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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– proud Canadians (particularly of the

Scottish diaspora) continue to keep the

cultural flame of the shanty alive. There is

much to choose from; shanties – creations of

the peripatetic merchant mariner – grew out

of the French “chanter” fused into boisterous

barn-dancing songs, merrily sung by British

mariners into a pint of lager across the ocean

to North America. Many have made it to this

outstanding live recording.

Two celebrated traditional music groups

– Montreal’s La Nef and Vancouver’s Junonominated

Chor Leoni, came together for a

one-night-only performance of brand new

arrangements of these work songs on the

resplendent Shanties! Live. It would be a

minor travesty to suggest that all praise for

this performance accrues to members of

La Nef, albeit the fact that the ensemble’s

fame is owed to their iconic soundtrack for

Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed video game. The

participation of the iconic Chor Leoni has –

together with arrangements by Seán Dagher

and the Chor directed by Erick Lichte –

turned this rare collaboration into something

truly special.

Rip-roaring shanties such as Haul on

the Bowline and the stomach-churning

Stormalong John provide thrill-a-minute

excitement. Meanwhile the profound beauty

of Lowlands Away, Shallow Brown and Le 31

du mois d’août, and the sublime fidelity of

the recording make this classic sea shanties

disc truly spectacular.

Raul da Gama

Three Corners

Hypnosis Negative


! Hypnosis

Negative is a collaboration


Canadian Robert

Alan Mackie (violin)

and Estonian

Katariina Tirmaste

(flute, jawharp).

The duo explores

the roots of dance

in their modern original interpretations of

international and traditional repetitive dance

music with inherent trance-like “hypnotic”

listening and movement qualities.

The ten-track debut release includes their

modern renditions of some Estonian dance

tunes they found in folk music archives,

which I appreciate as a Canadian musician

of Estonian parents. The first track – Hi

(Mardi Tandi Polka), and last track – Bye

(Kuldimuna Lõikaja) – are each under 50

seconds, opening and closing the release

with two shorter version repetitive rhythmic

and melodic Estonian polka interpretations.

Track 2, Buffalo Gals, (Kuldimuna Lõikaja),

from the “common repertoire” Estonia, is

its longer version. This upbeat rendition has

many melodic repetitions with flute harmonies,

quasi atonality and a waltz midstream,

with a legato violin countermelody to an

abrupt “time to stop dancing” accented

ending. Guest percussionist is Juan de la

Fuente Alcón. His subtle background beats in

the calming waltz Sõrmõlugu from Estonian

Jaan Palu’s repertoire, support high-pitched

flute, violin held notes and astoundingly tight

lyrical unison instrumental passages. Three

southeastern United States square dance

interpretations show a surprising traditional

folk-dance similarity to them. There are

Spanish cultural flavours with tight violin and

flute playing over percussion grooves in the

more contemporary sounding Cantiga 181 by

Alfonso X El Sabio.

Hypnosis Negative is creating a brilliant

traditional music future here, both on and off

the dance floor!

Tiina Kiik

Something in the Air

The Timeless Appeal of

Large-ish Ensemble Music


They were supposed to have vanished when singers replaced big bands and become

anachronisms once rock music combos became the de facto performance configuration.

Yet large ensembles never went away. The challenge of blending multiple instrumental

colours still fascinates composers and players of both notated and improvised music.

Producing the proper balance between those two motifs, while taking advantage of every

timbre produced by a large group of musicians is what characterizes the following CDs.

Using the 14-member Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, Norwegian bassist

Ole Morton Vågan created Plastic Wave (Odin Records ODINLP 9578

odinrecords.bandcamp.com), a 2CD meditation on modern challenges

and promises. Although the brief recitations by a poet are lost

on non-Norwegian speakers, the compositions stand on their own.

Taking advantage of the soprano tessitura of vocalist Sofia Jernberg,

Vågan’s arrangements often blend her wordless lyricism with brassy

fissures or placid reed tones. But groove is never sacrificed for gentleness.

Throughout motifs, which suggest Charles Mingus at his bluesiest and Henry Mancini

at his jazziest, are driven by Ståle Storløkken’s Hammond organ pumps, Kjetil Møster’s and

Espen Reinertsen’s tenor saxophone vamps and Vågan’s own double bass stops. Tracks such

as Critical Mass Distraction are notable for their unified polyphony, as the piece advances

due to contributions from trumpeter Eivind Lønning’s shakes and triplets and violinist Ola

Kvernberg’s barbed glissandi. Meanwhile, drummers Gard Nilssen and Håkon Johansen’s

pops and rebounds emphasize the tune’s spikiness, confirmed by a coda of heightened brassiness.

Extended or briefer tracks accentuate the unforced swing that underlies the program.

Two of the more notable are Pickaboogaloo and the title track; moving along with double

bass thumps and drum backbeats the former maintaining a funk tempo projected by contrapuntal

reed and brass riffs. Soon though, a wailing plunger interlude from trombonist Øyvind

Brække, paced by double time organ smears introduces a stop-time variant that matches

portamento brass flutters and honks from the group’s four-person reed section, sliding

from that dissonate interlude to a coordinated finale. Plastic Wave confirms tone construction.

Gradually building up from unified voice, brass and reed expressions, Oscar Grønberg’s

piano tinkles precede an arrangement that alternates intermittent drum beats, brass tongue

sucking and puffs from Eirik Hegdal’s baritone saxophone with the layered harmonies of the


Another double bassist, Benjamin Duboc of Paris, composed and directed an even more ambitious

project. Entitled Volumes II – Fiction Musicale et Chorégraphique – Création pour Grand

Orchestre et Corps Actants (Dark Tree DT 15 darktree-records.com), Duboc’s Ensemble

thewholenote.com September 20 - November 8, 2022 | 67

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