Saxophonist Monik Nordine , one of the most compelling voices on the west coast, has just released a new CD with her group Departure, featuring Brent Jarvis on keys, Phil Albert on bass, and Buff Allen on drums.
Nordine submitted the following review-cum-liner-notes written by Peter Taschuk to Island Jazz in advance of their upcoming shows (Thursday, November 25 on Salt Spring; Friday, November 26 in Victoria; and Sunday, November 28 in Nanaimo). It’s worth a read and the group is definitely worth a listen. Performance details can be found at the end of the review.
Be sure to check them out.
– Rick Gibbs
Review by Peter Taschuk The jazz scene on the west coast is fundamentally different than that in most other regions in Canada, in that it is more spread out, not completely concentrated in an urban centre, as in most places. A large number of musicians have moved out west, attracted by Vancouver’s lifestyle, climate, and setting, and many of them have discovered the attractions of the communities on the islands. Home-grown jazz musicians have thrived on the associations that they’ve formed with these travellers, and this recording is one of the many fine products of these affiliations.
“Departure” is the newest jazz recording by the group consisting of Monik Nordine, saxes; Brent Jarvis, keyboard; Phil Albert, bass; and Buff Allen, drums. It opens with “Instep”, written by Monik, who was born and raised on Salt Spring Island, left to study and play in Vancouver and Montreal, returned a few years ago, and is now based in Nanaimo. This tune kicks off the proceedings in fine style, with a somewhat gentle feel propelled by the light clash and chatter of the master drummer Allen, and supported by the broad, understated strokes of the Fender Rhodes piano of Jarvis. The song showcases Monik’s modern, adventuresome style, the great influence of John Coltrane, and actually ends with a paraphrase of Coltrane’s groundbreaking “Giant Steps”.
Second in the program is “Questar”, one of Keith Jarret’s beautiful tone poems. Here Jarvis, who studied at the University of Toronto, uses a lush, processed tone on the Rhodes, which is the perfect foil to the tone Monik achieves on her alto sax (the Nordic sound), which is a slightly more biting and astringent timbre . The Rhodes, which was used by many jazz pianists in the 70’s, has a funkier sound than the acoustic piano, longer sustain, and less dynamic range. This tone colour, along with the busy, yet subtle drumming of Allen, defines the sonic feel of this whole project, giving it a highly cohesive and distinctive feel.
The next number, “Waltz”, was written by Jarvis. I think he purposely gave the tune this bland, generic name to alert the listener that is indeed a waltz, even though it doesn’t feel like it at first. The short lyrical melody, stated by Monik on the soprano sax, gives us the distinct impression of 4/4, and what follows, throughout the solos, is the wonderfully ambiguous polyrhythmic feel of 4 against 6.
“Vi”, written by Monik, is a calypso in the spirit of the grandaddy of jazz calypsos, St. Thomas, written by another one of Monik’s great influences, Sonny Rollins. It is essentially a duo for sax and drums, accompanied by bass and keyboard, with a nice solo by Albert, who is also originally from Salt Spring. Buff Allen, who lives on Bowen Island, and who has been playing jazz for 40+ years, shows his consummate command of the whole drum kit here.
“Ballad”, by Brent Jarvis is a heart-rending lyrical melody, a sweet repose, followed by finely constructed solos by Monik and Brent.
The set ends with what is, essentially, a blowing session on the two “pure” jazz forms: blues, and rhythm changes. Everyone has practised and played these structures for their whole careers, and are consequently able to strut their stuff, blow inside and out, and generally have a good time. “Detour”, written by Monik, is an angular bebopish, Monkish, 12-bar blues. Great solos from all. Monik actually starts hers by quoting “Blue Monk”, one of Thelonious’ most well-known tunes. The burner “Sireusly Mean” by Phil Albert is the rhythm changes piece, this one in the spirit of Charlie Parker, who essentially built his career composing new melodies (and improvising) on these structures.
This recording plays like a set on a live club date. It takes us on a journey through some pretty spectacular scenery, and leaves us wanting to drive this road again. The recording quality is warm and alive, the mixes are superb, and the flow of the whole session is wonderful. It feels a lot like like an old LP, which we listened to in its entirety, rather than to a succession of single unrelated tunes on an Ipod set to shuffle. This is a potent bunch of musicians, and their distinctive individual styles have come together in a superbly unique blend.
The band is holding these CD launch events: Salt Spring house concert on Nov. 25, Hermann’s Jazz Bar on Nov. 26 in Victoria, Downstairs at the Acme Food Co. on Nov. 28 in Nanaimo (as part of a new series of jazz events once a month on Sundays). In Feb. they will be playing for the Georgia Straight Jazz Society in Courtenay, and in March at the Cellar in Vancouver. Also, they’re planning a festival tour across Canada in the summer of 2011.
A bit of history was made at Hermann’s Jazz Club in Victoria on October 30, when MediaNet, a Victoria non-profit organization devoted to facilitating and supporting the use of video and film in the local community, broadcast a live jazz stream from the bandstand.
Organized by drummer Kelby MacNayr and MediaNet technical director Kirk Schwarz, this first event featured the Jim Cameron/ Ron Hadley Quartet with Sean Drabitt on bass and MacNayr on drums.
Hermann’s isn’t the first club to feature live streaming. Smalls Jazz Club in New York has pioneered its use with nightly internet broadcasts starting at 7:30 pm EST.
But unlike the stream from Smalls, which relies on a single static cam, the Hermann’s event featured two cameras with different vantage points and active switching, making the visual experience much more appealing. Schwarz plans to bring in three cameras for the next broadcast and also hopes to make improvements to the already good audio.
As well, MediaNet is using USTREAM to host the broadcasts which provides an archive for later viewing.
The next broadcast takes place on Saturday, November 6 with an appearance by the Kelby MacNayr Quintet.
You can check out the first broadcast here.
VantagePointVictoria is the MediaNet home on USTREAM. You can learn more about MediaNet here.