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John Geggie / Josh Rager / Paul Meyers: Ottawa, Canada November 28, 2009

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John GeggieJohn Geggie
Geggie Concert Series: 2009-10, #3
National Arts Centre, Fourth Stage
Ottawa, Canada
November 28, 2009


For the third in his 2009-10 Geggie Concert Series, Ottawa bassist John Geggie once again demonstrated his astute ability to bring together musicians who have not previously played together, but who share enough common ground that—with minimum rehearsal—sound as though they'd been band mates for years.




Pianist Josh Rager is a young, up-and-coming Montreal-based pianist, whose most recent release, Time and Again (Effendi, 2008), received considerable attention in Canada and was picked, by The Ottawa Citizen's Peter Hum, as one of the year's best. His performance at the 2009 Ottawa Jazz Festival, opening for Maria Schneider

Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider

band/orchestra
, was an equally compelling set of post-bop, and here he proved himself an inventive player with open ears and quick reflexes. Over the course of two sets, he demonstrated a focused, motivic-based approach to soloing, where ideas were explored and twisted every which way, ultimately leading to new ones that resulted in solos of near-perfect construction. "Waltz for Jung," his unaccompanied solo during the first set (the first of three, each featuring a different member of the trio), demonstrated a firm but elegant touch, and a compelling ability to blend light travels into the abstract with more lithe and direct voicings.



Guitarist Paul Meyers is a more seasoned performer who's been on the New York scene for 30 years, but has been picking up steam in the last 20. With a sizable discography including his recent World on a String (Miles High, 2009), he's collaborated with a wide variety of artists including pianists Geri Allen

Geri Allen
Geri Allen
b.1957
piano
, Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
b.1943
piano
and Eliane Elias
Eliane Elias
Eliane Elias
b.1960
piano
, bassists Ron Carter
Ron Carter
Ron Carter
b.1937
bass
, Eddie Gomez
Eddie Gomez
Eddie Gomez
b.1944
bass
and Rufus Reid
Rufus Reid
Rufus Reid
b.1944
bass, acoustic
, and singers Jon Hendricks
Jon Hendricks
Jon Hendricks
b.1921
vocalist
and Andy Bey
Andy Bey
Andy Bey
b.1939
piano
. A rarity in his exclusive devotion to nylon-string acoustic guitar, at least one reference point has to be the late Charlie Byrd
Charlie Byrd
Charlie Byrd
1925 - 1999
guitar
, given Meyers' predilection for Latin music. But his reach is much broader, as his solo—a remarkable interpretation of The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles

band/orchestra
' "Norwegian Wood"—demonstrated. Filled with enough impressive technique to keep the guitarists in the audience scratching their heads, Meyers never sacrificed substance for style, and with remarkable command of his instrument, Meyers transcended some of its apparent limitations, in particular playing surprisingly percussively at times, with visceral lines of both horizontal and vertical approach.

John Geggie / Josh Rager



Geggie's solo spot, which opened the second set, was a personal look at bassist Dave Holland

Dave Holland
Dave Holland
b.1946
bass
's "Homecoming," originally recorded with his 1980s quintet and by his collaborative Gateway Trio with guitarist John Abercrombie
John Abercrombie
John Abercrombie
b.1944
guitar
and drummer Jack DeJohnette
Jack DeJohnette
Jack DeJohnette
b.1942
drums
. Like these earlier versions, Geggie used its memorable head as a jumping off point for greater free play, but there was still a context around which Geggie moved. His improvisations within a group context have been evolving over the years, but this rare solo performance demonstrated the same confidence that makes his two overdue debuts as leaders—Geggie Project (Ambiances Magnétiques, 2009), with pianist Marilyn Crispell
Marilyn Crispell
Marilyn Crispell
b.1947
piano
and drummer Nick Fraser
Nick Fraser
b.1976
drums
, and Across the Sky (Plunge, 2009), with Fraser, pianist Nancy Walker and saxophonist Donny McCaslin
Donny McCaslin
Donny McCaslin
b.1966
saxophone
—all the more welcome.



Collectively, the trio worked its way through a mix of originals and standards, including an uncharacteristically buoyant reading of William Walton's enduring "Touch Her Soft Lips and Part," while Geggie's "From Which" and "Septième Arrondisement," from the first set, swung amiably. Myer's "So Danco Samba," which ended the second set, was most closely aligned to Meyers' Latin-esque work as a solo artist, while Rager's "Train to Lindau," fit firmly in the mainstream, with a lyrical arco melody played by Geggie.



Overall, it was an easygoing evening of largely straight-ahead jazz played by a trio that, without a drummer, came closer to a chamber jazz aesthetic even as it swung with authority on Jimmy Giuffre

Jimmy Giuffre
Jimmy Giuffre
1921 - 2008
clarinet
's blues, "Happy Man." An appreciative and near capacity audience clearly fed off the positive vibes that were circulating around the trio, with everyone clearly enjoying themselves. With a series that travels across so many areas of jazz, it's great to see a trio that, as ever unassuming and direct, bringing fresh takes to standards like "Nobody Else But Me" and delivering original material that was both compelling and memorable.



Visit John Geggie, Josh Rager and Paul Meyers on the web.



Photo Credits

John Geggie, Josh Rager: John R. Fowler

Paul Meyers: John Kelman


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