May 2006

Rashied Ali / Sonny Fortune
Presented by Art of Jazz
May 20, 2006Young Centre for the Performing ArtsToronto
The Quiet Centre / The Joy of Sound
by David Fujino with photos by Roger Humbert

Alto saxophonist Sonny Fortune stepped right up, after two or three adjustments of his reed, and proceeded to blow like a demon, like an angel, and sometimes like an avenging spirit, for a non-stop 105 minutes plus.

When Fortune took the alto out of his mouth, we were at the 80-85 minute mark. Fortune then proceeded to drink his bottled water in nearly one gulp. I should think so, after such heroics.

It was a flat-out style of playing — 'yesterday's heroics' you might call it. Like the extended blowing sessions in the 80's, the music poured forth freely from the stage of the terrific new concert space, The Young Theatre, in the Distillery District.

Drummer Rashied Ali's two arms and two legs played the jazz drum kit with a deeply rooted orchestral and structural flair and true mastery. He's a deep groover. He's a deep Papa on the drums.

And like John Coltrane — who is a major musician, period, and a hero to many musicans and audiences, Sonny Fortune challenged our hearing and comprehension and concentration this afternoon.

Like John Coltrane, Sonny Fortune's way is to dissect a phrase, then slightly move it up, then dissect this phrase the same way, then move the phrase back down again, almost ceaselessly.

Right in front of us — Fortune's taking the music apart, and examining it, all in an improvised context. Up on that stage, it's not about playing tunes.

Sonny Fortune
Sonny stated the beloved melody of Coltrane's open and singing piece, "Impressions", in a blockish fashion, perhaps doing this to prepare us for the deluge, the rich profusion shall we call it, of burnished lines and streams of lines and garlands of multiphonic lines bursting out of his horn. (Such conceptions.)

Basically, these two master musicians played "Impressions" by John Coltrane (and variations thereof) for the entire 105 minutes plus, as previously mentioned.

Rashied Ali

It was never boring, though sometimes we'd fade off. Some of us. While others got more attached and more attentive. Let's say there was plenty of room for thinking and feeling.

But in fact this was a meticulously played, high energy music that flies somewhere in the space between possession and exploration. It's spiritual in that way. It's about invoking.

But inside this whirlwind of sound there was, thank you, a quiet centre, compliments of Sonny Fortune and Rashied Ali.

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report
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