Browsing: Experimental Jazz

 Suoni per il Popolo June 4-23, 2019 At 19 days, Montreal’s Suoni per il Popolo festival certainly has few rivals, if any, in terms of duration, and artistic scope. Since its inception in 2001, it has dedicated itself to all forms of non-traditional musics, variously labeled as “creative”, “experimental”, “free form”, or whatever one cares to call these, if need be. Jazz, for its part, has always had a place in its program, more specifically from this music’s avant-garde (from Free Jazz to all non-idiomatic practices of improvisation). Yet, its presence has varied from one edition to the next, some…

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A keen observer of the new music scene in Montreal, Réjean Beaucage has taken to the task of demystifying that slightly strange bird known as musique actuelle. His book on this subject, released last February, is but a logical extension of his first one of eight years ago that recounted the history of the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec. In close to 200 pages, he embraces a good half a century of musical activity, its alpha point in 1961 with the Semaine de musique actuelle and further manifestations such as the FIMAV, founded in 1983 and still around to this…

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In our February jazz section, we discussed the meaning of the above terms in jazz. The three recordings under review serve to illustrate the points made. Effendi Jazz Lab / Quintessence – Effendi FND 152 If “modern” jazz is defined as a music that relies on its own history, this release from Quebec’s Effendi label fits that bill. Pianist Felix Stüssi heads this eight-man unit as guest composer, penning all nine tunes, including three older ones re-arranged. The musical language bears the twin imprints of jazz and blues, with no less than three numbers based on the latter form. The…

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In its day, the late 1960s, the Quatuor de Jazz libre du Québec (QJLQ) was the first local band dedicated to the cause of free jazz, the era’s most radical music. Remarkably, it grabbed headlines, joining forces for a while with singer Robert Charlebois, then the leading pop icon. As unlikely as it was, that pop-free jazz encounter was part of the order of the day, when musical genres clashed at will. This episode is but one of many dealt with in a new book (in French) on this trailblazing jazz ensemble. Entitled JAZZ LIBRE et la révolution québécoise: Musique-action,…

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Artists generally confine their work to one field. Painters and sculptors, for instance, are not so involved in any of the performing arts. These require an audience, which is the raison d’être for all musicians, dancers and actors. Thus, the solitary pursuit of visual art runs counter to the dispositions of stage performers. But there are exceptions, people whose creativity flourish in both worlds. John Heward was one of them. For close to half a century, this full-blooded Montrealer pursued twin careers, one as a visual artist, the other as a musician. In spite of a long career, he was a…

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REVIEW: of The Anchoress, a world premiere of a new musical monodrama/song cycle composed by David Serkin Ludwig with text by Katie Ford, performed by soprano Hyunah Yu, accompanied by saxophone quartet PRISM and ancient-instrument ensemble Piffaro; on Wednesday, October 17, at the Perelman Theatre of Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, and on Thursday, October 18, at New York City’s DiMenna Center for Classical Music (the latter performance reviewed here); and INTERVIEWS: with composer David Ludwig and poet Katie Ford. The impulse to retreat from the world in search of spiritual insight or purity has manifested throughout human history. Twenty-one centuries of Christianity…

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REVIEW: of works by composers David Lang and Gregg Kallor – The Mile-Long Opera by Lang, performed on the High Line; and sketches from The Frankenstein Suite, plus the monodrama “The Telltale Heart,” by Kallor, performed in the Catacombs of Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. Some uncanny musical surprises graced unusual locations both above and below New York City street-level during the early part of Halloween month. Here’s a diary retrospective. Going the Extra Mile Beginning at twilight on six consecutive evenings (October 3 through 8; viewed October 7), Pulitzer-Prize-winning composer David Lang and a host of collaborators presented a unique choral…

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By Paul Serralheiro Cross-pollination in the arts is always a good thing. An example of this is when musicians from different geographical locations get together to share their experiences in a concert setting. This is especially exciting in improvised music, because you never know what might happen. Such was the case on two different nights at the Suoni per il popolo festival last week. June 12 featured a Lisbon-Montreal encounter at the Casa del popolo, which was the first part of an evening devoted to daring improvisational music (the second part featured Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Haker-Falten’s Texas band The Young Mothers…

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by Paul Serralheiro At the Suoni per il popolo last week fans were treated to three installments of free jazz performed at the highest level by some senior stellar talents. Free jazz is alive and well even after nearly 60 years. While many of its pioneers, the likes of Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, Paul Bley, and Steve Lacy are no longer with us, some most notable practitioners are very much alive and well. Four of them came by recently at the Sala Rossa. Joe McPhee, 78 years old; Milford Graves, 76; Kahil El’Zabar, 64; David Murray, 63 – are all…

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Casa Del Popolo, June 3, 2018 by Paul Serralheiro On the third night of the 2018 Suoni per il popolo festival, guitar fans were in for a treat, i.e. guitar with a decidedly avant-garde twist. No polished standards or shiny virtuosity for its own sake this night, but provocative deconstructions of idiomatic music, with sound artists Wendy Eisenberg, Jason Kahn and Eugene Chadbourne in three solo sets. Thanking the audience for its attentiveness and announcing she would be playing improvised music, Wendy Eisenberg launched into minimalist deconstruction in the first piece, using her archtop guitar’s sonic palette in ways reminiscent…

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