Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

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.

June 29th, 2008

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Mike Stern is one of my favourite musicians. I’ve previously seen him perform at the 55 Bar, in the Village in NYC, and he’s been a regular attraction at previous Toronto Jazz Festivals. Antonio is an aspiring guitarist, and our schedules only permitted us to see Steps Ahead at Iridium on the night that Mike wasn’t playing. Since I was spending a lot of time in town, I made a point of scheduling an evening when Mike is at 55 Bar. This evening was a trio with Lionel Cordew on drums and Tom Kennedy on bass.

Bar 55 is long and narrow. We enjoyed a front row view of the musicians, so Antonio did as most guitarist do — watching fingers fly. After the set, Antonio bought a CD and had Mike sign it.

June 4th, 2008

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I’ve scheduled some New York trips around seeing Mike Stern at the 55 Bar in Greenwich Village. During the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival, he was touring with Alain Caron — a fluid bass player whom I’ve followed since the 1980s when he came to Vancouver, touring with Uzeb. I’ve seen Alain Caron play in Toronto leading a band of his own. I ordered tickets for Andy and myself, and the day finally arrived.

Mike Stern and Alain Caron, Live at Courthouse

June 24th, 2007

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