Thursday, July 06, 2006
Toronto Jazz Fest 2006--A Review By Norman Otis Richmond
By Norman (Otis) Richmond
The 2006 TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival has come and gone. I was only able to catch one of the Talkback Series and three concerts. Two concerts that I wanted to see were not in the cards. Divine Brown and Jacksoul didn’t happen for me. I attempted to get an interview with Brown but never heard back from her record company. I even had to purchase Brown’s CD, Divine Brown despite having a radio shows consistently on the Toronto airwaves for 25 years. What can I say but, “Oh! Canada?”
Etta James was the other concert that I wanted to catch but couldn’t. It appears that the corporate types have finally found out what African people knew from the get-go. Etta is BAD? The sister can blow. Her latest CD, All The Way, is proof. I ‘am happy that James is getting the attention she should.
I was however, able to catch a Talkback Series led by Kevin Clark entitled “The Big Easy”. Clark, a long time resident of New Orleans talked about the evolution of New Orleans jazz. It was pointed out that when the New Orleans pianist Jelly Roll Morton talked about the “Spanish Tinge” in jazz, he was really talking about the “Cuban Tinge”. The Cubans and Haitians contributed to the making of America’s classical music.
The first concert I witnessed was Andy Bey Duo, which was held at the Young Centre For The Performing Arts. Bey, the brother of Toronto’s own Salome Bey, was in fine form performing many tracks from his latest CD, American Song. Bey is a vocalist who processes a voice that ranges from a deep dark baritone to a West African falsetto had the pack house eating out of the palm of his hands.
I set next to a woman from Buffalo, New York who claimed to be madly in love with Bey and after he performed gems like “Never Let Me Go”, “It’s Only a Paper Moon” and “Caravan” she said she had fallen deeper love with the Newark, New Jersey native.
Pick up Bey CD and be sure to be there the next time he performs in this city or wherever you are.
Wednesday was a difficult night for me because I had to choose between Maceo Parker and the Neville Brothers. Having seen Parker with both James Brown and Bootsy’s Rubber Band I am a fan. I can even remember Parker bringing on Bootsy at the Los Angeles Col in front of 100,000 funkateers. I also remember him being “bigged up” by Rev. Jesse Jackson at a Black Music Association in Washington D.C. However, my “tribalism” forced me to see my homeboys The Neville Brothers.
The last time the Neville Brothers came to Toronto they brought their “secret weapon”, Aaron Neville’s son Ivan. When Aaron, Art, Charles and Cyril performed the Temptations “Ball of Confusion” I thought I had died on gone to “Soul Heaven” because Aaron’s son sounded so much like the late Paul Williams of the Temptations. I was not disappointed by the Neville even though Ivan was not on stage this time out.
The always socially conscious Neville’s stretched their repertoire this time around. Love and happiness was in the air as the boys form New Orleans included songs like Little Willie John’s “Fever”, Sam Cooke’s “Cupid” and they ended the show with Pookie Hudson and the Spaniels “Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight”.
Normally the Neville’s close their shows with Bob Marley and Curtis Mayfield’s “One Love/People Get Ready”. However, this evening
“One Love/People Get Ready” was not the closer. I hadn’t seen this since I saw Cuba Gooding Sr. and the Main Ingredient close a show in Oakland, California with the ballad, “Who Can I Turn To?”
The last event I attended was Pharaoh Sanders & Kenny Garrett’s concert at Nathan Phillips Square’s Mainstage. I have been a huge Sanders fan since seeing him with John Coltrane at an after hours theatre in Los Angeles called the Adams West in the mid-sixties. The Adams West could hold 800 people and by the time Sanders finished his third solo, maybe 200 people remained in the theatre. The majority of the crowd had never heard of heard of the Young Turk from Little Rock, Arkansas. Sanders blew the roof off the Adams West.
Tenor saxophonist Sanders and alto saxophonist Garrett did not disappoint the crowd. Sanders and Garrett were joined by pianist William Henderson, bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Joe Farnsworth. Sanders still has fire in his belly but after performing the night before he was obviously fatigued. Garrett stepped up top the plate and the two saxophonists with a little help from their friends pulled off a marvellous night of music.
Norman Richmond can be contacted Norman@ckln.fm