My calendar says that fall has begun, but the weatherman tells me that he has declared a “weather alert.” Whichever it is doesn’t make much difference for the community band scene. The summer events have passed and the events scheduled for this time of year will go ahead as planned unless our weather deteriorates to the kind we have seen in the Caribbean recently.

The Summer Scene

The Shimoda Family Consort - In the left hand of the performer at far right is a recorder even smaller than a piccolo.In some ways, from my perspective, the local community music scene has been a bit benign, with most groups emphasizing Canada 150 and the works of Canadian composers. Over the official summer period I heard many of the same works many times over with only minor variations. The one musical event which stood out for me was not by a community band, but by an excellent Baroque recorder consort. In the June issue I mentioned that I was looking forward to hearing the Shimoda Family Consort at the Foster Memorial. Well, on August 25 I was not disappointed. This is truly a family ensemble. Mother, father and two sons all move around playing an amazing array of recorders, from one somewhat smaller than a piccolo to the largest, which is taller than a contrabassoon. In this concert, in addition to playing a couple of different recorders, the mother also accompanied the others on harpsichord and played one harpsichord solo.

While I used the term “Baroque” to describe this group, most of their repertoire was from a period earlier than that usually referred to as Baroque. From such well-known names as Bach, Vivaldi and Telemann backward in time to such unknowns as Ludwig Senfl (1486-1543) and Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652), the music was all very enjoyable. Newest works on the program were two pieces from Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Such music on a beautiful summer evening in this architecturally stunning venue has left its mark in my memory.

Coming soon

The most notable event on the community band horizon this fall – that we are aware of – is a “50th Anniversary Concert” and banquet for the Northdale Concert Band. Having played in this band for some years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, under the direction of conductors Carl Hammond and James McKay, this event is of particular personal interest.

The Northdale Concert Band had its beginnings in 1967, with a group of students who had originally met and first played instrumental music together at Willowdale Junior High School and later played together at Northview Heights Secondary School in Toronto. There, along with other interested music students, they formed the band. The name Northdale came from the names of these two schools. Music teachers Ted Graham and Wayne Moss took on the band, held rehearsals once a week, and gave concerts open to the public. As time passed, the band became an adult group.  None of its original members remain in the band today. However, the band has its roots in the community, and has developed into a skilled group of dedicated amateurs and many music professionals, with a number of the members having been with the group for several decades. Many members play and teach music professionally; others teach music in the elementary and secondary schools; and others are students in the music faculties of York University or the University of Toronto. Other members are in varied careers, but all turn out reliably to rehearse and perform in various community venues.

Through the years, there have been many fine Northdale conductors, too numerous to mention here. Stephen Chenette, professor emeritus, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, was the conductor from 1996 until 2010 when the present conductor, Joseph Resendes, took over the baton. Born in Toronto, Resendes has extensive professional credits as an active conductor, composer, performer and educator, and is currently in the process of completing his PhD in the field of musicology, ethnomusicology focusing on wind studies, conducting and the development of community music in Canada. As well as being the musical director and conductor of the Northdale Concert Band, he also currently holds positions as the music director of East York Concert Band, St. Mary’s Church Choir, VL Sax Quartet and as assistant music director of Ecos of Portugal.

A feature of this anniversary concert will be the world premiere of a newly commissioned piece, Dance Suite, by renowned Canadian composer Gary Kulesha, composer advisor to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra since 1995. Although principally a composer, Kulesha is active as both a pianist and conductor, and as a teacher. In 1986, he represented Canada at the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris, and has twice been nominated for JUNO awards, for his Third Chamber Concerto (in 1990) and again in 2000 for The Book of Mirrors.

Another feature of this Northdale anniversary program will be guest soloist Vanessa Fralick, associate principal trombone of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Prior to joining the TSO, she played three seasons as acting associate principal trombone of the St. Louis Symphony, after winning her first orchestral position with the San Antonio Symphony in 2009 while pursuing her master’s degree at The Juilliard School with Joseph Alessi of the New York Philharmonic. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto, and is an alumna of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra and the National Academy Orchestra of Canada. She occasionally plays alongside her brass-playing parents in the Niagara Symphony Orchestra in her hometown of St. Catharines, Ontario.

The concert and banquet take place on Saturday, November 4 at 3pm, at the Salvation Army Citadel, Lawrence and Warden Ave. (2021 Lawrence Ave. E.) in Toronto.

A unique aspect of Northdale Concert Band is their music publishing venture known as Northdale Music Press Limited. The project of issuing new works by Canadian composers for concert band began with Ontario Arts Council funding in 1985, when six new works were commissioned by Northdale Concert Band. The band travelled to Expo 86 in Vancouver and performed the world premiere of these compositions at the Canada and Ontario Pavilions. The scope of publication has increased, and today, Northdale Music Press publishes compositions for other ensembles, including brass band, stage band, and wind octet.

CBA Community Band Weekend

As if they didn’t have enough to plan for with their anniversary concert and banquet, the Northdale Concert Band is hosting the Canadian Band Association’s Fall Community Band Weekend, Friday October 13 to Sunday October 15 at the Church of St. Jude’s Wexford, 10 Howarth Avenue in Toronto. Visit either Northdale or CBA websites for details.

New Horizons Bands

As in past years the news from New Horizons Bands is great. The Toronto group’s annual “Instrument Exploration Night” was a huge success, with 22 participants and six instrument coaches honking, tooting and banging on all the instruments. Many signed up for beginner classes. With 45 new members this year, total membership now stands at well over 260, spread out over eight bands and two jazz groups. And it’s still not too late to join for this year.

Their annual Remembrance Day concert, “A Night to Remember,” is scheduled for November 10 at 7:30pm at Church of the Holy Trinity, 85 Livingston Rd., Scarborough; their annual band festival is set for January 27, 2018.

With this kind of growth it was decided that the organizational structure should be updated. So, New Horizons Toronto incorporated last year to facilitate adding stability to the group should Dan Kapp and his wife Lisa decide to move on to new challenges. The board is working to figure out how to cover all of the activities that need to be done to run such a large group.

Meanwhile, the York Region New Horizons group, which just started last year, held an event which they called “Test Drive a Band Instrument,” and will have started classes by now at Cosmo Music in Richmond Hill. Their classes are all on Mondays with morning, afternoon and evening sessions. For information contact Doug Robertson at 416-457-6316 or nhbyrdirector@gmail.com.

Hannaford Street Silver Band

As they enter their 34th season, the Hannaford Street Silver Band is adding even more colour and variety to their annual concert programming. Over the years they have gradually added other musical artists to broaden the taste and colour from the traditional all brass band repertoire. This year it is even broader. Every concert will have a unique flavour. Their opening concert “Tango!” will feature, as guests, the Payadora Tango Ensemble. This quartet of violin, accordion, piano and double bass with their traditional Argentine Tango music will certainly be a departure from what we have come to expect at an all brass band concert. That’s Sunday, October 22 at 3pm in the Jane Mallett Theatre.

 

Sometimes it’s something in the water. Sometimes it’s something in the air. Sometimes you just scratch your head and say “weird, eh?”

The case of John Blow

Not exactly a household word in musical circles, John Blow (who it is reasonable to assume was born sometime not too long before his baptismal date of 23 February 1649, was an English Baroque composer and organist whose most enduring musical claim to fame was that he was a teacher of Henry Purcell, who was born on September 10, 1659. Purcell, in contrast to Blow was, right up until the beginning of the 20th century, if not a household name, the most widely recognized English-born composer. (Blow’s other claim to fame, I suppose, is that he outlived Purcell, who died in 1695, by 13 years.)

Purcell’s name has certainly featured regularly in this magazine over the 22 years and a bit we have been in business. But as of the end of January 2002, Blow’s name, to the best of my knowledge, had never appeared in our listings or anywhere else in the magazine.

And then all of a sudden, there he was! Twice. In both cases in the context of concerts featuring the music of Blow and Purcell. Two concerts titled, roughly, “Music of John Blow and Henry Purcell.” Same date (March 2, 2002), same time, and within one block of each other, on Bloor St. W., at Trinity-St.Paul’s and Church of the Redeemer respectively.

Weird, eh?

Sometimes coincidences like these can be easily explained by significant anniversary dates. Take the case of Glenn Gould, for example, who was born in September 25, 1932; all years ending in a two or a seven tend to become an occasion for heightened remembrance of Gould’s contribution to music and art. This month, for instance, Gould would have turned 85. Two of our writers this issue, David Jaeger and Paul Ennis, both take note of occurrences relating to this anniversary – one well worth commemorating, in my humble opinion, especially when (according to a recent (and admittedly entirely random and unscientific) survey, an alarming number of students currently enrolled in the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory cannot name the musical instrument that Glenn Gould played.

Miller’s Tales

Nowhere near as seismically weird as the case of John Blow, but interesting nonetheless, is the following:

A month ago I received an enthusiastic message from Stuart Broomer, a longtime regular reviewer of jazz recordings for this magazine, asking if we had seen a copy of Mark Miller’s latest book. (With at least a dozen books to his name and countless articles, Miller is very likely Canada’s leading jazz writer, photographer and journalist. Safe to say, he is at this moment in time probably better known than drummer Claude Ranger, the subject of this latest book (although I am sure Miller would be only too happy if his book helped to redress that fact.) Broomer’s cogent review of Miller’s book appears in this issue.

Meanwhile, independent of the above development, contributor Ori Dagan submitted a story for the issue on the second annual Kensington Market Jazz Festival, headed up with a short quote from, you guessed it, none other than Mark Miller, taken not from one of Miller’s books but, this being the century we live in, from a recent Facebook post by Miller, musing on the implications, mostly positive, of this year’s TD Toronto Jazz Festival’s decision to refocus its operations on a single neighbourhood, in this case the once-and-(perhaps)-future Village of Yorkville.

At risk of stealing Dagan’s thunder, the Miller quote seized on for the KMJF story bears repeating. Musing on how festivals, driven by commercial imperatives, find themselves drifting further and further away, musically, from why they started in the first place, Miller says “I’ve always thought that if the “jazz festival” model no longer works the way it once did, then change the model — not the music.”

Changing the Model

In the arts, it’s not only festivals that find themselves driven by commercial imperatives further and further from their roots, philosophically and geographically. As people with means flee the suburbs for gentrified city cores, property values and rents skyrocket and the working urban poor (most musicians and cultural workers I know among them) find ourselves struggling to hang on in the neighbourhoods where up till now we have managed to both live and work. Sadly, vibrant urban culture is, almost by definition, a noisy messy thing, requiring constant negotiation between those who need to make noise and those who expect the same right to peace and quiet in the downtown as they enjoyed in the suburbs they have forsaken.

Readers have seen me railing in this space against those seeking or inhabiting public office indulging in the rhetoric of phrases like “making Toronto into a real music city.” As I have said before, and will doubtless say again, the problem is that if one buys into that formula one is rejecting the idea that we already are a real music city. We do not need more mega-sized venues and spectacles, all driven by what Mark Miller calls “commercial imperatives” and all taking place in ring-fenced isolation from our neighbourhoods.

So, as you get back into the post-summer humdrum of urban living, do your bit! Scour our listings for the small stuff as well as the large. Support your local small-scale nodes of music and culture and art, as well as the large. Make music where you live, and continue to fight for the right to live where you make music.

To the betterment of all.

publisher@thewholenote.com

Perfection, and in particular, the pursuit of perfection in the performing arts, can be an infectious thing. An artist who has attained a high standard of perfection cannot tolerate anything less than that standard in their ongoing work.

Thus it was with pianist, composer and media artist Glenn Gould, whose obsession with and ability to achieve perfection in his recordings is well documented.

I experienced this on a personal level during our work together, making broadcasts on CBC Radio during the last eight years of his life. His approach to making radio paralleled his philosophy as a recording artist: every last detail would be determined by him as the creator of an artistic act.

Glenn Gould at Stratford, Ontario, 1956 - photo by Herbert NottGould and I met early in 1974, when I was producing with CBC Radio’s national network music department. This was the same music department through which Gould’s very first broadcasts were heard in the 1950s, before he signed as a recording artist with Columbia Masterworks. And it was through CBC Radio that Gould also honed his skills as a radio artist. He related so completely as an artist to the medium of radio, that his many radio documentaries were, essentially, his symphonies.

Prior to 1974, Gould had already begun to plan a series of CBC Radio broadcasts to celebrate the centennial that year of the birth of a composer he admired every bit as much as J.S. Bach or Richard Strauss: Arnold Schoenberg. Gould told me that these three composers were his avatars, and this was precisely the word he used. These were the three composers whose complex counterpoint most fascinated him, and whose music satisfied his need for a convincing musical, intellectual and spiritual discourse. The celebration of Schoenberg’s centennial was of enormous importance to Gould, and he managed to convince the senior managers of CBC Radio music to devote ten one-hour-long broadcasts on the national network to mark the occasion. The programs, naturally, would be planned, written and hosted by Gould, and much to my surprise, he approached me to serve as his producer. And so it was through an exploration of Schoenberg and his music that I came to encounter the workings of Gould’s very particular and ever so precise mind.

“Perfection was the focus of everything we did,” audio engineer Lorne Tulk, Gould’s lifelong friend, told me. It was Tulk who spent countless hours with Gould after his recording sessions, reviewing takes and marking the musical scores with him, to show where the edits would be made. Gould once proudly showed me one of these resulting “paper edits” with its detailed markings. It was a Mozart sonata, and he was eager to show me where a certain passage had been “regenerated” by Lorne and inserted into the edited master, every time that particular passage appeared. Regeneration was, to the world of analogue recording, what cloning is in the digital world.

The point was, once Gould had determined that a key ingredient of an edited performance was perfect, nothing less than that perfect representation would be allowed to stand.

Likewise, in making Gould’s radio broadcasts, every detail was scripted, including his and his co-host’s supposed personal opinions and observations. For example, there was this brief exchange in episode nine of the Schoenberg series:

Ken Haslam: Oh, wait a minute, Glenn, John Cage studied with Arnold Schoenberg?

Glenn Gould: Of course he did. I assumed you knew that, Ken.

Ken Haslam: No, I didn’t. That’s the most unlikely bit of casting, yet!

Such was a moment of scripted spontaneity in Glenn Gould’s wondrous world of radio. As a broadcasting collaborator, he was always inventive, provocative and stimulating, and as a friend he was delightful and considerate, if occasionally demanding, such as when his late night phone calls came at inconvenient moments.

The 85th anniversary of Gould’s birth is being marked in a great variety of ways. Perhaps the most notable of these is the release, by SONY Classical, of a new multi-disc album titled GLENN GOULD, The Goldberg Variations, The Complete Unreleased Recording Sessions, June 1955. As the title indicates, the album documents Gould’s complete takes of Bach’s Goldberg Variations from those famous recording sessions, which took place between 10 and 16 June 1955. It was the 22-year-old Gould’s debut recording for Columbia Masterworks, and took place in Columbia’s 30th Street Studio in New York.

In the extensive album booklet, writer Robert Russ calls the new release, “...the chance to attend the birth of a legendary album and gain an insight into the analogue recording process.” The booklet documents every aspect of the recording, from the background story leading to Gould’s signing his original contract, to his choice of the piano, to technical matters such as the qualities and limitations of recording to analogue tape. There’s a discussion of how the recording team dealt with Gould’s singing along with his playing, as well as a detailed transcript of the spoken exchanges between pianist and producer, associated with every recorded take. There’s also an interview with the late Howard Scott, the producer of the recording, in which Scott, among other things, comments on the advisability of such a release.

I asked Lorne Tulk what he felt of the decision to release these unedited sessions, given the constant striving for perfection in their work together. Lorne was unconcerned and of the view that Gould wouldn’t have objected. Ray Roberts, the man who served as Gould’s aide in all practical, non-artistic matters, responded to the same question somewhat differently.

“There are two sides to that particular coin,” Ray told me.

It’s a question that can never be answered definitively, but the speculation may continue a good long time, adding to the fascinating Gould legacy.

David Jaeger is a composer, producer and broadcaster based in Toronto.

The Tragically Hip in Jennfier Baichwall and Nicholas de Pencier's 'Long Time Running' - photo courtesy of Elevation PicturesThe WholeNote’s sixth annual guide to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) takes a look at 20 of the films in TIFF’s 42nd edition, in which music plays a notable role. After sleuthing through the credits of many of the 255 features in the program and previewing 14 of them, what follows represents a cross-section of titles that music lovers with a taste for cinema can use as a guide.

Long Time Running: As Jennifer Baichwal said at the TIFF Canadian films’ press conference earlier this month, when she and Nicholas de Pencier made the seminal doc Manufactured Landscapes they never imagined they would ever film a rock tour. But filming The Tragically Hip’s final tour proved to be an intense and emotional experience for them. When it was announced last year that singer Gord Downie had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, it seemed as though the 30-year career of that quintessential Canadian band was over, but Downie convinced his bandmates to go on tour. Long Time Running captures the exhilarating result.

Singular Performers: There is a handful of music documentaries this year that focus on singular performers of popular music. Programmer Thom Powers describes Lili Fini Zanuck’s Eric Clapton: A Life in 12 Bars (the title couldn’t be more apt) as “an intimate, revealing musical odyssey” about the blues-influenced guitar virtuoso. Powers writes that Sophie Fiennes’ Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami, filmed over the course of a decade, “offers a stylish and unconventional look at the Jamaican-born model, singer, and new wave icon.” Sammy Davis, Jr. was a dancer, singer, impressionist and actor of unparalleled charisma who, according to Powers, “began dazzling audiences at age three and never stopped until his death at 64.” Sam Pollard’s Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me shows how he “broke racial barriers and defied societal norms around interracial romance, religion and political affiliation but paid a heavy price. If you’ve never beheld Davis in action,” Powers writes, “prepare to gasp in awe and delight.”

Child of Arc: French director Bruno Dumont calls his bizarre new film, Jeannette, the Childhood of Joan of Arc, a cinematographic opera since it takes the writings of  Charles Péguy (1873-1914) with his socialist world view and fervent Catholicism and sets them to music arranged by French composer/performer Igorrr (whom Dumont describes as “an experimental electro multi-instrumentalist who can switch in a second from Scarlatti to heavy metal.”) The focus is on Joan’s spiritual questioning and political awareness, first as a winsome eight-year-old (Lise Leplat Prudhomme), then as a mature thirteen-year-old (Jeanne Voisin). It’s often surreal, sometimes blasphemous but overwhelmingly devotional as Dumont manages to have his satirical cake and (reverently) eat it too. Not to be missed: a nun played by twins (Aline and Elise Charles) singing evocatively and dancing awkwardly about her love for the Holy Spirit. Dumont was so impressed by the twins’ musical talent that he asked them to compose most of the songs in the film. As to Dumont’s own musical taste: “After Fauré come Brel and the Rolling Stones, and then I can skip on until Igorrr.”

Lanthimos: There is no more rigorous filmmaker working today than Yorgos Lanthimos. Always compelling, sometimes outrageous, in The Killing of a Sacred Deer – an unsettling, gripping homage to Greek tragedy in which a 16-year-old boy (Barry Keoghan) whose father died on the operating table takes revenge on a cardiac surgeon (Colin Farrell), with dire consequences – he again creates a singular universe with its own internal logic. Everything in the film, from the most mundane to the most crucially relevant, is spoken in a flat, matter-of-fact, otherworldly tone. Which only adds to impact of the horror as Lanthimos deliciously explores his premise and doubles down on his attack on the hypocrisy and smugness of the bourgeoisie.

The majority of the music on the atmospherically striking soundtrack was sourced by Lanthimos himself. Following the sepulchral opening chorus of Schubert’s Stabat Mater D383 the film plunges into the unearthly tones of Gubaidulina’s Rejoice! (for violin and cello). Other Gubaidulina works used include the evocative bayan (Russian accordion) pieces,  Sonata “Et Expecto” the ominous De Profundis and Fachwerk for Bayan, Percussion and String Orchestra.

Past the midway point, Ligeti joins in with large excerpts of his early Cello Concerto and the second movement (Lento e Deserto) of his Piano Concerto, both of which reinforce the ominous events unfolding onscreen. Greek composer Jani Christou’s atonal orchestral work Enantiodromia also supports the director’s vision. Herr, unser herrscher from Bach’s St. John Passion plays its special part as does the Waterboys’ catchy How Long Will I Love You. Rarely has a soundtrack of sourced classical music been as integral to a film’s mood as this one.

The Day AfterThe Day After: By contrast, the only music in Hong Sangsoo’s perfectly crafted little gem about male-female relationships, The Day After, is a simple melody composed by the director himself. But whether used as a bridge between scenes or as subtle emphasis to one of several revealing conversations, it makes an essential contribution to this tale that is elegantly shot in glorious black and white.

Buzzed About at Sundance: One of the most buzzed-about films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name, a love story starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet that has been compared to Moonlight. Guadagnino is another director who likes to curate the soundtracks of his films. This one includes tracks by John Adams, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Satie and Ravel, as well as a song by Sufjan Stevens created specifically for the movie. In addition, Chalamet performs Bach’s Capriccio on the Departure of his Beloved Brother on guitar and piano. The movie is set in the 1980s so a lot of period Italian pop music (including Giorgio Moroder’s Lay Lady Lay) can be heard on the radio and Hammer dances to the Psychedelic Furs’ Love My Way. “It’s kind of autobiographical, because I remember listening to that song when I was 17 and being completely affected by it,” says Guadagnino. “I wanted to pay homage to myself then.”

High praise for Vega: A Fantastic Woman, Sebastián Lelio’s follow-up to his fondly remembered Gloria, has already generated high praise for its star, the trans singer/actress, Daniela Vega. Guy Lodge touched on the film’s music component in Variety: “The light hot-and-cold shiver that characterizes [the film] sets in from the first, head-turning notes of the score, a stunning, string-based creation by British electronic musician Matthew Herbert that blends the icy momentum of vintage Herrmann with spacious gasps of silence. This disquieting soundtrack plays enigmatically over the film’s opening image of cascading waters at the spectacular Iguazu Falls on the Argentine-Brazilian border — a projection, we come to learn, of a romantic vacation that will never take place.

“Music, too, is ingeniously used to define her [Vega] from either side of the looking-glass: Lelio pulls off a daringly literal song cue in Aretha Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman at a point when his protagonist most requires such blunt self-assertion, while the character’s own high, ethereal rendition of Handel’s Ombra mai fu later on amounts to an act of regenerative grace.”

Herbert also composed the score for Lelio’s other film in the festival, Disobedience, adapted from Naomi Alderman’s novel about a woman (Rachel Weisz) who returns home to her orthodox Jewish community in London and rekindles a romance with her cousin’s wife (Rachel McAdams).

Seven Suggestions: A new film by François Girard, the director of Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould and The Red Violin, always gets our attention. We’re giving a special look to Hochelaga, Terre des Âmes, not only because of its ambitious subject matter (the history of Montreal spanning 750 years) but because the soundtrack is credited to minimalist avatar Terry Riley and his guitarist son Gyan.

Kim Nguyen, whose powerful earlier film, the Oscar-nominated War Witch still resonates, has filled the soundtrack of his new film, Eye on Juliet, with music by Timber Timbre, the masters of reverb, spooky synths and evocative vocals that seem to come from a deep emotional space. With the exception of one or two songs from their previous albums, they wrote new music specifically for Eye on Juliet, described by programmer Steve Gravestock as a “distinctive romance set in a time of surveillance, terrorism and prejudice.”

Writer/director Sadaf Foroughi uses excerpts from the classical music canon on the soundtrack of her first feature  AVA, about a 16-year-old upper-middle class girl in Tehran whose stifling relationship with her parents fuels her rebelliousness. Boccherini’s charming Minuetto from String Quintet in E Major, OP.11, No.5 is one of the most famous examples of Baroque gentility. Vitali’s Chaconne in G Minor contains some of the most divine Baroque violin music ever written. And Purcell’s The Cold Song from his opera King Arthur is a truly chilling work. It will be interesting to see how Foroughi works them into her film.

According to Fat Cat Records, Montreal-based Olivier Alary (who wrote the score to Carlos and Jason Sanchez’s psychological thriller A Worthy Companion) “explores the grey areas between noise and musicality and likes to blur the boundaries between what is acoustic and what is generated electronically.”

Toronto-based Ingrid Veninger turns her lens on the friendship between two young teenage girls in Porcupine Like, which has a soundtrack consisting entirely of 17 tune-worthy songs by Carlin Nicholson and Michael O’Brien most of which are performed by their retro indie band Zeus.

Canadian film programmer Magali Simard describes Black Cop as having a free form jazz feel and a number of songs that stand out. On his website, composer Dillon Baldaserro describes his style as a “combination of acoustic, orchestral and electronic elements to create an emotional and thematic soundscape that first and foremost communicate a feeling and a narrative.”  

Maggie Lee (in Variety) calls Mouly Surya’s Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts  “the first Satay Western.” She singles out Zeke Khaseli and Yudhi Arfani “for their exceptional score, which grasps the spirit of Morricone then reinvents it with original Indonesian elements, such as the soulful folk songs in Sumba dialect that the bandits sing or their use of local instruments.”

And By Reputation: Other films that look promising based in part on the name recognition of their composers include:

Kings, soundtrack by the team of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, is the first film in English (starring Halle Berry and Daniel Craig) by Deniz Gamze Ergüven following his acclaimed Mustang;

Lady Bird, soundtrack by Jon Brion (who’s worked with Paul Thomas Anderson, David O. Russell and Charlie Kaufman), is Greta Gerwig’s highly anticipated directorial debut;

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, soundtrack by Carter Burwell (who’s scored all but one of the Coen brothers’ films and all but one of Spike Jonze’s films), is Martin McDonagh’s eagerly awaited follow-up to In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths.

We’ll give the last word, for now, to Burwell: “There’s just too much music in movies,” he says. “Almost always more than I think there should be. It’s either lack of confidence on the part of filmmakers or a tradition of scoring things. It’s always better to have less than to have more.”

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from
September 7 to 17. Check tiff.net for further information.

Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote.

The “jazz festival” model has long been under threat from the pressure of commercial imperatives that require it to be ever bigger and ever broader in scope. I’ve always thought that if the “jazz festival” model no longer works the way it once did, then change the model — not the music.

The above words are jazz writer/photographer Mark Miller’s, in a recent Facebook post. In the post he’s talking about the TD Toronto Jazz Festival on the conclusion of its first year in and around Yorkville Village. But in many ways, he could just as easily have been talking about the motivation for the Kensington Market Jazz Festival, which mounts its second version September 15, 16 and 17.

A rare treat for Mr. Joe Sealy O.C. & Robi Botos to chat as part of the Tom's Place Yamaha Piano series. - photo by Don DixonBefore I start explaining why, I must make it crystal clear that, as one of the founding producers of KMJF, I am completely biased in my judgment, and am quite willing to admit that fact face-to-face, September 15, 16, 17 when I see you in the Market, enjoying the multitude of local musicians booked by Molly Johnson, Genevieve Marentette and yours truly.

The festival is the brainchild of Order of Canada Officer Molly Johnson, awarded for her work as singer, songwriter, broadcaster and philanthropist. KMJF, which turns two this month, simultaneously celebrates a diverse musical field of Toronto artists, and, through its concentrated presentation of over 250 musicians in 20 Kensington Market locations, a treasured Toronto neighbourhood. A particularly important note to point to anyone planning to attend is that the festival accepts CASH ONLY at the door. There are no online tickets or advance reservations – you need to arrive early to ensure seating!

“If you want to show your support you have to show up! We like to keep things simple,” jokes Johnson, herself a child of the Market, but also a Torontonian known worldwide for her husky, instantly recognizable tone which cuts right through the listener’s ear with raw grit and soulful truth.

As talented as she is, Johnson has never been seduced by the frivolities of fame and has used her success to benefit those in need throughout her career. As a philanthropist she is best known for creating Kumbaya, an annual concert series and live telethon on Muchmusic benefitting HIV and AIDS research, for which she raised over $1 million. Kumbaya featured scores of Canadian bands such as The Tragically Hip, Barenaked Ladies, Leslie Spit Treeo and Rush, donating their time for this worthy and important cause. The telethons ran annually from 1993 to 1996, at a time when AIDS was far more taboo than today.

“Compared to Kumbaya, Kensington Market Jazz Festival is a piece of cake. I mean, that was live TV with rock stars, it was a wild ride. This is jazz being played indoors and everything shutting down at 11pm. Way more civilized,” she quips.

Authentic might be a better word than civilized. Here’s what some of the participating musicians have had to say about the inaugural Kensington Market Jazz Festival:

Long live the Kensington Market Jazz Festival. It’s an honour to be part of this initiative. Toronto needs more live music! — Jane Bunnett, O.C., Recording Artist

KMJF is Toronto’s new jazz festival...it has it all and the location just feels right...it feels authentic...the level of music is superb and it was evident that it was more than the sum of its parts in that what I felt walking around after my gig was something like the early Yorkville days.... — Marc Jordan, Singer-Songwriter

On Saturday night especially it was balmy and walking up and down Augusta between GREAT music venues I thought how it felt a little like Frenchman street in New Orleans. — Alex Pangman, Vocalist

This was the festival Toronto has been waiting for. The fact that it was contained and neighbourhood-based and everything was happening within a few-blocks radius gave it a unified feeling. It also felt like our community was truly represented and honoured. — David Restivo, Pianist

Thanks so much for bringing exactly what we needed to this scene!!! — Chris Butcher, Trombonist, Heavyweights Brass Band

The best day of my year was at the Kensington Market Jazz Festival...as I was given the opportunity by the organizers to curate a three-concert series. The idea: seasoned jazz veterans and young poets/rappers/free-stylists together. The result... a bridge between generations and artistic hearts and minds... a dream come true for both musicians and audience...and a living demonstration of the creative fire that unites us. — George Koller, Bassist/Curator

So that is how KMJF was born: three working musicians in an office, with help from priceless friends such as social media guru Céline Peterson of Social Legacy, Jim Welter of Yamaha Music Canada who generously supplies backline to all ten venues on Augusta, and patron saint of the festival (and bona fide jazz lover) Tom Mihalik of Tom’s Place, who again this year will be taking out a dozen racks of suits to house a Yamaha grand piano for the duration of the festival.

One thing we’ve already learned over the course of this first year, is that, paradoxically, if you want to become a fixture, you have to keep moving!

This year KMJF is adding a new series to the festivities: Curated Busking, bringing music to the neighbourhood, putting it in people’s faces – their ears – in hopes of promoting the great talent in this city. For example at 4 Life Natural Foods you will hear acoustic performances by a cappella trios The Ault Sisters and The Willows, for a Pay-What-You-Can donation. KMJF supplies the bucket and promotes the buskers on print materials and through social media streams. Select venues such as Poetry Jazz Café, an intimate space of 40, will be live-streaming performances by artists such as Laila Biali and Elizabeth Shepherd. Other notable series will include a “jazz under 20” venue at the St. Stephen’s Youth Arcade Studio and a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada featuring nearly 20 vocal artists, from promising up-and-comers Alex Samaras and Joanna Majoko to soulful veterans Sharon Lee Williams and Shawne Jackson.

This year KMJF has chosen Eric St-Laurent as a guest curator, at Lola on Kensington Avenue. Says St-Laurent of the musicians he has chosen for closing night of the festival, Sunday September 17: “The Sunday lineup at Lola’s is about improvisation in world traditions outside of North America. In a way, jazz is as old as the world itself. Come to Lola’s and let us show you what we mean by that. Donné Roberts’ guitar playing is pure unadulterated joy - liquid happiness. Flutist Anh Phung is simply one of the strongest new voices in Canadian music. Catch her now in an intimate setting before fame hits. Selçuk Suna masterfully brings traditional Turkish music and jazz together, demonstrating once more the profound unity of all improvisational dialects.”

The evening will conclude with a performance by power group Eric St-Laurent Trio featuring original compositions and eclectic covers by the guitarist with bassist Jordan O’Connor and percussionist Michel DeQuevedo.

On a personal but related note, this issue marks ten years since I wrote my first piece for The WholeNote. What a difference a decade makes: just 86,648 little hours … Re-reading my first published piece, I found myself reflecting on the fact that I’ve been shining the spotlight on members of a jazz community, many of whom

I have met in the wee small hours of a jam session, or in small venues, or been able to bump into on the street.

Writing for The WholeNote has always been a great experience, regardless of how stressful it has been to get my piece in on time. Those in my inner circle have been supportive of my “WholeNote time of the month,” during the crunch when deadlines loom (none ever crunchier than as of this writing!)

Writing for The WholeNote has always been about spreading the good news of a city where it is possible for music to be part of daily life, year round.

Working for KMJF  is starting to feel a lot like that.

This year’s festival takes place on the last weekend of summer: September 15, 16, 17. Full schedule at kensingtonjazz.com.

Ori Dagan is a Toronto-based jazz musician, writer and educator who can be reached at oridagan.com

Update, September 11, 2017, 3pm: This article has been updated to remove opinions incorrectly attributed to the author.

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