Thursday, July 03, 2008

Jazzfest 2008 - Days 7 & 8

Day 7
2 pm: Press conference with Jim West, head of Justin Time Records, Oliver Jones, and Trevor Payne, leader of the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir. In honour of their 25th anniversary, they've put out a two-disc compilation, and have a closing concert tomorrow night at Place des Arts.
5 pm: Papagroove launch their new record, We're Not Blind. Haven't listened to the disc yet but the bits I've heard at the conference are very promising, befitting a band featuring ex-members of Montreal worldbeat collectives La Chango Family and Dobacaracol.
7 pm: Orchestra Baobab @ Club Soda. Grooves can be tight intense without walloping bass and high volume. There's a whole new vitality to their tunes live that can't be captured in a studio.
9:30 pm: Dirty Dozen Brass Band @ Theatre Maisonneuve. Came out with some greasy funk, but went from funky sloppy to just sloppy in parts. Not sure if that was due to the sound issues, with the drum mixes fading out and seemingly turning the time around, and a whole host of monitor issues with the sousaphone. The experience was also dampened by the nitwits behind me who insisted on talking throughout the entire show.
10:30 pm: Blind Boys of Alabama. When the three elders sing, it's a chilling, stunning harmony that seems to grow straight from the ground. Jimmy Carter still has a huge voice and great presence. The rhythm section was in step the whole way, especially on the cover of Tom Waits' "Way Down in the Hole." They did two songs with the Dirty Dozen horns - and given its apparent spontaneity, they were unfortunately poorly miked.*
12:30 am: Headed over to Brutopia, the third venue change for Vanessa Rodrigues' annual B-3 jam. I love the mighty beast, but let's just say I'll stick to piano for the near future.

Day 8
Spent the afternoon wandering through the SIMM (Montreal Musical Instrument Show), which is seemingly smaller and less crazy than last year. I overheard Roland reps saying the same thing. Pianos Prestige has the Steinway Rhapsody piano up for show, and what a gorgeous instrument it is: never mind the artwork, the way it sings on a ballad and barks when I dug in on "I Mean You" is just phenomenal.
6 pm: Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra @ Theatre Jean-Duceppe. The small audience and technical glitches didn't faze Bernstein, whose scores to three Laurel & Hardy films were imbued with the same humour and struck a balance between Carl Stalling-style composition and space for the band to just play through the film. The encore, with Bernstein on slide trumpet, grew out of an ominous F minor vamp into a romp through "St. Louis Blues."**

* Note 1: What is with white people and the overwhelming instinct to clap on 1 & 3? Especially on gospel music where the backbeat is so damned obvious? I actually felt sorry for one person I saw at the Orchestra Baobab show who was earnestly trying to clap in rhythm and it was just so difficult for her.
** Note 2: Sound people who drown horn sections in reverb should be fined, or possibly subjected to some sort of corporal punishment. Cutoffs by the MTO, like Mario Allard's band a few days ago, were left dangling, swimming in artifical 'verb.

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