I was just in Montreal this summer and I admit that the Toronto Jazz Festival(s) have a long way to go to catch up to the Montreal Jazz Fest. But the Jazz scene in Toronto is vital with over two dozen clubs to choose from in the downtown area alone. Chick’n Deli, Rex Hotel and Zazou Lounge are a few of the places one can go to pick up a syncopated beat in Toronto. Last Friday, I went to Dominion on Queen to hear the Alex Goodman Quartet.
The Alex Goodman Quartet
This is a new, young but classic jazz grouping with Alex Goodman on guitar and keyboard, Josh Park – Drums, Jonathan Kay – Saxophones, and Justin Gray – Bass.. There were two guest players this evening : Rob Christian on flute and Nick Morgan on alto saxophone
Flutist Rob Christian
I had a very busy pre-Labour Day schedule, so I arrived unfashionably two hours late. But I lucked out and caught the guest players doing their gigs. What a streak of good fortune. Rob Christian on flute added a sweet lurking near melody (the flute’s lingering tones can easily soften and soothe inevitably suggesting melodies)that was the perfect honey to the Quartets Big Bold Sound. They call it Nu-Jazz, I call it a cross between the full throb of Boss Brass and the visceral soundings available at say the Brighton International Speedway. As you can see, I don’t want dainty with my Jazz – or at least not all the time.
Jon Kay, Nick Morgan, Justin Gray
This is loud and proud pulse pounding Jazz whether it be Alex’s virtuoso guitar riffs or Josh Park’s scintillating drum work. But not to worry you won’t be jarred awake on every downbeat. For example, Justin Gray did a lead-in on bass that suggested, like a fine wine, compositional ties and harmonies that would make a blues man proud. And guest saxophonist Nick Morgan did a duet with the Quartet’s own Jon Kay that was mellow and then mutant in the swing of the moment. Very fine. I was particularly impressed with quartet’s own compositions – but I must admit that getting in with more than half the music already played was my loss on this debut night for the Quartet’s new CD.
Dominion on Queen’s Pool Room
I was equally impressed with the Jazz line-up Dominion on Queen had on its weekly board – 5 nights a week at the beginning of September. And being on Queen near the Don Valley Parkway makes access easy including the TTC. Not quite the Rex Hotel but a full and welcome Jazz schedule. And the appointments in the pool room – well just classy.
Alex Goodman Quartet
Just before the just-past-midnight break, the band played a couple of its own compositions, Buckets and Midnight Crash. The two pieces allow the each player to shine in traditional jazz fashion; but what caught my ear was the in-turning composition. No not the classic patterns of say a tone poem or sonnet; but rather a pacing and tempo full of returning surprises. Now I am of the belief that there is a race on between Jazz, Blues, and 30’s Big Band Revival for compositional innovation and clarity. All of the sounds have been flirting with great things – but I think story telling will win the day. Buckets and Midnight Crash had story telling on their mind – and of course the full throb of the Alex Goodman Quartet sounds.If you are looking for Jazz Jam – stick your thumb into some Alex Goodman Quartet sweet stuff.