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Live Reviews

TD Toronto Jazz Festival, Days 4-10: June 27-July 3, 2011

By Published: July 9, 2011
Keyboardist Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
b.1941
piano
turned 70 about two weeks before this performance, and clearly is showing no signs of slowing down. Guitarist Frank Gambale
Frank Gambale
Frank Gambale
b.1958
guitar
was not at all a newbie, working in the keyboardist's 1980s Elektric Band. During his solo, Gambale's demonstrated his innovative sweep picking technique, where he swept the strings resulting in a precise sequence of desired notes.

Violinist Jean-Luc Ponty
Jean-Luc Ponty
Jean-Luc Ponty
b.1942
violin
also collaborated with Corea, back in the '70s. With RTF, he provided a key ingredient that gave this edition a distinct characteristic. He seemed to complement, Corea while Gambale's guitar worked with bassist Stanley Clarke
Stanley Clarke
Stanley Clarke
b.1951
bass
. The versatile and intense Lenny White
Lenny White
Lenny White
b.1949
drums
was as strong as ever on the drums. Corea said, during the show, that White changed jazz drumming in the '70s. He, too, was a veteran to the electric period of Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
, which could definitely be felt. During the show, he walked up to the microphone and explained how RTF was a "man's band," in comparison to other bands that lack the true musical abilities and depth that this group has always possessed. Everyone was clearly enjoying themselves, from start to finish, and at one point were high-fiving each other like guys in a sports team.

The members of RTF IV toyed with the audience by saying that they were not going to introduce any of the selections, yet longtime fans were able to pick out well-known classics from the band's history, such as "After the Cosmic Rain, and "Hymn of the 7th Galaxy."

A tune such as "Señor Mouse" represented the best at what these musicians as a group could do, considering the high level of intensity, technical wizardry, and perfect timing under the jazz-rock umbrella. Corea, Gambale, Ponty and Clarke all shone with their distinctive solos; careful listeners might have identified a very subtle touch of French folk melody on Ponty's part.

Clarke led the way with a strong dose of funk on "Sorceress." With his intense bass playing, he was waving his hands at the end, like a student who had just written a three-hour exam nonstop. Of course Clarke is no student ,and never ceased to impress at his mastery of the bass. He switched to upright bass for the rest of the show when Ponty introduced his own "Renaissance." At one point during Clarke's solo, the bassist turned to Ponty inviting him to join in, while pushing him musically in the process.

Ponty opened Rodrigo's classic "Concierto De Aranjuez," before being joined by Corea, as the band settled into "Spain," the audience singing along with every bar he played on the piano. With fans yelling out requests for an encore, RTF closed this great show with another favorite, Clarke's "School Days."

On this busy night, fans also had a chance to see The Bad Plus
The Bad Plus
The Bad Plus

band/orchestra
over at the Enwave Theatre, opera diva Jessye Norman at Koerner Hall and Los Lobos
Los Lobos
Los Lobos

band/orchestra
, for the Mainstage Concert.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Philadelphia-born Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
b.1943
piano
has a rich history, spanning over 50 years to showcase his influences, exceptional musical understanding and technical ability for the close to 90-minute solo performance that he presented for the Grandmasters Series concert at the Glenn Gould Studio. Barron has played and recorded with the who's who of the jazz icons.

He opened the solo set this evening with Gershwin's "Love Walked In," before bringing on selections by Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
, Billy Strayhorn
Billy Strayhorn
Billy Strayhorn
1915 - 1967
piano
and Eubie Blake
Eubie Blake
Eubie Blake
1883 - 1993
piano
. His move to New York in 1961 brought him to Brooklyn where his first gigs at a West Indian night club led him to compose "Calypso," which has the same feel as Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
' "St Thomas." Barron's very melodic style of playing added a wonderful touch to Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
1938 - 2008
trumpet
's waltz "Up Jumped Spring." For fast hands from start to finish, Barron switched to Monk's "Well, You Needn't," before slowing it down considerably with his original, "Song for Abdullah," dedicated to Abdullah Ibrahim
Abdullah Ibrahim
Abdullah Ibrahim
b.1934
piano
—who used to play at New York's well-known Sweet Basil club. Barron described the music "like being in a cathedral," coming back at the end of the show with "Body And Soul" as a well-deserved encore.


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