07 Britten Death in VeniceFrank Martin – Mass for Double Choir
Westminster Choir; Joe Miller
Independent wcc1809 (naxosdirect.com/items/miller-mass-for-double-choir-465897)

Why isn’t the music of Frank Martin better known? Born in 1890 into a fervently Christian family – his father was a Calvinist minister – this Swiss-born composer reached maturity at a time when many composers were experimenting with new means of expression such as serialism and atonality. Nevertheless, while Martin did adopt certain contemporary styles, most of his music remained firmly rooted in the past. This was particularly evident in his works for chorus and never more so than in his great Mass for Double Choir performed here by the Westminster Choir under the direction of Joe Miller.

Written in 1922, the Mass was Martin’s only unaccompanied choral work and today it is regarded as among the greatest a cappella works of the 20th century. An intimately personal creation, Martin kept it under cover for nearly 40 years and it wasn’t until 1963 that it was first published and performed.

Not surprisingly, the Westminster Choir does it full justice. The work opens with simple flowing lines not dissimilar to those of Gregorian chant. Yet very soon, the score leaves medieval Europe and joins the 20th century with lush impressionistic harmonies. Indeed, the five-movement mass is a study in contrasts from the introspective Kryie to the solid Gloria and the mysterious Agnus Dei. Throughout, the choir provides a sensitive and profound performance – music written as a true testament to a composer’s deep Christian faith.

An added bonus on this disc is the inclusion of four short choral pieces by Edward Bairstow, Joel Phillips, Anders Öhrwall and Bernat Vivancos, all of which round out a most satisfying recording. For lovers of choral music this CD is a must – beautiful music exquisitely sung – we can’t ask for more.

02 Czerny TriosCzerny – Piano Trios
Sun-Young Shin; Benjamin Hayek; Samuel Gingher
Naxos 8.573848 (naxosdirect.com/items/czerny-piano-trios-457583)

This disc provides additional recognition for the chamber music of Carl Czerny (1791-1857). The Deux Trios brillants, Op.211 (1830) illustrate my sense that the Beethoven-taught Czerny has a more Romantic side that I prefer, and a more classical side that I do not. My first exposure to the Czerny chamber revival was an energetic, Beethoven-ish recording by Anton Kuerti and St. Lawrence String Quartet members of the composer’s Piano Quartet. In that spirit, on this disc I love the second trio of Op. 211 in A Major, where virtuosity serves expressive ends, harmony demonstrates the advances of the early-Romantic era, and there is the sense of power and growth. The third movement surprises in its Bolero rhythm, adding vitality and contrast. The first trio in C major shows Czerny’s classically precise writing for piano in a high register. But the material I find prim, exhibiting a music-box effect sometimes.

The Trois Sonatines faciles et brillantes, Op.104 (1827) for advanced students, illustrate the older tradition of piano as leader, violin and cello as accompanists, with opportunities for improvisation. Again, my inner Romantic leads me to prefer the final A-Minor Sonatina to those in G and C Major. I respect the articulate pianism throughout of Samuel Gingher, supported by colleagues Sun-Young Shin, violin, and Benjamin Hayek, cello. Playing on modern instruments their style leans Classical or Romantic as appropriate, but is never mechanical.

03 Schubert OctetSchubert – Octet in F Major, D.803
OSM Chamber Soloists
Analekta AN 2 8799 (analekta.com/en/albums/schubert-octet-in-f-major-d-803)

Schubert’s largest chamber work, the Octet, was composed in 1824, during a deeply creative period in his life that also gave birth to two other major chamber works – the string quartets Death and the Maiden and Rosamunde. Although they share similar combinations of splendour and elegance, the Octet seems to be both more ceremonious in form and more optimistic in nature and, as such, a relevant choice for OSM Chamber Soloists’ second album. Having released their recording of Beethoven’s Septet in E-flat major in January 2018, the OSM Chamber Soloists chose the work that was inspired by Beethoven’s Septet as their next project. These two classic gems have many parallels, including instrumentation, the number of movements, key relationships and general character. Structured in six strong movements, the Octet features many of Schubert’s signature marks such as prominent dotted rhythms, dramatic momentum and sumptuous melodies. The fourth movement, Andante – variations, is especially captivating with its sublime transitions between the variations.

The OSM Chamber Soloists (comprising members of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal) is a splendid ensemble. Each instrumentalist has a distinct character of their own but the synergy of the ensemble, the osmosis of the musical ideas, is extraordinary. I have been a fan of the violinist Andrew Wan for quite some time and his playing and leadership on this album is exceptionally strong. The rest of the ensemble is just as impressive. Olivier Thouin (violin), Victor Fournelle-Blain (viola), Brian Manker (cello), Ali Kian Yazdanfar (double bass), Todd Cope (clarinet), Stéphane Lévesque (bassoon) and John Zirbel (horn) have collectively created a colourful aural portrait of a unique work.

05 Clarinet QuintetsClarinet Quintets
Mark Lieb; Phoenix Ensemble
Navona Records nv6193 (navonarecords.com/catalog/nv6193)

Lyricism may not be the first quality one associates with the music of Elliott Carter, yet always amidst his confusion of conflicting rhythms there are long melodically pure lines to be sung. Carter’s Clarinet Quintet (2007), offers plenty of the former, but an especially good amount of the latter as well. The performance on this recent release by members of the Phoenix Ensemble (including founder and clarinetist Mark Lieb) rises to the task of finding the way to sing the lines within the exacting demands of Carter’s rhythms. The more contrapuntal playing is virtuosic and seemingly effortless. Lieb has a ready access to the entire range of his instrument, and his rapid articulation is crisp and sure. The quartet playing is even better, or perhaps it’s safer to say theirs is the more friendly material. Oddly, in this late work, the composer assigned great swatches of sustained notes to the wind player, setting off the more interesting material played by the strings.

The same could not be said of Johannes Brahms’ towering late chamber work, the Quintet Op.115 for Clarinet and Strings. All players share in the glory of this final outpouring of the old man’s soul. This disc’s pairing with the Carter quintet is an odd one, so little do the two works have in common beyond instrumentation. The quartet here is still excellent, all in all; the ensemble is good. Their decision to examine the work with slower than conventional tempi in the outer movements is not a success, but I do love the style of the string playing, which is reminiscent of mid-century movie score melodrama.

An excellent rendering of Carter’s Esprit Rude/Esprit Doux, for flute and clarinet, is included between the larger works.

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07 Mahler 5Mahler – Symphony No.5
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Daniel Harding
Harmonia Mundi HMM902366 (smarturl.it/n1e7kz)

Mahler’s Fifth Symphony has proved itself to be one of his most often performed works, musically challenging yet accessible enough for even student orchestras to perform with aplomb. Scored for a relatively normal-sized orchestra and relatively Apollonian in comparison to his more Dionysian and ofttimes programmatic earlier symphonies, it marks a progression towards an exclusively instrumental and often elaborately contrapuntal approach characteristic of his middle period symphonies.

Daniel Harding, a protégé of eminent Mahlerians Simon Rattle and Claudio Abbado, leads a revelatory performance of this work with the superb Swedish Radio Orchestra, an ensemble he has directed since 2007 and to whom he is contracted through 2023. The esprit-de-corps he has established with the ensemble is palpable in this sumptuous and expertly edited recording, captured in all its glory by a crack audio team from Teldex Studio Berlin. It is sadly rare these days to come across a proper studio recording of this quality. No nuance goes unnoticed in this finely wrought and vigorous production.

Harding’s interpretation is eminently idiomatic and the orchestra is quick to respond to his beck and call. As an example among many wonderful moments I was struck by his handling of the exuberant Rondo-Finale, in which the many tempo changes are elegantly transitioned by establishing a long line that drives towards the conclusion, surmounting the sectional stopping and starting that often mars lesser performances. The celebrated Adagietto movement for strings and harp is equally effective; it is languorously timed at 10 minutes and 30 seconds yet never feels overwrought, as the string section’s vibrato is carefully restrained to something resembling a period performance. A truly admirable achievement for all concerned!

01 HosokawaToshio Hosokawa – Orchestral Works 3
Basque National Orchestra; Jun Markl
Naxos 8.573733 (naxosdirect.com/items/toshio-hosokawa-meditation-nach-dem-sturm-klage-448889)

Multiple award-winning Japanese contemporary classical composer Toshio Hosokawa (b.1955) has built an illustrious career rooted in both his Japanese birthplace and in European, particularly German, musical culture. Those bicultural influences, drawing on Schubertian lyricism and Webernian tone colouring, are seamlessly integrated with intrinsically Japanese musical, theatrical, aesthetic and spiritual elements.

Hosokawa has stated his philosophical goal was to give “musical expression to the notion of a beauty that has grown from transience. … We hear the individual notes and appreciate at the same time the process of how the notes are born and die: a sound landscape of continual ‘becoming’ that is animated in itself.”

His orchestral triptych Meditation, Nach dem Sturm, and Klage forms the heart of this album. It is Hosokawa’s personal and theatrical – in some places near cinematic – response to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. While Meditation mourns the many victims of that tragedy, Nach dem Sturm invokes oceanic turbulent darkness.

I find Klage the most moving and musically convincing. Based on a poem and fragments of letters by Austrian poet Georg Trakl (1887-1914), Klage rages against human life taken by the ocean. Haunting images in the lyrics – a shattered body, lamenting dark voices, a lonely boat sinking in stormy seas under “unblinking stars” – are reflected in the music.

Hosokawa masterfully unleashes the full power of the contemporary symphony orchestra in Klage. It’s underscored by the emotional power of the female voice, here eloquently rendered by mezzo-soprano Mihoko Fujimura, which serves as the work’s consoling mother figure.

02 Global SirensGlobal Sirens
Christina Petrowska Quilico
Fleur de Son FDS58046 (naxosdirect.com/items/global-sirens-473518)

The last Classical & Beyond beat column I wrote for The WholeNote (October 2013 issue) was titled “Let’s Hear It for the Women!” Now, five years later, I am pleased to be reviewing Global Sirens, released last month by the exceptional (and exceptionally busy) Canadian pianist and educator, Christina Petrowska Quilico, and featuring works by 15 women composers, some known, most essentially neglected. Several were born around the turn of the last century; a few are still composing today.

As the title suggests, the 15 composers – I’m about to give them their due and name them all – hail from all over the globe: Germany (Ilse Fromm-Michaels, Else Schmitz-Gohr, Lotte Backes, Barbara Heller, Susanne Erding); France (Lili Boulanger, Cécile Chaminade, Germaine Tailleferre); Italy (Ada Gentile); Canada (Larysa Kuzmenko); USA (Meredith Monk, Adaline Shepherd); Australia (Peggy Glanville-Hicks); South Africa (Priaulx Rainer); and Russia (Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté, who lived in Winnipeg the last 20 years of her life). Some had fathers who forbade or discouraged their musical pursuits; others were expected to give up composing once married. And because her husband was Jewish, the Nazis banned performances of works by Fromm-Michaels.

Petrowska Quilico covers a lot of ground over the CD’s 19 tracks, from Chaminade’s rich and romantic Méditation and Schmitz-Gohr’s lovely Elegie for the Left Hand to Backes’ jazzy, Debussyesque Slow and Kuzmenko’s haunting and evocative Mysterious Summer Night. And then there’s Shepherd’s delightful Wireless Rag, yup, an honest-to-goodness rag.

Let’s hear it for Christina Petrowska Quilico, champion of women composers!

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03 Frank HorvatFrank Horvat – For Those Who Died Trying
Mivos Quartet
ATMA ACD2 2788 (atmaclassique.com/En/Albums/AlbumInfo.aspx?AlbumID=1618)

It is impossible to escape Frank Horvat’s mystical hypothesis that music is somehow part of all human DNA. It is also a testament to the genius of Horvat that he is able to craft this into each segment of this unique 35-movement string quartet so that each so comes poignantly alive with the personality of 35 Thai environmentalists and human rights warriors who died in the act of defending the truth. The magical experience magnifies exponentially as one is struck by the fact that the inspiration for all of this is, further, inspired by a visual essay created by photographer Luke Duggleby titled For Those Who Died Trying.

Both Horvat and Duggleby have been transformed by the senseless murders of the 35 Human Rights Defenders (HRDs). The portraits of the HRDs made by the photographer are starkly unglamorous images of each defender. The musical resurrections are Horvat’s as he melds the story of each life and death, using a unique melodic language in which the poignant sense of humanity and tragic loss is never far from the surface of each piece.

The Mivos Quartet, a unique string ensemble, responds brilliantly to this music. There’s a strong sense, in each of the 35 sections, of the quartet functioning like actors in some powerful tragedy. Each musician, solo and in ensemble, controls his forces with an unfailing sense of the right emphasis and the right moment together to deliver performances of affecting power.

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05 WeinbergWeinberg – Symphony No.13; Serenade for Orchestra
Siberian State Symphony Orchestra; Vladimir Lande
Naxos 8.573879 (naxosdirect.com/items/weinberg-symphony-no.-13-serenade-459920)

Starkly contrasting works by Mieczyslaw Weinberg fill this disc of world-premiere recordings, part of Naxos’ projected 17-CD compilation of Weinberg’s orchestral music conducted by Vladimir Lande.

The 13th of Weinberg’s 22 symphonies, dating from 1976, is dedicated to the memory of his mother, killed in the Holocaust along with his father and sister. (In 1939, after Germany invaded, the 19-year-old Weinberg fled from Poland to live in the USSR.)

Weinberg’s sombre Symphony No.13 begins with a downcast melody for strings that seems to wander, as if lost in a fog, for more than three minutes. Scored for a large orchestra (triple woodwinds, six horns), the one-movement, 38-minute Symphony contains other such long, gloomy, sparsely textured passages, separated by agitated, anguished tutti climaxes. It closes as bleakly as it begins, with a few plucked harp notes quietly fading away. Significantly, Weinberg quotes from the opera he considered his finest creation, The Passenger, set mostly in wartime Auschwitz. This symphony, so similar in mood and intensity to a grief-laden adagio by Shostakovich (Weinberg’s friend and stylistic inspiration), is a truly haunting, powerful statement of personal pain and heartbreaking loss.

Nothing could be more different than the four-movement, 18-minute Serenade (1952) – bright, cheerful, playful, with charming dance-like melodies. The finale is even titled Allegro giocoso – nothing giocoso, of course, in the Symphony.

Conductor Lande is clearly committed to Weinberg’s music, these vibrant performances helping to make this CD utterly unforgettable.

Morton Feldman – For John Cage
Aisha Orazbayeva; Mark Knoop
all that dust ATD 1

Matthew Shlomowitz – Avant Muzak
Asamisimasa; Håkon Stene
all that dust ATD 2

Séverine Ballon – Inconnaissance
Séverine Ballon
all that dust ADT 3

The new label all that dust (allthatdust.com) has been established by the outstanding pedigree of its founders – composers, performers, instrument-builders and forthright musical creators and innovators – who have cut their teeth on the most demanding concert halls across the world of contemporary music. Now from founders, soprano Juliet Fraser, Newton Armstrong and Mark Knoop come these three of the first five releases on their exciting imprint. The tongue-in-cheek title of this label, All That Dust, and the bold statements of the music under review, will probably not be lost on the listener.  

06a all that dust FeldmanMorton Feldman’s For John Cage – literally the premiere release, which also features label co-founder and pianist Mark Knoop, together with brilliant violinist Aisha Orazbayeva – heralds something of a reborn American avant-garde, primarily concerned with the sensual qualities of sounds themselves, rather than the shaping and ordering of those sounds. Always typical of this tendency, Feldman’s sound-world here consists of small, soft and unhurried musical gestures which emphasise the physical detail of instrumental timbre. The work in question seems a conscious attempt at formalizing a disorientation of memory. The effect is of a hallucinatory stasis, not dissimilar to the canvases of Mark Rothko, where little happens – very beautifully.

06b all that dust ShlomowitzMatthew Shlomowitz’s music is characterized by its bizarre theatricality and biting irony couched in subversive and surreal quantum miniatures. The disc begins with four segments titled Popular Contexts 7: Public Domain Music, all of which are almost immediately recognizable since the segments are reminiscent of elevator and mall music upon which they are based. The next five segments feature variations with similar public-music settings, this time featuring the percussionist Håkon Stene who augments Asamisimasa, a kind of Lewis Caroll-like equivalent of a jazz quintet. Avant Muzak – five sketches regarding tempi and locale – brings this entertainingly satirical disc to a close.

06c all that dust BallonThe effect of Séverine Ballon’s musical odyssey Inconnaissance is best elaborated as a masterpiece of music whose microscopic elements of tone, pitch and tempi are conflations of musical ideas miraculously welded together: new, alert and alive. Ballon’s transparent, lyrical cello resides in an opulent sound world.

07 Hands and Lips of WindHands and Lips of Wind
Diagenesis Duo
Independent (diagenesisduo.com)

You know that you’re already in for something special when you read that the Diagenesis Duo comprises a soprano – Heather Barnes – and a cellist – Jennifer Bewerse. That Barnes turns out to be decidedly bel canto with an ability for breathtaking coloratura and that Bewerse draws from her instrument every possible sound short of a human voice is the seductively beckoning cherry on the proverbial cake.

The two settings of Mischa Salkind-Pearl’s profoundly ethereal Hands and Lips of Wind are intensely dramatic. This work, together with con mortuis in lingua mortua, Stephen Lewis’ powerfully elegiac piece, and a fresh arrangement of the constantly shifting Travels by Adam Scott Neal were commissioned by the duo. The album also includes the viscerally sprung Nine Settings of Lorine Niedecker, a series of miniatures by Harrison Birtwistle; all of which is music made in the realm of heaven.

Bewerse is not the only one who pushes the envelope, vaulting and diving up and down the registers of the cello – no easy task given its tuning in perfect fifths an octave beneath the viola and an octave above the contrabass – but swathed in the leaping melisma and daring coloratura of Barnes, the duo sculpts this diabolically complex music with impossible precision. It is music seemingly in the twilight of tonality but it is utterly seductive, with the cerebral clarity and the stunning instinctiveness with which both musicians approach the five gems in this repertoire.

01 Molly JohnsonMeaning To Tell Ya
Molly Johnson
Universal Music Canada/Belle Productions BMM101 (mollyjohnson.com)

Every now and then, a recording comes along that makes you sit up and take notice, literally stop what you are doing, and just listen. This is one such album, a personal, soulful set of originals and covers sung by one of Canada’s finest ladies of song, Molly Johnson.

Johnson sings her life experience into these songs, and the results are riveting, moving and celebratory. Of course it helps to be in great company, and she has handpicked the best to join her on this musical journey: drummer Davide DiRenzo, guitarist Justin Abedin, keyboardist Robi Botos, bassist Mike Downes, organist Pete Kuzma and guest saxophonist Bob Sheppard. The band provides beautiful, funky and understated accompaniment throughout. It also doesn’t hurt to have renowned producer Larry Klein sitting in the recording booth.

As a master storyteller, Johnson mixes in playfulness, memorable melodic hooks and great grooves, along with many things to ponder. The aptly named Stop, a life-affirming antidote to despair, is simply stunning. Co-writers Johnson, Klein and David Baerwald deserve a place in the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame for this one.

The Gil Scott-Heron tune, Lady Day and John Coltrane, will get you up dancing and singing, and will “wash your troubles away.” Toronto composer Steve MacKinnon also deserves special mention for his collaborative efforts on the title tune and Better Than This.

Meaning To Tell Ya has many important things to say. And we’re listenin’.

02 Cecile SalvantThe Window
Cécile McLorin Salvant
Justin Time JTR 8614-2 (justin-time.com)

Cécile McLorin Salvant frames her vision of love through The Window, but this ubiquitous architectural element has been thrown so wide open that it is now a glorious metaphor, its theme spread out as vast as a lifetime of beauty against a blushing sky. And McLorin Salvant’s reputation as the premier jazz vocalist in any era has been fortified as she picks up effortlessly from where the legends such as Billie Holiday left off.

McLorin Salvant is magical as she strips lyrics and narrative bare in this duo format with the incomparable pianist Sullivan Fortner, achieving – if such as thing is possible – the closest equivalent of Jazz Lieder. Songs speak to McLorin Salvant as a lover’s whispers might. When she blushes so does her lyric, when she is in pain, her heartache puts a twist in the listener’s gut and her joyous enunciations create shivers down the spine. The Peacocks featuring saxophonist Melissa Aldana is a haunting example.

On Tracy Mann’s lyrics to Brazilian songsters Dori Caymmi and Gilson Peranzzetta’s Obsession, McLorin Salvant literally detonates the lines, “You’re like the wind that blows in front of a storm/The electricity explodes in the night.” Her instrument is lustrous, precise and feather-light; her musicianship fierce as she digs into the expression of each word; brings ceaseless variety to soft dynamics and gives every phrase grace. Fortner is here, an equal partner in the creation of the song’s character; his pianism rising to a rarefied realm.

Listen to 'The Window' Now in the Listening Room

03 Mandy new front coverThe Joni Book
Mandy Lagan - Origins
Independent (mandylagan.com)

I first met Mandy Lagan when she was a music student at Mohawk College. She already displayed considerable musical talent at that time, while possessing a keen interest in the music of legendary singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell. After hearing Mitchell’s recording Court and Spark when she was a teenager, Lagan was “forever changed.”

Flash forward several decades, and Mandy Lagan has released a sparkling tribute to her muse, titled The Joni Book, featuring a roster of Canada’s finest jazz artists. She couldn’t ask for a better or more simpatico group of musicians than Kevin Turcotte, Jim Vivian, Ted Quinlan, Dave Restivo, Andrew Downing and Blair Mackay.

Lagan rises to the challenge of honouring Mitchell’s legacy, while making these tunes her own. She has lived with this material a long time, and accordingly, wraps her voice around the layers of lyrical meaning and shading embedded in these great songs.

It is truly a group effort, though, and all the musicians delve into both familiar (My Old Man, All I Want) and less familiar material (Conversation) with dedication and zeal. Everyone contributes to the inventive arrangements, ranging from the playful interplay on Help Me (featuring an outstanding trumpet solo by Turcotte), to the masterful textural arc they craft on Song for Sharon.

Somewhere, at her home in Los Angeles, Joni Mitchell is smiling.

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04 Cornelia LunaStarting Here, Starting Now
Cornelia Luna
Independent (cornelialuna.com)

With the release of her debut CD, gifted vocalist and actress Cornelia Luna has joined forces with multiple-award-winning pianist/producer/arranger, Bill King, and created a fresh, contemporary re-imagining of nine tunes which have been key in defining Barbra Streisand’s style and taste. King refers to the recording as “The Streisand Project,” which emanated from a memorable, creative encounter that King had in 1976 with iconic arranger Peter Matz (who was well-known as the favoured Streisand arranger throughout her early career). Upon re-connecting with the perfect artist for this project, uber-talented Broadway performer Luna (whom King initially met when she was 19), the recording was propelled into being.

King serves as producer/arranger/pianist here and bassist Dave Young and drummer Mark Kelso complete the Bill King Trio. Noted guest artists include vocalist Gavin Hope (duetting with Luna in Any Moment Now by Marvin Hamlisch), saxophonist Mike Murley and trumpeter William Sperandei. The strong opener is Harold Arlen’s When the Sun Comes Out. Luna’s sumptuous contralto and her emotional vocabulary create a web of intimacy and warmth on this lovely and swinging take.

Another highlight is Stephen Sondheim’s Loving You from his hit show Passion. This is a triumph for both Luna and King. Her vocal instrument is sheer perfection, and King’s piano work is masterful. Gotta Move – Matz’s 1963 “Eleven O’Clock Number” – is also magic. This Barbra-defining classic has been perfectly contemporized as well as expertly and dynamically performed. Murley and Sperendei soar, swing, bob and weave through King’s fine arrangement, and the versatile Luna is as skilled in rendering a ballad, as she is in presenting a thrilling, full-throttle performance.  

05 Way NorthFearless and Kind
Way North
Independent WN002 (waynorthband.com)

Fearless and Kind, the second album from roots-jazz quartet Way North, is a project that showcases the collaborative spirit of a group that functions as a collective, in terms of leadership, compositional contributions and improvisational style. Way North features trumpeter Rebecca Hennessy and bassist Michael Herring (both based in Toronto), saxophonist Petr Cancura (based in Ottawa), and New York drummer Richie Barshay. Recorded following a tour, Fearless and Kind is an intelligent, feel-good release in all of the right ways. By placing the emphasis on interactivity and humour, Way North has managed to produce an album that deftly combines the energy of a live show with the focus and specificity of the studio environment.

Fearless and Kind kicks off with the Cancura-penned Boll Weevil, a bouncy New Orleans-inspired song that sees the band playing around with brass band tradition without succumbing to the imitative clichés that often accompany modern performances of this music. Hennessy’s Lagoon is a loping, dreamy affair, featuring a mature, lyrical performance from the trumpeter herself, and a strong solo from Herring (Lagoon also appears on the album Two Calls, released by Hennessy’s FOG Brass Band). Later on, Cancura’s solo on King Porter Stomp marks one of the album’s energetic high points. It is notable that Way North is a chordless quartet, with no piano, guitar or other traditional comping instrument; but such is the strength of the individual players and the group dynamic that no harmonic absence is registered in the first place.

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