The TD Canada Trust Vancouver International Jazz Festival 2006
Another afternoon at CBC to see trumpeter Bria Skonberg front a quintet playing more traditional swing and early jazz tunes. Skonberg is a recent graduate of the Capilano College Jazz Studies program, and she's also the winner of the 2006 Prix J.A.M. Award, so after receiving her check it was funny to hear her quote "We're In The Money while trading 4's in her first tune. Skonberg obviously listens to Louis Armstrong and Roy Eldridge, as she often ends her phrases with a little shake reminiscent of the pre-bop giants. Nothing heavy or deep about this group, but they were fun to watch and listen to, especially the pianist Amanda Tosoft and bassist Georgia Korba who moves, you could say dances with her bass while locking into the groove. Their "Potato Head Blues was lively and the stop-time breaks just right. Skonberg is not only a promising trumpeter but also a poised singer and entertainer, and with experience she'll iron out some of her vocal intonation problems. These young musicians are worth keeping an eye on.
I had looked forward to the afternoon workshop by Cuban pianist Hilario Durán but he just droned on and on. It was good information but, unlike Nimmons and Braid, he made no attempt to acknowledge much less reach out to the young musicians there. He just talked for long stretches then asked if anyone had a question, and so on. Best parts came when he demonstrated montuno and son montuno, the cinquillo pattern in the contradanza, cha cha cha and various tumbaos. Durán's musical illustrations included his dazzling version of Chucho Valdes's "Mambo Influenciado. Interestingly, when talking with him afterwards he refused to acknowledge the role of Orestes Lopez and his brother Cachao in the creation of the mambo.
Back to Granville Island for Chris Gestrin's Trio, with bassist André Lachance and the ubiquitous Dylan van der Schyff. Nice, pleasant, introspective songs-sort of mood music for a rainy afternoon. But since it was clear sky and sunshine, I sat out on the grass and listened to the birds singing along with the trio.
Made it to The Center just in time to catch the end of an opening set by bassist Roberto Occhipinti, backed by Hilario Durán, saxophonist Phil Dwyer, trumpeter Kevin Turcotte and the phenomenal Cuban drummer Dafnis Prieto, who kicked off the final tune with a jaw-dropping, polyrhythmic solo. They were followed by Paquito d'Rivera's quintet, which opened with a passionate, soaring arrangement of Astor Piazzolla's "Libertango.
With time running short, I raced over to Ironworks for the conclusion of the Zanussi Five, led by Norwegian bassist-composer Per Zanussi. The genre-bending quintet featured a rip-snorting sax section, including three sopranos ducking, dodging and landing knockout punches. Their first encore was a 1960s, psychedelic romp based around a demented James Brown riff. Their second encore: a mind-blowing, frenetic klezmer song. One of the saxophonists in the group, Kjetil Møster played the late show with his own trio, joining forces with Per Zannusi and Swedish drummer Kjell Nordeson. It was a bracing, fire-breathing, mostly free-jazz show with the leader displaying a big sound, wide range, and scary vibrato, alternating between long runs and fluttering sounds. Zanussi used his entire instrument, employing harmonics, plucking below the bridge, even changing tuning during a piece. Nordeson was propulsive and at times explosive, occasionally playing with mallets on tiny bongos and cymbals perched on top of his snare. The set ended with a long decrescendo into the early morning hour.
Back to the festival hotel to find the jam session in full swing, with saxophonist Phil Dwyer and drummer Dafnis Prieto from Roberto Occhipinti's group sitting in with pianist Alon Yavnai from Paquito's quintet. They were obviously having fun, taking all sorts of chances, playing for the sheer joy of it. Dwyer was killing on "Song For My Father, and Yavnai displaced time and played polytonally, but couldn't throw off his cohorts. The saxophonist from the Cuban group Maraca sat in and played long Brecker-like lines. At the end, Yavnai and Prieto launched into a montuno that brought the musician-heavy house down. ¡Qué sabroso!