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TD Toronto Jazz Festival 2010

TD Toronto Jazz Festival 2010
Alain Londes By

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TD Toronto International Jazz Festival
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
June 25-July 4, 2010
The TD Toronto Jazz Festival enjoyed its 24th edition this year in a city dominated by a focus on the G8 and G20 Summit meetings for the first few days. Despite very minor delays for a couple of shows and some instances of nearby protester clashes with law enforcement, the festival successfully managed to "go on with the show" without a hitch in the true spirit of jazz. It was also a fresh start for the new Artistic Director, Josh Grossman, who assumed his responsibilities in January of this year.

The festival continued its tradition of presenting a balanced program of major headliners such as Harry Connick, Jr., Herbie Hancock, Taj Mahal, and Stanley Clarke, as well as other key performers of different styles.

June 25: Maceo Parker

On opening night, youthful divas delivered great shows before their respective crowds: Nikki Yanofsky performed over at Koerner Hall, while Martha Wainwright, with her rendition of Edith Piaf's classics, sang at the Great Hall.

For James Brown-style funk, the Mainstage Concert was the place to be. When Maceo Parker comes to town, his band brings the spirit, the professionalism, and the music to get people moving. Rodney "Skeet" Curtis was on bass, Bruno Speight on guitar, and Jamal Thomas on drums. The front horns accompanying Maceo were the fabulous Ron Tooley on trumpet and Dennis Rollins on trombone. Diehard jazz enthusiasts will remember Rollins performing at the now defunct IAJE jazz convention, as he attracted a lot of attention with his versatility on the instrument with additional sound effects.

Will Boulware added a rich musical touch to the keyboards that is not usually heard in other bands, while Corey Parker—Maceo's son—and Neta Hall provided the central vocal component to the show. The Maceo Parker band went right into the spirit of things with "Off The Hook."

Music selections came from older recordings, including "Make It Funky," "What You Know about Funk?," and "Shake Everything You've Got," from Life on Planet Groove(Polygram Records , 1992). The classic "Uptown Up," from Funk Overload (What Are Records, 1998), always gets people energized thanks to the wonderful sound of the horns playing in unison with some cool accentuation from Rollins. Later in the show, Maceo stood alone on stage and paid homage to Ray Charles with his rendition of "You Don't Know Me."

Near the end of the show, everyone was on their feet (mostly dancing), without needing any prodding from the band as they yelled out "Maceo! Maceo!" for an encore with the classic James Brown favorite, "Pass the Peas."

The band members were clearly enjoying themselves; the syncopation and timing were right on the mark, with each musician receiving the opportunity to shine. Before you knew it, the concert was over in the late hours of the festival's kickoff night.

June 27: David Sanborn with Joey DeFrancesco

David Sanborn's highly anticipated performance finally made it to the TD Toronto Jazz Festival at the beautiful Koerner Hall, together with Joey DeFrancesco, whom the altoist calls the monarch of the B3, and drummer Gene Lake. How fitting to have these musicians playing selections from both Only Everything (Decca, 2010) and Here And Gone (Decca, 2008), both tributes to Ray Charles. It was only after hearing Charles that Sanborn decided to pick up the saxophone, as the late pianist/singer was a great alto player in addition to being a master of the Hammond B3. This was essentially a true Chicago trio on display, with blues being the name of the game.

After kicking things off with a fast "Coming Home Early," featuring the alto saxophonist's signature sound, the trio brought things down a bit with "Brother Ray," after which Sanborn jokingly asked the audience, "How's the weekend going?"

To Sanborn, the saxophone is very close to the human voice and he credits both Hank Crawford and David "Fathead" Newman as major influences. In recognition of these influences, he played "The Peeper," a Crawford arrangement that has always stuck with Sanborn. The fun blues tune included energetic vibrato snippets that nicely welcomed song references.

The trio continued with the popular "Let The Good Times Roll," with DeFrancesco providing the vocal touch and inviting the crowd to clap with the beat as Lake set up the musical sandbox, making Dave and Joey sound their best.

"Only Everything" had the feel of a timeless soul ballad, written for Sanborn's granddaughter, Genevieve. DeFrancesco emphasized the organ's warm and earthy sounds with a hint of strings. At one point he picked up a muted trumpet in his right hand for a solo in the style of Miles Davis, while playing chords with his left hand on the organ.

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