John Geggie/Sunna Gunnlaugs/Justin Haynes Ottawa, Canada May 22, 2004
“Across the Sky,” a Geggie composition, received a rubato treatment that felt like the early days at ECM, perhaps recalling Gateway when Jack DeJohnette puts down the drumsticks and moves to the piano; think “Silver Hollow.” Haynes’ sustaining overdrive sound combined well with Gunnlaugs’ more impressionist treatment. Haynes, on this piece, sounded like a less cerebral Robert Fripp; not as academic and more overtly textural.
“Tatamagouche Tango,” an older piece by singer Tena Palmer, a past collaborator with Geggie in the group Chelsea Bridge, saw Haynes continuing to become more experimental as the evening progressed, creating loops over which he coaxed Derek Bailey-like sounds out of his instrument.
The trio closed with Gunnlaugs’ melancholy yet somehow hopeful “Mindful,” another piece that demonstrated her penchant for melodies with a folk-like simplicity; it also highlighted her disposition for pieces that shift in time signatures, this time with a five-bar theme followed by a four-bar bridge section. Closing on a deeply lyrical and richly emotional note, the trio created some of the most compelling music of the evening.
Gunnlaugs’ compositions showed that it was possible to combine intrigue with accessibility, freedom with structure; and Geggie’s choice to end this year’s series on a note that demonstrated the capability of jazz to challenge within a more approachable context was clearly a good one. Ottawa is fortunate, indeed, to have such a diverse and seasoned performer delivering an ongoing series of concerts that show local audiences they don’t have to look very far to find music of high calibre. With work already in progress for next year’s series, Geggie is sure to deliver more of the same.
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