2004 Ottawa International Jazz Festival - The Best Year Yet
Thom Gossage/Other Voices: NAC Studio, June 26, 2004 10:30PM
R#233'i Bolduc (alto saxophone), Frank Lozano (tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet), Miles Perkin (bass), Gary Schwartz (guitar), Thom Gossage (drums, percussion, autoharp)
With the first stop on their Canadian tour, Gossage and his ensemble played material primarily from a newly recorded album that has yet to be released. Combining a variety of musical elements, including free music, M-Base, minimalism and more, one of the signatures of the group was a snaking counterpoint between the saxophone players and guitar. Unfortunately, the group's approach was perhaps a bit too cerebral; guitarist Schwartz, in particular, had an overly considered style that was certainly unique, but not particularly compelling.
Gossage has also been involved in new music works, and there was a clear chamber-like approach to some of the compositions, which would shift from one duet to anotherbass clarinet/guitar to bass clarinet/kalimba, for example, and then to a trio with guitar, arco bass and percussion. But as academically interesting as some of Gossage's compositions were, they never quite connected with the audience.
Another day, another show with the ubiquitous Terry Clarke, this time in the more straight-ahead and straightforward context that he is best known for. Mays is a solid performer in the Bill Evans tradition, and his set, as traditional as it was, demonstrated the same kind of group interplay that Evans helped to move forward.
Seeing Clarke in such a different context simply highlighted how broad his reach is. Less about fire and passion this time, and more about grace and elegance, he connected well with Mays, the two of them often seeming to share a wry musical joke. Swainson was as dependable as always, maintaining an even sense of swing and contributing lyrical solos with a warm and robust tone. And Mays's arrangements, mixing standards and originals, seemed to shimmer. While he is not as overtly adventurous as Hersch, there are clearly some shared roots.
Effendi Jazz Lab: Confederation Park, June 27, 2004 6:30PM
Alain Bedard (bass), Steve Amirault (piano), Martin Auguste (drums), Christine Jensen (alto and soprano saxophone), Alexandre Coté (tenor and soprano saxophone), Aaron Doyle (trumpet), Kelsey Grant (trombone), Francois Theberge (baritone saxophone)
The Effendi Jazz Lab is a bit of a supergroup, collecting a group of leaders who record for the Montreal-based Effendi label. Together they create an engaging blend of post bop materialgreat charts that may not rattle any cages but give each player the opportunity to demonstrate their considerable abilities. Jensen and Coté stood out, in particular, with Jensen delivering inspired solos throughout.
Latin Jazz All-Stars: Confederation Park, June 27, 2004 8:30PM
Steve Turr&233; (trombone), Ray Vega (trumpet), Hilton Ruiz (piano), Steve Berrios (drums), Yunior Caberra (bass), Ritchie Flores (percussion)
While the Cuban influence in the music was clear, the Latin Jazz All-Stars played more closely to the jazz side of things, which was a little surprising for an audience expecting more of a party atmosphere, but the performance was nothing less than riveting. Turré, looking the same as he has for the past twenty years, demonstrated that he is clearly one of the young masters of the trombone, and will be one of the artists to carry the tradition forward when older artists like Roswell Rudd are no longer around. Vega's technique was impeccable, thankfully favouring a warmer mid-register sound than the piercing tone so many Latin players aim for. Ruiz was as fluent as always, with strong roots in McCoy Tyner; his "The New Arrival" combined a modal solo section with a traditional clavé ostinato for the percussion solo.
The band's choice of material was perfect, even covering Wayne Shorter's "El Gaucho" in a way that showed exactly how genre boundaries can be blurred while remaining completely faithful to all sources.
Sometimes, in fact most times, less is more, a lesson that Montreal pianist Jean Beaudet would be well-advised to consider. While clearly in possession of formidable technique, he literally tired out the audience with an unrelenting barrage of intensity. Informed by Paul Bley and Bill Evans, Beaudet is a more rhythmic player than both, and while he was able to construct solos with good form, they would have ultimately been more successful had he just let the notes breathe a bit.
Bastien and Lalonde were a sympathetic rhythm section, albeit a little "inside the box." But what started out as an impressive concept ultimately became less satisfying as everything, even a tender ballad, was overshadowed with flurries of notes; it almost seemed that Beaudet was possessed with simply too many ideas and felt compelled to get them all out. And this is unfortunate, as he clearly possess a great deal of talent and a personal concept.