Fields, whose minimalist tendencies were amongst his most notable contributions to the overall complexion of the quintet, delivered a number of thoughtful yet evocative (and provocative) solos, positioning the keyboardist, just a couple years younger than Adjuah, as one of his generation's pianists for whom to be on the lookout. Funn, too, delivered as a firm anchor for the group, whether supporting a modal vamp driven with hip hop-inspired rhythms or fiercely swinging periods of reckless abandon, or as an affecting soloist. With a deep, woody tone felt deep in the gut, Funn's choices were as note-perfect as they were texturally rich and imaginatively shaped.
There are musicians for whom the music they make is, indeed, a political statement: reflections of the times they live in, where using the music they make says what, perhaps, they could not articulate any other way. The erudite Scott, however, not only made music that spoke to his many concerns about the world in which he (and we) live. Just a look at some of the titles of his compositions"Liberation Over Gangsterism," "Gerrymandering Game," "Unrigging November," "Ritual (Rise of Chief Adjuah," "Ancestral Recall"and it's impossible not
to be affected by Adjuah's music...and the clear hopes that pervade his thoughts.
It was an absolutely staggering, mind-blowing show that demonstrated the clear potential for music as an agent of change. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah may have plenty to say, both in his words and his music; but his message is one that should reach out and touch any who encounter it. Those in attendance at Monument-National may have walked away with different interpretations or feelings about what they'd just seen and heard, but it's hard to imagine anyone leaving the show without a positive impression of Adjuah's clear and distinct musical message.
And with that, the first half of the 40th edition the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal concludes. Five nights, four exceptional performances and one that was, unfortunately, surprisingly disappointing. But no matter what the reputation of the musicians whose performances made the cut in choosing who to see, it's a reality that live performances are always something of a crapshoot. With a solid eight out of ten for five nights at the world's biggest jazz festival, and one where the media department makes every journalist feel like he/she is the only
person covering the event?
It's impossible not to appreciate the treatment; nor is it possible to walk away from the festival, as has been the case nearly every year since 2005, without looking forward to what the next edition will bring.
Photo Credit: Dave Kaufman