A Look Back at

David Fujino
Here's a Top 10 List of the live concerts, dances, and drama I had the good fortune to experience in 2006. (Despite my participation in this Top 10 List, I'm really not trying to play any favourites.)

1 Nathaniel Dett Chorale @ George Weston Recital Hall
This luminous choral group is built around an African-Canadian membership but is also multicultural in its membership. Because the Nathaniel Dett Chorale performs an intriguing range of seldom heard gospel, jazz and classically-influenced compositions by African-Canadian (and African-American) composers, it has become both a teacher and celebrant of a vital stream in African-Canadian creativity.
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2 Dave Holland Quintet @ The Music Hall
Under the leadership of master musician/bassist Dave Holland, these five players delivered one of the more fulfilling concerts of the year. With high-caliber players like tenor Chris Potter, Steve Nelson on vibes, and Robin Eubanks on trombone, we heard lots of imaginative soloing on interesting, multi-rhythmic, semi-free tunes. The quintet's modern music is imaginative and accessible.
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3 Elliott Carter @ The Music Gallery
When a man is 90 years old, he's seen a century of human life in its many forms. Elliott Carter is such a man and composer. The American composer sat among the audience at The Music Gallery and enjoyed the playing of his modern compositions. Carter's compositions celebrate the individual in society.
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4 Wayne Shorter Quartet with Brad Mehldau @ Massey Hall
The double bill of legendary and masterful saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter and his quartet, paired with Brad Mehldau as solo pianist, proved to be as exciting and imaginative as anticipated, and Danilo Perez's piano, John Pattitucci on acoustic bass, and Brian Blade's drums contributed mightily to the vision in Shorter's music.
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5 Slowind Quintet @ The Music Gallery
A wonderful quintet of exceptional wind players from Slovenia proved you don't have to be square to make open-ended music. They showed a theatrical bent in one composition which had the players stopping at different places on the stage and playing the music that was in front of them on the music stand. This concert was a peak New Music experience because of the quintet's relaxed yet focused approach to performance.
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6 Hat and Beard + Tone Collector @ ArrayMusic Studio
The open improvising players got real structural this night. Guitarist Ken Aldcroft and drummer Dave Clark — also known as, Hat and Beard — played off on a whole set of Thelonious Monk tunes. Aldcroft's playing was dry-toned and angular; Clark's drumming at one point extended beyond his drums, to his stomach, Aldcroft's back, and then to some hand drums lying on the studio shelf. It was fun. Tone Collector from New York was melodious and probing and well structured, and in the next moment, was roaring like a hurricane. Tony Malaby's tenor led and followed, and curved into the vibrant atmospheres created by Eivind Opsvik on acoustic bass and Jeff Davis on drums.
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7 Ever Thus Claudia Moore @ The Young Centre For The Performing Arts
Claudia Moore and dancers offered a striking dance tribute to Shakespeare's famous characters Lady MacBeth, King Lear, Ophelia, and Hamlet in the stage production, Ever Thus. Moore had the dancers speak classic lines from the Bard, but their failure to project was a source of frustration for the audience. It was Moore's conceptually strong and physically expressive dance that left a lasting impression this night.
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8 Michael Snow, Aki Onda, Alan Licht @ The Goethe Institut
These are guys coming at music from an artistic angle. Their instruments — which range from Aki Onda's Walkman tape player to the distorted waves of Alan Licht's electric guitar to Michael Snow's expressive synthesizer — might seem low-tech, but the instructive point about Snow-Onda-Licht is that they got the sounds they wanted from their instruments. Their sound panoramas were current and fully loaded.
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9 Joe McPhee and Deep Dark United @ The Music Gallery
Saxophonist/pocket trumpeter McPhee is such a singular sound personality in the avant jazz community. The Toronto group, Deep Dark United, played a quirky, individualistic music, but it was ultimately Joe McPhee who led us this night through a huge range of changing emotions.
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10 Hilario Duran Trio @ Trane Studio
The creativity and drive of Duran's music is unmistakable and exciting and growing all the time. In what turned out to be a concert for an audience of seven people, Duran and associates Roberto Occhipinti on acoustic bass and Mark Kelso on drums simply played, as players do, at Trane Studio. This jazz trio reached some nice heights.
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We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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