The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia on August 31, 1998 · Page 65
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The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia · Page 65

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Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia
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Monday, August 31, 1998
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Page 65
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CD GUIDE Jazz JOHN CLARE JOHN COLTRANE: Coltrane. Impulse IMPD-215. THIS was the first studio album by the classic quartet (1962), and while all the elements here were later pushed to their limits, they were never in more satisfying balance. I like this almost as well as A Love Supreme. The opening track, Harold Arlen's Out Of This World, is one of jazz's most memorable offerings. Coltrane introduces it with a long, insanely beautiful Debussy-esque line to which he keeps returning, often as a substitute for the song itself. Among the many cells and motifs in his second solo is a phrase that is almost the beginning of Riders On Vie Storm. It is unlikely that the Doors would consciously have lifted this as a starting point, but it is indicative of the saturating influence at the time of Coltrane's minor incantations that it should be so absorbed. Near the end of this marvellous outpouring, the combination of hypnotic 64 time; Coltrane's mixture of sustained notes and complex flurries, plus the many-tiered rolling of the rhythm section, create a strange sense of languor and ferocity, is if we are in the last round of a prize fight from which no-one w ill completely recover. Other tracks are rather more concise. All are gems. McCoy Tyner's piano solo on Tunji is a dancing marvel, skipping up out of a sinister tide; while the Jimmy Garrison bass solo that follows should send the sensitive listener into cartwheels. BOB BERTLES QUINTET: Cool Beans. Rufus RF036. EVEN if you hate jazz you might still know Bob Bertles from the bands of Johnny O'Keefe and Max Men-it. So where does he stand in the jazz spectrum? Bertles is a major international saxophonist who played in high-profile European bands before returning to Australia, where he leads the brilliant band on this disc as well as playing beside Bernie McGann in Ten Part Invention. Bertles has in some ways a more fine-edged classic jazz alto tone than his unique section mate but it is equally distinctive (when the two play in relay the sparks usually fly). Among his fans is Lee Konitz. He is also a massive baritone player and a sweet-toned exponent of the soprano saxophone. These are all heard here, but there is a satisfying preponderance of the great Bertles alto. Above all, however, it is a band record, with trumpeter Warwick Alder, pianist Dave Levy, bassist Chris Qua and drummer Ron Lempke in superb form. Bertles, Alder and RATINGS EXCEPTIONAL EXCELLENT VERY GOOD AVERAGE POOR Ik 1 Levy supply fine compositions. This is hard bop, relaxed and surging, with an instantly recognisable character. The ensembles are large, the solos brilliant. Incidentally, the Rufus label has released a compilation called Entre, which is being offered free at Birdland Records with every Rufus disc purchased (including this one). Folk BRUCE ELDER GILLIAN WELCH: Hell Among The Yearlings. Almo Records (through Festival). GENRES are so stupid and inadequate. If you are of the mood you could say this was "country" because most of it was recorded in Nashville and there's plenty of banjo and rustic ambience. But equally, if you're old enough to recall The Carter Family and the early Joan Baez this is pure hillbilly folk music. A song such as Caleb Meyer, although written by Welch, sounds like any one of a thousand Appalachian songs about bootleg whisky. The Devil Had A Hold of Me is one of those wailing, whining tales of woe which seem to be permeated with the darkness of the Kentucky mountains. One Morning is so saturated with authenticity that you would swear it was collected on some boondocks back porch by Alan Lomax in the '40s and Miners Refrain, full of painful imagery of East Tennessee coal mining towns, is pure Jean Ritchie with some hint of white gospel. Welch has reached back into the 19th century for her inspiration, Here is a world of dark forests, illicit stills and fear of the unknown w hich teeters on the edge of pagan menace. It is an extraordinary recording which reminds listeners that long before it flew towards the bright lights of Nashville, country music was a kind of folk music that was played by people who plucked banjos and' guitars and told tales of hardship and pain. As country music degenerates into some unholy middle-of-the-road heap of whining dreariness it is necessary to listen to music like this to remember how extraordinary, how passionate and how beautiful its roots really were. 1! ROY BAILEY: New Directions in the Old. Fuse Records (through Sandstock). IF your taste turns to traditional English folk (solitary raw voice, bit of guitar and accordion, lots of left-wing politics) then this new recording by Roy Bailey will instantly take you back to those smoky folk clubs which were so popular in the '60s. While the sentiments are standard folk song fare (the bosses are a bunch of bastards, the workers are all noble and decent, working-class culture is uplifting and glorious, the world is 0- . . u,u, ifc. " The -sound mm OF THE WEEK THELONIOUS MONK: Live At The K Club. ColumbiaLegacy C2K (two disks) 65288 THIS is one of the best examples of Thelonious Monk's classic mid-1960s quartet in club performance. The club was an obscure one, but the audience was keen and the band inspired. Much silliness has been written about modernism in jazz, which goes some way towards explaining the impatient and cryptic utterances of Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. Modernism covered a range of styles, almost all of them highly rhythmic - none more so than full of unfairness and exploitation) these are songs that have mostly been written in the past decade. Particularly impressive are Tliis Old Town, an excellent song about the changes in rural life written by Janis Ian, and Leon Rosselson's Brass Band Music based on a Louis MacNeice poem. There's also a huge input from Bailey's frequent Australian trips including Enda Kenny's beautiful The Language of the Land, Alistair Hulett's hard-hitting A Migrant's Lullaby and Do You Tliink That I Do Not Know?, a song based around a bittersweet, romantic Henry Lawson poem. Bailey is a fine stylist and this is a good new collection sung with great sincerity and integrity. Classical ROGER COVELL i BELLINI, HUMMEL, KALUYYODA etc: Oboe concertos. Diana DohertyQueensland SOAlbert ABC 456 681-2. BELLINI you have certainly heard of if you are interested in opera, and probably Hummel (if you came across his music as a piano student or if you keep a sharp eye on chamber music repertory). But Kalliwoda Rietz and Molique? Well, all five of them are composers of concerto or concerto-like pieces for oboe; and Diana Doherty, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra's excellent new principal oboist, plays such a piece by each of them on this new ABC disc. One other thing they have in common is that they flourished entirely in the early to mid-19th century or (in the case of Hummel) survived well into that century; so they can be classified, according to the very rough categories of musical history, as belonging to music's romantic era. That is one reason w hy Doherty has chosen them for a disc entitled Romantic Oboe Concertos. Although the 19th century or the romantic period (whichever you prefer) used the oboe to great effect in its ever-expanding cultivation of the symphony orchestra, major composers wrote concerto solos for the instrument far less often than had been the case in the baroque or classical periods. But keep an open ear or two as you of till mMm era Monk's, whose solos would still be interesting as drum patterns even if you took away the fascinating chords and melodic shapes. Tenor saxophonist Charles Rouse - Monk's perfect foil - rides irresistibly here, histlry tone and spare phrases bouyed on Larry Gales's loping bass, unruffled by drummer Ben Riley's punching accents. When Monk . enters -with a cascade, a clang, a staccato barrage - the music broadens, yet Monk retains an insistent momentum. This is one of the mod ern era's deepest satisfactions. The exceptional live sound on this disc has caught it for us. Ignore the lukewarm entry in your Penguin guide. Erratic judgment listen to the invariably pleasant or at the very least inoffensive music on this disc. Kalliwoda, a Czech composer admired by Schumann, immediately comes up trumps with a decidedly attractive Concertino. Julius Rietz, at one time an assistant to Mendelssohn, is pleasing but less striking in melodic terms in his Concert Piece; and another German, Bemhard Molique, sets the soloist some severe tests of virtuosity in the three linked sections of his G minor Concertino. Bellini, as you might expect from his graceful operatic writing, produced in his early years a tuneful and slenderly songful Oboe Concerto even if it is a very short one (not much more than six minutes in duration on this recording); Johann Nepomuk Hummel, a contemporary of Beethoven who lived until 1837, takes two ambitious steps forwards and one unambitious step backwards througout his Adagio, Theme and Variations, Opus 102. Doherty's lively brilliance and expressive and exceptionally well-defined tone and phrasing leap out from the disc. She is well partnered by the ever-reliable Werner Andreas Albert directing the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. SCHNITTKE, PART, GORECKI: Ensemble music. Soloists1 Musici de MontrealTurovsky. Chandos CHAN 9590. ALFRED Schnittke is one of the most interesting Russian composers of the post-Shostakovich generation. His death a few weeks ago is a reminder that he is still known to concert-goers here, if at all, only in partial and fragmentary form. On this Chandos disc, shared with two other composers - the Estonian Arvo Part and the Polish Henryk Gorecki, who also survived Soviet stylistic censorship and found their own way from rebellion to a personal synthesis in a clarified, simplified style - Schnittke is represented by one of his better known works, the Concerto Grosso No 1 . Using Corelli's middle-baroque concerto idiom (as other recent composers, notably Tippett, have done) as a point of reference, Schnittke makes many other allusions to music past and present (including his grandmother's favourite tango) while establishing a fairly anguished tone , i-i"-- '!, 9 ' " t aside, it is referring to an earlier release on which nine tracks are abbreviated. John Clare with the interplay of his two solo violins, prepared piano and ensemble strings. This is a troubled, strongly imagined work. Part has become" known and - by some music-lovers - deeply loved for his fondness in recent years for concentrating on slowly changing sonorities and contemplating single moments of beautiful sound. His Tabula Rasa for two violins, prepared piano and strings is in two sections, moving from what might be called the disintegration of conventional gestures into a realm of lustrous meditation on the edge of silence.- A trance-like attentiveness would be an appropriate way to receive the second section of this piece. Gorecki, celebrated for the long, unhurried periods of his third symphony, provides the liveliest and most concise work on this disc with his brief Concerto for Harpsichord and Strings in two fast, insistently repetitive movements. Yuli Turovsky directs his I Musici de Montreal, with his wife, Eleonora, and daughter, Natalya, as expert violin soloists and Catherine Perrin as keyboard player in a recording that savours the characterful texture of strongly attacked strings and the continuing fascination for 20th-century composers of baroque -figuration. SCHUBERT: Piano Trio in E flat, . D929; Notturno, D89. DahlerSchneebergerDemenga. ECM 1595 453 300-2. USING a fortepiano (simple codeword in this instance for early piano) built in Vienna in about 1820, Jorg Ewald Dahler partners Hansheinz Schneeberger (violin) and Thomas Demenga (cello) in one of the finest chamber works of its kind, Schubert's E flat piano trio. The piano's relative lack of sustaining power helps give a notable clarity to the textures of this carefully studied, always rhythmically buoyant performance. So does the bowing and articulation of the strings. The effect, while less imposing, is refreshing. As a makeweight the players offer the Notturno (so-called by its publisher), which may or may not have been intended for another E flat piano trio and which is either (depending on your mood) excessively vapid or potentially a cult piece if it became attached to a suitable film. '2 SMH The Guide, August 31-Scptember 6, 1998

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