Tuesday, April 1, 2014


On a cool Friday evening I decided to catch the future of jazz by checking out a free jazz recital put on by bassist and composer Greg Orlando.

Greg Orlando hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and has gotten his degree in music earlier at West Chester University of Philadelphia.   Here in Toronto he decided to do his masters studies by being under the prime tutelage of bassist extraordinaire Dave Young, best known for performing with the great jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.   

In his hour-long recital, it is a clever mix of original music with standards and pop material done in a jazz style.   The first piece, simply called “Folk Song”, is a gospel-influenced piece that echoes the recordings of Charlie Haden with Pat Metheny.   Greg played a very moving and soulful opening head and solo to the piece before giving way to guitarist Tim Lemke who shines through on the Pat Metheny influence yet keeping his own style.    

Among the biggest highlights of the piece have to be when vocalist Laura Swankey comes on board to complete the band and provide a musical vocal complement to the music.     On “Can’t Stand Losing You”, it takes a pop hit by the Police and transforms it into a standard jazz number that even Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, or Diana Krall can cover into a jazz masterpiece.   Here With Me is a lilting jazz waltz complete with beautiful lyrics and beautiful playing by all members of the group.

I reviewed earlier Laura’s recital and I have to say that she is a real serious jazz vocalist.   She is very musical, colourful, and a sheer delight to listen to.   Tim Lemke is a very modern guitarist with a voice that has something worthwhile to say.   Mark Ballyk is a very colorful and musical drummer that treats the instrument as a complementary function versus an in-your-face approach to playing the instrument.   Greg Orlando plays great bass lines, is a very moving and very melodic bass soloist, and really has a strong point in arranging popular songs in jazz and composing probing melodies that have both heart and soul.  

Here’s to a long and serious career ahead in music for Greg Orlando as he finishes his studies.


No comments:

Post a Comment