Cam Wilson, Allen Stiles - White Album Revisited with a Little Help From Their FriendsFriday, November 23, 2018
|Cam Wilson, Allen Stiles, November 22 2018|
Yesterday, November 22, my Rosemary and I attended the one-of (alas!) presentation of The Beatles –White Album – Revisited at the St. James Community Centre on West 10th and Trutch.
What follows will be a long winded semi-review (semi because I am an obsolete, redundant and retired photographer and not a music critic) that will bore many.
|Cam Wilson's music stand|
When my Yorkshire-born friend Andrew Taylor sometime at the end of 1962 ( we were both in Mexico City) played me Love Me Do (he was all excited) I was not. The song did not affect me one way or another. I was listening to 50s and 60s West Coast Jazz and the remarkable at the time release of Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd’s Jazz Samba. During those early moments of my darkroom endeavours in the middle of the night at Mexico City College, I listened to Stan Getz with Eddie Sauter in the marvellously dissonant Focus, or Gerry Mulligan and Miles Davis.
While in the Argentine Navy as conscript in 1965, 1966 I worked translating sensitive documents for the US Senior Naval Advisor. Because I was a hopeless typist (dyslexia) I had an Argentine/Irish secretary who was crazy about the Beatles. I disagreed and told her I opted for Andre Previn’s jazz piano or Astor Piazzolla.
|November 1998 - Photograph Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
But I did succumb. It happened when a lovely girlfriend, Suzy, (my second ever) insisted we go and see the Richard Lester Beatles film Help! The title song was so extraordinary to my ears and I was so mesmerized by Suzy that to this day it is my favourite Beatles song.
I was never a screaming fan of the Beatles and preferred rock'n roll of the punk kind.
With that out of the way I can now proceed to my take on last night’s concert.
Jack Moore was a Vancouver journalist who famously wrote (I remember) that when the Queen Elizabeth liner sank in Hong Kong Harbour on January 9 1972, “The Queen Elizabeth liner sank today in Hong Kong Harbour.” And that was the extent of his piece.
Of last night’s concert I could write: Wow, or Wow! Or Wow! Wow!
I am not Jack Moore. He was a journalist.
But after experiencing a nicely long and complete rendition of the The Beatles (White Album) I was astounded by the level of excellence, virtuosity, humour and skill of our local musicians.
Sometimes I believe that Vancouver (the NoFun City, they say) is full of mediocrity. I tell my foreign friends that Vancouver is beautiful in spite of its architecture. But this is not so if one thinks of the music and dance culture of Vancouver and this exciting exception.
Vancouver has a poor memory for what came before and particularly for all the excellent events of our past.
Few might remember that on November 29, 1968 The Little Chamber Music Series that Could (headed by Allen Stiles and Cam Wilson paid homage (on its 30th anniversary) to the Beatles album at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.
I remember because I attended the performance with my Rosemary and the Georgia Straight had assigned me to photograph Stiles and Wilson. The preview by Douglas Hughes is reproduced here.
Last night’s concert made visible the long bench of musical talent in our city.
I must begin with Cameron Wilson, the composer. Few might remember his lovely composition for a Pablo Neruda poem The Sea that was commissioned by the then musical director of the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra. I know it was lovely because I was there with my wife.
What is particularly singular about Cam Wilson who plays a very good violin is that he has a dry humour (a poker-faced dry humour) which in many ways was palpable last night.
I didn’t recognize guitarist Ron Samworth whom I enjoyed in a Turning Point Ensemble Concert dedicated to Frank Zappa because his hair last night was shorter. But he dazzled me and the audience with some flashy electric guitar riffs and his arrangement of Glass Onion and Wild Honey Pie was music to my ears particularly Wild Honey Pie that had a few inclusions of Thelonious Monk.
Hard Rubber Orchestra John Korsud (I am able to write his name correctly because I do not use auto-correct) trumpet player’s baroque-influenced Sexy Sadie for strings was lovely and much too short for me. During the whole concert his trumpet (muted or not) in conjunction with trombonist Rob McKenzie and French hornist Nick Anderson gave the orchestra directed by Les Dala a solid and very live sound.
Clarinet player Mike Braverman was superb in his arranged Balkana Birthday. It is not often that one gets to hear an all-metal clarinet.
I must insert here a musical joke. No musical review ever spares the bassoon player. We know that we use a viola to start a bassoon fire. But the fact is that the evening not only featured four superb bassoonists of the BottomsUP!Bassoon Quartet (Rebecca Norman, Isaac Bull, Michael Berton & Vladimir Konieczny) playing AK Coope’s arrangement of Why Don’t We Do it in the Road, but also a viola (Lowyn Ball) and drummer Allan Dione who played two numbers with his accordion.
The accordion is no bandoneón to this Argentine but it did very well in Sandy Fiddes’s (a violinist with a lovely ear in my ears!) tango influenced Mother Nature’s Tango.
Composer John Oliver's Pig Planet/Piggies proved that Vancouver's avant-garde new music composers (like Cam Wilson) do smile, do have fun and do charm us. I had no idea that Oliver could sing!
There were a few arrangements by Bill Coon that I enjoyed. The one I liked best besides his influence in Kate Hammett- Vaughan's Cry Baby Cry, was Blackbird which feautured vocalist Steve Maddock.
The singers (one long bench is not enough to seat them all) were superb in their variety. We were all charmed by the very young Duncan Bain. Kate Hammet- Vaughan was very funny in her rendition of Cry Baby Cry.
I had never ever heard Marin Patenade. I was slightly distracted from listening to her soaring high notes because of her tight rubberized pants. Her costume was the most noticeable one of the evening. And one of the best compositions of the evening (with Patenade as vocalist) was Cam Wilson's arrangment of While My Spanish Guitar Gently Weeps on the Set of a Spaghetti Western that puposely made it sound like a composition by Ennio Morricone.
The men singers where all just right and I was particularly fascinated by Dave Gibbons (he of the tobacco and whiskey voice) who in Honey Pie (another Sandy Fiddes arrangement) his use of a small electric bullhorn made his voice sound like that from a 30s record.
I don’t ever go to see rock concerts of aging rock stars. I avoid them and prefer to play their CDs. But I cannot not mention that white-haired guitarist Ed Henderson in Everybody Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey and in Daniel III (Rocky’s Legacy) played one hell of a mean electric guitar (while standing and singing).
Fine electric and standup bass player Laurence Mollerop was omitted from the night's program.His electric bass was especially good when it was mated to Ron Samworth and Ed Henderson's electric guitars.
Of a most special note was Cam Wilson's arrangement of Revolution in Memorium: John Lennon which featured Andrea Minden on musical saw. What was so special is that Wilson connected it to one of my fave musical works of the 20th century, Olivier Messaiien's Quartet for the End of Time.
It was the presence of that young Duncan Bain (and his obvious excitement) surrounded by old coots like me and most of the audience that gave me the hope that what we experienced last night will not be a one-of event.
That this 2018 The Beatles- White Album – Revisited will only will have been heard once and not in a venue like the Queen Elizabeth or the Orpheum is a shame and a disgrace for this city.
We need more PALs.