Heritage Lounge Song Writers Circle

 

Get a bunch of musicians together in a room, on a bus, on a train or around a camp fire it is almost inevitable that at some time during the day, the evening or night a song circle will happen. It’s just a natural way to share songs, tunes, new compositions and strut one’s musical chops. It provides an intimate atmosphere for everyone to enjoy and appreciate the music. The usual song circle happening is somewhat spontaneous  and not meant to be taken as a professional performance. But, having said that, why not? Why should only musicians have all the fun? So that was the premise of the Song Writers Circle at the Heritage Inn Lounge on Friday December7, 2018. So, with that in mind a group of musicians from a variety of back grounds came together to share their latest offerings with each other before and an appreciative audience. James Neve (song writer and classic folk/rock musician) stepped away from his band The Choice to host the evening and kick off the night with a little social commentary in his song Joe Hill. If I remember correctly Joe Hill was a Swedish immigrant to the USA in the first half of the last century and was a major organizer of the Industrial Workers of the World Workers of the World (The IWW, other wise known as Wobbolies). Joe came to untimely end when he was executed on November 19, 1915 in Salt Lake City Utah on charges of murder. World War I was in full swing, if that’s the right word, at the time and labor unrest was sweeping the world. Capitalist societies were running scared so it is easy to believe that the authorities manufactured a trumped up charge followed by a swift execution to get the likes of Joe Hill out of sight and out of mind.  Doug Mitchell is a former educator with a tendency towards songs of social commentary. His first offering of the evening was Laughter of the Heart. Heather Gemmell is an attractive  young woman with a back ground in hard rock blues and mellow Blue Grass pickings on guitar, banjo and dobro. As an employee of the City of Cranbrook she has some responsibility for the maintenance of the the city’s cemetery and that may have been the inspiration for her songs Ghost Town and Resting Place. I haven’t heard Heather perform for a while and for me her guitar picking seems to be going from strength to strength.Tim Ross, for the want of a better description, is an old style cowboy who has been known to rock out in the band The Bison Brothers. He is a singer/songwriter/guitar slinger who hails from Wycliffe. His day job as a natural resources consultant, which translates to “cowboy with a degree”, grants him the privilege of riding the range and making a living in the saddle. He also ranches, raising grass-finished beef. His  songwriting influences range from rock n’ roll and blues to rockabilly and cowboy songs. Naturally, as a working cowboy, his song Worktime resonates with his life experiences. Darin Welch is a singer songwriter in the classic Bob Dylan / John Prine tradition and to complete the first round of the circle he offered Transition City.

   

Round and round the circle went with more songs of social commentary, humor, nostalgia and life experiences. Songs included were I Will Never Know, A night for holding on, Seek the Light of Day, Please Take the Wheel (James Neve); Open Happiness – Open up a Coke, Get Use To It, Prairie Oysters, Wish I was Hung Like My Brother Dave (Doug Mitchell); Mountain Home, Kill Them Twice, One Light Sound (Heather Gemmell); Time Flies – When you are Bummed Out Too, Limousine, The Light in Your Eyes, My Baby Won’t Ride in My Truck No More (Tim Ross); A Matter of Time, Wilderness, Sparrow, Pretty Water (Darin Welch). They collectively finished up the evening with group versions of Ry Cooder’s No Banker Left Behind led by Doug Mitchell; Neil Young’s, Heart of Gold, led by James Neve; Rocking in the Free World, led By Tim Ross and finally Bob Dylan’s Wagon Wheels led by Darin Welch. It was a wonderful night of music and one I hope will be repeated again in the near future. Here are more images from the evening:

                  

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Cecile Larochelle – “Fine and Mellow”

This was the third concert in the Fall Jazz and Blues Series  and it was a fine evening of mainstream jazz with vocalist Cecile Larochelle, Don Clark (Trumpet and Fluegelhorn), Paul Landsberg (Guitar), Rob Fahie
(Bass) and Graham Tracey  (Drums). The evening kicked off with a straight ahead instrumental version of Somewhere there’s Music. Cecile  sang Sunday Kind of Love and from then on out it was an evening of mostly familiar songs with solid solos from the members of the band.  Songs included Dancing Cheek to Cheek, Thought About You, Honeysuckle Rose (featuring some great brush work on the drums and Wes Montgomery riffs on guitar), Stormy Monday, Sweet Georgia Brown (great bass solo), This Masquerade (nice Fluegelhorn solo), Roberta Flack’s Will You Love me Tomorrow?, Bye Bye Blackbird, Glory of Love / Makin’ Whoopee, Quiet Nights, Do Nothing ‘Til You Hear from me, Autumn Leaves  (with some nice Bass playing), The Nearness of You and the classic Billie Holiday Blues Fine and Mellow. 

With such a fine bunch of musicians on stage it hardly seems fair to single out any particular performer for special mention but for me to hear and appreciate Graham Tracey playing brushes on his drum kit was a real treat. I believe all drummers should have their sticks broken until such times they have mastered the art of playing brushes.


This was the last concert in the season and once again thanks should go to all the volunteers and merchants who without their support the series would not be possible.

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YouTube Pick (#28) – John Dowland (again)

Some years ago I made the big mistake of declaring that Liona Boyd was a musical light weight “who played like a girl”. It was to a group of women so you can imagine how that went over. In 1970 it was another era and in a sense it was also the end of an era. It was a  time when women were beginning to step outside their subservient role and choosing to stand on their merits. At the time Classical guitar performance was a masculine domain. Andre Segovia had established the Classical Guitar as a legitimate solo instrument and by the time Liona arrived on the scene he had passed on and the genre was dominated by the likes of Julian Bream, John Williams and Alirio Diaz. It was still very much a man’s world.  There were female performers who came before Liona. Most notably there was the brilliant French guitarist Ida Presti who, with her musical companion and life partner Alexander Lagoya , has left us with a legacy of some of the best classical duo performances ever recorded. In no way did Ida “play like a girl”. For Liona it was an era in which female musicians were still expected to be overtly feminine, wear frothy dresses, high heel shoes and appear on stage with a somewhat submissive demure. Liona was a perfect fit for those expectations and although she had impressive technique her repertoire, in my opinion, was not adventurious. But, to be fair the repertoire of most classical guitarists of the day lacked a sense of adventure. New composers and compositions were just emerging and these would change the accepted notion of the standard repertoire.

That all changed when Sharon Isbin arrived on the scene. In her own way Sharon was also a stunning looking woman but she did not conform to the “frothy” role expected of a female Classical Guitarist.

She wore practical, but fashionable attire, pant suits and the like,  and she played with a drive and a passion that left most male Classical Guitarists in the dust. One of her first recorded efforts was a collection of the Bach Lute Suites that set the Classical Guitar world on its ear. The Classical Guitar world has never been the same since and the number of high caliber female performers that have followed in he footsteps is astounding. So much so that it is unfair to single out a performer for comment when there are so many young Classical Guitarists, male and female,  out there. Having said that this performance of John Dowling’s Fantasia Number 7 by the very young Australian guitarist Alberta Khoury is of note.This young lady has studied with Sharon Isbin and it may account for her aggressive technical and musical approach. She has been criticized for playing at too fast a tempo but her dynamic and tonal control is above reproach. I believe at the time of this recording she was 16 years old.

For guitarists who may be interested in such things she obviously tunes the G string down to F# and uses a capo on the third fret to emulate the register and sound of the Lute. Also note the guitar rest on the right knee. It is a device that seems to be gaining popularity with classical guitarists.

Just for comparison here is another version of the same piece by a fellow Australian guitarist Andrey Lebedev.

Just in case you may have thought that Alberta’s performance of the John Dowland Fantasia was fluke here is her performance of the Prelude from Bach’s Lute Suite No.4.

So for all you wanna be rock and roll guitar gods out there here is a woman who doesn’t “play like a girl”.

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Guy Davis – Story Teller

Guy Davis & Fabrizio Poggi : “Sonny and Brownie’s Last Train”   Stage 64, Kimberley, Sunday October 14, 2018, 3 pm.

They did it again. The organizing committee has this rule not to invite repeat performers. Much to our joy, a few weeks back, they set the rule aside for Gabriel Palatchi for him to perform in this fall’s Jazz and Blues Concert Series. Now they have done the same for Guy Davis. One could make the case that Guy’s previous performance in Kimberley was a solo act and this time around it is not the same thing. He has the Italian Blues Harp player Fabrizio Poggi along for the ride (considering the concert title the pun is intended). The duo is fresh from this year’s Grammy nomination in the Traditional Blues Category for their recording Sonny and Brownie’s Last Train – A look back at Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee. The project was recorded in the summer of 2016 in Milan and the album features the original, title track song written by Guy Davis, songs by both Sonny and Brownie, as well as songs known to have been recorded and performed by the famed duo but written by their contemporaries, such as Libba Cotton and Leadbelly. The famous blues duo Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee set the standard for the blues harmonica, guitar and vocal combination and were professionally very active when Guy Davis and I were very young men. Guy is an actor, writer, and all round African American renaissance blues man. He plays in a tradition that has been largely rejected by contemporary black musicians as irrelevant  and the genre has largely been appropriated by white musicians. A point to note is that at the Grammy Awards Guy’s recording was beaten out by The Rolling Stones Blue and Lonesome – a white band paying tribute to black musicians of a bye gone era. I think there is some irony in that.

Afro-Americans of Guy’s generation mostly favor the urban styles of Soul, Funk, hip-hop and rap. By rights, as a urban black man that should have been his musical route forward. Instead he chose to look back to former times and mine the rich musical mother load of a century of blues traditions. As a harmonica player, guitarist, vocalist and story teller he succeeds  at a level unmatched by his contemporaries. Apart from his technical mastery of the musical idiom I think the success of his performances lies in his story telling. All truly great songs tell a story and the blues are no exception.

His sidekick for the project is an Italian and how an Italian could submerge himself so completely in a foreign American tradition is beyond me. I am sure that in his personal blues journey there lies a tale worth hearing.

The duo kicked off the evening with two classic pre-World War II country blues – Tommy Jackson’s Maggie Campbell’s Blues and Blind Boy Fuller’s Step it Up and Go. In the 1960s every blues anthology of note included these performers. They were right up there with Robert Johnson and Big Bill Broonzy. The rest of the concert included Brownie McGee’s Walk on,  ‘Cause I’m Evil, Sonny’s Horray, Horray These Women is Killing Me, Robert Johnson’s Walkin’ Blues, Elizabeth Cotton’s Freight Train, Leadbelly’s Midnight Special, Bob Dylan’s Lay, Lady, Lay (complete with some of Bob’s vocal mannerisms), Sleepy John Estes You’ve Got to Give Account (with some really nice guitar picking) and Blind Lemon Jefferson’s Please See that My Grave is Kept Clean. As well as all the traditional old time blues Guy performed some of his originals. Including Lime Town, Kokomo Kid, I’m Going to Shake it like Sonny Did, I Wish I Hadn’t Stayed Away So Long, Blackberry Kisses, Sonny and Brownie’s Last Ride  and, probably one of the best narrative songs I have heard in a long time, Sugar Belly. It was the story of mixed race girl cursed with great beauty. It was a song so powerful that one of my neighbors was reduced to tears. Here are some more images from the evening.

               This is Guy’s third trip to the area. He performed at the Studio / Stage Door in Cranbrook many years ago and more recently, April April 11, 2015 at Centre 64 as part of a concert series. Guy lives in New York so to come to Kootenays at least once is a big deal. To come three times is almost heroic. I have been to all three concerts and if he should walk though the door again over the next couple of weeks for another concert I would be beating down the door to attend.

On behalf of the organizing committee the MC Peter Kearns would like to thank fellow committee members, the many volunteers and the sponsors Burrito Grill and  A B&B at 228 for making the concert series possible. Thanks to Guy Davis and Fabrizio Poggi coming all this way to give us a truly wonderful evening of music and stories.

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Post Script: The Guy Davis concert ended an East Kootenay “Blue Period”. Over a two weeks there have been four concerts that thematically focused on The Blues. First out the gate was Clinton Swanson / Kelly Fawcett / Doug Stephenson Blues Trio at Stage 64 in Kimberley on September 29, 2018. This was followed by Canada’s Queen of the Blues Rita Chirelli and her band at the Key City, Cranbrook on Friday October 12, 2018 and Tracy K / Jamie Steinhoff Duo in the Saloon Lounge of the Heritage Inn in Cranbrook on Saturday October 13, 2018 and, finally, Guy Davis and Fabrizio Poggi at Stage 64 in Kimberley on Sunday afternoon, October 14, 2018. All told that is a pretty meaty dish of blues fare in a very short period of time.

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Tracy K & Jamie Steinhoff Blues Duo

The saloon bar in the Heritage Inn Convention isn’t a new venue. It has been around for  a while and has mostly been used as a venue for stand up comedians. The manager took note of the success of Auntie Barb’s Bakery and Bistro as a music venue and figured “well he could do that”. It was a good move. For music the room is ideal. Perhaps a slightly raised stage could improve the sight lines but apart from that the lighting is reasonable and the sound acceptable. And, more to the point, the room is quiet and the audience respectful. Louis (“Louie”) Cupello has lined up some fine acts to get the ball rolling.

Local singer/song writer Maddi Keiver was back in town following her recent trip to Dublin, Ireland. She opened the evening with some cover tunes before moving onto her original songs Three crows at the Funeral Home, Crystal Clear, Landslide and Hopeless. In between these she squeezed in a version of The House of the Rising Sun.

         Once again the Winnipeg / Thunder Bay musical axis strikes another blow. Every once in a while the musicians from that neck of the woods venture out into the wider world and refresh our memories of how central that axis is to the Canadian musical landscape. This time around it was the blues duo of Tracy K (vocals, guitar and blues harp) and her musical side kick Jamie Steinhoff (vocals, guitar and resonator slide guitar). Musically the duo has been around the block for a number of years;  traveling back and forth across Canada and down “blues highway 61” into the American south to savor the heartbeat of the blues.   Tracy was raised on sixties radio and her brother’s hippie records and began her professional career at twenty five while living in Toronto. She moved back to Beausejour in the 1990s, started a family and, eventually, began her solo career. She is inspired by local blues greats Big Dave Maclean and Brent Parkin, and contemporaries Rita Chiarelli, Sue Foley and Suzie Vinnick. She is currently Nominee for Blues Artist of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards in October 2018. On the other hand (so to speak) Jamie Steinhoff started his musical life as a Blue Grass banjo player. He still has a great love for the style but over the years he has slipped into a role as a blues performer.    As a duo Tracy and Jamie have traveled a lot in 2018 for folk festivals and a Home Routes Tour.

Perhaps Tracy is best known for her blues harmonica playing and her affinity for the old time female blues singers of by gone eras. In the first set she paid homage to Sippie Wallace with a version of Everybody Loves My Baby and Memphis Minnie’s Chauffeur Blues (originally recorded in 1941). Here and there throughout the evening Tracy  performed some of her original material, a jazz tune here and there and even Anne Murray / Gene MacLellan‘s Snowbird. Her sidekick, Jamie Steinhoff, when not traveling with Tracy, has a real job as a cook. His musical repertoire includes some Blind Blake, Dave Van Ronk and Brownie McGee tunes with great finger picking on both the resonator slide guitar (in open D or open G) and a wonderful Guild F-40 acoustic guitar (I love the shape of that instrument). He also dipped into the country bag with an original song called Too Low Down to Sing the Blues (so I have to sing a country song). His back up slide playing on Nobody Knowns Atlanta Like I Do was outstanding. Here are images from the concert ….                 

As a venue The Heritage Saloon is great addition to the local music scene and I am looking forward to hearing Ken Hamm perform here on Saturday November 3, 2018.

Tracy and Jamie would like express their thanks to the house staff and the audience for their support of live music. They would especially like to thank Tom Bungay for the sound system and John Bisset for the setting up the stage

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Clinton Swanson Blues Trio at Stage 64

The Nelson based Sax player Clinton Swanson has “brand name” recognition here in the East Kootenays. Over the years Clinton with his pork-pie hat and quiver of saxophones has been a frequent visitor to the area. Most recently he was with the Melody Diachun’s  “Back to the Groove Tour” and also with  Jon and Holly in a Cranbrook Summer Sounds Rotary Park concert. Because of  that “Brand Name ” recognition it was understandable that the group was billed as the Clinton Swanson Blues Trio. In actual fact it was more appropriately the Kelly Fawcett Blues Trio with Clinton Swanson on tenor and baritone saxes and Doug Stephenson on bass. Once the concert got going it was easy to hear why Clinton said “we are part of Kelly’s trio and we are here to support him”. Kelly is a new  face to most of us but he has been a long time friend and musical associate of Clinton and they have toured together frequently over the years. The other member of the trio, Doug Stephenson is also a well known Nelson musician who has also toured extensively in the Kootenays. He is living proof that to make a living as a professional musician these days one can’t have “too many arrows in one’s quiver”. I first encountered him playing bass guitar behind Gabriel Palatchi, then as a nylon string Bossa Nova guitarist with Melody Diachun, then as full on electric guitarist with Melody Diachun’s “Back to the Groove Tour”. On this particular night with Kelly Fawcett he is a stand up bass player (no pun intended). In every performance circumstance he looks like he is having way too much fun. He excels on all his instruments and that probably explains why he is in such demand. I am not sure how he is able to keep up his superb skill levels on all instruments. He must practice constantly, all day, every day. I must ask him about that.

In this day and age we are used to Blues groups being guitar based. You know the usual configuration – drums, electric bass, rhythm guitar and a screaming lead electric guitar backing up one or more vocalists. Kelly Fawcett is the vocalist and guitarist in the group, Doug is the bass player but there is no drummer. To be honest, the absence of a drummer is a plus. Without a drummer there was lots of space in the music to hear the vocals, the finger picking guitar leads and backups, and Clinton’s and Doug’s superb solos.

The night kicked of with a couple of standard tunes. Dr John’s New Orleans inspired Such a Night from the Martin Scorsese film The Last Waltz and Robert Johnson’s Walking Blues. In the latter Kelly played some excellent open G slide guitar. From then on the night was a mixture of Country Blues, Jump Tunes (Let the Good Times Roll, Crazy About My Baby), old time tunes (Nobody knowns Atlanta Like I Do), a novelty number here and there, a Tom Waits number (Hey Little Bird Fly Away Home) and, to brighten up the sonic landscape, a few original tunes (Numbers Blues / The Gamblers Blues and Cheddar). For me there were a couple of standout tunes namely Kelly’s interpretation of Taj Mahal’s  classic Fishing Blues and Clinton Swanson’s baritone Sax exploration of Harlem Nocturne. All in all another classic concert in the Fall Jazz and Blues Series. Here are some images from the evening ……..

          

As always, thanks must go to the volunteers, the organizing committee, The Burrito Grill for feeding the musicians and “A B&B at 228” for the musicians lodgings.

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YouTube Pick (#27) – John Dowland

If you looking for a YouTube performance by John Dowland (1563-1626) then you are out of luck. He died about 400 years ago. That was way back at the end of the first Elizabethan era. Despite his demise his music lives on and is a staple in the Classical Guitar, Lute and Vocal repertoires of today. He was an English Renaissance composer and lutenist and in his day was described as “the rarest musician  that his age did behold’. He was a celebrated composer and performer who traveled extensively in Europe. He constantly fell afoul of the religious turmoil of the day. He was Catholic and despite his fame was unable to obtain a court position with Protestant Elizabeth I. He finally, and belatedly, obtained a position with King James I. At that time he was recognized as the finest Lutenist in Europe. He is best known today for his melancholy songs such as Come, Heavy Sleep (the basis of Benjamin Britten’s 1963 composition for solo guitar Nocturnal after John Dowland ) Come Again, Flow my Tears,  I saw my Lady Weepe and In Darkness let me Dwell. As the titles suggest his music displays the melancholia that was so fashionable in his day. His instrumental music has undergone a revival and today any serious Guitarist or Lutenist  needs to spend serious time in exploring the music of John Dowland. The music is complex, exciting and well worth the effort.

I recently stumbled on a YouTube vocal performance of Come Again  by the Bensa-Cardinot Duo and it was one of those “ah ha” moments. Cécile Cardinot vocals had a purity that “rocked my world”. I don’t know if was her French accent or the old English language that ignited my imagination. The first video features Cecile on vocals and Olivier Bensa on Lute. In the second video Olivier switches to Classical guitar.

COME AGAIN – Lyrics (not the same as Cecile’s)
Sweet love doth now invite
Thy graces that refrain
To do me due delight
To see, to hear
To touch, to kiss
To die with thee again
In sweetest sympathy
Come again
That I may cease to mourn
Through thy unkind disdain
For now left and forlorn
I sit, I sigh
I weep, I faint
I die, in deadly pain
And endless misery
Gentle love
Draw forth thy wounding dart:
Thou canst not pierce her heart;
For I that do approve
By sighs an d tears
More hot than are
Thy shafts, did tempt while she
For scanty tryumphs laughs

Born in 1989 in France, Cécile Cardinot is a singer, a spectacular classical guitarist and choirmaster. She started her guitar career with Olivier Bensa in 2008. Along with her choirs, concerts that lead her to various countries and her profession as a guitar teacher at Cahors Conservatory, she worked on the music of John Dowland to create a show “Voice Lute Forte” dedicated to the music of this composer. She is laureate of the Claude Nougaro competition as well as “Revelation Guitarist Acoustic” 2015. (check the duo’s performance of Piazolla’s Libertango to gain an appreciation of her guitar skills  http://www.rodneywilson.ca/2018/07/10/youtube-pick-26-nuevo-tango-new-tango/ )

Her musical colleague Olivier Bensa was born in 1951, is a classical guitarist, lutenist and composer. He has recorded several discs such us “O. Bensa performs Leo Brouwer”, appointed as a reference by the composer himself. Being a concert performer, he has played in prestigious halls (Gaveau in Paris, Wigmore Hall in London…). As a composer he is subject to numerous commands and his works for guitar are published at H. Lemoine Editions. In 2016 he worked with Cécile  to create Voice Lute Forte a work dedicated to English Renaissance music and more specifically to the music of John Dowland.

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Here is another version with the lyrics closer to those printed above

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The flip side of John Dowland’s Music is his instrumental music and specifically his Lute music. Here is a performance of his Fantasia No.7  by Andrey Lebedev .It starts out as a gentle, stately exploration of the melody before going into complex variations and contrapuntal explorations before reaching a climax in an eighth rhythm finale. Modern day steel string guitar players with their alternate tuning and finger picking techniques have been heading in this direction for a number of year but, take note, John Dowland was there long before us. A technical note: To emulate the  sound and range of the Lute, modern day classical guitarists will use a capo (usually at the third fret) and tune the G string down to F#.

Andrey Lebedev, born in Moscow and raised in Australia is one of many, many outstanding young players who are breathing new life into Classical Guitar performances. He is a winner of many awards and honors  and currently lives in London where he is a full scholarship student at the Royal Academy of Music, supported by the ABRSM and the Julian Bream Trust. His interests in contemporary repertoire have led him to premiere new works by leading composers including Peter Sculthorpe’s Oh T.I. for Guitar and String Orchestra, Leo Brouwer’s Danzas Rituales y Festivas, Vol.2 and the aforementioned Julian Bream Trust commissions, as well as regularly performing music by late 20th century by composers such as Berio, Henze, Ginastera, Britten and Takemitsu. A lover of chamber music, Andrey Lebedev performs regularly with flautists Bronte Hudnott and Alena Lugovkina, mezzo-soprano Lotte Betts-Dean, and has worked extensively with the Llewelyn Guitar Quartet in Australia.

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Post Script: –  2018/10/29 – The music of John Dowland has even penetrated the consciousness  of the rock world.  I came across these two videos of Sting with Lutenist Edin Karamazov performing a number of John Dowland songs. I have always enjoyed Stings musical exploration in rock, world music, jazz and solo performances but even I was surprised by these forays into the songs of John Dowland.

The instrument Sting is playing is called a Theorbo. It is a plucked string instrument  of the lute family family with an extended neck and a second pegbox.

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Gabriel Palatchi at Studio 64 in Kimberley

Gabriel Palatchi Trio at Studio 64 in KimberleySeptember 8, 2018, 8pm. This is the first concert of the 2018 Winter Jazz and Blues Concert Series.

Keyboardist Gabriel Palatchi is a citizen of the world. He is an Argentinean with Jewish, Turkish and, given his surname, Italian Roots. He is a ceaseless wanderer touring the world, performing and studying the many musical cultures  he encounters along the way. His recent forays into Spain and Morocco included the study of Flamenco piano music.

“Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1982, Gabriel Palatchi started his first piano lessons at the age of 8. He spent his formative years in Buenos Aires studying classical piano, and being mentored by some of the great maestros of blues, tango, jazz and Latin jazz.  After graduating in 2007 from Berklee international School, Argentina, he spent several months in Cuba where he studied Latin jazz with the master Chucho Valdez. Gabriel subsequently became a composer when he moved to Tulum, Mexico in 2008, and his life experiences up to that point influenced the composition and production of his first solo album “Diario de Viaje” (Travel Diary) in 2010. The album received critical acclaim from music industry journals, and was chosen as one of the best Latin Jazz albums of the year by JAZZ FM Toronto.   He went on to record a further 3 albums that cemented his unique sound, culminating in his 4th and latest album, “Made in Canada” (2017), which also happens to be his first live recording. Gabriel’s songs are a representation of the many cultures which have influenced his music over the years, with a deep core in Latin Jazz.

For the past 8 years Gabriel has been performing at major international music festivals, touring throughout Mexico, Canada and Europe.  His music is broadcast across radio stations all over the world from Alaska through to South America, Europe, the Middle East and Australia  It has been reviewed and featured in the Rolling Stone Magazine, Latin Jazz Network, Ejazznews, All About Jazz, Jazz Caribe, The Toronto Star, Salsa Son, Timba Columbia, Newstime South Africa and inside World Music, among many others.

“Trivolution” was selected as the Gold Medal Winner in the Composer/Album categories; achieved TOP TEN status in the 2015 “Global Music Awards”, and also featured in the “Emerging Artists” section of the April 30th, 2016 issue of BILLBOARD MAGAZINE.”   – This info is from Gabriel’s website.

In the past he has performed in Kimberley. In 2015 his band was included in that year’s Jazz and Blues Concert series ( http://www.rodneywilson.ca/2015/09/13/its-a-long-way-from-buenos-aires-the-gabriel-palatchi-band/ ). I must commend the organizing committee for setting aside their “no repeats rule” to invite Gabriel back to the Studio 64 stage. In that particular performance Gabriel was joined by West Kootenay musicians Doug Stephenson on bass and Tony Ferraro on drums for a collection of some familiar material (Juan Tizol’s Caravan and Ahmad Jamal’s Poinciana) along with his original compositions. This time around the other members of the trio were Cameron Hood from Vancouver on 6 string Tobias electric bass and Luis “El Pana” Tovar on drums. Luis is originally from Venezuela and is now a resident of Calgary. The program for the evening was all original material. As can be imaged, rehearsing such a scattered group of musicians is a challenge. It was done by exchanging mp3’s across continents followed by only three days of rehearsals before the tour. Cameron assures me that the music is fiendishly difficult and for him to nail the exotic piece “in sevens” required many hours of solo practice. Cameron explained that the piece was in 7/8 (perhaps a nod to Gabriel’s Turkish roots) but it was complicated by mirror images of the rhythm. 123 4567 followed by 1234 567 – three and four followed by four and three. On top of that there was all the salsa, Latin and funk overtones. I confess as an Anglo the names of all the Spanish tunes just flew by me. “Oh yeah. There was that thing in sevens. Then there was the Flamenco piano piece and the piece with fragments of Astor Piazolla’s Libertango but as to the names of the tunes they just flew by”. No matter. The music was a tour de force of Latin, Funk and not to be forgotten Nuevo Tango.

In Argentinean Nuevo Tango, drum kits do not figure prominently in traditional performances . Luis “El Pana” Tovar stepped up to the plate magnificently, particularly in the Tango pieces. That style of music is noted, among other things, for its shifting rhythms and structural complexities. It’s enough to make you wonder if a thorough grasp of rhythm requires being born south of the equator. Luis is a noted conga player and percussionist and that may account for some of the musicality in his performance. Or is it perhaps because the guy appears to be almost seven feet tall? Maybe from that height the rhythms of the world are more understandable.

Here are some images from a spectacular night of music.

                       

As with the previous concert in 2015 the music was outstanding. So much so I hope the organizing committee will once again put aside “the no repeats” rule if Gabriel decides to return.

As always, thanks must go to the volunteers, the organizing committee, The Burrito Grill for feeding the musicians and “A B&B at 228” for the musicians lodgings. Oh, by the way, the bassist Cameron Hood would love to come back this way with some of his fellow Vancouver musicians.

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Tony Ferraro – The Man in the Middle

On stage, drummers are rarely up front and in your face. Usually they are buried at back, in the middle, or occasionally off to side. The best they can hope for is a raised stage behind the band. They may not always be seen but they usually are heard. Some might say that is not necessarily a good thing. By and large they tend to be loud, abrasive, and dare I say it, not always musical. However, there are exceptions and Tony Ferraro is one of those exceptions. He is the quintessential “man in the middle” with precise deft splashes of technical skill that perfectly fits the musical situations at hand. He is capable of enough powerhouse drive to fuel a big band. He can be as funky as all get out in an organ trio, or softly pulsing in a Jazz or Bossa Nova setting. He is a resident of the West Kootenays and is basically “the go to drummer” in the region. If you want to take a band to the next level then Tony is your man. We have been very fortunate in this area in that we often get to see, hear and experience such a master musician at play. He was recently in the area with Melody Diachun and her jazz group and a short time later with Lester McLean / Michael Occhipinti’s Jazz/Soul/Funk outfit.

Last June the extra fine vocalist Melody Diachun was in the Studio Stage Door in Cranbrook as part of her “Get Back to the Groove Tour”. The initial kick off concert of the tour was at a Jazz Festival in Calgary. Cranbrook was the stop before the Kaslo Jazz Festival and then all points West down to the coast. With the exception of Cranbook the group played to sold out crowds. As usual Melody surrounded herself with a group of first class musicians that included Tony Ferraro on drums, Doug Stephenson on guitar, Mike Spielman on bass, Clinton Swanson on saxes and the Edmontonian Chris Andrew on keyboards. True to her promise of “getting back to the grove” she kicked off the evening with ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man and an her own original Get Back to the Grove. What I like about the Stage Door as a venue is the opportunity to really hear the music. There are no impaired sight lines, no idle chatter or bar room clatter. It’s just about the music, the musicians and the the audience. The little nuances that might be easily passed over in other environs are there to be appreciated. When Melody picked up the shakers and beat out a groove Tony was right there behind her doubling the rhythm on his snare. The resulting pulse was mesmerizing. When Clinton Swanson rolled off the end of a solo guitarist Doug Stephenson was right there to pick it up and extend the melodic line that Clinton was exploring. And so on. The evening just rolled on with magical vocals and sparkling solos. Here are some more images from the evening:

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Tucked away in a little strip Mall in the old Big Picture electronics store in Cranbrook is Auntie Barb’s Bakery. It is the brain child of Barb Smythe and Todd DeBoice  and it operates as a Bakery and Bistro that also caters to Banquets. The establishment does have another life. At the back of the main room is a  professional stage and performing area complete with a black backdrop and professional stage lighting. For musical aficionado Tod DeBoice it is dream come true. He now has an opportunity to hear and support musicians of his choice in an environment that will show case their talents to the best advantage. A couple of bands slipped into town without my knowledge and performed in this new Cranbrook musical venue. However, I stumbled on a poster in the local library advertising the venue. The names on the poster,  Michael Occhipinti,Tony Ferrero and Felix Pastorius immediately caught my eye. Michael is multiple Juno nominee and top of the pile guitarist from Toronto. I have no hesitation in suggesting that Michael is the most “over the top” talented guitarist in Canada. Over the past year or so he has performed several times in the area including a tour with the outstanding Italian vocalist Pilar.  Tony Ferraro, as I mentioned above is the “go to drummer” in the Kootenays. Although I didn’t immediately realize it at the time Felix Pastorius is the son of the late great bass player Jaco Pastorius. The leader of the band Lester McLean (vocals, guitar and alto sax) was an unknown to me but given the company he was keeping my expectations were pretty high.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018, 7:30pm – Lester McLean Soul / Funk Band featuring Michael Occhipinti at Auntie Barb’s Bakery.

At the opening of the show Michael Occhipinti warned me that this wasn’t going to be a jazz performance. After it was over I begged to differ. It may have been masquerading as Soul and Funk but it was all jazz to me. Of course there were the Stevie Wonder, James Brown and Arethra Franklin hits and a sprinkling of Classic Rock (Drift Away and Harvest Moon). On a blues shuffle Michael Occhipinti did some romping around with his guitar set to an organ effect that made you look for the keyboard that wasn’t there. Lester played some searing alto sax solos and the giant in the back (Felix) played some blistering solos and backups on his Vinny Fodera six string bass. At one stage he was trading riffs with Michael that were over the top brilliant. This was an outstanding night of music.

           

New York may have The Blue Note and the Village Vanguard but Cranbrook has Auntie Barb’s Bakery. What more could we want.

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YouTube Pick (#26) – Nuevo Tango (New Tango)

Tango music came out of Argentina in the very early part of the twentieth century and is mostly associated with the dance of the same name. It’s popularity has waxed and waned though out the century but in more recent times the music has undergone a change into what is now known as Nuevo Tango or Tango  Nuevo.This new style  evolved from the traditionally sung Argentinian Tango which was played as dance music. It originated in Buenos Aires in the mid 1950s and owes its development to new rhythms, melodies, harmonies, dynamics and the incorporation of elements of Jazz and Classical music into a style more  suited to modern times. One of the pioneers of this new style was the Argentinian composer and Bandoneon soloist Astor Piazzolla (March 11, 1921 – July 4, 1992). Piazzolla’s Nuevo Tango introduced elements of Jazz, used extended harmonies and dissonance, counterpoint, and  ventured into extended compositional forms. In the realms of Argentinean music, both Tango and Classical, Astor Piazzolla is a giant. In bringing about the change in Tango style his efforts have not always been met with universal acclaim. There is one story out there about a traditional Tango musician who, on hearing Astor performing music on radio, threatened to go down to the studio and beat up the musicians.

My first encounter with the style was a vinyl recording of Piazzolla’s 1987 New York Central Park Concert and, to be honest, I didn’t get it then and to some extent I am not entirely sure I get it now. The music is so different to everything else that is out there that it is difficult to get a complete sense of the music.   The music is structurally very complex, the melodies are different, the rhythms chop and change and have nothing in common with conventional pop, jazz and nearby Brazilian folkloric styles. In performance the music is very virtuosic and an average musician would have great difficulty in performing the music.The configuration of Nuevo Tango ensembles are unique. The conventional drum kit is absent and any percussion accompaniment is restricted to musicians beating on the body of standard acoustic instruments. Piano, guitar, and bass figure prominently in intricate, mostly written, compositions. Improvisation in the conventional jazz sense is limited.

The instrument that is fairly unique to the music is the Bandoneon. It is an instrument that gives the music it’s unique sonic flavor. It is a type of non-chromatic button concertina defined as a wind / free reed / aerophone instrument. It is similar to certain types of concertinas and melodeons in that it produces different notes on either the push or pull of the bellows. The Bandoneon, so named by the German instrument dealer, Heinrich Band (1821–1860), was originally intended as an instrument for the religious and popular music of the day. Around 1870, German and Italian emigrants and sailors brought the instrument to Argentina, where it was adopted into the nascent genre of tango music, a descendant of the earlier Milonga. By 1910 Bandoneons were being produced expressly for the Argentine and Uruguayan markets, with 25,000 shipping to Argentina in 1930 alone. However, declining popularity and the disruption of German manufacturing during the World War II led to the end of mass production of the instrument. Bandoneons were historically produced primarily in Germany, and, despite its popularity,  were never produced in Argentina itself. As a result, by the 2000s, vintage bandoneons had become rare and expensive (US$4,000), there by limiting prospective bandeonists……… Wikipedia

My interest in the style picked up when I came across Nuevo Tango performances by Gary Burton. For me this made the music much more accessible. I am very familiar with Burton’s music and the sound of the vibraphone in jazz. Burton was born in Anderson, Indiana in 1943 and began playing music at the age of six. He mostly taught himself to play marimba and vibraphone. He began studying piano at age sixteen while finishing high school. He attended Berklee College of Music in 1960–61 and the Stan Kenton Clinic at Indiana University in 1960.  After establishing his career during the 1960s, he returned to join the staff of Berklee from 1971–2004, serving first as professor, then dean, and executive vice president during his last decade at the college. In 1989, Burton received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee. In the world of Jazz, music in general and in the art of playing four mallet vibraphone Gary Burton is a giant. The Gary Burton Grip is one of a number of standard grips used to play with four mallets. He has cited jazz pianist Bill Evans as the inspiration for his approach to the vibraphone.

Burton first became aware of Piazzolla’s music while visiting Buenos Aires with the Stan Getz Jazz group in 1965. Gary Burton at that time was 25 years old. From the liner notes of one of his recordings Burton chronicles his love for the music. ” Standing at the side of the stage in the Buenos Aires  club thirty five years ago, I was swept away by the passion of his (Astor Pizzolla) soaring melodies and rich harmonies and the breathtaking virtuosity of his musicians. But even more surprising, I couldn’t believe this music existed and it was so little known in the United States.”

Here is clip of Gary Burton playing Piazzolla’s Libertango

Libertango is probably one of Astor Piazolla’s most famous compositions and it has been adapted by many performers over the years into solo guitar, guitar duos, guitar quartets, string quartets and other configurations. I think the music is worth a listen and if you are so inclined there is plenty of other examples on YouTube.

Here are a few Gary Burton New Tango recordings to help you to get your head around this music. It may take a while but It is worth the effort.

GARY BURTON – LIBERTANGO – THE MUSIC OF ASTOR PIAZZOLLA  Concord Jazz CCD – 4887-2

NEW TANGO – ASTOR PIAZZOLLA & GARY BURTON  Atlantic Jazz 7 81823-2

GARY BURTON / ASTOR PIAZZOLLA REUNION Concord Jazz CCD – 47932

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post script : more versions of LIBERTANGO

My comment after hearing numerous versions of the piece and this particular guitar duo version…..  Holy Frack, what is that  ………..

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