February 2007

Quinsin Nachoff’s Rhodes Trio
February 2, 2007 Hart House Toronto
Report by Paul J. Youngman
The most striking feature of Quinsin Nachoff ‘s playing is his creativity, he plays melodically, with free flowing lyricism. The opening number of this intimate performance at the Arbor Room, the jazz standard “If I Should Lose You”, composed by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger, has wonderful lyrics “If I should lose you / The stars would fall from the sky / If I should lose you / Leaves would wither and die.” As Mr. Nachoff plays his tenor saxophone you can just about hear Billy Holiday or maybe Nina Simone singing in the background. The next composition, “Kites” by Quinsin Nachoff, opened with an introduction of saxophone, warm tones with fast fingering, the valves opening and closing, rapid fingering technique becoming a percussive effect, running up the scale to the highest range of the tenor and playing quite comfortably in this high soprano tone — playing a statement that is somehow questioning and gliding down to the lower register to provide an answer to the question. The rhythm section of Dave Restivo and Ethan Ardelli on Fender Rhodes and drums were fully committed to providing a solid and engaged complement to this saxophone concerto.

In “Hymn”, a ballad composed by Nachoff, is full of serene beauty, the tenor sax tone of Mr. Nachoff is almost slurred. A very distinct tone, with an undercurrent of constant vibrato, a laid-back, deep throated purring in the lower register and gently climbing from that deep low end of the instrument to the highest range. Reaching for the soprano end of the instrument and holding a crystal clear note through one bar of what seemed a 9/4 pattern, a waltz of cascading notes follows, caressingly down to the mid range of the horn to be accentuated with a growl, placed in just the perfect manner, thus allowing Mr. Restivo on the Rhodes to take over with a church organ reference, followed by the sweet sound of an emulated choir singing “Ave Maria,” or so it seemed in this intimate room, with a century of history.

“Odessik,” “Devils Advocate,” “October,” “Collateral,” all Quinsin Nachoff compositions followed, further showing his ability as a talented saxophone player with a distinct sound, and a composer of considerable ability. On “Collateral” a slow paced song with Ethan Ardelli on brushes to begin, an organ tone from the Rhodes, single notes with a blues base feel, Quinsin Nachoff joins in and drives the song into another dimension with some high-spirited playing, inventive and like nothing I’ve heard before. Dave Restivo fills any possible gaps with solid bass lines as Nachoff goes over the top, Ardelli on sticks, is letting loose with fast rolls and powerful cymbal accentuations on his sumptuously-toned designer ride cymbal. As if he too was overwhelmed with the spirit of the song, he would carry on with one last extended cymbal attack allowing the tone to carry and graciously subside to the sound of pure silence. The appreciative audience allowed the silence to linger, frozen in time, a long sigh of delight, before a round of applause.

For the final song of the evening, it was back to jazz standards with “How Deep Is The Ocean”. The trio would play a rousing rendition, that featured breaks by all members of the band. Dave Restivo let loose with a tremendous display of piano virtuosity. Bouncing and bopping his head, his complete body bopping, pounding out monstrous chords of tonal delight, hands flying from over his head, to throw down the chords on to the keyboard, his right foot traveling a million miles an hour in some time element of his own design. Restivo would race up the keys and then race down the keys, coming to the end of the Fender’s keyboard, body still travelling left, he would nearly fall from the stool, catching himself, by hammering out a few more chords and bending deeply into the keys, accenting the notes by lifting off the stool and crashing down upon the keyboard. Ethan Ardelli absorbing this energy, creates a storm of drumming thunder with cymbal attacks of lightning to climax with a drum break — fast single rolls, pressed double rolls, a group of varied rudiments, five, seven, twenty-one stroke rolls and flam-a-ques in triplet formation with bass drum accents and cymbal crashes on one and three or throwing in a tight single stroke, thirty-second note roll. A nod to the band and he smoothly returns to the songs opening verse. All this jazz — it really has to be seen, to be believed.
Quinsin Nachoff
The band, Quinsin Nachoff’s Rhodes Trio, played two sets of inspirational jazz to a room that holds less than eighty people, in a (liquor) licensed room that was less than half-full, in one of the biggest and oldest universities in Toronto. An intimate venue and one that I highly recommend. I will be back!
We welcome your comments and feedback
Paul J. Youngman
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