June 2006

Charlie Hunter | Christian McBride | DJ Logic
at the Toronto Jazz Festival
June 26, 2006Main StageToronto
What is Jazz?
by Sue Bullas with photos by Roger Humbert

Monday night's performance was entitled ‘What is Jazz?’. The main stage performance featured DJ Logic, Charlie Hunter and Christian McBride. Was I to learn the answer to such a profound and philosophical question? I was eager to find out.

During the changing stage set up DJ Logic twisted and turned with a calm expression but the music he was spinning was anything but. It was great to see someone who appreciates this style of music mix it in such a way that it made people curious. By the second set change there were lots of people on their feet enjoying his style, sampling classic jazz and James Brown together in a poetic way. DJ Logic creates a beat that starts in your toes and quickly moves its way up.

Charlie Hunter is un-to-himself. Between his fascinating facial expressions and his guitar playing your attention is divided. There are very few like him and while he straddles many musical genres the improvisation is the key to his stuff. The songs blend together into one long composition.

Drummer Simon Lott also has a very expressive face. He is more a rock style drummer but he is also like a little kid experimenting, trying to see what he can make the drums do. Lott accentuates what Hunter is doing taking cues from what he is playing as they watch each other with enormous intensity. I would love to see him jam with Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Keyboardist Eric Deutsch is great but compared with his two counterparts, the straight man of the group. I love it when he whips off his fitted jacket not too far into the performance, without missing his cue. He has taken his music off the charts and while it sometimes reminds me of the Doors he takes his style to a very different level.

These guys have an intimate understanding of each other's styles, abilities and want to have fun. They are brash and attack the music with ferocity, hunting down the perfect riff. It is like they are in a bubble and while we can see in the bubble we can't fully be a part of it. At some points it is as though the energy is a visible light threading through them.

Christian McBride’s sound was no less brash but varied from Hunter's in style. I hate to use the word traditional because it is not really that. It is fresh and just as intense but the added elements of the double bass and the sax made the sound for me.

As McBride walks on stage he gives DJ Logic a pat of encouragement. The sax player is harnessed up and we are all ready to take off. In a Mingus-esque style McBride fondles his bass like a sculptor creating a masterpiece. Blake blasts off on a couple of songs, playing with abandon.

Between McBride's plaid pants, his beautiful oxblood-coloured bass, the glow of Ron Blake's purple hat and the shirts of Geoff Keezer (piano) and Terreon Gully (drums), it was a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. Best tunes: “Technicolour Nightmare” and the final piece of the night (best for last and all that) “Boogie Woogie Waltz”. McBride has been away a while and it's great to have him back in TO.

The crowd was great, very engaged, and watching their reactions was priceless. At certain times, watching the younger crowd you would wonder if you were at a metal concert. The arms were thrashing and the heads were lurching, the only thing missing was a mosh pit. If one had developed I think both Hunter and McBride would have in the very least approved and the very most, joined in.

I didn't discover what jazz is but I did discover what jazz could be and the future is bright.

DJ Logic

Charlie Hunter

Christian McBride
We welcome your comments and feedback
Sue Bullas
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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