High Fashion at the VAG - Death In Robson Square
Friday, December 14, 2018
|Detail of a Guo Pei taken with my iPhone3G|
Today December 14, 2018 my Rosemary went to town. We drove
and parked our Cruze in a back alley near the Vancouver Public Library. I do
this because I have a valued municipal plate that allows me to do load and
unload for 30 minutes. This time restraint affects me in about one ticket every
Going to town for me is becoming a bird. Birds are present
day dinosaurs. This present day dinosaur is a bird in that I know exactly what
building preceded any of the new buildings in our city. Those bulidings give mememories
of people I photographed within them.
Robson between Granville and Cambie is a huge string of
restaurants. Lots of food for the stomach only brings some for the soul if you
walk into the Vancouver Public Library which we visited today.
The Vancouver Art Gallery has a terrific show that I have
now seen twice.
Guo Pei: Couture Beyond
October 13, 2018 - January 20, 2019
Guo Pei: Couture Beyond is the first Canadian exhibition
devoted to the work of Guo Pei, China’s preeminent couturière.
It is a visual delight. And as always Rosemary and I had
soup (always good) in the Gallery Café.
Not such a visual delight (I am tired of seeing it) is
Kim Adams’s Squid (a moveable sculpture) that has been at the entrance of the
gallery for many years. The only other sculpture I have ever seen in the
outside grounds of the gallery was Douglas Coupland’s Bubble Gum Head.
|Squid - Kim Adams|
Years ago I was friend with then Vancouver Art Gallery
head, Brooks Joyner
. One of his plans was to place sculpture outside. Sadly he was gone before his plan came into effect.
On of the few damning utterings by my hero Argentine
writer Jorge Luís Borges was his complete repulsion to Canada’s gift to Argentina
which was a totem pole. It was placed near the Retiro train station. Borges
wondered how a civilized country could have possibly sent that as an example of
it. As for me that was my first glimpse of the art of a country I would one day live in. It was the totem pole in Mexico City's Chapultepec Park that was the first my Rosemary ever saw. She is from New Dublin, Ontario.
Even though the Dana Claxton's show Fringing the Cube, presently at the Gallery
is a lovely one I do not see why there is no example of Native Canadian art
somehow outside to share the space with Squid (which has never moved).
Robson, between Hornby and How has to be the smack centre
of the city. Is there anything there except for some ugly foldable chairs and tables
and a couple of food wagons? You would think that some designer/architect could
bring back some life to the place now that there will no longer be cannabis
Robson Square which used to have restaurants inside now
has empty storefronts. There never seems to be life inside what seems to be the
University of British Columbia. There is ice skating. But I believe as my
departed friend architect Abraham Rogatnick used to say that ,”UBC has killed
Robson Square.” My photograph of that UBC on any given day resembles a lonely Edward Hopper.
Because so many of the buildings I recognized at one time
are now gone, as I walked with Rosemary I felt like an alienated interloper. I
was in a city in which the nearest and perhaps only bookstore was Macleod’s on
Richards and Pender.
Back in my nest, our Kits duplex while I write this I
realize and know that the many negative file cabinets behind me hold those
memories that are now fading. I feel like a badly faded photographic print
going in the direction so nicely said by General MacArthur.
Tea for Too at the London City - Monk @The Pat
Monday, December 10, 2018
|Julio Cortázar at the London City|
In a trip to my native Buenos Aires in September my Rosemary and I made sure to visit the London City
, a beautiful café/restaurant downtown. It was here where Julio Cortázar wrote his first novel Los Premios published in 1960. He had been in the café before 1951 when his dislike of Perón persuaded him to exile in Paris. But it was in 1950 when Cortázar would visit my father (a journalist for the Buenos Aires Herald). Since Cortázar did not like my father's Players I was seconded to the corner store to buy his favourite Arizonas. To this day I have not forgotten Cortázar's voice but I was too stupid to ever ask my father why it was they were friends.
While at the café I did not find any connection between the lovely setting and the fact that in the background I could listen to Thelonious Monk's version of Tea For Two
I forgot all about that until today when I received an email from Roderick MacDonald announcing next week's Jazz@ The Pat.
3 pm Saturday December 15 - Dan Gaucher makes the voyage from Galiano
Island to Vancouver to play the music of Thelonious Monk @ The Pat with
these wonderful musicians:
Dave Sikula - guitar
Dave Say - saxophones
Brad Turner - trumpet
James Meger - bass
Dan Gaucher - drums
Jazz@ The Pat December 8 2016
with Brad Turner
I am intrigued by this as it must take guts to have a Thelonious Monk program without a piano! I suspect that Brad Turner just might surprise us with a few tunes on the piano.
As soon as I Googgled Julio Cortázar, Thelonious Monk I found what you see below in both English and Spanish. The Spanish version includes a recording (2013) of Round Midnight
by the Spanish Moisés P. Sanchez Trio, (Moisés P. Sánchez, piano, Antonio "Toño" Miguel, bass, and Borja Barrueta on drums).
Round Midnight - Moisés P. Sánchez Trio
del cuarteto de Thelonious Monk en Ginebra, marzo de 1966
Ginebra de día está la oficina de las Naciones Unidas pero de noche hay que
vivir y entonces de golpe un afiche en todas partes con noticias de Thelonious
Monk y Charles Rouse, es fácil comprender la carrera al Victoria may para fila
cinco al centro, los tragos propiciatorios en el bar de la esquina, las
hormigas de la alegría, las veintiuna que son interminablemente las diecinueve
y treinta, las veinte, las veinte y cuatro, el tercer whisky, Claude Tarnaud
que propone una fondue, su mujer y la mía que se miran consternadas pero
después se comen la mayor parte, especialmente el final que siempre es lo mejor
de la fondue, el vino blanco que agita sus patitas en las copas, el mundo a la espalda
y Thelonious semejante al comenta que exactamente dentro de cinco minutos se
llevará un pedazo de la tierra como en Héctor Servadac, en todo caso un pedazo
de Ginebra con la estatua de Calvino y los cronómetros de Vacheron &
apagan las luces, nos miramos todavía con ese ligero temblor de despedida que
nos gana siempre al empezar un concierto (cruzaremos un río, habrá otro tiempo,
el óbolo está listo) y ya el contrabajo levanta su instrumento y lo sondea,
brevemente la escobilla recorre el aire del timbal como un escalofrío, y desde
el fondo, un oso con un birrete entre turco y solideo se encamina hacia el
piano poniendo un pie delante de otro con un cuidado que hace pensar en minas
abandonadas o en esos cultivos de flores de los déspotas sasánidas en que cada
flor hollada era una lenta muerte de jardinero. Cuando Thelonious se sienta al
piano toda la sala se sienta con él y produce un murmullo colectivo del tamaño
exacto del alivio, porque el recorrido tangencial de Thelonious por el
escenario tiene algo de riesgoso cabotaje fenicio con probables varamientos en
las sirtes, y cuando la nave de oscura miel y barbado capitán llega a puerto,
la recibe el muelle masónico del Victoria may con un suspiro como de alas
apaciguadas, de tajamares cumplidos. Entonces es Pannonica, o Blue Monk, tres
sombras como espigas rodean al oso investigando las colmenas del teclado, las
burdas zarpas bondadosas yendo y viniendo entre abejas desconcertadas y
hexágonos de sonido, ha pasado apenas un minuto y ya estamos en la noche fuera
del tiempo, la noche primitiva y delicada de Thelonious Monk.
Pero eso no
se explica: A rose is a rose is a rose. Se está en una tregua, hay intercesor,
quizá en alguna esfera nos redimen. Y luego, cuando Charles Rouse da una paso
hacia el micrófono y su saxo dibuja imperiosamente las razones por las que está
ahí, Thelonious deja caer las manos, escucha un instante, posa todavía un leve
acorde con la izquierda, y el oso se levanta hamacándose, harto de miel o
buscando musgo propicio a la modorra, saliéndose del taburete se apoya en el
borde del piano marcando el ritmo con un zapato y el birrete, los dedos van
resbalando por el piano, primero al borde mismo del teclado donde podría haber
un cenicero y una cerveza pero no hay más que Steinway & Sons, y luego
inician imperceptiblemente un safari de dedos por el borde de la caja del piano
mientras el oso se hamaca cadencioso porque Rouse y el contrabajo y el
percusionista están enredados en el misterio mismo de su trinidad y Thelonious
viaja vertiginosamente sin moverse, pasando de centímetro en centímetro rumbo a
la cola del piano a la que no se llegará, se sabe que no llegará porque para
llegar le haría más tiempo que a Phileas Fogg, más trineos de vela, rápidos de
miel de abeto, elefantes y trenes endurecidos por la velocidad para salvar el
abismo de un puente roto, de manera que Thelonious viaja a su manera,
apoyándose en un pie y luego en otro sin salirse del lugar, cabeceando en el
puente de su Pequod varado en un teatro, y cada tanto moviendo los dedos para
ganar un centímetro o mil millas, quedándose otra vez quieto y como precavido,
tomando la altura con un sextante de humo y renunciando a seguir adelante y
llegar al extremo de la caja del piano, hasta que la mano abandona el borde, el
oso gira paulatino y todo podría ocurrir en ese instante en que le falta el
apoyo, en que flota como un alción sobre el ritmo donde Charles Rouse está
echando las últimas vehementes largas pinceladas de violeta y de rojo, el oso
se balancea amablemente y regresa nube a nube hacia el teclado, lo mira como
por primera vez, pasea por el aire los dedos indecisos, los deja caer y estamos
salvados, hay Thelonious capitán, hay rumbo por un rato, y el gesto de Rouse al
retroceder mientras desprende el saxo del soporte tiene algo de entrega de
poderes, de legado que devuelve al Dogo las llaves de la serenísima
Jazz@ThePat - A Flugelhorn & Painting With Drums
Sunday, December 09, 2018
|Brad Turner - Jazz@ThePat , December 9 2018|
Jack Stafford - saxophone
Oliver Gannon - guitar
Al Wold - piano
André Lachance - bass
Craig Scott - drums
Jerry Boey - trumpet
Wendy Biscuit - guest vocalist
Brad Turner 5tet
Brad Turner - trumpet
Jon Bentley - saxophone
Bruno Hubert - piano
André Lachance - bass
Dylan Van der Schyff – drums
By 1962/63 I was going with friends to the CIA-front
Benjamin Franklin Library in Mexico City on Mondays to listen to jazz records played
by a DJ called Jerry Hulse who had red hair and looked a lot like Gerry
Mulligan. The hour long sessions included free Nescafe.
On November 10, 2018 my retired journalist friend Maurice
Bridge picked me up and dragged me to a hotel on East Hastings called The
Patricia Hotel. Its bar is home to Roderick MacDonald’s Jazz at the Pat.
The concept of this is that since the hours of the
sessions (no cover charge and there is not only fine booze but great food) is
from 3 to 7 the hours are daylight safe for we the oldies who might not want to
venture into the “unknown”. The schedule also means that the performers can all
get more gigs (as my friend saxophonist Gavin Walker
likes to say) in the
The November 5 afternoon session included the surprise apparition
(presence!) of recluse pianist Al Wold and the electric performance on electric
guitar of Oliver Gagnon. The others I did not know but I was soon comfortable
and having fun listening to music that reminded me of the be-bop era of the
Because of the arrangement of the stage (in some areas
there are posts that obstruct the view) and the fact that only one person works
behind the bar it is my recommendation that you arrive before 3, get a table
and buy your drinks (the lines get long).
But I must digress here to a day some years ago when I
went to the Cultch for a send-off to Owen Underhill (now the artistic director
of the Turning Point Ensemble
) who was leaving another job which might have
been his connection with new music. The highlight of the afternoon was a duo
with Vern Griffiths on percussion and trumpet player Brad Turner. The latter
was wearing a hat that hid his face. Most of the wonderful performance involved
Turner never really playing anything with this instrument but making noises
with the keys and blowing.
There seems to be a problem with my memory. Vern
Griffiths tells me that if he had played with Brad Turner he would have
remembered. Turner on Saturday told me that he has played so many concerts and
venues that he has no recollection.
But there is another concert featuring Brad Turner’s
Seven Scenes from a Childhood performed by the Turning Point Ensemble that I
attended. When the piece was about to begin a short young man entered the room
and sat in the middle of an orchestra with a miniature drum kit. This was Brad
Turner. This memory of mine Turner did not deny!
So when I received an email from MacDonald announcing a
Saturday Jazz@The Pat, I had to go. And I did.
I was lucky enough to sit with MacDonald, jazz drummer
and retired journalist (the Vancouver Sun
) Mark Andrews and euphonium (and
other instruments) playing Sharman King
Hovering around the room with his trademark beret was
Andreas Nothiger (who ran a successful operation for many years at the
Classical Joint in the late 70s and 80s). It is my belief that this saintly
looking man may have made some sort of pact with the Angel of Darkness as he
looks exactly the same as he did in 1980.
The two hour-long sets that I witnessed dragged me back
to my youth and I had a hard time putting into my head the idea that I had
heard music like this so long ago. But this was not exactly the case as Brad
Turner played only tunes of his quartet in the first set (and then joined by
tenor saxophonist Jon Bentley) and in the second set the pieces were so new
that they were either unnamed or had multiple provisional names.
Perhaps Mark Andrews was there because drummer Dylan Van
der Schyff, who was described by the men (plenty of women in other tables) at
my table as a painter, was playing. If any drummer could ever be labeled and
defined as subtle and discreet he is one of very few.
Pianist Bruno Hubert played with a style full of humour that
I could not pin down. And consider that as far as jazz pianists are concerned
two of my faves (who cannot be pinned down either) is the long departed Richard
Twardzic and Pacific Baroque Orchestra Musical Director and harpsichordist Alexander
Weimann (plays a mean jazz piano). Huber never played loudly but had a delicate
touch which could shine ever so nicely when he accompanied bassist André
I have no idea if any of these fine solos were planned by
Brad Turner. The fact is that they were seamless thanks to Bruno Hubert.
The saxophonist, Jon Bentley blended nicely in duos with
Turner that reminded me a lot of Gerry Mulligan with his piano less quartets
that put the trumpet always on the spot.
As for Brad Turner he had a lovely flugelhorn on a stand
by the floor. And he played it a lot. At this stage of my life I found it hard
to discern the difference but that difference did happen when Turner played a
few quite numbers.
My fave song of the evening was Junior Pants, a joke related
to oldies like me who remember pianist Junior Mance.
The afternoon was a pleasant one for me. I spotted other
friends in the crowd. The room is spotless and the hotel looks like, soon now,
(who knows!) it might become another boutique hotel like some dives of my ecdysiast-watching past
like the Niagara, the St. Regis, the Dufferin and the Austin.
Meanwhile I cannot think of a better thing do to do (and
feel no guilt) like spending time on a Saturday at Jazz@The Pat.