July 2007

The TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival
June 22 – July 1, 2007 Toronto
Ten Days and All That Jazz
by Paul J. Youngman with photos by Mike Colyer & Roger Humbert

The Toronto jazz festival officially started on June 22nd. There were preview shows as early as the 20th, Guitarist James Hunter visited The Phoenix Concert Theatre that night, the 21st saw the Courthouse hosting Nikki Yanofsky and the Steve Koven Trio. Day 1 of the festival featured Peter Boyd and Manteca on the Mainstage.

As I wrote in my report of Day 1 of the festival, in which I covered Freddy Cole at Live @ Courthouse, there was a lot going on — all day and into the wee hours of the morning. The Brian Barlowe Big Band put on a free lunch time show at Nathan Phillips Square, followed by Eliana Cuevas at 4:00 p.m.

The club acts for the first official day of the festival offered an incredible array of talent. The Opal Jazz Lounge featured Cedar Walton, Dave Young and Barry Elmes. The Orbit Room lent its in-house organ to the master, Tony Monaco and his Toronto Trio of Vitto Rezza and Ted Quinlan. David “Fathead” Newman visited The Pilot Tavern. Lorne Lofsky and Rob Piltch, two of Canada’s guitar masters played a duet at Mezzetta Restaurant, Jim Galloway and The Canadian Jazz Quartet played a dinner show at Quotes Bar & Grill. Darius Nargolwalla with The David Virelles Trio played Whistlers Grille & Café. Lula Lounge featured master pianist Hilario Duran. The Trane Studio had Radio Nomad featuring Waleed Abdulhamid, and that is just a small offering of the more familiar and classic jazz venues.

The festival had similar events running for all of the other days and nights of the jazz festival and there was jazz in the streets, on the Danforth, and at Nathan Phillips Square.

David “Fathead” Newman

One of the highlights for me was Bill McBirnie with the Canadian Jazz Quartet, June 27 at Quotes Bar & Grill. A more sophisticated quartet can not be found. The quartet features guitarist Gary Benson, drummer Don Vickery, vibe master Frank Wright and bassist Rob McBride. I caught one smokin’ set of the band, Bill McBirnie played with intensity, his solos were blazing statements of musical authority.

Later that evening I managed to take in the Marcus Belgrave show at the Pilot. Mr. Belgrave along with Joan Bow and an all star Canadian trio; Terry Clarke on drums, Neil Swainson on bass violin and Robi Botos playing electric piano. The band played a wonderful couple of sets to a packed house.

June 28 will go down in the books as one of my favorite jazz events to date, a Mainstage concert that started with The United Trombone Summit. I was blown away by these incredible trombonists, a band that included Steve Turre, Slide Hampton, Frank Wesley and Wycliffe Gordon. It just doesn’t get any better than that, oh wait a second, Roy Hargrove was up next, along with his Quintet, he managed to turn up the heat way past the melting point. Could it possibly get any better than that? Yes it most definitely did, a late night jam at Live @ Courthouse with the Robi Botos Trio made up of Ethan Ardelli and Attila Darvas along with some very special guests: Marcus Belgrave, Joan Bow, Roy Hargrove and most of his band, as well as trombonist Steve Turre, all taking turns to produce some truly magical moments in improvisational wonder. Some local musicians added improv magic, altoist Luis Deniz, pianist David Virelles, drummers Norman Marshall Villeneuve, Adam Arutta and Maxwell Roach.

June 30th – Kahil El’Zabar, master percussionist and drummer with Ernest “Khabeer” Dawkins and trumpeter, Cory Wilkes at the Trane Studio - this was the show that spoke to my soul as no other show could. Percussionist El’Zabar played an incredible two sets of music that had all the elements that free jazz should possess. I was completely captivated by the magic that this man can conjure up along with his associates who were completely at one with the performance.

Roy Hargrove

There were shows that I had wanted to see and for one reason or another just couldn’t make, Brubeck/Braid, Delfeayo Marsalis, Keith Jarrett, Dave Brubeck Quartet and Holly Cole are all shows that I would have like to have witnessed. Oh well, maybe at next year’s festival.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Paul J. Youngman
• • • • • •
Mike Colyer
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The Live Music Report Roger Humbert
reporters@thelivemusicreport.com rogerh@thelivemusicreport.com

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