Sunday, June 29, 2008

Toronto Jazz Festival

Once again I volunteered at the Toronto Jazz Festival and saw some great performances while doing it.

Sunday, June 22

I saw the Geri Allen Quartet. Great pianist with wonderful phrasing. Loved the added synthesizer sound. Another big highlight was her tap dancer, he was phenomenal! They were followed by the Alto Summit (Red Holloway, Donald Harrison, Greg Osby, Bobby Watson) who were exceptional. Alto Sax has never been my favorite jazz instrument, but I was moved to pieces by a soulful, smooth ballad. They also played Herbie Hancock's Cantaloupe Island to great applause.Great show!

Monday, June 23

Tonight I caught a tiny snippet of Ahmad Jamal. Another great pianist, with a fantastic band. I was sorry I couldn't get there sooner to catch Oliver Jones and see a few more tunes from Jamal.

Wednesday, June 25

Tonight I worked my first volunteer shift. What a night! Saw The Blind Alabama Boys, they were absolutely amazing. The highlight of the night was their version of Amazing Grace set to The Animals "House of the Rising Sun". My shift was in the Green Room, so not only did I get to see the Boys up close, I also met another great, the pianist Robi Botos. The night began with the Cyrus Chestnut Trio, who were very good as well.

Thursday, June 26

I was late to this concert due to a rehearsal, but what I saw was phenomenal! Roy Hargrove, Frank Wess (great flute!), Paquito D'Rivera (holy cow can that man play the clarinet!), Roberta Gambarini (love her voice!) and many more. The crowd was electric and the musicians were incredible. Very nearly my favorite performance of the festival.

Friday, June 27

Worked my 2nd shift of the festival tonight in the Green Room for the John Abercrombie/Mike Stern/John Scofield show. Wow, those are some serious music fans that came to that show. There was no room, even to stand, so I had to listen to the show from outside the tent. The evening ended with an impromptu duet between Stern and Scofield, which was awesome. There were big crowds looking for autographs at the end of the show. I was pleased to see that the kid with the guitar was able to get his instrument signed by both Mike Stern and John Scofield. He was so happy!

I also caught a snippet of the lunchtime Galloway's Surprise Swing Session, luckily, when Guido Basso (!!) joined the fray. It's so great when you get a treat like that, I was blown away.

Saturday, June 28

By far, my favorite show of the festival! The show was sure to be a sell out, so I bought a ticket to ensure admission. Hilario Duran started the night with his trio, which included Mark Kelso on drums and Roberto Occhipinti on string bass, playing a few world premieres in his set. Wonderful, I always enjoy Hilario when I see him. Then came Arturo Sandoval. I was absolutely blown away. This man just kept pulling rabbits out of his hat. Trumpet, piano, vocals, percussion, keyboards/synthesiser, the man can do it all. I was flabbergasted by the high and low range of his trumpet, he literally sounded like a tuba at one point. His band was fabulous, especially the bongo player. Roberto even came into the tent to watch Arturo's bass player do a solo. The night ended with getting my ticket signed by both Hilario and Arturo, a wonderful keepsake from a brilliant night.

Sunday, June 29

First up was the Sapporo Jazz Orchestra, a teen big band from Japan. They are all studying at a jazz high school and they are good! Definitely look for some of them in 10 years to be playing the circuit!

The DMBQ lunchtime concert blew me away. Co-fronted by Tara Davidson, Mike Murley and David Braid, they also played compositions by all three. I had been told by many people that I had to see Mike Murley play sax, and they were right. The control, the overtones, simply amazing. David Braid's compositions are so lyrical, so melodic, especially the tune "Interior Castles". Mike and Pete enjoyed the show as well, it was a great way to pass the afternoon.

Looking forward to next year!

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