Monday, September 1, 2014


On Labour Day Sunday, I was delighted to hear the sounds of a fine, yet unconventional jazz trio led by bassist Dan Fortin.   It is unconventional that it only features vibes, bass, and drums.    However, hearing this trio was like a breath of fresh air since they took straight ahead jazz and made it very forward thinking and very modern for 21st century listeners and beyond.

It was a program of mainly Monk music, with touches of free jazz, Ellington/Strayhorn, and Parker for good measure.   When I came in, Dan, vibist Michael Davidson, and drummer Fabio Ragnelli did a free jazz number composed by Dewey Redman (Dewey’s Tune?), which took the music to stratospheric limits while pulling down to planet earth.   Things cooled off with a page from the Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn songbook, a reading of “The Star Crossed Lovers” from the “Such Sweet Thunder” suite.     The performance was moving, romantic, and had a very modernistic edge that was pretty unique.

The modernistic edge continues through an arrangement of the Charlie Parker classic “Segment”, interpolating sections of the melody into a cascading figure that was attention grabbing and intense.

The remaining set of tunes was dedicated to the music of the great pianist and composer Thelonious Monk.    The arrangements of chestnuts such as Rhythm-a-Ning, Criss Cross, Evidence, Ugly Beauty and Blues Five Spot were very clever, fresh, and very invigorating to listen to.  

Dan’s command of the bass has a solid foundation that swings and at times pulls it together when things get a little bit free.   Michael’s command of the vibes is pretty prodigious and skillful, treating the vibes like a piano and even applying ‘Monkish” motifs and styles into his playing.   Fabio is one of the most colorful and tasteful drummers produced in Canada, and although he is situated in New York City, it is always a treat to hear such a young talent excel with such fine musicians.

A great early evening out with a great young band taking the music of the past and making it its own in the 21st century.


(Michael Davidson, Fabio Ragnelli, and Dan Fortin)

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