On a cool Friday evening, I was treated to the sounds of tenor saxophonist Chris Gale and his wonderful quartet, serving up a dish of swinging, soulful tunes from start to finish. One of my favourite local musicians, Chris Gale brings to mind musicians of the past, such as John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Hank Mobley, Lester Young, and Ben Webster to name a few. He takes these influences and in turn creates his own unique voice that enchants and enthralls the audience, craving and thirsting for more.
His backup band is made up of some of the youngest, finest musicians to grace Toronto’s stages in a long while. Pianist Amanda Tosoff comps magnificently and brings coherency and cohesiveness in her solos. Jon Maharaj keeps a solid, firm foundation with his timekeeping and creative bass work. Morgan Childs happens to be one of my all time favourite Canadian drummers because he knows how to swing and he is the closest thing to Art Blakey that Canada would ever see. He’s younger than me but there is a bright future ahead of him.
The program consisted of primarily the work of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, evidenced through the calypso swing of “Angelica”, the melancholy mood of “Isfahan”, and the jump and jive swing of “Johnny Come Lately”. Yet one of the highlights for me is their take on one of my favourite bebop classic numbers, “Bolivia” by the recently departed Cedar Walton. It’s an infectious, swinging groove that builds momentum and never lets up until the end.
Overall, a refreshing, swinging set of straight-ahead jazz by four great musicians at the top of their game.
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