Friday, September 14, 2012



At the 2012 TD Toronto Jazz Festival, one of my personal highlights was seeing saxophonist, pianist, composer and arranger Phil Dwyer perform the Canadian Songbook along with great jazz musicians such as Laila Biali and Rob Piltch.   This time around, I get to see one of Canada’s great jazz musicians in an up close and intimate concert setting at a cozy little jazz joint known as the Rex Hotel.   For his opening set, he sure did not disappoint the audience or myself.

In a trio setting, Phil opens the set by putting on the pianist’s hat for a rousing take on Harry Warren’s “Summer Night”, as arranged by fellow Canadian pianist and composer Renee Rosnes.   Following was an introspective take on Joe Zawinul’s composition “Midnight Mood”, showing off the beauty and poise of the piece and taking it into new heights.

For the next two numbers, Phil puts on the tenor sax hat and does his John Coltrane/Sonny Rollins thing on “Darn that Dream” and “Mr. Jones”.   His sax playing is full of raw emotion and full of great ideas that jump right at you and into your gut.

Phil puts on the piano hat again for a contemplative reading of Willie Nelson’s classic song “Crazy”, made famous by Patsy Cline.   It was a straight reading with great solos throughout the number.

To end, Phil puts on the tenor sax cap and plays his own composition, a calypso piece called “Narcolypso”.   It echoed Sonny Rollins’ St.  Thomas and the great feel of being at a Caribbean carnival parade.

A word about the rhythm section.  Pat Collins is one of the best and most reliable timekeepers and bass players residing in the city.    He has a great flair for the music and he is really gets the drive going when it is called for in a tune.  Terry Clarke undoubtedly is one of the great legends of Canadian jazz.   He has performed with jazz greats such as Jim Hall, Paul Desmond, John Handy and even recorded an album with Oscar Peterson.   He is one of the most rhythmically creative and stimulating drummers to play on the scene and we are fortunate to have him as a Canadian treasure.

All in all, a great night of jazz from a great icon in Canadian jazz.


 (Phil Dwyer and Me)

No comments:

Post a Comment