February 2005

Montuno Police
February 24, 2005Lula LoungeToronto
Report by David Fujino with photos by Roger Humbert
This Toronto favourite kicked off their first set with Dr. Zeus, a medium tempo tune built on the bedrock rhythm of Rick Shadrach Lazar playing congas with Mark Kelso’s drums, the ever-present bass of Collin Barrett, and the keys of Gord Sheard. The melody is played in unison by Geoff Young on electric guitar and John Johnson on soprano saxophone. The group develops a call-and-response pattern, and John Johnson enters with a typically deep solo.

Montuno Police is a jazz group, built around drums and bass and percussion. They combine the improvisation and harmony of jazz with the scales of Afro-Cuban, Brazilan and Arabic music. Always, they burn at the rhythmic core.

But we musn’t forget the sound dimensions of Gordon Sheard’s keyboards, his bright electronic ripples, and his rocking rhythmic sense. Sheard is the group’s composer and arranger, and at times his tunes ("R.G.T.") have the clear and high sound of Chick Corea’s group, Return to Forever. Lovely. And haunting.

Gordon Sheard

An abrupt mood change. Samba Squad enters! The entire Lula Lounge becomes a drum.

Rick Shadrach Lazar & Samba Squad
About 13 drummers and percussionists dance and play before us, with Lazar in front, playing his drum with one bare hand and a beater, bleating his whistle, and conducting this orgy of drum sound as it expands the room. The five bass drums are felt in the stomach, the two snare drummers excite us on, the two cowbell players ding-a-ding, and the four tambourim drummers drive us crazy with their high end whipping of the sonic beat. Whew.

The entire evening was music for the feet and the mind.

Thanks, Montuno Police.

Thanks, Samba Squad

for the beat

or did I say



We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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Roger Humbert
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