What a weekend at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival. I don't think I've managed to cram that much music into such a short period of time in ages. Four bands in 48 hours and that's not including two gigs of my own. Crazy.
I managed to see the Peggy Lee Band, Soweto Kinch Trio, The Larry Goldings Trio (twice), and James Danderfer's Humming Bird Brigade. It took 20km of bike riding, several train rides, a gallon of beer, and a nap in the park to get it done but hey, somebody had to do it.
All of the music was really outstanding but have I some thoughts on cellist Peggy Lee's band in particular that I'd like to share. I'm not one to offer up concert reviews though -- I'll leave that for the critics -- so these are just some of the impressions that lingered in my mind as I pedalled furiously from Granville Island to the Vancouver Art Gallery.
This was my first time seeing and hearing Peggy's band and to be perfectly honest I had no idea what to expect. I had a conversation earlier in the week with the group's trumpet player Brad Turner. He shared with me his thoughts on Peggy's compositional style, but I had put that aside as much as I could. It's really something to be able to hear great music that is completely new to you without having any preconceived ideas about how it should sound. And that's exactly how I wanted to experience Peggy Lee's music for the first time.
How did it sound?
I was completely mesmerized by Peggy's writing and the band's musicianship. There are all kinds of colourful adjectives I could use to describe what I heard but in the end I think I'll just call it beautiful. Beauty in many layers and on many levels.
Her music, played by musicians who have been collaborating together for decades , could easily be a soundtrack for a visit to New York's Museum of Modern Art. It was like a room-to-room tour from the Realists to the Impressionists, the Futurists to the Surrealists... I actually had to remind myself to take photos and make some notes about the songs (didn't do so well in the taking notes department).
For someone who spends more time on the bandstand than in the audience this show was a great reminder of how compelling music can be, of its power to affect people, and of the importance of beauty in our everyday lives. I might just have to start taking my job as a musician a little more seriously.
Peggy -- along with Brad Turner on trumpet, Jon Bentley on saxophone, Jeremy Berkman on trombone, Ron Samworth and Tony Wilson playing guitars, André Lachance on electric bass and Dylan van der Schyff at the drums -- are in the middle of a Canadian tour. Please visit them on line HERE and check them out if they happen to be visiting your town.
Check out some of my photographs of the festival:
Thanks to the good folks at Coastal Jazz for putting on this great festival. You guys rock.