January 2008

Gabriel Alegria’s Afro-Peruvian Jazz Sextet
Canada Showcase – François Houle Octet, Les Projectionnistes, Barry Romberg’s Random Access Large Ensemble, Mainstream Icon Quintet
at the 35th Annual IAJE (International Association for Jazz Education) Conference
January 12, 2008 Constitution Hall Toronto
New Light on Closing Night
by Joyce Corbett
It is certainly stimulating to be around so much talent and activity, to be part of the community of music lovers, industry folks, players and teachers who gather at the IAJE. And, I have to admit, it is a thrill to be standing in line for morning coffee behind someone of the stature of Paquito D’Rivera, passing Bobby Carcasses or Randy Weston in the hall or saying hello to Quincy Jones, but one of the best things about jazz festivals and events like the IAJE conference is the opportunity to make new discoveries. I made a few new discoveries on Saturday night at the IAJE.

The first was Gabriel Alegria’s Afro-Peruvian Jazz Sextet. I knew nothing of them or their music, but loving Latin music and Latin jazz as I do, I had to go and hear them. They took off on the jazz side of the family turning and twisting the standard “Summertime” on its head, introducing it with an impassioned trumpet before succumbing languorously to the heat and the melancholy of the minor key, riding on Afro-Peruvian rhythms throughout. For the most part, the pieces would be difficult to separate out along family lines, integrated as they were. Tierney Sutton joined in on the interesting odd-metered “El norte”, providing an extra dimension with her scatting. The band banked to the Afro-Peruvian side of the family for the landing with folkloric percussion and zapateo (step dancing, of a sort). I snapped up Gabriel Alegria’s CD Nuevo mundo (with Tierney Sutton and other guests), the percussionist Freddy Huevito Lobatón’s self-titled CD and drummer Hugo Alcázar’s instructional CD, Afro-Peruvian Rhythms for Drumset and Cajon. (I would add and donkey’s jaw.)

Gabriel Alegria
Having gone off schedule obtaining the CDs and chatting I decided to go off and have a coffee before heading to the Canada Showcase performances in Constitution Hall, presented in partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts. Unfortunately, I completely missed the François Houle Octet (see David Fujino’s report) and landed in the middle of Les Projectionnistes. Which was rather like watching a movie from the middle. This septet of excellent musicians combines elements from a variety of rock and jazz genres to form a surprisingly cohesive and unusual style of their own. With a wry sense of humour, trombonist and composer Claude St-Jean provided narrative snatches to guide us through his musical films. However, to fully appreciate Les Projectionnistes, I believe you would have to enjoy aggressive forms of rock more than I do (mind you I believe there was a maiden being attacked in the movie, hard to illustrate that without aggression…) It might also help to watch the show from the beginning.
For me, it was Barry Romberg’s Random Access Large Ensemble who stole the Canadian Showcase, and the whole day, no question. This 15-piece version of Romberg’s 7-piece band Random Access was absolutely stunning. Exciting, powerful, subtle, complex, creative, completely modern and so access-ible, they have it all. Never a dull micro-second. You never knew what to expect next but when you heard it, you got it whether in “Big Giant Head” or “Accidental Beef” (did I mention the humour?) The ensemble work was tight with its razor sharp stops and starts in “Make Up Your Mind” dedicated to Dave Douglas and the solos were inspired – Kirk Macdonald and Kelly Jefferson on tenor, Peter Lutek on baritone, Charlie Gray and Jason Logue on trumpet, Geoff Young on electric guitar, Rich Brown on electric bass and of course Barry Romberg on drums and then, oh yes, there was Gord Meyers’ excellent trombone solo and... Formed in 2007, Barry Romberg’s Random Access Large Ensemble has been trying things out at Toronto’s The Rex Jazz & Blues bar where they can be heard on the last Sunday of every month until April. Go hear them!
Barry Romberg
The Mainstream Icon Quintet was exactly that, a quintet of five Canadian jazz icons; Terry Clarke, Don Thompson, Dave Young, Rick Wilkins and Guido Basso. They wrapped up the show with a mix of standards such as “I’ll Remember April” and “Body and Soul”, polishing off this most satisfying evening with ease.
Gabriel Alegria’s Afro-Peruvian Jazz Sextet
Gabriel Alegria – composer, trumpet
Laurandrea Leguia – tenor sax
Freddy Huevito Lobatón – cajon, quijada, cajita, zapateo
Hugo Alcázar – drums
Ramon de Bruyn – bass
Yuri Juarez – guitar

Les Projectionnistes
Claude St-Jean – composer, trombone
Bernard Falaise – bass
Pierre Labbé – tenor sax
Roberto Murray – alto sax
François Lafontaine – hammond B3
Fred Boudreault – electric bass
Rémi Leclerc – drums/percussion

Barry Romberg’s Random Access Large Ensemble
Barry Romberg – drums
Kirk Macdonald – tenor sax
Kelly Jefferson – tenor and soprano sax
John Johnson – alto sax
Peter Lutek – baritone sax
Kevin Turcotte – trumpet
Jason Logue – trumpet
Charlie Gray – trumpet
William Carn – trombone
Gord Meyers – trombone
Scott Suttie – bass trombone
Geoff Young – guitar
David Occhipinti – guitar
Rich Brown – bass
Blair Mackay – percussion

Mainstream Icon Quintet
Terry Clarke – drums
Don Thompson – piano, vibes
Dave Young – bass
Guido Basso – trumpet and flugelhorn
Rick Wilkins – saxophone

We welcome your comments and feedback
Joyce Corbett
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