To kick off a new month of jazz in the city, I happened to spend the lunchtime catching the sounds of one of the hottest new groups in the Canadian Jazz scene today. The group is none other than the Morgan Childs Quartet.
Drummer Morgan Childs represents a rare breed of young musicians who draws from the past expressions of jazz and makes it applicable to modern times. Childs is one of the most creative, energetic, and talented drummers to ever come out of Canada, and there is a reason why I rank him among the best and most favourite drummers in jazz. Not only he is a great drummer, but he is also a fine composer creating tunes that are melodic yet rhythmically engaging.
The set opens with an arrangement of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Surrey With the Fringe on Top”. With its classic stop and go introduction, the piece goes into a rousing straight ahead swing with effective solos by saxophonist Kelly Jefferson and pianist Dave Restivo, along with superlative timekeeping by Jon Maharaj. Next we are offered a taste of “2nd Line” New Orleans rhythms through their take on Childs’ composition “Blues for Mogie”, which alternate between New Orleans funk groove and straight ahead swing.
The band cools downs for a lovely ballad feature on Childs’ “How Are You”, inspired by the composition stylings of drummer Victor Lewis. It featured a wonderful and moving bass solo by bassist Jon Maharaj.
One of my favourite tunes of the show would be their take on Harold Arlen’s “If I Only Had a Brain”, employing the “Poinciana Beat” made famous by Vernel Fournier and the Ahmad Jamal Trio. It was a spirited romp that left me wanting to still be in the fanciful Land of Oz.
Closing out the set are two more of Morgan Childs’ compositions, the moody Western Light and the high octane bebop of “The Kickback”, in which its melody echoes McCoy Tyner’s “Inception” in some places.
Watch out for this band in the near future. At just 31 years of age, Morgan Childs is just getting started to make a dent in the jazz world and beyond.