Volume 28 Issue 1 | September 20 - November 8, 2022

Our 28th season in print! “And Now, Back to Live Action”; a symphonic-sized listings section, compared to last season; clubs “On the move” ; FuturesStops Festival and Nuit Blanche; “Pianistic high-wire acts”; Season announcements include full-sized choral works like Mendelssohn’s Elijah; “Icons, innovators and renegades” pulling out all the stops.

Our 28th season in print! “And Now, Back to Live Action”; a symphonic-sized listings section, compared to last season; clubs “On the move” ; FuturesStops Festival and Nuit Blanche; “Pianistic high-wire acts”; Season announcements include full-sized choral works like Mendelssohn’s Elijah; “Icons, innovators and renegades” pulling out all the stops.


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as a memorable detour from more prominent

ideas while never being reduced to a mere

conduit from point A to point B.

Yoshi Maclear Wall

Live in Paris (Radio France Recordings


Chet Baker Trio

Elemental Music 5990442


! In 1952, near

his career’s beginnings,

Chet Baker

became an instant

star playing cool

jazz with the Gerry

Mulligan quartet.

It was the opposite

of everything that

then characterized modern jazz: glacially

slow, meticulously arranged, almost improvisation-free.

Thirty years later, just a few

years before his death, Baker was still playing

a kind of cool jazz, but it was frequently fast,

with extended improvisation.

Available as three LPs or two CDs, Live in

Paris presents two concert recordings, each

featuring Baker’s preferred instrumentation,

a chamber jazz trio of trumpet, piano

and acoustic bass. The first concert, from

L’Esplanade De La Défense, focuses on the

Great American Songbook. It’s the ballads

that stand out, with stellar instrumental

performances of Easy Living and Stella by

Starlight, the rhapsodic accompaniment by

pianist Michel Graillier (his fluid harmonic

invention resembles Bill Evans’) and bassist

Dominique Lamerle feeding Baker’s lyrical

gift. Episodes of Baker’s scat singing, while

mimicking the fluid detail of his trumpet

playing, detract from two up-tempo


The much longer club session from Le Petit

Opportun is much more consistent, with

Baker foregoing singing and popular songs to

concentrate on East Coast hard bop anthems

– e.g., Hank Mobley’s Funk in Deep Freeze,

Horace Silver’s Strollin’, Richard Carpenter’s

Walkin’ – pieces that take on new character

with the chamber jazz dynamics and the

more forceful bass playing of Riccardo Del

Fra, further propelling Baker and Graillier.

A 19-minute (the improvisations really are

extended) treatment of Brazilian composer

Rique Pantoja’s Arbor Way is another


Stuart Broomer


Cat’s Cradle

Arnab Chakrabarty

Independent (arnabchakrabarty.


! Musicians from

around the globe

have chosen to

make Toronto home

ever since the days

it was colloquially

tagged for hogs

and muddy streets.

Virtuoso sarod

player Arnab Chakrabarty, a representative of

the venerable Hindustani raga classical music

tradition, is a relatively recent and welcome

addition to the ranks of Toronto-area music


No novice, over the last two decades

Chakrabarty has played hundreds of concerts

on stages around the world. Indian newspaper

The Hindu reported that Chakrabarty

is “known both for his emotive virtuosity and

cerebral approach,” believing not in “simplifying

music to cater to popular tastes as

much as revelling in ‘manipulating the operative

rules of the ragas to create interesting


Chakrabarty aims to make classical raga

performance accessible to today’s audiences

without compromising its fundamentals.

And his third full-length album Cat’s

Cradle, featuring sarod renderings of five classical

ragas, reflects this balanced approach.

Eschewing flamboyant ornamental passagework,

he rather focuses on the core values

of the raga at hand which come to life in the

alap, the introductory melodic improvisation.

The gat, a melody set in a specific raga

and tala (time cycle) the latter rendered on

the tabla, follows. On this album the gats

are Chakrabarty’s compositions. They in

turn inspire improvisation, the outcome of a

spirited dialogue between set rules and the

musician’s imagination freed up.

Cat’s Cradle gives full scope to

Chakrabarty’s in-depth understanding

and imaginative exploration of each raga

complex, plumbing their signature phrases

and emotional tenor while never losing sight

of the rich Hindustani traditions of raga

performance practice.

Andrew Timar


Gamelan Pacifica

Independent 002 (gamelanpacifica.org)

! Led by

composer Jarrad

Powell, for over

40 years Seattle’s

Gamelan Pacifica

has been one of

the few ensembles


in the intersection

of Southcentral Javanese gamelan and international

experimental music. Its new release

Vessel extends that approach in new directions,

bookended by two works by group

musician and composer Stephen Fandrich.

Laras Chopin and Difference both evoke a

sound world of electronic clusters, or perhaps

of bowed glass bowls, supported by occasional

powerful bass tones. Yet Fandrich

creates that soundscape using mostly acoustic

sounds coaxed from bowed metal gamelan

instruments, deep gongs, and a piano played

with an electromagnetic bow. The effect

is magical.

Fandrich’s Iron Tears explores regions

between the Western harmonies rendered

by the Del Sol string quartet and indigenous

gamelan tunings. They’re allowed to interweave

for 12 minutes before cadencing in a

surprising A Major chord.

Powell’s Tsuki features the brilliant

Javanese-inflected singing by Jessika Kenney

of an English text by Zen Master Doĝen urging

us toward direct experience, the path to

spiritual awakening. In her challenging work

Scar, composer Kenney aims to “unlearn

Javanese vocal timbres and melodic patterns

without relearning centering whiteness.” She

explains the work is a “prayer which intends

to reject the violence of white imperial privilege,

and also to unlearn [the] Javanese vocal

tradition” in which she is so fluent.

Finally, Ketawang Panembah by Darsono

Hadirahardjo features an emotional rebab

(2-string bowed lute) solo masterfully played

by Jesse Snyder. Originally meant to evoke a

prayer for divine blessing, this moving music

– and much of the album – reminds us of the

healing power of music in dark times.

Andrew Timar

Shanties! Live

La Nef; Chor Leoni

Leaf Music NEF0003 (chorleoni.org/


! There could

be nothing more

eminently singable

and danceable

than sea shanties

– those apparently


work songs from

the 19th century.

Fortuitously – perhaps even providentially

66 | September 20 - November 8, 2022 thewholenote.com

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