Hailing from Regina Saskatchewan but now calling Toronto his home, drummer and composer Chris Wallace leads a stellar quartet of musicians creatively playing tried tested and true standards to an attentive audience at the Pilot Tavern.
From the get go, the ensemble of Wallace, bassist Ross MacIntyre, pianist Adrean Farrugia and saxophonist David French takes on the classic material with such poise and aplomb that it really sounds like they are a working unit going on for a few years (Wallace moved to Toronto in late 2013).
By the time I came in, they did a rousing, blues number called Whims of Chambers that swung, is full of energy, and a piano solo by Adrean that is full of life, intensity and energy that he had at one point ran out of notes to fully express what he was conveying. After the hotness of the blues, things cooled down with Sam River’s “Beatrice”, delivered romantically and textually by saxophonist David French with ample support from the fellow musicians.
The first set ended with two of Monk’s enduring compositions, “Rhythm a Ning” and “Think of One”. The former brought back the intense swing and finesse displayed throughout the group while the latter took Monk’s tune and did a nice Latin arrangement to the piece. It really shows that Monk’s enduring compositions and music can be easily adaptable and interpreted in many ways, a mark of sheer brilliance and timelessness. The quartet simply added to this legacy through its respect and inventiveness of the Monk tunes.
The rhythm tandem of Chris and Ross was very solid, in the pocket, and at times very creative and tempo bending at times. Chris is a very creative drummer with a lot of colours and touches with his drum kit, and Ross is a reliable bass player who keeps times with some touches of creativity thrown in.
In all respects, a nice way to spend a casual Saturday afternoon at a great listening spot in Toronto.
OFFICIAL CHRIS WALLACE WEB SITE
(From Left: Adrean Farrugia, Ross Macintyre, Chris Wallace, and David French)