Today’s Sounds: Gary Schwartz & Lettingo

Jazz man Gary Schwartz and Lettingo play Ornette Coleman and Coleman-inspired material live at la Sala Rossa, plus a banging Twin Shadow remix of that Sky Ferreira tune and a video depicting the Chiac shenanigans of Radio Radio.


Gary Schwartz, Lettingo Live (Odd Sound)

Lettingo assembles 11 Montreal jazz luminaries under the leadership of guitarist Gary Schwartz, playing the music of Ornette Coleman. Opus Award winners for best jazz concert of 2011, the band is captured live at la Sala Rossa on this recording, playing four Ornette classics and three Ornette-inspired original tunes.

Coleman was a groundbreaking Texan recognized both for his contributions to free jazz and his difficult-to-pin-down harmolodic concept. The latter eschews the usual jazz solo/accompaniment and rhythm/melody dichotomies in favour of equal roles for all players. Free of standard harmonic constraints, the music has an open feel that relies on repeated melodies with shifting accents.

Following Coleman’s tendency to double instruments, the line-up includes two drummers (Isa­iah Cec­ca­relli and Claude Lavergne), two keyboards (David Ryshpan and Jonathan Cayer) and three saxes (Eric Hove, Alex Côté and Frank Lozano), along with Ron Di­Lauro’s trum­pet, Josh Zubot on vi­o­lin and Nico­las Caloia on bass.

“Lonely  Woman” is Coleman’s most covered song, inspired by a painting of a bourgeois woman with tears in her eyes. The original version had the drums keeping a fast rhythm over which the horns lay the slower theme. After a solo guitar intro that increasingly hints at the melody, Côté’s arrangement adopts a similar strategy, the drummers skittering fills and ride accents keeping things rolling as an extended solo by Zubot hits a peak.

The other three Coleman songs are from The Complete Science Fiction Sessions. The melancholic descending theme from “Broken Shadows” sits in contrast to the lively funk of “School Work,” the latter featuring a bouncing bop solo from Schwartz. “School Work”’s theme should be familiar to Coleman fans, being reused in both Dancing in Your Head and sections of Skies of America.  “Law Years” highlights Zubot’s violin before a swinging big band chart kicks in.

Of the originals, Schwartz’s “Whatd’yasay?” and “Between the Lines” fit comfortably alongside the Science Fiction material, while Ryshpan’s heavier “Hivemind” is closer to Prime Time, Ornette’s version of a rock band.

Beyond simply paying tribute to a living master, Lettingo blend their identity into Ornette’s. Schwartz avoids the clichés of both the jazz and rock worlds, with clean-flowing lines even when he hits the distortion pedal.  The tight-knit orchestrations diffuse the spotlight over the entire ensemble, revealing further depth with each listen.

The Lettingo Live record launch is happening at la Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent) on Monday, Jan. 28, 8:15 p.m., free


Sky Ferreira, “Everything Is Embarrassing” (Twin Shadow remix)

Ascendant pop starlet Sky Ferreira scored big with this tune last summer. But this remix by Brooklyn’s own Twin Shadow pushes her neo-Debbie Gibson steez further and deeper back into the ’80s, where shadowy synthpop tunes got extended for the dancefloor.



Radio Radio, “Comment ca va?”

Directed by Mathieu Cyr, the latest video from Maritimes-born Montrealers Radio Radio closes the door on the Havre de Grâce album cycle with a bang. Witness the Chiac shenanigans below.

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