John Geggie / Jon Christensen / Steve Amirault in Ottawa, Canada
During the intermission, when told how long the first set had run, Geggie and Amirault expressed surprise; and while it was a long set, it didn't feel like it. The second set was no less impressive, featuring more inspired free play, including a bass solo intro to Geggie's "Tattamagouche Tango" that demonstrated just how lucky Ottawa is to have an artist of his caliber in town. Amirault, who is preparing to enter the studio for the follow-up to Breathbut this time with a vocal album featuring original music, and the first to feature himself singingsang "Live to Love," an elegant tune on which his rich voice and gentle vibrato suggests that he may be relatively new to singing, but may well turn out to be every bit as strong a singer as he is an instrumentalist.
Watching Christensenwho often sat back, seeming to consider what Geggie and Amirault were doing before injecting his own ideaswas a remarkable experience, and a clear education in how, with music, listening is every bit as important as playing. There's little that's conventional about how he plays: hands were used as much as sticks and brushes, while parts of the kit not normally struck were hit as often as those that are. All with an approach to time that's simply like no other.
The show was a sell-out, and the extremely enthusiastic audience, despite the later than usual ending to the performance, wasn't about to let the trio leave without an encore. With no material left, the group did what they did bestthey winged it (though, by this time, they were functioning so well as a unit that one would have been hard-pressed to know it).
After the show there was talk amongst the group of trying to do this again in future. The good news is that CBC Radio Canada was there to record the concert, which will be broadcast in April, 2008, for those unfortunate to not have been in attendance. There was even some talk, by Christensen, of sending the recording to Manfred Eicher. Whether or not anything more will come to pass is impossible to predict. What is certain is that Ottawa was treated to an evening of world-class improvised music from one of the legends of modern jazz and from two others who, while not having the same reputation as Christensen, were playing at the same high level.