Toronto's own N.O.J.O., the Toronto-based jazz orchestra, opened this year's TD Canada Trust Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival. (It was quietly gratifying to see that an 'avant-garde' group was actually chosen to do the honours.)
When N.O.J.O.'s co-leader and guitarist Michael Occhipinti announced their original composition, "City of Neighbourhoods", this nod to Toronto's multiculturalism didn't go unnoticed by Mayor David Miller, who was then doubly happy to declare the festival as officially, Open.
The idea of a mosaic of different neighbourhoods is reflected in N.O.JO.'s original compositions which are an absorbing blend of different musical styles, with the brass proud trumpets and trombones and the richly timbred woodwinds convening and separating and working off the rhythmic insistence of Neufeld's sparse piano and the ever strong and ever insistent bass lines.
We notice that N.O.J.O. is versatile and agile. They can hit with a hard rock beat, or their soloists can work it on out and take it out even further against a romping and syncopated 'shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits' riff.