Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Around the Jazz Festival

Hearing some amazing music, starting with Aretha. Now that I've heard my two musical icons, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles, and basked in their presence I can die happy. And both of these performances were part of the Toronto Jazz Festival. The first week-end has been amazing. Being blown away by a band I had dismissed (The Average White Band), being a little disappointed by lame performances by two other "idols," Steve Cropper and Mose Allison, being transported by the latin groove of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra - yes it is positively infectuous and discovering an amazing young sax player, Alison Young, who was playing with Tyler Yarema. 

But the highlight, of course, was my gig :-)  I played the Distillery with Brent Titcomb on percussion and a fabulous young organist called Clayton Doley who just moved here from Australia. I first heard Clayton with Harry Manx and was totally knocked out by the sounds he was getting. 

At Metro (David Pecaut) Square, the new home of the jazz festival, someone approaches me to say how much they enjoyed my show at the Distillery. I had checked out the venue the day before when they had more "legit" jazz and it was not commanding anyone's attention but I have to say I had a total listening crowd.  Two people actually interrupted the performance to buy a CD! 

I run into friend of a friend who loaded up some music in her iTunes library and when I took a look I found my first album, "Who Paid You to Give me the Blues" - he had created mp3s and scanned the cover. And he even remembered one of the tunes - "Girlfriend Blues."  Ironically, a couple of nights before, I heard Victor Bateman doing that very tune at the Rex Hotel "Players' Party," the unofficial kick-off to the jazz Festival, which he traditionally hosts. Ironic because I'd never attempt to step into a jazz jam session. I remember last year I was invited to sit in with organist Vanessa Rodriquez, one of my faves, and she and the boys tried to "dumb it down" for the old blues guy by playing Chicken Shack and Georgia - neither of which is a straight-ahead 12-bar blues. I think this year I'll just stick to the gigs.  Amazing to see jazz guitar great Reg Schwager playing my tune.