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Brampton Global Jazz & Blues Fest Report

Brampton Global Jazz & Blues Festival – Art of Jazz Celebration Branford Marsalis Quartet, Rose Theatre, Brampton, On. August 11, 2012 The Branford…

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Brampton Global Jazz & Blues Festival – Art of Jazz Celebration

Branford Marsalis Quartet, Rose Theatre, Brampton, On. August 11, 2012

Report by Paul J. Youngman – August 2012

The Branford Marsalis Quartet brought it all to Brampton; the quartet played an extended set that was an exciting performance of musical virtuosity. The pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist, Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner joined saxophonist Branford Marsalis as the group played a magically brilliant set to the delight of a good sized audience.

For the most part Marsalis played soprano saxophone. He was the ultimate in jazz cool, composed, sophisticated, confident and self assured. In a first hand display of Marsalis cool he announced to the audience that he had finally figured out why his saxophone had been giving him resistance all night, he had been changing the reed repeatedly when the problem was the mouthpiece, he had chosen the wrong one. Mouthpiece problems aside, Marsalis is one of the most lyrical players on the scene, smooth and pleasant toned. His improvised playing flows with unrestrained brilliance, intriguing ideas are produced in a continuous blaze of glory.

The first song the quartet played was a scorcher, Calderazzo played with a stride piano style, feet flying to the tempo and body thumping on the piano stool. The bass is steady and constantly pushing the rhythm giving the drummer plenty of room. Faulkner the drummer takes it all and with driving intensity pushes the song to the limit. A tall lanky drummer who projects an image of an individual towering over the drum set. His arms and legs appear to be flailing at the kit, yet he is very much in control, precise, dynamic and intense. On an up-tempo tune his sense of time knows no boundaries, a rolling thunder, dropping bombs as he pleases, although never on the count of one. On the slower blues and ballads he keeps the beat, lays back and in the most unlikely locations adds an intense roll on the snare that builds for about a bar and gently subsides into a swinging rhythm on cymbal.

There were so many high lights to this concert – especially sweet was the bluesy tune by Kenny Kirkland “Steepian   Faith”. Also the melodic ballad “Maestra” by Eric Revis, with notes running into each other fluidly and blending with elegance as all members of the quartet played in support of this beautiful tune.  “In The Crease”, quite possibly the most exciting song of the concert.  Marsalis on tenor sax and blowing deep growling melodic lines while Faulkner drums as a whirling dervish of intensity and Calderazzo tests the piano with blistering runs and pounding chords while Revis is solid and dependable holding it all together with rhythmic splendor. Or “Treat It Gently” with Marsalis on soprano and sounding very much like a clarinet on this song dedicated to Sidney Bechet.

The final song of the evening, a song dedicated to festival organizer Bonnie Lester “Teo”. A bossa nova feel to open the song and a bridge to a moderate tempo, a marching blues, where the tune grooved through a tenor solo giving way to some intense drumming by Faulkner. The band came back for an encore song and continued to play heart and soul giving the audience a grand good night. An still one more festival day to go, with artist in residence Branford Marsalis leading the Art of Jazz Orchestra for an afternoon concert in the square.

Photographs by Robert Saxe

An independent journalist, based in Toronto, Canada. A professional musician and a fan of music, dance and the arts. I have written short stories, lyrics, poetry and reviews. I have been published in numerous online webzines. I’ve taught drumming and played in bands; I have felt the passion to create. I enjoy expressing that passion, the artistic experience, in words, reporting on the shows and musical experiences that I have witnessed.

Festivals Report

TD Toronto Jazz Festival – June 24 to July 3, 2022

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TD Toronto Jazz Fest 2022

10 Days of Free Shows — Say What!

My TD Toronto Jazz Festival started mid festival, Tuesday, June 28th, early evening. It was all about Juno winners and nominees. The first act, Sammy Jackson and her quartet performing at the TD Main Stage at the OLG Grove.

Sammy Jackson - Photo by Paul J. Youngman
Sammy Jackson – Photo by Paul J. Youngman

Sammy Jackson won a Juno for vocal jazz album of the year. Her band, made up of Jackson on Vocals, Thomas Fleming – guitar, Chris Pruden – keys, Mark Godfrey – bass and Ian Wright playing the drums. Jackson sang songs from her award winning 5-track EP With You, featuring original compositions. Sammy Jackson added some songs from her 2016 release, the 5-track EP Take Me Back, to make for an enjoyable hour long performance. Jackson’s songs are about joy, vulnerability, long distance relationships, and love. Jackson blends jazz, R&B, soul and pop with her beautiful voice.

Sammy Jackson - Photo by Paul J. Youngman
Sammy Jackson – Photo by Paul J. Youngman

Jackson covers an impressive vocal range, and her phrasing is delightful. Jackson shines on the ballads. I especially enjoyed “Bad Reception” and “Every Time We Say Goodbye”.

Sammy Jackson concluded her show with one dedicated to her son, entitled “Chuckie”, a toddler who happened to be in the audience and made a cameo at the front of the stage. This tune was upbeat and had a happy go lucky, dance groove to get everybody moving.

I spoke with Jackson after the show, I asked her if she noticed the Juno enhancing her career? She said, “I think it’s why I’m here. The Juno increased my exposure. So that’s great. Thank you Juno!”

Kellylee Evans - Photo by Danilo Navas
Kellylee Evans – Photo by Danilo Navas

Kellylee Evans performed the evening of the 28th and I was not going to miss her concert at the TD Main Stage. Kellylee Evans was in great vocal form and in accompaniment with a wonderful band made up of Joel Visentin – keyboards, Mark Godfrey – bass, Rich Grossman – guitar, and Ian Wright on drums.

Evans has suffered some serious physical setbacks in her recovery from a tragic accident in 2013. She has an injury that is effecting her ability to walk and even to stand. She performed the show from a sitting position.

Kellylee Evans - Photo by Danilo Navas
Kellylee Evans – Photo by Danilo Navas

Evans puts her heart and soul into her singing. She is a Juno winner for vocal jazz album of the year for Nina, released in 2010. One of my favourite vocal jazz albums.

This evening, Evans performed songs from her new 5-song EP Green Light as well as many others. A beautiful, dynamic, high energy performance—even from her seated position.

Alexis Baró Quintet - Photo by Paul J. Youngman
Alexis Baró Quintet – Photo by Paul J. Youngman

I started off Wednesday, the 29th with the amazing trumpet playing of Alexis Baró. The Alexis Baró Quintet was performing at the TD Stage at Festival Village in Yorkville.

I really enjoy Baró’s trumpet playing. I think he is one of the most expressive players in the Afro Cuban style. Baró performed songs from his new album Ma Raiz.

Larnell Lewis Band - Photo by Paul J. Youngman
Larnell Lewis Band – Photo by Paul J. Youngman

I only stuck around for a few of the songs as Joy Lapps and Larnell Lewis were performing at the TD Main Stage at the OLG Grove, a few streets south. It is most unfortunate to have these scheduling conflicts. However, It is amazing to have so much talent at one festival.

Joy Lapps and Larnell Lewis performed on the TD Main Stage Wednesday the 29th – a dynamite performance. The band, made up of Larnell Lewis – drums, Joy Lapps – steelpan, Jeremy Ledbetter – piano, Elmer Ferrer – guitar, Rob Christian – woodwinds, Andrew McAnsh – trumpet and Marc Manhertz – bass.

Larnell Lewis Band with Joy Lapps - Photo by Paul J. Youngman
Larnell Lewis Band with Joy Lapps – Photo by Paul J. Youngman

“Rejoice” was the title of one of the songs performed and to hear this band is to rejoice. When I listen to Larnell Lewis play I feel the pulse through my soul. I think this is the most heartful drummer I have ever heard. His music is uplifting, powerful, dynamic, his beats, fills and rhythms, just outstanding. He shares his heart with the audience, nothing is left on the stage. 

Now to get ready for a return to Koerner Hall, after 2 years of isolation, for one of the few ticketed events, the Gregory Porter band. Excited? Yes, indeed!

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