Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Last Tuesday, I caught the first of four performances of Fern Lindzon’s residency at the Rex Hotel with her stellar quartet of veteran Toronto jazz musicians, going through a cross cultural exploration of styles, idioms, and songs that crisscross through the world and back.   It was an evening where there were moments that swung hard, moments of exploration, and moments of tight exotic grooves that get your feet tapping to a different beat.

The evening started with a straight-ahead reading of the standard “I Thought About You”, featuring Fern on vocals and piano.    Her vocal reading was full of clear diction and precision, and her piano accompaniment was tasteful and complementary for both the band members and her voice.    There were even fine solo spots by tenor saxophonist Chris Gale, bass player Ross MacIntyre, and drummer Nick Fraser before closing off the song.   It was a great, swinging way to open out the night.

Lindzon’s composition “All Fall Down” is a groovy, Latin-infused take on the chord changes to “Autumn Leaves”, with an intriguing melody and a tight rhythmic pulse.   Basin Street Blues shows off the bluesy, soulful side of Lindzon with a reading that is mellow and full of feeling.   

Along with the standards and compositions performed, Lindzon manages in her performance to include international repertoire from various parts of the world, and bring her own spin to the material.    One of the highlights of the night was her take on Egberto Gismonti’s “Loro”, with a Brazilian beat backdrop that is full of life and is intoxicatingly groovy at the same time.   Kudos to drummer Nick Fraser for setting up the rhythmic groove so tightly and so succinctly that it made me want to get up and dance at times.    She even took us to France with a reading of the great French composer Michel Legrand’s “The Windmills of Your Mind”, which was moody and soul searching through its lyrical reading and melodic playing.    To close off the night, it was back to Brazil with a spirited reading of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Two Kites”.   

Lindzon and her stellar quartet took me in two hours to various parts of the world and back, while maintaining the essence of swing, groove, feeling and soul as the foundation for their explorations.   Her performance showed that jazz fused with these cultural influences ensures its freshness and vitality in the ever-changing tastes of music today.   With two albums out, and her latest being nominated for a JUNO (Two Kites), I am looking forward to see what lies ahead for Ms. Lindzon as she fuses jazz and world music into new exotic masterpieces.


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