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 Picks (#22) – More Mandolin Music

When trolling around the internet for Mandolin music and performances the name Marissa Carroll is one that pops up frequently. She is a young Australian musician (b1992) who began playing mandolin at the age of ten and has progressed rapidly to her current status as a much in demand soloist. With mandolin as her principal instrument Marissa completed her degree in music at the University of Queensland in 2012. She plays on a prized vintage Lyon and Healy mandolin from the early 1920s. a German bowl-back mandolin by Klaus Knorr and a Baroque mandolino by Alex Vervaert. Here are a couple of YouTube clips …….

The sound from the above ensemble reminds me very much of the famous Ida Presti / Alexander Lagoya classical guitar duo that was much recorded before Ida’s death in 1967. And now for a little bit of Bach.

There are numerous YouTube performances of Melissa performing in a duo with the classical guitarist Joel Woods. Note the guitar stand used by Joel Woods. This particular device is becoming popular with classical guitarists. Although best known as a classical mandolinist in this  third video the duo is performing a well known Brazilian Choro composition by Ernesto Nazareth.

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Also, while trolling mandolin performances I came across this YouTube of Mochalova. I have not been able to find any information on the lady. Although I find her body language a little over the top  one can’t dispute the quality of her playing.

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Dean Smith Quartet at Frank’s Restaurant

A fine and mellow Christmas at Frank’s Restaurant in Cranbrook with the Dean (Dino) Smith Quartet featuring Dean Smith on Guitar,Trombone and Vocals; Zach Smith on Alto Sax;  Ben Smith on Bass and Guitar and Jared Zimmer on Drums. The favorite Christmas carols, pop songs and show tunes of past eras were all there – We Three Kings, Let it Snow, Frosty the Snowman, Walking in a Winter Wonderland, Dreaming of a White Christmas, Joy to the World, Jingle Bells and Greensleeves and many, many more. 

  

Saturday, December 23, 2017 may have been very frosty outside (minus 20 degrees centigrade) but inside Frank’s it was was warm, cosy and very “Christmassy”.

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Read any Good Books Lately (#10) – Author Kristin Hannah

For those unfamiliar with this author, Kristin Hannah (born September 25, 1960) is an award-winning and bestselling American Writer, who has won numerous awards, including the Golden Heart, the Maggie, and the 1996 National Reader’s Choice award. Hannah was born in California. She graduated from law school in Washington and practiced law in Seattle before becoming a full-time writer. She lives on Bainbridge Island Washington] with her husband and their son. She is a prolific writer with over twenty novels to her credit and they include the following ….. Wikipedia

  • A Handful of Heaven (July 1991)
  • The Enchantment (June 1992)
  • Once in Every Life (December 1992)
  • If You Believe (December 1993)
  • When Lightnings Strikes (October 1994)
  • Waiting for the Moon (September 1995)
  • Home Again (October 1996)
  • On Mystic Lake (February 1999)
  • Angel Falls (April 2000)
  • Summer Island (March 2001)
  • Distant Shores (July 2002)
  • Between Sisters (April 2003)
  • The Things We Do for Love (June 2004)
  • Comfort and Joy (October 2005)
  • Magic Hour (February 2006)
  • Firefly Lane (2008)
  • True Colors (2009)
  • Winter Garden (2010)
  • Night Road (March 2011)
  • Home Front (2012)
  • Fly Away (2013)
  • The Nightingale (2015)

I read The Nightingale  about a year ago. The novel is set in France during the resistance and I found it to be a real page turner. I recommended it to number of my friends and all agreed with my opinion. So, it was only natural that I should add her other novels to my reading list. I have been a little reluctant to plunge right in as her novels tend to be emotional roller coasters that become so engaging that the normal activities of day to day living get pushed into the background. Things like sleeping just gets in the way of finding out what happens next. But I did take the plunge into her 2006 novel Magic Hour and as expected I didn’t get much sleep. From “go to woe” I finished the novel in 24 hours. This is what Amazon has to say about the novel –

“In the rugged Pacific Northwest lies the Olympic National Forest—nearly a million acres of impenetrable darkness and impossible beauty. From deep within this old growth forest, a six-year-old girl appears. Speechless and alone, she offers no clue as to her identity, no hint of her past. Having retreated to her western Washington hometown after a scandal left her career in ruins, child psychiatrist Dr. Julia Cates is determined to free the extraordinary little girl she calls Alice from a prison of unimaginable fear and isolation. To reach her, Julia must discover the truth about Alice’s past—although doing so requires help from Julia’s estranged sister, a local police officer. The shocking facts of Alice’s life test the limits of Julia’s faith and strength, even as she struggles to make a home for Alice—and for herself. In Magic Hour, Kristin Hannah creates one of her most beloved characters, and delivers an incandescent story about the resilience of the human spirit, the triumph of hope, and the meaning of home.”

I am not a literary critic and I neither have the back ground or the inclination to critique or analyse books in depth. My criteria for literary fiction is fairly straight forward – Is the plot believable? are the characters compelling and well developed? Do I have an over riding compulsion not to put the book down? and do I lose sleep in the process of reading?  Based on these criteria Magic Hour is a 10 out of 10 winner.

Enjoy ……………………………………. I will need to get some sleep and acquire some breathing space before I take on another Kristin Hannah novel

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YouTube Pick (#18) – THE PARTING GLASS

When it comes to Irish Tenors I tend not to like them. When it comes to the song Danny Boy then Lord spare me enough is enough. And yet when I hear the Irish Ballad The Parting Glass my objections to syrupy Irish Ballads melts away. Here is an exceptional choral version of a song that has been a favorite of Irish Tenors and folk singers for many a year. It is a version done by the UCD Choral Scholars – “The Choral Scholars of University College Dublin, under the artistic direction of Desmond Earley, is Ireland’s leading collegiate choral ensemble. With a large repertoire ranging from art to popular music, and stretching from the medieval to the contemporary in style, this choir gives many concerts throughout the academic year, both in Ireland and abroad. Following a competitive selection process each September, eighteen gifted students are awarded a scholarship, with recipients of the award coming from a range of academic disciplines across the university, from Music to Medicine, Law, Agricultural Science, Commerce and Engineering.”  – Wikipedia

For pure emotion check the following video – Choir singers from University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire Women’s Concert Chorale surprised locals of Peadar O’Donnell’s bar in Derry with their beautiful rendition of The Parting Glass.

And when you remove the syrup from the song this is what you get – Ronnie Drew of the Dubliners.  Remember that before the Pogues there was the Dubliners…….

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Read any Good Books Lately (#9) – Catalonia

Given the current situation in Spain now would be a good time to re-read George Orwell’s HOMAGE TO CATALONIAIt was written almost 80 years ago and recounts George Orwell’s experiences of fighting on the Spanish government’s side in the Spanish civil war. In black and white terms it was “democracy versus fascism”, but as George Orwell explains it was not quite that simple. The same can be said of the current situation in Spain. The book has an immediacy that still feels fresh today. Some readers may think the discussions of the political parties at the time a little tedious but if you are so inclined George gives you the option to skip those parts. It is well worth a revisit to get some understanding of Catalonia.

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S is for Sicily

The Green Door Presents Michael Occhipinti’s Sicilian Project at Centre 64, Kimberley,  July 13, 2017, 7:30 pm

Pilar, Tony, Michael and Scott

It is a long way from Sicily to Toronto and it is even further to Kimberley in the back blocks of British Columbia. Never-the-less, Michael Occhipinti (guitar) and his band of musicians, including the vocalist  Pilar (all the way from vacation land in Sardinia) and Toronto bassist Scott Kemp traveled west and managed to hook up  with the Kootenay’s “go-to” drummer Tony Ferraro for the Western Canadian tour of Michael’s The Sicilian Project. This is Michael’s nod to his Sicilian cultural roots featuring a healthy dose of folkloric musical themes and stories from the island of Sicily. Actually it is more than a nod. It is a full blown cultural experience that has nothing to do with the popular images of Sicily as presented in the novels of Mario Puzo and Director Francis Ford Coppola 1972 films of The Godfather. This was a wonderful evening of Sicilian culture as seen through the eyes and memories of Michael Occhipinti, his family and his extended visits to the Island. It was Sicilian culture with a twist. There is no way that Michael could deliver an undiluted portrayal of today’s Sicily or even the Sicily of yester-years. Michael is Canadian so it goes with out saying his perceptions of his parents homeland’s poetry and music is colored by his everyday Canadian experiences. That is not a bad thing, and as cultures change and evolve that it is probably the way it should be. Having said that, what the audience got was an evening filled with music, stories, language and humor. The music and musicianship was first class. Michael is one of Canada’s finest guitarists and to quote his website “Michael Occhipinti is a versatile, sound-sculpting guitarist and composer/arranger, who has spent decades freely moving between jazz, chamber music, world music, r&b/funk, and anything involving modern guitar sounds.  He is a nine-time JUNO Award nominee and leads several acclaimed groups including The Sicilian Project, Shine On: The Universe of John Lennon, The Triodes, and the 16-piece group NOJO (Neufeld-Occhipinti Jazz Orchestra. This barely scratches the surface of some of his current projects and collaborations. Surely one of his most successful endeavors  is his current collaboration is with the the Italian vocalist Pilar. What can one say? Well she is so, so, so ……… European and that is so refreshing in today’s homogeneous music scene. Tony Ferraro is from Trail and as they say in Trail you are either “a Mac or a Macaroni” ( ie. either a Scot or Italian) so I guess he has a legitimate Italian connection. Scot Kemp is a sessions musician in Toronto so he has the unique skills needed to fit into Michael’s projects.

Here is the set list for the evening: Set 1

1 Di Pugno Tuo
2 Sacciu chi parla a la Luna
3. Cherchez La Femme
4. Nun ti lassu
5. Per tutto L’inverno
6  Muorica
7. Amuninni Razzietta

Set 2
1. Il Colore Delle Vene
2 Lingua e Dialettu
3. Suzanne
4 Last Day at the Beach
5. Autoctono Italiano
6. Vitti ‘na Crozza

With the exception of Muorica, Amuninni Razzietta and Lingua e Dialettu  from the CD MUORICA  for me the music is entirely new. However, nestled in the set list is Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne and until you hear Pilar’s version sung in Italian, backed by Michael’s artificial guitar harmonics and Tony’s subtle mallets on drum kit you have not yet lived. This has to be a definitive performance.

It was a wonderful concert that was only marred by the exceptionally poor stage  lighting. I am a photographer and I can be critical of stage lighting so I tend to complain about these things. I know it is a balancing act for stage directors to keep in mind the desire of musicians not to be blinded by the heat and the “in your face” lights, the needs of the audience to see the action on stage and the desire for atmospheric lighting to enhance the performance. However, the lighting system in Centre  64 is excellent and for this performance it was not used to an optimum advantage.  I did capture some images but it was struggle on the very edge of what was photographically possible without resorting to using a flash. Here are some images from the evening.

                    

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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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