If you like dogs click on this link ARTHUR – AN ADVENTURE STORY
(Thanks to Beth Crawley for sending this to me)
If you like dogs click on this link ARTHUR – AN ADVENTURE STORY
(Thanks to Beth Crawley for sending this to me)
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.
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 –
The implementation of sensible Public Health Policies has always been an uphill battle and the battle never seems to end. The American novelist Sinclair Lewis in his 1925 novel Arrowsmith explored the issues that faced a young idealistic physician in pursuing an ethical career in medicine. In that era American main stream physicians resented Public Health policies that, in their view, threatened to interfere with their ability to make a living. In the course of the novel Lewis describes many aspects of medical training, medical practice, scientific research, scientific fraud, medical ethics, public health, and of personal/professional conflicts that are still relevant today. Thankfully the discussion seems to have moved on and in this modern era the medical professions support evidence based scientific Public Health Policies. Yet despite the over whelming evidence in support of mass immunization there are continuing efforts to undermine the logic, efficacy and efficiency of modern day programs. In the past children were at risk from any number of infectious diseases. Modern immunization programs and Public Health policies and initiatives have largely made a significant number of those risks things of the past. Yet we seem to have forgotten that in our life time and in our parent’s life times Diphtheria, Whooping Cough, Tetanus, Smallpox and Polio and a whole host of infectious disease that were very real problems have now been brought under control by public health initiatives. We are in awe of the spectacular achievements of modern medical and surgical technology and we seem to forget the less dramatic efforts of the quiet revolution in hygiene, sanitation and public health that are the real medical achievments of the past century.
One of the casualties of the internet era is the devaluation of the “expert”. Even such august bodies as the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) seem to rate less credibility than the opinion of non-expert celebrities. At the risk of calling upon the non-expert opinion of a celebrity I suggest that the viewing of the attached video by John Oliver is a worth while exercise in getting a balanced view of the battle over immunization. I also think it is an indictment of the current state of affairs that the programs of comedic social commentators like John Oliver , Stephen Colbert and John Stewart are more likely to be factual than the “alternate facts” perpetuated by certain politicians.
PS. The Novel Arrowsmith has been compared with The Citadel published by British novelist A.J. Cronin in 1937. The Citadel also deals with the life experiences of a young idealistic doctor who tries to challenge and improve the existing system of medical practice.
The preseason games have started………..
A solid recommendation from some one whose opinion you trust can help whittle down that long list of books you are going to get around to reading some time. These two books fit into that category and they also come with the recommendation that they both should be read in quick succession in the following order.
CADILLAC DESERT by Marc Reisner is a non fiction book written way back in 1985. Despite the intervening years the self evident truths noted in this book still seem to be valid. “It is the story of the American West and the relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecological and economic disaster. In his landmark book, Cadillac Desert, Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthless tactics employed by Los Angeles politicians and business interests to ensure the city’s growth. He documents the bitter rivalry between two government giants, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in the competition to transform the West. Based on more than a decade of research, Cadillac Desert is a stunning expose and a dramatic, intriguing history of the creation of an Eden–an Eden that may only be a mirage” — Amazon
“The definitive work on the West’s water crisis.” –Newsweek
A couple of things that came to mind while reading the book. Number one – Donald Trump may seem to be an aberration on the political landscape but as evidenced in this book, and other examinations of American political history it is obvious that the States is populated by numerous characters and personalities that are just as obnoxious, bizarre and just as destructive of the common good. Number two – Huge bureaucratic public organizations such as the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are susceptible to inappropriate political pressure that result in less than satisfactory outcomes. These two particular agencies have overlapping mandates that have led to massive over building of dams, the destruction of the west coast salmon runs, the depletion of water resources and the massive build up of salt concentrations in the lower reaches of many rivers. Number three – American interests have their eye on acquiring access to Canadian water, particularly free flowing rivers in British Columbia. This is important to keep in mind during the upcoming North American Free Trade Negotiations and the Renewal of the Columbia River Treaty. Southern California has tried, and failed, to get access to the few remaining free flowing rivers in Northern California, Oregon and Washington State and that should be a lesson for us. Also keep in mind that access to more water isn’t the answer. More access will only continue with the under valuation of the resources and perpetuate the ongoing problems.
The legacy of these some times well intentioned policies and projects is a time bomb just waiting to exploded. It is this time bomb that is explored in the second book —-
THE WATER KNIFE by Paolo Bacigalupi is set in the not to distant future and it is a dystopian novel of a possible outcome of the water policies out lined in Cadilac Desert. In the novel the south western states, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico are entering the end game of past policies and errors and now face serious conflicts over dwindling water resources.
“Three different characters try to navigate a water-starved Southwestern United States. The survival of different cities depends on their political clout and ability to claim senior water rights. Las Vegas is one of the big players, with Catherine Case and her goons destroying nearby competitors by undermining their water supply. Angel is one of those goons, and when someone in the area starts claiming they have traced down a game changing water allocation document, Case send him to investigate. Lucy is a future Pulitzer prize winning journalist who is willing to risk her life to uncover the shady dealings and murders behind the ongoing legal battle for control of the Colorado. It is her friend who initially claimed possession of what might be the most valuable document in America, but when he is found murdered, she has the story of a lifetime in her hands. Maria is a refugee from the now ruined state of Texas who lives hand to mouth, trying to stay out of the way of local gangs and save up enough to escape to one of the more hydrated states.” – Amazon.
Without giving too much away that is the thumb nail of the story. It is a story well worth reading. Not an absolute page turner but it is a good story with believable characters. The premise is not that much of a science fiction stretch and is entirely believable. The future of the region may not turn out exactly like this but it is sure to be some variant of a number of similar possibilities. I wouldn’t plan on buying real estate or relocating to the region any time in the near future.
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.
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.
Tattoo Weekend Schedule
Friday, July 14th, 2017
Saturday, July 15th, 2017
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
AT THE KIMBERLEY ARENA, SATURDAY JULY 15, 2017 (in the evening)
That was not the end of the festivities, the evening concluded with a kitchen party in the Arena.
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.
The Green Door Presents Michael Occhipinti’s Sicilian Project at Centre 64, Kimberley, July 13, 2017, 7:30 pm
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
7. Amuninni Razzietta
1. Il Colore Delle Vene
2 Lingua e Dialettu
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.
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.
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,…