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Highly Opinionated

Toronto Jazz '09 Festival Journal: 'Round About Midday to 'Round About Midnight

By Published: August 4, 2009

So, I am wondering what I am going to discover or rediscover at the "Revisited" concert... The record got considerable airplay and the music is fine indeed...a truly studiously elegant production. Tracks like "Sea Journey" and "Falling Grace" are graceful compositions, and you cannot stop yourself from swaying and being mesmerized by the leaping and galloping improvisations that Burton, Steve Swallow, Pat Metheny and Antonio Sanchez perform on these tracks and throughout the repertoire as well. Things were no different on this night, and it was a thrill to be in a hushed audience and open-mouthed as Swallow and Metheny often chased each other into unexpected territory. And thank heavens there were tracks like Gershwin's "Summertime" and Chico Buarque's "O Grande Amor" because the Toronto radio stations most of the music on the record through overplay. But then this is live jazz and there is little better and in fact the music was often oh so different from the record... blah...blah...blah...

Okay, I have the record. I bought it as I did Miles' last Montreux concert, which Quincy Jones produced, and I bought both CD and DVD there, and that was a "retro" tribute to Miles' Gil Evans repertoire, and he did say he would "never" perform it again... And he did and it was great. So there... I am an idiot. I did enjoy the Quarter Revisited. I wish there was more new music on the record though...

Is it really possible to go Ga Ga over radio? (June 30)

First of all, too ill to travel to the downtown core, no matter who's or what's on the bill, so I've chosen to stay by the dial. And the only spot really is 91 FM, the jazz radio of Toronto. Bless, 'em... These guys think of everything. Of course they have to. They are the only ones broadcasting jazz music on the radio all day. So there is the standard jazz fayre (note the archaic spelling of the word—emphasis all mine- -mea culpa, fellas, but none of you chaps really "pushes the envelope.") But there is a caveat here: It is indeed a joy to tune in "Drive Anywhere with Larry Green," or should I call him Lorenzo Verdi... ?

Mr. Green brings a fine sense of style to broadcasting as well as an extensive working knowledge of music in and around Toronto. And he has charm and finesse. But that was from 3:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. What happens in between? Some music—a fair amount actually—and a great deal of Canadian artists, which is great. Then there is Ross Porter, head honcho, high pockets, etc... The Voice..seductive, sarcastic AND a storehouse of knowledge as well... He writes books and quotes form them, pokes his broadcasters gently in the eye, especially (Director of Operations) Bradley Barker... Makes it fun to listen to those fundraisers of his. Porter is one of Canada's finest radio and television documentarians and interviewers and a genuine fan, and jazz radio is in good hands, but he has to find Reiner Schwarz again...

Crepuscular with Reiner

Reiner Schwarz reappeared as if from thin air a couple of years ago to host a late night show and what a program it was... Reiner has a spiritual connection with music...the arts...life. So he appears to breathe a rarified air. His broadcasts were like jazz itself, dynamic, fluid, suspenseful and surprising... His broadcasts were seamless... and only once in a while he cut in with a voice that was haunting and unscripted—words that just seemed to connect with the music. He dared listeners to open their minds, and these were hours of passion, grace and fire that burned all night with the finest musicians and their art on the air seemingly, thanks to Reiner Schwarz's style, in suspended animation. But now he's disappeared again...

So I decide to go anyway. If it's too much I shall make the return journey, all 40 miles of it in a public transit bus anyway...

Nice of them backchatterers

At the festival, however, things are quite different. Jazz FM broadcasts live from their prominently placed Broadcast Centre, and one of the highlights is the "Talkback Series" that features interviews with musicians who simply cannot resist dropping by. Today he interviews Jack Chambers, who also writes for www.allaboutjazz.com, and I am riveted to radio again. Chambers, like Toronto's own John Norris, is a veritable store of jazz history—there are few around these days—and he talks his new book Bouncing With Bartok, a book about Richard Twardzik

Richard Twardzik
Richard Twardzik
1931 - 1955
piano
, the Boston-born pianist who performed in the New England area in the 30s, was denigrated, later after being celebrated by Serge Chaloff
Serge Chaloff
Serge Chaloff
b.1923
sax, baritone
, accepted in the inner circle of jazz. Twardzik also played with Charlie Parker and Chet Baker, and died of a heroin overdose, all too young at 24. Fascinating...

Well Monsieur Chambers: The dead all have the same skin...as my friend Vernon Sullivan—alias Boris Vian, once said.


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