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A large crowd turned out at Confederation Park on Saturday night to hear The Al Di Meola World Sinfonia '09 play a concert of original compositions that displayed Di Meola's virtuoso guitar technique encased in Spanish style. Di Meola has always had an interest in the classical Latin-influenced six string acoustic guitar playing. This night's work was all about that. Di Meola was joined by Faust Beccalossi on accordion, Peo Alfonso on guitar, Gumbi Ortiz on percussion, Drummer/percussionist Peter Kaszas and bassist Victor Miranda. Each selection of the evening's music was really a piece of a larger tapestry that demonstrated Di Meola's fast fingering skill, innovative ideas and passion for the music.
Di Meola introduced the opening selection "Misterio" as a piece commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. It is a heavily Spanish-influenced moody composition that could very well be used as a movie score and featured interplay between Di Meola's guitar and Beccalossi's accordion which sounded like an Argentinean bandoneon. Beccalossi's accordion carried the melody on the next selection "Siberiana" which probably was a Spaniard's take on Siberia with hints of Russian minor melody in a Latin manner.
"Michaelangelo's 7th Child"a melodic composition dedicated to his father who for some reason he draws a comparison to Michaelangelo's seventh child. Percussionist Ortiz showed off his conguero skill on "Cumbiero," a decidedly Latin selection. Later in the set came a ballad "Paramour's Lullaby" where Di Meola switched to electric guitar for this one song. "Café 1930" was a tango where the accordion really sounded like a bandoneon. This was followed by the last number; a fast tempo piece called "Umbras" where Di Meola's fingerwork really took off.
There were two encores: "No Potho" and "Mediterranean Sundance". The former was a ballad that featured both guitar playersAlfonso and Di Meola in a sensitive reading. The latter was a rouser that the audience whooped and hollered and really got into. All in all, the concert was a flamenco flavored salute which showed off Di Meola's enormous talent and the inventive work of accordionist Beccalossi who, at times, whistled and sang along with his solos. The capacity crowd was with the music all the way and a nearly full moon watched over it all.
The Lenore Raphael Trio was the bill at the last concert of the Connoisseur Series at the Library and Archives Canada. Raphael (a New York-based pianist) was accompanied by Canadian players Sol Gunner on bass and Glenn Robb on drums. Though Raphael does not usually work with either of these musicians and actually had never worked with them, a magic connection managed to happen and the trio performed like a tight unit right from the beginning.
The musical menu consisted of familiar selections from the great American songbook plus two original compositions. Raphael started out with Kurt Weill's "Speak Low," done in a lightly swinging groove which showed off her pianistic skill and her ability to build a solo; ably punctuated by drummer Robb's tasty brushwork. The next songCole Porter's "Love For Sale"was treated a little more adventurously with a real funky approach utilizing a bass line against the melody. Bassist Gunner showed his wry sense of humor on this one. "Alone Together," introduced as the "schizoid song," came next, followed by "It Might As Well Be Spring," a hopeful comment on the rainy weather most of the festival week. Raphael delivered a lovely solo on this one as did bassist Gunner, who played arco on part of his solo.
Jazz is a creative explosion of individual freedom and communication.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was a kid. My father had a music store.
The best live performance I ever attended was Kenny Garrett in Harlem, New York.
The first jazz record I bought was Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins.
My advice to new listeners is keep listening!