November 2008

Tyler Yarema and his Rhythm
November 11, 2008 The Reservoir Lounge Toronto
Tyler Takes it in Stride at the Reservoir
by Laila Boulos with photos by Mike Colyer
Arriving at The Reservoir Lounge with the intention of focusing on piano "Wizard of Ahs", Tyler Yarema, this writer began the evening by focusing instead on Yarema’s all-star 'Rhythm' section as they made their way to the intimate stage.

Then, without warning, Tyler Yarema, like a Las Vegas showman, jumped on stage and immediately set it afire with his hound dog growling and boogie woogie playing as the band joined in, stirring up the room.

Like a kitten leaping at the catnip trail, I have been following Tyler's course since he first arrived from Thunder Bay and began manipulating the ivories on the Toronto scene. Gigging with masters such as the late King Biscuit Boy (Richard Newell), the late Dr. Music (Doug Riley), the late Jeff Healey, and Chris Whiteley at places like the Warehouse and the Water's Edge Café at Harbourfront was the kind of training about which most people dream.

Mr. Yarema's — from the bedroom in silk pajamas drinking a martini — version of "Comes Love" with its rumba-across-the-floor beat was one of the highlights of the evening.

Saxophonist Richard Underhill and trumpeter William Sperandei were like musical soul mates as they effortlessly shadowed each other, often ending very complex pieces with airy champagne cork pops and foamy flourishes. Their elemental and musical conjuring up of Earth, Wind and Fire synergy worked like musical sparklers with Mr. Abedin's spirited counterpoint drumming.

At other points, as either Sperandei or Underhill would take a much deserved breath, the other would solo. During one of these solos, Mr. Underhill, seemingly possessed, whipped his sax into an endless burning frenzy during a freewheeling ride to intoxication leaving the audience a molten mass of adoration. In contrast, Mr. Sperandei's languid solos, although equally mesmerizing, were meditative and precise multi-layered aural feasts.

The lively, yet intricate drumming skills of Mr. Abedin, especially on Ray Charles's "Mess Around", and Sunnyland Slim's "Baby How Long", provided grounding but allowed in enough air to let the evening's pieces breathe.

As previously mentioned, Mr. Yarema arrives on stage on fire and flambés his way through a musical odyssey of Jazz, Jump-Jazz, Boogie-Woogie and Stride, ending the evening by landing the audience skillfully on a bed of Pop music. The vast influences of Albert Ammons, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis, Otis Spann, and Fats Waller are all evident in Tyler's playing. Tyler Yarema was the winner of the Maple Blues Awards for New Artist of the Year in 1998 and the Piano/Keyboard Player of the Year in 1999.

As if the enjoyment and playfulness of these players had to be underscored, at one point, Shawn Abedin's kit began to topple (from his multi-textured beat-keeping, perhaps?) as the rest of the band assisted playfully in the demolition. While everyone was laughing, Mr. "don't skip a beat" Abedin continued playing with one hand while expertly holding the top hat aloft with the other, like a victory torch.

This stellar band packed so much music into the evening including: "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody" with its rousing chorus and Yarema's evangelical call and response preaching vocals; the juke joint/barrelhouse feel of "Mess Around"; the MGM studio finish of "Mardi Gras in New Orleans"; and, the Lucrezia Borgia finger-snapping intensity of "Three Hours Past Midnight". They filled our ears with so much music, that when we thought there was no room left for even a quarter note more, we would somehow drink in another lush offering of chords.

Tyler Yarema

Richard Underhill

William Sperandei
Amidst all this music, the band is certainly having fun and Tyler, the laid-back impresario, allows everyone on stage to flow wherever the music takes them. On this evening, audience participation came in the form of clapping-in-time and dancing. Yes, dancing on a Tuesday night. And rousing applause after each heart lifting solo and whip-it-up ending.

Suddenly, the evening came to a close as Tyler, now filled with the lyrics of the evening's carousing pieces spied a table of nurses close to the stage. Perhaps he was in need of some medical attention?

Tyler Yarema and his Rhythm perform every Tuesday evening at The Reservoir Lounge.

The Musicians
Tyler Yarema – lead vocals and piano
Shawn Abedin – drums
Mike Carson – bass
William Sperandei – trumpet
Richard Underhill – saxophone
We welcome your comments and feedback
Laila Boulos
• • • • • •
Mike Colyer
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The Live Music Report

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