Daily Archives: April 8, 2016

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Album Review: Miles Davis – Bitches Brew

Screen shot 2016-04-08 at 1.18.16 PMEver since the world discovered Miles Davis, he was always seen knocking at the doors of musical styles not yet known. Miles, who rose to fame from the popular uproar of bebop in New York City during the 1940’s, was never content with staying in the same lane. By the end of the 1940’s Davis had introduced ‘cool jazz’ to the world with his Birth of the Cool sessions, and barely a decade later, turned the jazz community on its side again by debuting his ‘modal jazz’ style, backed by his album Kind of Blue, the success and praise of which has gained the album musical immortality. By 1967, Miles remained one of the most prominent jazz icons. However, the 60’s were ‘brewing’ and there was a huge influx of new musical styles that Miles Davis was not ignorant of. Saxophonist Wayne Shorter is quoted saying that at this time Miles was “…looking for something with more traction.”  At this point Miles was already being influenced by the R&B sounds of the decade; in addition, his soon-to-be second wife, Betty Mabry, introduced Miles to even more new sounds and fashions of the time. Miles was inspired to discard his fitted suits for the technicolor garb of the decade, and play the records of Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone.  With his 1969 release of In a Silent Way, a divergent and experimental fusion album, Miles had now almost completely alienated the jazz realm with his off-beat musical reinvention. However, In a Silent Way was only a prequel to Davis’s new style. In 1970 Miles would take a huge step forward, releasing his monumental, avant-garde album Bitches BrewContinue reading

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Concert Review: Orchestre National de Jazz Montréal

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For a long time Big Band stood as the highest compositional challenge in jazz music.  Artists like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Thad Jones drove the evolution of jazz from a small scale New Orleans operation to the more grandiose genre of swing.  The idea of expanding the size of the ensemble gave the composer a much wider pallet of sound.  Lead trumpets played notes louder and higher than ever before while super-sax sections played in perfect unison at blazing tempos.  This compositional medium continues today with the likes of Maria Schneider and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra incorporating more modern tonal structures into the big band idiom.  The Orchestre National de Jazz Montréal seeks to continue the long legacy of big band with their interpretation of classic Ellington suites as well as more modern works.  On tap for this weekend was an album release show for Montreal’s own Philippe Côté featuring New York sax player David Binney.  Côté’s new album Lungta was influenced heavily by Binney who produced the work and has also spent time mentoring Côté.  The epic event spanned roughly two and a half hours with Côté’s lavish compositions never letting up, continuously seeking the bigger and grander. Continue reading

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Concert Review: Anna Webber

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In having the chance to talk to Anna Webber leading up to her performance at Café Resonance this past Monday, one of the things that struck out to me was her organized manner.  Each email sent leading up to the recording session of our interview was quickly followed by a reply from Webber and a question about the specificity of the interview.  In my experience with jazz musicians, systematically planning things out before they happen is not a common occurrence.  Perhaps the tendency for jazz musicians to haphazardly live out their lives is due to the improvisational nature of the music they play; however, the genre also leaves room for a more precise approach to songwriting.  Webber’s organizational approach to life is reflected in the meticulous way she composes her music.  From a purely visual viewpoint, Webber and her ensemble of Matt Mitchell and John Hollenbeck are bound to pages and pages of music throughout their performance.  This strategy allows the group to look at the big picture beforehand and cohesively transition from section to section truly exposing every possible combination of sound.  Continue reading