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Charlie Hunter Trio and Christian McBride Band at TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival


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The face of drummer Simon Lott said it all. He and pianist/keyboardist Erik Deutsch are the newest members of The Charlie Hunter Trio after the departure of saxophonist John Ellis and drummer Derek Phillips. Judging by the new sound Lott and Deutsch bring, the new Charlie Hunter Trio could make a case as the new Garage A Trois.

They sat huddled around in a semi circle and played. The crowd rushed the stage (a scene that would repeat itself for McBride). To call Lott's drumming style ferocious could be the understatement of the year. He does not attack the drums as some would; he merely lets them come to him. Deutsch seems to be a master of the Moog Source circa 1980.

Charlie Hunter is well, Charlie Hunter. His no pick eight-string guitar style is outside of the conventional no picking style and it stood out here. The songs lasted for more than 10 minutes at a time and they never got boring—the crowd jumped and applauded when different directions were taken within the songs. At one point, 10:00 P.M. I believe, bells rang out to let everyone know that it was that time, Hunter hearing this gave a quick glance outside and subtly incorporated the bells into the song.

This new Charlie Hunter Trio could be the best one yet. The cohesion between Hunter and Lott especially stood out. Deutsch took some "No Quarter" style musings and turned them into something different. They were second on the bill for the night, with DJ Logic spinning Medeski, Martin and Wood and St. Germain type nuances before and during the sets with a rumored new album of remixes coming out soon.

The brown plaid pants just slightly covered the black platform boots. This was style—throwback, retro. Bassist Christian McBride played for all of those in attendance at the TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival, but he also played for one man especially—vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson.

Starting the set off with "Technicolor Nightmare" from Vertical Vision (Warner Bros., 2003), McBride—flanked by drummer Terreon Gully—let loose an assault on not only jazz but the audience itself. The audience was packed, standing up front, gathered by the stage like a rock concert that they may never forget—standup bass.

"Tahitian Pearl," from the same album, followed next and with this McBride and his band heated up. Keyboardist Geoffrey Keezer had the Electro 2 pumping, McBride sweating with glasses pushed up onto his head and Gully thumping. Here Keezer especially proved his presence within the band, being introduced by McBride as "the myth, the legend."

A wedding announcement introduced "The Wizard of Montara." Gully is getting married and he played like a man whose last days of freedom were upon him. Saxophonist and clarinetist Ron Blake stood up front, ot taking a back seat in any of this. For one brief second during one of his solos Blake started to stray into Kenny G terrority, only to bring it out and Coltrane it to the end.

A marvelous rendition of "Boogie Woogie Waltz" ended the night. It extended to about 10 minutes, with McBride, Blake, Gully and Keezer taking turns stretching it out.

Christian McBride continues to astound. Everything that is written about him is true and deserved. With McBride's assembled band, if Hutcherson had stopped what he was doing at the time he might have heard the rumblings, loud and clear.

Visit TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival on the web.

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