Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from October, 2019

Common Sense Composers' Collective: Spark (Innova Recordings - May 10 2019)

Common Sense Composers' Collective: Spark
(Innova Recordings - May 10, 2019)
Eight quartets
Composers: Marc Mellits; Dan Becker; John Halle; Belinda Reynolds; Melissa Hui; Ed Harsh; Carolyn Yarnell; Randall Woolf
Performers: Friction Quartet

Buy The CD

The collection of tracks on Spark showcase the range of the Common Sense Composers' Collective in eight pieces for string quartet. Alongside the compositions, the Oakland-based Friction Quartet displays impressive versatility, and ability to play with both virtuosity and restraint from a strongly rhythmic foundation.

Consisting of tracks by several different contemporary composers, the CD offers a broad pallet of styles and approaches. Marc Mellits' V: Five, from his String Quartet No. 3 (Tapas) is all mood and melody, and the Friction Quartet plays with delicacy and warm tones that illuminate the emotional and musical heart of the piece.

Dan Becker's Lockdown is a kinetic ride of inexorable rhythm and harmonic changes, wit…

New Classical - Juri Seo: Respiri (Innova Recordings - May 24 2019)

New Classical
Juri Seo: Respiri
(Innova Recordings - May 24, 2019)
Composer Juri Seo: Respiri, Suite for Cello; String Quartet (Infinite Season)
Performers: Argus Quartet, Joann Whang

Buy The CD

Composer and pianist Juri Seo paints with a full palette of colours in this second release on the Innova label, spotlighting her compositions for strings. Through the affecting and evocative music, Seo explores universal notions of life, death, memory, and change.

The opening track, Respiri, is Seo's homage to the late British composer Jonathan Harvey, who was a practising Buddhist. Seo uses Harvey’s signature musical concept, which was to emulate the sound of breathing, while expanding on the idea. The music is meditative in nature, building melodically to a peaceful release from life.

The Argus Quartet plays with a wonderful sense of expression and superb phrasing. After a two-year collaboration with Seo, they clearly understand and are fully immersed in her music. While not traditional in…

Jazz CD Release: Dan Pitt Trio - Fundamentally Flawed (Independent / October 18, 2019)

Jazz CD Release:
Dan Pitt Trio - Fundamentally Flawed
(Independent / October 18, 2019)
• Check Out The Album Release Party October 21 2019 in Toronto
Pre-order/Order the CD on Bandcamp

Toronto guitarist/composer/improviser Dan Pitt is a relatively new player in the city's jazz scene, and he's making his mark with his first release, Fatally Flawed. Bassist Alex Fournier and drummer Nick Fraser round out the trio.

Pitt is an inventive composer who uses tone and colour to paint soundscapes in various moods and modes. Balmoral is a contemplative piece that meanders in and out of conventional melody, the shimmer of cymbals or deliberate brush strokes, like inexorable steps, leading through the moody sound of both guitar and bowed bass.

Fundamentally Flawed, the title track, is an intriguing blend of avant garde and groove, with multiple changes, and a whiff of prog rock in the mix. It builds on a simple theme to a ferocious and intense finish.

The trio is a versatile format in Pit&#…

Review: Alfre Woodard Gives Performance Of Her Career In Clemency

Review: Clemency
Starring Alfre Woodard
Director, screenplay Chinonye Chukwu
Cast: Alfre Woodard, Richard Schiff, Aldis Hodge, Wendell Pierce, Richard Gunn, Danielle Brook
Opens December 27, 2019

Alfre Woodard gives the performance of her career in Clemency, a film that unflinchingly portrays the human misery at the heart of the prison system, and particularly, of death row. She is entirely convincing as the prison matron whose uber efficient professional exterior hides growing fissures in her emotional life. The film won a Grand Jury Prize at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, and it's easy to see why.
We meet Warden Bernadine Williams as she prepares to preside over an execution. She is deftly professional with family members, even as the chants of protesters swell outside her window. We see the gross spectacle of executions, the horror that goes on behind closed doors.

Director Chinonye Chukwu rightly focuses a lot of camera time on Alfre and her face - the mask of professionalism, …