Friday, December 13, 2013

Dominique-René de Lerma: 'Deep Blue' by CForce trio 'is destined to become a document in the evolutionary history of music in The Bahamas'

Deep Blue; CForce; Lucky Seven
Gangelhoff, Justilien, Lee

Dominique-René de Lerma sends this review:

Deep Blue, Lucky Seven Records; Bar code: 8 88295 00211 0.   C Force (Christine Gangelhoff, flute; Christian Justilien, euphonium; Christy Lee, piano).  Liner notes by Christy Lee: 6 panels. Texts, program notes, and biographies). Produced by Terry Manning.
Bethel, Clement, arr.  Ballymena. [1:39]
Hepburn, FranzBahama moon (1990, originally for voice). [3:24]
Parker, Quincy, arr. by C Force.  The kindly ones waltz. [2:54]
Manning, TerryThe silent sea.  [3:49]
Manning, TerryThe sun dance.  [0:57]
Justilien, ChristianTilla.  [5:30]
Justilien, ChristianBahama Islands suite.
1. San Salvador; The new world.  [3:07]
2. Grand Bahama; Pinder's Point. [2:45]
3. Eleuthera; Da Bight.  [2:47]
4. Ragged Island; Deep South.  [1:30]
5. Bimini; Blue Marlin. [3:35]

Bahama Islands suite -- Poetry by Marion Bethel (read by the poet)
1. San Salvador; The new world.  [1;04]
2. Grand Bahama; Pinder's Point. [1:01]
3. Eleuthera; Da Bight.  [1:05]
4. Ragged Island; Deep South.  [:57]
                5. Bimini; Blue Marlin. [1:03] 

 Lucas Manning. Pinder's Point House Remix [3:25]

C Force is a trio, consisting of faculty members of the College of the Bahamas, formed in 2009.  In addition to Christian Justilien are pianist Christy Lee and flutist Christine Gangelhoff.  Dr. Lee (D.M.A., Florida State University) is a native of Clarksville MS.  Prior to her doctoral studies she studied at the University of Alabama (B.M., magna cum laude) and the Cleveland Institute of Music (M.M.).  She made her concerto debut with Tennessee's Jackson Symphony Orchestra.  She has served variously as coach, pianist, and conductor for Opera Memphis, the Chattanooga Opera, Cleveland Opera, Lake Placid International Voice Seminar, and for the vocal training program in Novafeltria, Italy. Prior to her appointment in the Bahamas, she taught at Lincoln Memorial University, the Cleveland Institute of Music, Delta State University, and Florida State University.  Among her recordings is the Centaur issue with cellist Wesley Baldwin in the sonata by Joseph Jongen.
Flutist Christine Gangelhoff has been active in Minneapolis with the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and on the Pacific Coast with the Vancouver Island Symphony, Oregon Symphony, and Portland Ballet, but also with a Celtic world music ensemble, a klezmer group, a reggae-ska ensemble, and with Jethro Tull.  She has been on the faculties of the University of St. Thomas, Portland State University, Douglas College, Casper College, Newfoundland's Memorial University, the Isador Bajic Music Academy in Serbia, and the Atenisi Institute in Tonga.  She is a guiding force in the documentation of Bahama's music history.
This CD is destined to become a document in the evolutionary history of music in The Bahamas.  It is certainly not true that "art" music (the trio's term) is new to the islands, although this is coming in the earlier stages of creativity and documentation.  Works for piano, for chorus, for solo voice find performance opportunities with ease in most circumstances.  The Bahamas have already seen their first operas (Our boys by Cleophas Adderley in 1986, The legend of Sammie Swain by Edward Clement Bethel in 1971, and Gerda and the soldier by Quincy Parker in 2010), and Parker has several orchestral works to his credit, including Dominion from 2001, Golgotha from 2003, Rumpelstilskin from 2009, several works for violin and orchestra, and a piano concerto from 2007); Wallace Turner's Genesis for narrator, baritone, and orchestra dates from 2008.  The evidence is that a flowering has been taking place in the past few decades and that this is intensifying.   Traditional in such developments is the idealization of the folkloric and traditional.  We saw this in the Harlem Renaissance and in the evolution of concert music in every Southern American and European country finding the urge to identify itself on an expanded canvas.  Once that matter has been defined, the dance rhythms, scales, and instrumental sonorities that had been overt were absorbed less obviously into new vocabularies.  This may have begun to happen in The Bahamas but meanwhile we are presented with works that joyously relate to a local heritage.  The rhythms are delightful, no less when the ensemble is augmented by the subtle contributions of percussionists Christian Justilien, Gilard Louis, and Neil Symonette. The additive rhythms are born from African heritage, and Tilla's borrows the clave from Cuba.  There is certainly no doubt but what the music is Caribbean; the extent to which it is distinctly Bahamian may escape a suspect with ethnomusicological examination.  While Bahama moon comes from vocal repertoire, several have a vocal lyricism, entrusted to the euphonium. The trio is not new to pan-Caribbean music; their first CD, Tchaka mizik (2010). introduces Justilien's Tilla along with three trips to Haiti and visits as well to Europe for Verdi, Bizet, and Delibes.  It is an odd combination, but the result is not unsettling in the least. The flute and euphonium both have solo works, but they comfortably join together reacting to each other and joining in parallel duets (even a case of quasi-organum in Justilien's visit to Eleuthera).  A momentary disruption comes in Tilla, like a summer's tropical storm, and the euphonium's sea  call in Bimini is programmatically evocative.  The recording ends with the brief poems of Marion Bethel, recited by the poet herself against the trio's partial recaps.  It is 42 minutes of a comfortable and always interesting tribute to the culture of a homeland.
Edward Clement Bethel (1938-1987), an Afro-Bahamian, studied piano in London and earned his M.A. degree in ethnomusicology with Music in the Bahamas; Its roots, rhyme, and personality.  One chapter of this was expanded as Junkanoo; Festival of the Bahamas (Macmillian, 1992), subsequently expanded by his daughter, Nicolette Bethel.  He was the islands' first Director of Culture and President of the Bahamas Music Society,  and in 1973, when the Bahamas became an independent commonwealth, he produced a pageant which he had written, surveying the history since the 1492 landing by Columbus.  He is also the composer of an opera, The legend of Sammy Swain (1971, rev. 1982).  A national dance festival was held in 2013 in his honor.  He was married to the late Dr. Keva Bethel, later President of the College of the Bahamas.  His death, of kidney failure, took place in Nova Scotia.
Franz Hepburn (1965-), an Afro-Bahamian native of Nassau, began the piano at age seven, but secured his university training outside of music (A.A.B.A. in banking and finance, College of the Bahamas; B.B.A. in marketing and finance, University of Nova Scotia; M.B.A., University of Warwick).  From 1990 to 2004 he served at the Bahamas Tourist Office in London. His operatic debut as bass-baritone took place in the première of Our boys, composed in 1986 by Cleophas Adderley, Jr., performed by the Juilliard School of Music Orchestra in 1987. His other roles include Sarastro Die Zauberflöte), Publius (La clemenza di Tito), Trulove (The rake's progress), Il rè (Aida), Sparafucile Rigoletto), and Bridgetower's father (BridgetowerFswain; A fable of 1807, by Julian Joseph, a work commissioned to commemorate the bincenterary of the abolition of slavery by the City of London, including the fall tours in 2007 by the English Touring Opera.  The following year he created the role of the Minister of War in The burial at Thebes, by Trinidad composer Dominique Le Gendre, the first woman to receive a commission from the Royal Opera.  Since 2008 he has often appeared in recital with the Canadian soprano, Kyla Lingley.
Kyle Quincy Parker (1972-) was originally a hip hop producer and guitarist who became introduced to jazz and classical music, particularly during his freshman year at Oral Robert University (B.M., 2001) and his comprimario work with the Tulsa Opera's 1997 season. After three years as Senior News Editor for the Bahama journal starting in 2006, he was Cultural Attaché with the government embassy.  As owner of Black Pepper Music since 2012, he has been active in teaching and working for television and radio.  He has also recently been engaged in community relations for the College of the Bahamas, and returned to the  Bahama journal, now a featured editor.
Terry Manning has been active in African American popular music since the early 60s, first in El Paso and then from 1963 in Memphis, producing recordings at Stax for Isaac Hayes, Ike & Tina Turner, Billy Eckstine, Al Green, the Staple Singers, as examples.  In 1991 he established Lucas Engineering and began producing recording euipment. As photographer his subjects have included Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix and the day before his death, Martin Luther King.  He returned to the Bahamas in 1992, working initially with Chris Blackwell's Compass Point Studios.
Christian Justilien (1960-) was organist at his father's church in Pinders Point while still a child.  In 1952 his family moved to Miami, where Justilien attended Edison High School, playing violin and euphonium.  From 1979 to 1987 he was active directing and playing trombone and percussion with groups in the Bahamas.  As band director of the Government High School Marching Band, he was featured at both Disney World and Universal Studuos in Orlando, but  he then elected to secure college training.  In 1991 he graduated from the Berklee School of Music in Boston, followed by the master's degree program at Chicago's VanderCook College of Music.  He graduated in 2004 with study, Musicians and entertainers of the Bahamas; An interactive anthology.  At the same school and in the same year, his brother, Yonell graduated with the thesis, Bahama's junkanoo music; Its history, instruments, and notation.  Christian is currently on the faculty of the College of the Bahamas, and composer, about 1995, of the school's alma mater.
The forthcoming release was announced on 14 November  in The Eleutheran and on  17 November on AfriClassical by William Zick.  Formal release was held on 3 December, with the patronage of the Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes and Lady Joan Foulkes and of the College of The Bahamas.  The formal release was held at Government House on New Providence. The Bahamas premiere of Justilien's Bahama Islands Suite was held at the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve, a national park on Eleuthera.
Order information is available at

Dominique-René de Lerma

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