October 2005

Tara Davidson Quartet
October 1, 2005 • The Rex Jazz and Blues Bar • Toronto
by Joyce Corbett with photo by Roger Humbert
Listening to the Tara Davidson Quartet on Saturday night at the Rex was a true pleasure. It’s not often one hears such young talent working together so well. And it’s not often one hears such a young bandleader present a program entirely of her own compositions. At only 25 years old, Tara Davidson is a remarkably relaxed performer who seems completely at home on stage. You could speculate that it’s because she has already toured internationally and has received many accolades but I think it is because she is completely absorbed by the music. There is no room for self-consciousness.

Near the end of her first piece, I became aware of something else. A survey of the room confirmed that everyone was watching and listening. They were quiet thoughout the entire first set! Well, except for clapping (a good thing). Anyone who has been to the Rex knows that’s like A Miracle on Queen Street.

By all accounts, when the Mike Murley Septet played the previous two nights it was packed (the good) and noisy (the bad) but the music was great. Tara studied with Mike Murley for 5 years. She has also studied with Alex Dean and Kirk MacDonald at the University of Toronto, among others.

Lately, Tara’s been studying Wayne Shorter and Jane Bunnet and said she intends to start digging into the music of Steve Lacy soon. She also admires Joshua Redman and played a piece inspired by his music in the second set, “Jig for Joshua”.

Tara played soprano for all but one tune in the first set. She used to play more alto but has been finding her voice in the soprano more recently.

The second piece she played, “I Remember Jan” which she wrote after performing in Finland, was dedicated to another ‘wonderful soprano sax player’, Jan Garbarek. Her clear tone and aesthetic lines did recall his music. In fact, her sound was so clear and light that at one point, eyes closed, it became a jazz harmonica.

Tara Davidson

The affinity with Jan Garbarek’s sensibility was also apparent in the spaces and the long, stretched notes of the next piece Tara played, “Out in the Open”. It’s a piece she wrote with a static harmony to allow lots of room for soloing. Up next, “Puffin Boogie” was a faster, fun piece inspired by a visit to the Maritimes.

The rest of this quartet are also very talented. David Braid likes to start solos with repetitive chords that gradually become dischordant and he uses beautiful harmonies. His own CD Vivid: The David Braid Sextet Live won the Traditional Jazz Album of the Year at the 2005 Juno Awards. Michael McClennan plies a gorgeous warm, melodic tone from his bass and his solos never lag.

Ernesto Cervini, a former Torontonian currently living in New York was guest drummer. Tara and Ernesto played together in high school, twelve years ago. She says "He was eleven but looked about seven. He took off with the drum solo in "Sing, Sing, Sing" and the buzz started. Look what that little boy can do! " Now, people are saying look what that drummer can do. Keep an ear out for all of these players.

The evening’s music included all of the pieces from the Tara Davidson Quartet's first CD and new material that will be on her upcoming CD. Should be a good one.

We welcome your comments and feedback
• • • • • •
Joyce Corbett
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Roger Humbert

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