March 2008

part of the 2nd annual Small World Jazz Series
March 27, 2008 Lula Lounge Toronto
Grüvoria Introduces Dirty Fuel
by Eryn Vogn with photos by Roger Humbert
Grüvoria's music will hit you like Coltrane or Miles Davis, then pull you into a swing, then cascade you into acid jazz, then pull you in every direction at the same time with sounds and rhythms twisting and turning in a wild frenzy.

That's exactly what I heard when I entered Lula Lounge mid-way through "Human Bites" composed by Don Golnick from his CD Hearts And Minds. This of course was Blair Purdy's arrangement of the piece which he enjoys playing; especially the changes on the B section. Purdy is director, composer and lead guitarist for Grüvoria, and has been leading this band for ten years and still going strong. Purdy and Ashot Grigorian are the two remaining original members.

Transfixed by this groove I watch Bryant Didier on bass, pelting out the bottom end with vigorous speed as a hard driving collage of sounds blends together and dashes off into counter melodies. The tune bends back into a brass centered swing and Marcus Ali takes it out with a smooth sax solo.

The next song I experienced was "Lydia's", named after a (creepy) child and equally named for its use of the Lydian scale which involves raising the 4th note of the scale by a semi tone. The creepy child inspired this eerie sounding song which opens with some percussion and Ali on bass clarinet releasing a dissonant melody, then joined by sax, bass, keys and lead guitar all repeating the weird melody in parts and rounds. The sounds rise into a crescendo of musical madness. At one point I'm feeling a little Pat Matheny vibe in there. This particular song, originally called "Lydia" on the first album, and now "Lydia's" with an alternate arrangement, you can expect on every Grüvoria album.
Blair Purdy
Blair Purdy was already on his musical path at age eight when he first started piano, then took up trumpet and guitar in his teens. Purdy composes all the music for the band and values having experience with several instruments in order to communicate his ideas effectively with the band members. After hearing the tune and recording parts of it, he charts it right away and then takes it to the band, as opposed to the entire band collaborating with the writing. The positive side of this says Purdy, is that the piece stays true to its genuine form. The more people in the mix, he feels the further it moves from the original creation. There is of course plenty of room for the other players’ personal input as with harmonies on the keys and with each player’s time to solo.

An enjoyable favourite of mine is "Gasoline", which has a 'phat' funky tight tempo then drives into a more upbeat main rhythm. It features cascading harmonic horns, then it eases back into a 'nasty funk' and the vocals slide in with "Gasoline". This is Purdy's opportunity to use his vocals. He is particularly proud of how well this piece is orchestrated. It is of course an extension of the Dirty Fuel theme; with the gas crisis being at the forefront of the world’s conflicts, this is a most timely and appropriate musical interpretation.

The band
Blair Purdy – guitar
Ashot Grigorian – saxophone
Marcus Ali – saxophone
Eric Boucher – keys
Bryant Didier – bass
Vladimir Mladenovic – drums
Ruben Esguerra – percussion


We welcome your comments and feedback
Eryn Vogn
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Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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