The TD Canada Trust Vancouver International Jazz Festival 2006
Afterwards, the choice was to stick around for Mike Stern's band or head over the Cultch for the Belmondo Brothers and Yusef Lateef. No contest. The 85-year old Lateef is one of my earliest jazz heroes and he still has an identifiable, compelling sound on flute and tenor, though he plays much shorter lines and phrases than on his classic Atlantic, Impulse and Prestige recordings. The Paris-based Belmondo Brothers-trumpeter Stephane and saxophonist Lionel-fashioned modal, occasionally exotic settings that brought out the best in Lateef. On both flutes and saxophone, Lateef's warm sound and wide vibrato blended especially well with the flugelhorn and bass trumpet. Fortunately, this set was more about spirit and mood than burning solos or virtuosity. Hopefully, the National Endowment for the Arts will consider Lateef when selecting their next round of Jazz Masters.
Still game, I walked over to Rime, a small Turkish restaurant and performance space to hear cellist Peggy Lee, saxophonist John Bentley and guitarist Tony Wilson play a set of improvised music. There were shifting, and at times surprising contrasts, including one piece where the cello and guitar were playing busy, scratchy bits of business while the alto blew long notes gliding above the fray. Then, as if on cue, they leaped into an angular tune together. Lee's arco solos employed extended harmonies with double and triple stops, and out of nowhere the guitarist scraped a metal bar across his strings.
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.