LUDWIG VAN TORONTO
October 25, 2017
Moderne Frau CD Launch. Adi Braun, vocalist; Tom King (piano); Pat Collins (bass); Daniel Barnes (drums & percussion); Tony Quarrington (banjo and guitar); Joseph Macerollo (accordion); Brad Eaton (trumpet); Conrad Gluch (saxophone and clarinet); Zach Smith (trombone). Temerty Theatre, Royal Conservatory of Music. 7 p.m. October 22, 2017.
For keen observers of the Canadian music scene, the Braun name represents a prominent musical family. The late Victor Braun was a distinguished operatic bass-baritone with an international career spanning four decades. His wife, Eraine Schwing Braun, is a mezzo and former German diction coach at the COC. Their son, Russell Braun, is a preeminent baritone of our time, recently scoring a huge triumph in the title role of Louis Riel.
And then there is Adreana Braun, the daughter, better known as Adi the jazz vocalist. Toronto born, Adi spent her childhood years in Germany. She studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto Faculty of Music. As a classically trained soprano, Adi sang in operas and operettas before transitioning to popular music, establishing herself as one of Canada’s premiere jazz and cabaret singers. She succeeded her mother as the COC German coach, and she’s also on the faculty of the RCM.
A prolific recording artist, this newly released CD, Moderne Frau, is her fifth, and her second with a few of her own songs. I’ve been a fan of Adi since her first album, Delishious (2003). I’ve always been impressed by her stylish vocalism, her uncommon expressive range and emotional depth, not to mention a technical security that underscores her classical training. If you’re new to Adi, do check her out on Youtube.
This past Sunday marked the launch of her new CD, Moderne Frau, at the intimate (if rather anonymous) space known as the Temerty Theatre in RCM. The full house got a tantalizing taste of her new disc. It’s dedicated to women of the Weimar Republic in Germany during the interwar years, focusing on Berlin. It features the music of Kurt Weill, Friedrich Holländer, Mischa Spoliansky, and three of Adi’s own compositions.
Weill is of course well known to opera fans — his Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and The Threepenny Opera hover on the fringes of the standard repertoire. And he also composed lots of film music and Broadway in his later years, after he moved to America from Nazi Germany. Adi is backed up by no less than nine musicians, including the veteran Tony Quarrington (brother to Joel, the former principal bass of the COC and TSO) on the banjo and guitar.
What can I say about the disc? Franky, I love it! Adi’s highly polished, light and breezy style is just the right sound for both easy listening — or if you prefer, an intense listening session. When she turns serious, there’s irony aplenty, as in “Gestern” (her own song) or “Und was bekam des Soldaten Weib.” But her style generally is lighter and less tragic than that of Teresa Stratas, whose two discs are my gold standards the last thirty years.
The first track of Moderne Frau is the title song by the same name, penned by Braun and sung in German — very Kabarett in style, a tribute to Weimar in 1920s. Another Adi original, “Josephine,” is a nod to the redoubtable Josephine Baker, who also spent time in Berlin. What a great tune, with terrific arrangement and backup vocals. I dare say this track is going to be a big hit. Anyway, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say. If you are like me, looking for the occasional foray from the heaviness of Wagner and Shostakovich, this disc is the ideal tonic. Highly recommended.
Adi Braun’s Moderne Frau is available at iTunes.