David Brubeck Quartet

Since it has been crazy busy here (will not let up till next week so the reviews will be scarce) I will do a quick update on the concert we went to last night at the Four Seasons Center for the Performing Arts.

First off the venue: Lovely architecturally with a beautiful use of wood design, well thought out stairs/levels that allow for great views of the surrounding area inside and out. Refreshment bars are well located on each level and were serving Canadian wines (highlights were 2004 Trius Red and NV Trius Brut, both solid). The sight lines inside the hall are tremendous, we had front row center of the second balcony which was a perfect spot for a concert. Everything about this venue is nice except for the sound. The sound simply does no justice to the hall, when a trumpeter starts to wail it should be forceful, not subtle. While trying to make the sound perfect they seemed to have almost toned it down too much.

The people: David Brubeck is one of the few remaining Jazz Legends. He has been a force in the Jazz industry for over 60 years both as a composer and a jazz pianist. Heck he has won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. With all that said, you would expect the venue to be packed and the people a hopping, right? The hall was only about 80% full (unlike closing ceremonies at the Montreal jazz Festival last year where it was packed). Now maybe I am a bit old fashion but on top of the low turn out, I could not get over the cut off shorts, Birkenstocks, and the general attire of the average patron. It use to be that for a concert of this nature it was minimum semi-formal, non? Well dress code aside the most disturbing event happened as the Quartet plus two guests wrapped up the iconic “Take Five” which Brubeck has closed most of his recent shows with, no sooner were they standing for applause but a good 10% of the people in the seats got up and made it to the exits as fast as they could. It may be the first time I have ever seen concert fans not stand for an encore after a brilliant performance. Amazing, shocking and embarrassing.

The concert: The Laila Biali Trio opened the show. A Canadian composer, pianist and singer Laila has an outstanding voice and performed well opening for such an icon. While she performed as a trio, it is best to be said that she could have performed with only her bassist as most of the songs performed had her drummer as more of accessory, just my two cents. Still a good performance and it was great to see a Canadian open the first Jazz concert in the Four Seasons Center. The Dave Brubeck Quartet needs little comment, they simply play outstanding jazz and time in time out show incredible range and talent. All of the band members are past retirement age yet they have the energy of 20 somethings when they get going. At 86 years old Brubeck does not have a spring in his step but he has amazing dexterity still in those marvelous fingers, he tickled the ivories last night a few times that had everyone in awe. As for the rest of the band, Bobby Milatello on sax and flute, Michael Moore on bass and Randy Jones on drums are the long-time members of this great quartet. While Milatello is generally what most people “wow” at as he demonstrates incredible range and power, for me it is Randy Jones that remains the most remarkable of the remaining three. Last night, as well as last year’s closing at the Montreal Jazz festival, Jones had a solo on drums that brought the house down. He is worth the price of admission alone.

To close out, if you have not had a chance to see the Brubeck Quartet I highly recommend it. As Dave continues to get up there in age the performances will get fewer and fewer and you will miss your chance to see one of the few Greats still with us. It is not often you can say you witnessed live someone who is mentioned in the same breath as Ella, Duke and Louis and at the same time be completely entertained.

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