|Last Sundays Tango was a Balkanized tango number with a shorter than usual form that stretched out to the Scofieldesque guitar of Graham Campbell, a soaring flute volley from McBirnie and rhythmic clapping from Kardonne and crew. The Campbell composition Liquid Geometry of Passion featured an acid-rock segue into gorgeously operatic vocalizing. On the tune Something Snide, Kardonnes voice took on a hip-hop meter and cadence. The wildly-packed and funk-infused, if slightly choppily delivered, Moving On closed out the first set.
The second set featured more of a global jazz cabaret vibe. Leading off was The Seeds That Remain, in which saxophonist Alison Au's tone and power belied her slight stature. Three-Wheeler was a nod to the great Kenny Wheeler, appropriately featuring a variety of timing changes. Todash Chimes started with a haunting trombone drone from Christian Overton, unexpectedly yet smoothly sailing into a lounge-cabaret groove. The closing number, Spending Time, opened with a similarly brassy salvo, with an appealing Latin-style montuno from Thomas Hammerton.
The Thing Is has indeed begun to establish itself as a band to watch on the Toronto jazz scene, with important potential to turn new audiences on to the art form; something further borne out by the range of venues they play from the Rex to the Concord Café. They are certainly a reflection of the diversity all around them, with big Things ahead as they continue to evolve as musicians and songwriters led by Kardonne who at the end of the night had me reflecting fondly on a similarly charismatic and chameleon-like vocalist Rita di Ghent.