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Live Reviews

Festival International de Jazz de Montreal 2005, Day 5

By Published: July 5, 2005

The final show of this festival for your correspondent was a Philly soul jazz summit with the Odean Pope Saxophone Choir at Gesú. Piano, bass and drums (George Burton, Tyrone Brown, Craig McIver) supported a front line of NINE saxophones (Louis Taylor, Sam Reed, Byard Lancaster, Elliott Levin, Terry Lawson, Terrence Brown, Seth Meicht, Joe Sudler) including that of the leader. This big band played the Blue Note in New York but this performance was more successful since a) a group like this needs spectacle environment rather than a jazz club and b) the saxophones were arranged proscenium style rather than staggered in rows, allowing for the full onslaught of the saxophones to hit at once. The material was a mix of originals, tunes by former band members and covers like "Giant Steps and "I'll Remember Clifford . This big band lacked the precision and slickness of the Dave Holland Big Band from the beginning of the festival but played with the fire that that band did not. The arrangements, done mostly by Pope, were high energy, low impact affairs that featured some nice solos, particularly by Pope and first alto Taylor. Also of note were Pope's explanations and elucidations before each song, particularly when explaining the harmonic complexity of "Giant Steps . The closing number was an ideal closer to your correspondent's week in Montreal. "Phrygian Love Theme was a "blow -out, all the saxophones wailing over a tight burning arrangement. As a nod to the many musicians who played in the Montreal streets during the past week, the entire horn section started walking around the Gesú, creating swirls of sound, especially Lancaster playing both alto and soprano. The Gesú reverted back to its original use as a church, Philly was represented and the crowd loved it. A happy endnote.

The coverage of the festival will continue through the end with more intriguing performances. Your correspondent now hands off the baton to John Kelman but not without first thanking the entire staff of the festival for their professionalism and enthusiasm, especially the entire press relations staff who make my job easier and my time in Montreal the reason I come back every year. Thanks and see you in 2006!

Continue: Day 6

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