June 2008

Oliver Jones Trio and Ahmad Jamal Quartet
at the TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival
June 24, 2008TJF MainstageToronto
Perishable  Goods
by Zoë Guigueno with photos by Mike Colyer
It is easy to have high expectations when you're going to see some big names at the mainstage of a festival. I fell into this automatic excitement when I heard that Oliver Jones and Ahmad Jamal were going to share the evening stage at Nathan Phillips Square at this year's Toronto Jazz Festival.

Ahmad Jamal was one of the first jazz pianists I knew about, as I listened to old cassettes given to me by a family friend when I was thirteen. Listening to him, I first heard "Autumn Leaves", as well as countless other standards. New to jazz, I really dug Jamal's bebop lines and the swinging band.

When I got to college, I took out an Oliver Jones recording from the school library. The album cover was yellow and had a picture of a man in a kitchen. I remember that there were some up-tempo tunes on that 1987 recording, through which the pianist blazed like a spooked horse.

Bassist Éric Lagacé and drummer Jim Doxas, Montréal natives, came onstage first and started a vamp so that the 74 year old pianist could make his entrance more effective. He acknowledged the crowd, then sat down at the Yahama piano and joined in with the band.

Much of what happened for the rest of the set is a bit of a blur. There is no doubt that Jones is a fine bebop piano player. There is no doubt that he hired excellent fellow Montréal jazz musicians to be his trio. But an hour of two-five ones later, I was anxious to hear something fresh.

Oliver Jones

Ahmad Jamal
After the intermission I stared at the multi-coloured lights dancing on the backdrop of the stage and the Toronto Jazz Fest banners until the crowd filed back in, and the MC came out to introduce Ahmad Jamal. Surely this Pennsylvanian legend, four years Jones' senior, with almost forty albums to his name, would give us an exciting show.

He walked onstage sporting a grey suit, hipster shades and a wide grin, wagging his finger at the cheering crowd. The first song was pretty exciting, compared to Jones, anyway, with many different sections, and a very quirky solo from Puerto Rican percussionist Manolo Badrena. Jamal plays with excellent time and has nice ideas to improvise over the chord changes. His band was solid. Most tunes ended with the pianist jumping up from his seat as he played the final chord, as if he was using his Steinway as a spring. Despite all this, the excitement did not last very long. He did his thing and received three standing ovations for it, though I was anxious to leave.

This style of jazz was cool in the fifties. The primarily eldery crowd that filled up every single plastic chair in the big white tent really dug this concert, though to these ears, Oliver Jones and Ahmad Jamal have gone stale.

Oliver Jones Trio
C\Oliver Jones — piano
Jim Doxas — drums
Éric Lagacé — bass

Ahmad Jamal Quartet
Ahmad Jamal — piano
Manola Badrena — percussion
James Cammack — bass
James Johnson — drums

We welcome your comments and feedback
Zoë Guigueno
• • • • • •
Mike Colyer
• •
The Live Music Report

| Home | Archives | CD Reviews | Photo Galleries | Concert Listings | Contact |

Please contact us to secure permission for use of any material found on this website.
© The Live Music Report – 2008