Wednesday, June 27, 2012

JAZZ AT THE DISTILLERY DISTRICT

After attending the opening day festivities of the jazz festival last Friday, the next day I decided to go off the beaten path and catch some good local jazz at the Distillery District.   The distillery had music acts for everyone’s taste, involving cool jazz, funk, samba, and vocal jazz.

At the Distillery District I managed to catch most of it, while having a nice Panini lunch at a cool café in the process.

The first act that I saw was the Mike Janzen Trio at the Pure Spirits Patio.   The band featured Mike Janzen on piano and vocals, George Koller on bass and Ben Riley on drums.   Throughout their set they played an eclectic program of swinging jazz, funky rhythms, and musical humor.  Mike Janzen is the consummate jazz performer, playing the piano with such great skill and dexterity, and even shows a great sense of humor by managing to play a section of “If I Only Had A Brain” with just oven mitts!  Also among the highlights were his inventive takes on “Mrs. Robinson”, “Chim Chim Cheree”, and funky original repertoire such as “Mombacho” and “Red Rocket”. 

(From left:  George Koller, myself, Mike Janzen w/daughter, and Ben Riley)

During the Mike Janzen set, I heard the pulsating samba rhythms coming from Rich Shadrach Lazar’s Samba Squad nearby at the Trinity Stage.   It’s grooves and rhythms are infectious, making you want to dance and shake your groove thing.

Next during my stint at the Pure Spirits Patio was a vocal/piano duo under the likes of husband and wife team Sophia Perlman and Adrean Farrugia.  Sophia’s voice is warm, soothing, clear as crystal and swings like mad, like a fine wine that gets better with age.   Adrean’s playing complemented Sophia’s vocals perfectly, providing the basis of rhythm, harmony and melody as a one-man band onto himself.  The repertoire was even eclectic, covering everything from Paul Simon (Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes), standards (Softly As in a Morning Sunrise), David Bowie (Life on Mars) and obscure jazz (Geri Allen’s “Feed The Fire”)

(Adrean Farrugia and Sophia Perlman)

The last act that I saw on Saturday was another duo performance, this time under the likes of Jake Wilkinson on trumpet and Andrew Scott on guitar.   It was another inventive creative take on cool jazz playing standards with such fine dexterity, soul, and swing.   Among the highlights of the set was an obscure piece called “Prince Albert”, a Kenny Dorham composition based on the changes to Jerome Kern’s “All the Things You Are”.   As well, Charlie Parker was covered; through the rhythm changes tune “Anthropology”.   The rest were tried, tested and true jazz standards, such as “Stella By Starlight”, “My Romance” and “I Concentrate On You” to name a few.  As a duo, it was a very cool, laid back vibe, and Andrew Scott did a great job being an educator of the history of the music through his introductions to the pieces played.  

(Jake Wilkinson, lady, and Andrew Scott)

If you are planning to catch the remainder of the jazz festival, check out some free shows at the Distillery District and show your support to the local artists.   It really shows the diverse and class act talents that abound in the city from North to South and East to West.

OFFICIAL TD TORONTO JAZZ FESTIVAL WEB SITE

MIKE JANZEN WEB SITE

SOPHIA PERLMAN WEB SITE

JAKE WILKINSON WEB SITE

ANDREW SCOTT WEB SITE


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