July 2006

Hilario Durán Big Band
at the Toronto Jazz Festival
July 1, 2006Main StageToronto
Thank you from T.dot for the cha cha cha
by Joyce Corbett with photos by Dougal Bichan
On this oppressively hot Canada Day in Nathan Philips Square, history was in the making. The capacity crowd in the tent was enjoying Afro-Cuban chant, bata drums and traditional dance. It was the opening of the Hilario Duran Big Band show and perhaps the first time this type of music and dance had been presented at Nathan Philips Square. People were waiting at the door, on the off-chance that some of those inside might leave and they would be allowed in.
Hilario Duran announced that it was time to have fun and he got the crowd to clap and to sing “we’re having a lot of fun” in the Abakua language, as surprise guest Paquito D’Rivera walked on stage, beaming at Hilario, smiling warmly at the crowd and clapping along. Paquito D’Rivera is a guest artist on the Hilario Duran Latin Jazz Big Band’s new CD, From the Heart, but the two musicians go back much farther than that, all the way back to Havana. Paquito and Hilario hugged and started to play. It was wonderful.
Hilario Durán
Paquito D’Rivera had headlined the previous night’s show and stayed over in Toronto to visit and to play with Hilario Duran. Paquito D’Rivera told us about how impressed he was when he first heard Hilario Duran play as a student in Havana. It was like a reunion and a celebration between the two musicians and the many Cuban musicians in the band, or maybe I should say the Cuban musicians in Toronto.

When the band played a bolero featuring Hilario Duran on piano, Paquito sat quietly and listened. Hilario Duran introduced the final piece of the first set, “Paqman”, dedicated to Paquito D’Rivera, saying that since he was a little boy, he has admired Paquito. At this, sparks flew from Paquito D’Rivera’s eyes, his expression horrified and jovial as his rising eyebrows asked, "What was that? Since you were a little boy? Hey, I’m not that old!" The audience laughed.

Paquito D’Rivera joined the Hilario Duran Big Band on “Paqman” playing clarinet with his warm glowing tone. The band was excellent. The only strange thing was the audience, the vast majority remaining motionless in their seats, an unexplained mystery. Mark Kelso on drums closed the piece with a magnificent display of fireworks and the crowd responded with thunderous applause.

The second set opened with the title track from the new CD, “From The Heart”. It is a vast orchestral work with elements of classical music and traditional big band jazz. Being a Torontonian, I chuckled at the title of the second piece, “T.dot Cha Cha Cha” dedicated to Hilario Duran’s adopted hometown with a nod to bass player Roberto Occhipinti’s “T.dot”. The piece featured outstanding ensemble work and precision.

The second set also held a surprise. Dione Taylor, another of the special guests on From the Heart arrived on stage to sing “Angel Eyes”. She charmed the audience from the first moment, saying “I didn’t have a Canadian flag so I wore the next best thing”, showing off her red and white checked dress. She sang with the same ease she had spoken and when she reached the final lyrics “Excuse while I disappear”, I thought Dione Taylor, disappear? Not likely.

Dione Taylor
The penultimate piece was introduced by the piano masterfully weaving elements of danzon, classical music and ragtime and featured virtuosic solos from Joaquin Hidalgo on congas and Rosendo “Chendy” Leon on timbales. The straight out latin jazz number that closed the show was wonderfully arranged with solos cycling through the horn sections, saxophones together, then trombones, then trumpets, then all together and so on, all with a wonderful rhythm section and percussion. Superb music and superb players. Thank you Hilario Duran for putting together this fabulous band, I’m glad you adopted T-dot.
The Band
Hilario Durán – leader, piano
Roberto Occhipiniti – bass
Mark Kelso – drums
Joquin Hidalgo – congas
Rosendo Leon – timbales
Yailen Durán – vocals
Vern Dorge, Phil Dwyer, John Johnson, Perry White – saxes
Alexis Baro, Alex Key, Jason Logue, Bryan O'Kane – trumpets
Alastair Kay, Gord Meyers, William Carn, Terry Promane – trombones
Dione Taylor – vocals
Paquito D’Rivera – saxophone and clarinet


We welcome your comments and feedback
Joyce Corbett
• • • • • •
Dougal Bichan
• •
The Live Music Report

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