September 2006

Tim Posgate Hornband featuring Howard Johnson
at the Parry Sound Acoustic Jazz Festival
September 2, 2006Charles W. Stockey Centre For The Performing Arts Parry Sound
Northern Exposure
by Paul J. Youngman with photos by Roger Humbert
A scenic drive north to a relatively new Jazz Festival. A longer drive than anticipated. Unfortunately, we missed the opening night show, The David Braid Sextet, by about an hour. The Festival line-up was The David Braid Sextet on Friday, Sept. 1, Tim Posgate Hornband the next day and Club Django Sextet (matinee) and Melissa Stylianou (evening performance) the final day. Saturday, we ordered tickets for the Posgate performance and settled into a delightful day exploring the Parry Sound waterfront and surrounding area during the afternoon, the show started at 8:00PM.

The theatre alone was well worth the price of admission. Constructed about four years ago, the Charles W. Stockey Centre blends in beautifully with the scenic and rugged geography of Parry Sound and the Georgian Bay area. Seating approximately five hundred people, it has two balconies at the rear of the theatre and boxed seating at the second balcony level on the right side, left side and front of the theatre. The stage was set low at the front of the theatre for this evening’s performance. The seating is racked and movable, allowing for a centre theatre performance with a 360 degree viewing area.

The design is an architectural marvel, four walls of Parry Sound quarry stone that soar to a vaulted ceiling some seventy feet high. The wondrous environment is enhanced by the glistening hardwood ceiling and massive wooden beams that provide most of the structural support. A minimal amount of steel is used in the construction of the theatre. The designers have taken great care in insuring that the sound will be pure. The acoustics of the room lend themselves spectacularly to acoustic instruments. An excellent venue to record a live album of acoustic music.

Tim Posgate arrived on stage, connected his Fender Stratocaster electric guitar to a small Fender amplifier and thanked us for coming out to the show. He made mention of what a great theatre this was and that he was especially happy to check out the Bobby Orr Museum also on site and sharing the space. He introduced the band and shared some information about Howard Johnson. Tim Posgate told us that he had googled Johnson’s name, and found a discography that listed Howard Johnson on over four hundred recordings. Johnson simply shrugged his shoulders as if this were simply ordinary.

Tim Posgate
The first song “Hale Bopp” started with Posgate playing a choppy, funk style rhythm; Johnson joined in and accentuated the beat playing a driving bass style line on his tuba. Tenor saxophone player David French would come in after about eight bars and played some great growling lines, producing a rich full sound. The tune repeated the main groove a few times allowing all members of the band to have a go at some nice improvisational work.
The next song was introduced as “F” as in Fun”. Tim Posgate said, “I always have a lot of fun playing banjo.” The song had a carnival kind of flavour to it, a fun feeling with all members warming up and enjoying the moment. David French would show off his multi-instrumental talents by playing flute, he would also play clarinet at some point. Lina Allemano awakened the audience with some fantastic trumpet playing. Allemano displays a classical style that is very precise, a few well-placed notes, lots of sustain and smooth runs that make you take notice.
Howard Johnson

On “An Eager Leap”, Posgate was back on the Stratocaster and Howard Johnson blew mightily on the baritone saxophone. Johnson and French traded off some great lines, excellent playing from both reedmen. Another interesting song, “50% Pure Wool”, had Posgate and Johnson starting together, with Johnson playing the pennywhistle. The piece was inspired by a French Canadian folk song. As they played, you could easily imagine the colourful costumes of dancers dancing in a ring around the musicians. David French, on flute, harmonized with Johnson while he played the pennywhistle. Johnson would switch to tuba for the body of the song, returning to pennywhistle to close.

Posgate would also play electric lap guitar, like a steel guitar, on a very bluesy number, “Martin, Martin, Martin”. Thankfully, it was only the name of a song and not the name of one of his children as he would have liked. Allemano played muted trumpet on this number, playing some great lines under the upfront lead of French’s clarinet. Johnson played a great section on tuba with lots of vibrato and trombone-style glides, masterful playing.

The song “Quartier St. Roche” is a ballad that has Allemano letting loose in a glorious fashion. Beautiful lines, piercing, hypnotic melody and lyricism that just sounds so original. Lina Allemano produces some of the richest tones, she was working very hard to produce these sounds and I was completely blown away with her awesome sound and talented playing.

The Tim Posgate Hornband played most of the songs from their new CD of the same name. The concert was a delight; great music, by great musicians within a room with great ambiance.

In speaking with some local folks after the show I found out that Rob McConnell was to have performed. The folks I spoke with told me they were not sure if they would enjoy the Posgate replacement band and thought they might leave after the first set. They didn’t leave, but they didn’t think it was jazz because it didn’t swing. They also said, “It was interesting and the musicians were all very accomplished, so we stayed and we enjoyed it.”

We welcome your comments and feedback
Paul J. Youngman
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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