Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

2006/06/26-29 John Abercrombie, Mike Stern, John Scofield, Donny McCaslin, Lizz Wright, Toronto Jazz Festival

Toronto is a sufficiently large venue that jazz players visit throughout the year. In combination with other venues across North America and the world, though, there’s a long tradition of chaining musicians into compressed weeks, such as the Toronto Jazz Festival. For years, now, Andy and I have had standing plans to attend see world-class jazz together.

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I made a tactical error by not buying tickets in advance, so the tent was sold out. Andy and I were sitting at a picnic table way out on Nathan Phillips Square, too far to see, but easily close enough for amplified sound.

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I don’t understand why the jazz festival organizers decided to book three great New York-based guitar players on the same bill. I would have paid to see them separately, on three different nights. John Abercrombie was on first. Zooming out my camera to maximum (432 mm), I photographed images that I couldn’t see with my unaided eyes.

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Second on the bill, Mike Stern was next. He played a great set, but I’ had seen him play longer at the 55 Bar in NYC, 2 weeks earlier.

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On bass was Chris Minh Doky, who I’ve never seen play live, before.

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After dark, John Scofield came on as the third great guitarist on the bill.

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Another player that I haven’t seen previous — Steve Swallow — played bass.

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It was a nice summer night. I didn’t stay out too late, and walked to the other side of Toronto City Hall to pick up my bike to ride home.

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A few nights earlier, at The Rex, I saw Donny McCaslin playing with Hans Glawischnig and drummer Johnathan Blake. I had seen the trio earlier in the year in NYC.

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I had seen Donny McCaslin play with a different group of sidemen just barely a few days earlier in NYC. One reason for the repeat visit was for Ryan to have the opportunity to see musicians playing live.

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A few nights later, in an new venue for the jazz festival, the Diesel Playhouse, Lizz Wright performed on an evening when Evil Dead — The Musical wasn’t playing.

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Diana came to this show with me because (a) the music was more mellow than most of the jazz I hear, and (b) the venue was soft seats with easy sightlines.

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My one disappointment for this year was the cancellation of the Esbjorn Svensson Trio, due to the tragic death of the pianist a few weeks earlier. They’re currently one of my favourite bands, and I’ll never have the opportunity to see them perform live.

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