guitar. Below is a YouTube clip of the Trio and a clip of David Benedict playing a Choro on a more familiar North American style Mandolin. Notice how different are the sounds coming from the Mandolin and the Bandolim. The mandolin seems to have a sharper, more percussive “bite” that fits so well into Bluegrass. The Bandolim seems, at least to my ear, to have a bigger, fuller sound that probably would not work in a Bluegrass setting.

So if you are a mandolin player and find the music attractive you should check out the Mel Bay publication Choro Brasileiro – Brazilian Choro: A Method for Mandolin by Marilynn Mair and Paulo Sa (MB21975BCD). The publication includes a CD.

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Poscript: I sent a link of this blog entry to the Hornby Island luthier Lawrence Nyberg to find out if he had any any interest in the Bandolim. As it turns out he has been experimenting with the instrument and has posted the following on his face book page.

Introducing: The Mini-Cittern. The newest in the mando-cittern line-up. Available as a flat or carved-top. Flat-top,…

Posted by Nyberg Instruments on Wednesday, June 28, 2017

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YouTube Pick (#15) – Lee Ritenour and Mike Stern

The best and the worst thing that has ever happened to guitar music has been  “the invention of electricity”. On the plus side, before guitarists could plug in the guitar was, and still is, a very quiet instrument with very limited dynamic range  and sustain. On an acoustic guitar, a note struck does not travel far and does not last long and in a group setting it is quickly overpowered by other instruments. In the days before amplification acoustic guitarists were forced to play very hard and as a result the sound coming from the instrument suffered. Even today Blue Grass flat pickers who prefer to play  hard and fast without plugging in run the risk of not being heard or ending up with a crappy sound. Electricity changed all of that. From the get go an amplified guitar could now hold its own even in the big bands of the forties. Case in point listen to the recordings of Charlie Christian and the Benny Goodman Orchestra. As instruments and amplification systems improved the guitar came into its own with more volume, more sustain, more dynamic possibilities and with effect pedals more sonic possibilities. The sky was the limit and unfortunately that led to the false conclusion that more volume became equated as more, not necessarily good,  music.  The possibilities of increased  sustain and sonic effects are very useful tools that have often become completely obliterated by the shear power and volume of the modern electric guitar. That has become the down side. The temptation to continually crank up the volume has become hard to resist  and it has affected every body. Drummers, bass players, keyboards are now all capable of immense volume and the result, often, is that musicality and nuance have gone out the door. If every body plays super loud there is no musical room to move.  Having said all that there are still examples out there of loud electric guitar music well worth listening to. This YouTube of Lee Ritenour and Mike Stern at the Tokyo Blue Note is right up there with great interplay between the two guitarists and with the great supporting musicians in Freeway Jam Band. The band features Simon Phillips on drums (that must be the biggest drum kit on the planet), John Beasley on a mass of keyboards and Melvin Dasin on a gigantic seven string  electric bass. This is a long video, over an hour, so grab a beer and kick back for some great “electric” music. Now is it Jazz or is it rock? who cares?

For most of the listening public and despite many albums, awards and studio session both of these musicians are somewhat under the radar. Lee Ritenour was born January 11, 1952 in Los Angeles. At 16, he played on his first recording session, with  the Mamas and the Papas, and was given the nickname Captain Fingers for his dexterity. He was a a studio musician in the 1970s, winning Guitar Player magazine’s Best Studio Guitarist award twice. Throughout his career, Ritenour has experimented with different styles of music, incorporating funk, pop, rock, blues, Brazilian , classical and jazz . He has 41 solo albums to his credit and has played as a sideman on many, many hit records including Pink Floyd’s THE WALL. He was also a key member of the groups Fourplay and L.A. Workshop. In 2004 he brought together some of the key musicians of his career for the two disc DVD Overtime. For anybody who takes music seriously this DVD is a must view. Strictly speaking Lee is not specifically a jazz player. He exists in that commercial arena that straddles rock / pop / and studio work. He is a musical chameleon who manages to slip effortlessly into what ever role is required. It is probably the reason he doesn’t figure highly in the DownBeat Jazz Critics and Readers polls. He is probably not a pure enough Jazz player to be considered. It is a bit of a shame really because he has an unbelievably high skill level. Just to demonstrate his Jazz chops check the the two clips below of him in two groups playing Oliver Nelson’s masterpiece Stolen Moments. His 1990 solo album of the same name is one of my all time favorite Jazz Guitar recordings.

On the other hand Mike Stern (born January 10, 1953) has impeccable jazz credentials. Because he has a very non-jazz sound I find the the situation a little ironic and yet despite this he is a six-time Grammy-nominated American jazz guitarist. After playing with Blood Sweat and Tears he landed a gig with drummer  Billy Cobham, then with trumpeter Miles Davis from 1981 to 1983 and again in 1985. I guess it takes a Miles Davis imprimatur to be taken seriously as a jazz player. Following that, he launched a solo career, releasing more than a dozen albums. Stern was hailed as the Best Jazz Guitarist of 1993 by  Guitar Player Magazine. At the  Festival International de Jazz de Montreal in June 2007, Stern was honored with the Miles Davis Award, which was created to recognize internationally acclaimed jazz artists whose work has contributed significantly to the renewal of the genre. In 2009 Stern was listed as one of the 75 best jazz guitarist of all time. He was presented with Guitar Player magazine’s Certified Legend Award on January 21, 2012. He has 16 solo albums to his credit.

I tend not to find solid body electric guitars visually pleasing. To me one Telecaster electric guitar looks much the same as another. However, Mike plays a signature Yamaha Pacifica – Mike Stern Model. Years ago, because he really liked Telecasters so much he had Yamaha make him one to his specifications. It is one beautiful looking guitar.

This is loud music but with lots of good stuff there to hold one’s interests. Of course at the end of the performance the question remains. Is it Rock or is it Jazz?  ….. Enjoy

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Alan Holdsworth August 6, 1946 – April 16, 2017

I have to admit that although I was aware of the name Allan Holdsworth I had not paid any attention to his music. It was only the article Remembering Allan Holdsworth in July 2017 edition of DownBeat that prompted me to do a little research. Here is part of an entry in Wikipedia:

Allan Holdsworth (6 August 1946 – 15 April 2017) was a British guitarist and composer. He released twelve studio albums as a solo artist and played a variety of musical styles in a career spanning more than four decades, but is best known for his work in jazz fusion. Holdsworth was known for his advanced knowledge of music, through which he incorporated a vast array of complex  chord progressions and intricate solos; the latter comprising myriad scale forms often derived from those such as the diminished, augmented, whole tone, chromatic and altered scales, among others, resulting in an unpredictable and “outside” sound. His unique legato soloing technique stemmed from his original desire to play the saxophone. Having been unable to afford one, he strove to use the guitar to create similarly smooth lines of notes. He also become associated with playing an early form of  guitar synthesizer called the   SynthAxe, a company he endorsed in the 1980s.

Holdsworth was cited as an influence by a host of rock, metal and jazz guitarists such as Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satrriani, Greg Howe, Shawn Lane, Ritchie Kotzen, John Petrucci, Alex Lifeson, Kurt Rosenwinkel,  Yngwie Malmsteen , Michael Romeo, Ty Tabor and Tom Morello . Frank Zappa once lauded him as “one of the most interesting guys on guitar on the planet”, while  Robben Ford has said: “I think Allan Holdsworth is the John Coltrane of the guitar. I don’t think anyone can do as much with the guitar as Allan Holdsworth can.”

Check the full Wikipedia entry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Holdsworth   for more info.

Well, he obviously has a bucket full of credentials so I went to YouTube  to get a taste of what he is about. There are lots and lots of clips. This is not relaxing music. It offers very significant challenges for  a potential audience and I for one am not sure I am up to the challenge. The one I have selected is interesting because it was recorded April 3, 2017. He died on April 15, 2017.

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HOME ROUTES HOUSE CONCERT – Sweet Alibi

Saturday April 8, 2017, 7:30pm – SWEET ALIBI at 5768 Haha Creek Road, Wardner. This is the last concert of this season’s Home Routes House Concerts.

It seems that Winnipeg is possibly the geographical center of Canada and at the same time it is the center of Canada’s musical universe. Maybe it is the cold winters that drives everybody indoors to play and appreciate music. Over the years the quality of musicians that have  come out of this city has proven to be exceptional. For this last concert, the trio Sweet Alibi –  Amber Rose – vocals, guitar, ukulele and a little percussion on the side; Michelle Anderson – vocals, banjo and guitar; Jess Rae Ayre – vocals, guitar, harmonica and a little percussion on the side has once again demonstrated that musicians from Winnipeg are top draw. Most of the music presented was original material written by the trio with an  occasional cover of lesser known songs such as Bob Dylan’s Gotta Serve Somebody (it was a new song to me but it maybe better known by everybody else)

Gotta Serve Somebody

You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

You might be a rock ’n’ roll addict prancing on the stage

You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage

You may be a businessman or some high-degree thief
 They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief
 
etc…………………………..
Also there was Khari Wendell McClelland’s Song of the Agitator. It is a song that remembers the Underground Railway of African Americans fleeing from the USA in the mid 1800s.  It is a song that, with the current Moslem immigrants illegally crossing the border into Manitoba had some sense of deju vu . “Every thing changes but some things seem to just stay the same”. As per their website – ” The appeal of Sweet Alibi’s sound hinges on their ability to mix elements of folk, roots, and country, then present it in the context of a tightly-structured pop song.” I think that is true. Their vocal harmonies are strong and their spartan accompaniments take the music way outside the narrow confines of current pop/rock music. The mix of the banjo and the heavy vibrato of the electric guitar provides a unique background to their songs and takes them even further away from run of the mill pop music. Three songs that had great appeal where Dark Train, Walking in the Dark and Bodacious (a famous rodeo bull forced to retire because he was way to dangerous for cowboys to try and ride). Here are some images from the evening:

Amber Rose

Jess Rae Ayre           Jess Rae Ayre                                           Michelle Anderson

       

So ends the marvelous musical series for this past winter. The musicians and the venues were were exceptional and the weather, at times, was a little bit of a challenge but that comes with living in the back blocks of Canada. I wish to thank the hosts, Van, Shelagh, Patricia and Gordon for opening their homes for these wonderfully intimate musical concerts and for providing the wine and treats. I am looking forward to next winter and, hopefully, another Home Routes Concert Series.

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YouTube Pick (#12) – The Brasil Duo

Certain musicians, or groups of musicians, often have “a lock” on a genre or a particular musical approach. For instance Blue grass and old timey musicians own banjo music. After all they virtually invented the instrument and the appropriate styles so it only stands to reason that they should “own” banjo music. Similarly, for a multitude of reasons that I could bore you to death with, “Classical Guitarists” have a lock on Guitar Duets, Trio and Quartets. “The Brazilian guitar duo João Luiz and Douglas Lora are one of the most exciting and recent chamber groups to emerge on the music scene. These two talented young guitarists combine energy and technique with a dazzling musicality………. the duo shows maturity, talent and perfect technique in their interpretations and executions of intricate Brazilian rhythms……. Their sonority is exceptional, robust and varied and their whole repertoire is played with verve and enthusiasm, with stylistic balance and sensitivity …….. Excepts from Wikipedia  –  Amen to all of that.

Classical music, and classical guitar may have a reputation for being stuffy, “uncool” and uninteresting. I think this piece, Bata Coxa, by the Brazilian composer Marco Pereira (born 1950) played by this very energetic duo should dispel some of those notions. CDs by the duo are expensive and hard to come by…… thank God for YouTube for giving me a chance to experience their music.

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