A Look Back at

Joyce Corbett
Choosing ten concerts from one genre would be hard enough, like the cliché apples and oranges with mangos and bananas thrown in. Choosing them from among the many genres that I enjoy, well, that’s like comparing all of those fruits with lasagne, espresso, fine wines, chocolate mousse, fresh spring asparagus and sweet roasted red peppers. It simply becomes impossible. So, I made two lists, one jazz, one 'various genres'. In chronological order:

From Various Genres

Danny Brooks and The Rockin' Revelators @ Hugh's Room (Jan. 13)
Danny Brooks is immensely powerful on stage, pouring out the depths of his soul, the Rockin’ Revelators really rock and everyone revels in the music.
> go to report

Donné Roberts Rhythm Was Born CD release party @ Harbourfront (Feb. 11)
Donné Roberts and his band capture fans of African music, jazz and rock/pop ears, with rich percussion and inspired soloing. All of the personnel from the CD were at this concert including the pow wow singers — what a night!
> go to report

Ken Whiteley & The Campbell Brothers @ Hugh's Room (March 5)
It was the first time I heard The Campbell Brothers live and David Wall was guest singer with the band, what a treat!
> go to report

Shostakovich: A Centenary Celebration @ Harbourfront (March 24)
An ambitious project that worked beautifully thanks to the talents of all involved.
> go to report

Bio Ritmo Salsa Machine @ Lula Lounge (Apr. 14)
A salsa band from Virginia? Who woulda thunk it! Original and genuine.
> go to report

Las Estrellas De Lula / Lula Salsa All-Stars @ Lula Lounge (May 13)
Cheers for the hometown team (or adopted hometown).
> go to report

Geoff Berner @ The Ashkenaz Festival, Harbourfront (Sept. 2)
Acid wit with the much-maligned accordion. Why should the troubador have to have a guitar? The accordion is portable.
> go to report

Bryan Vargas y ¡Ya Está! @ Lula Lounge (Sept. 14 & 15)
First time in Canada, hope they come back soon.
> go to report

Los Van Van @ Kool Haus (Dec. 9)
It wasn’t global warming, just Cuba in December!
> go to report

African Guitar Summit @ Lula Lounge (Dec. 22)
Exhilarating, that was the word…
> go to report

Jazz List

Vandermark 5 @ The Music Gallery (Jan. 28)
I just went to listen but it was so thoroughly gripping I was compelled to report on it.
> go to report

Randy Weston @ Glen Gould Studio (March 10)
A lesson in the history of jazz piano.
> go to report

The Rempis Percussion Quartet @ Arraymusic Studios (April 7)
One of those magic rainy April nights.
> go to report

Marcus Miller @ The Toronto Jazz Festival (June 24)
What music and what a show! Unforgettable.
> go to report

Roberto Occhipinti Quintet | Paquito D’Rivera Quintet @ The Toronto Jazz Festival (June 30)
(Can’t I count a double bill count as one?)
> go to (Occhipinti) report > go to (D'Rivera) report

Pharoah Sanders Quartet with special guest Kenny Garrett @ The Toronto Jazz Festival (July 1)
Contrast passion and inner calm, tension and release.
> go to report

Robi Botos Quartet @ The Beaches Jazz Festival (July 30)
Always a treat to hear the Robi Botos Trio and here they were with Pat LaBarbera.
> go to report

Odessa/Havana, The Klezmer Cuban Connection @ The Ashkenaz Festival Harbourfront (Sept. 2)
A world premiere, the fruit of close collaboration between David Buchbinder and Hilario Duran.
> go to report

Gordon Sheard Crucible CD release party @ Lula Lounge (October 12)
The stage was full and the room was aglow.
> go to report

Hilario Duran Trio @ Trane Studio (Nov. 23)
One of the best trio performances I have heard in a while, thoroughly engaging.
> go to report

One thing became clear when I was drawing up my Top Ten list; it was a bumper year for exceptional first efforts. I decided to indicate these with an asterix. So here is my list of outstanding 2006 discoveries, in no particular order. You might notice that there are thirteen and I had to add a few more notable 2006 recordings at the end, it’s just such a difficult task — music is not a sport.

Camino – Oliver Schroer
Mysterious, awe-inspiring, unique. Modern sacred music from the 'big man with the fiddle', big on atmosphere and ambient sound.
> go to review

Radio Guantanamo – Jane Bunnett
From the teasing tone of “No Money, No Chica” to the traditional Afro-Cuban “Kiriba” and the tragic and beautiful “New Orleans Under Water”, this CD brings together a broad spectrum of musical material and a large number of musicians. In my opinion, it is Jane Bunnett’s best to date.
> go to review

Political Blues – World Saxophone Quartet
Great fun and great musicianship in the spirit of Mingus’ “Oh Lord, Don’t Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me”. WSQ members Oliver Lake on alto and soprano sax, Bruce Williams on alto and soprano sax, Hamiet Bluiett on baritone sax and David Murray on tenor sax and bass clarinet are joined by some impressive guests including blues/jazz singer/guitarist James Blood Ulmer and the incredible electric bassist Jamaaladeen Tacum.
> go to review

From the Heart – Hilario Duran Latin Big Band
Expert arrangements played by an impressive big band of musicians, twenty-three in all including guests Paquito D’Rivera and Dione Taylor. Six original compositions from Hilario Duran, one from his daughter Yailen, a classic Chano Pozo & Xavier Cugat piece, Chucho Valdes’ “Mambo Influenciado” and the beautiful “Angel Eyes”. A huge pleasure from start to finish.
> go to report

Out Louder – Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood
More from some of the most creative guys in the genre, what genre? Jazz/fusion, I guess. It seeps into your brain and makes your feet move.

*Sola – Amanda Martinez
A first CD big on quality and finesse. Beautiful songs, mostly originals, some classics. A great group of musicians backing this talented vocalist. Amanda’s warm voice draws you in — soothing, sensual, mysterious, hopeful, innocent, joyful and melancholy.
> go to report

*Fight or Flight? – Kellylee Evans
A sensitive, dynamic, intelligent woman whose work reflects all of those qualities. Great lyrics, all original; a strong voice, excellent musicians, a well-produced first CD.
> go to report

*Ojala – Sofia Koutsovitis
Argentina-born Sofia Koutsovitis shows off her voice and her compositional skills on her debut CD. Not what one usually hears in their mind when the term 'Latin jazz' is used, it is heavy on the jazz side and uses lots of Afro-Peruvian and Argentinian rhythm. Dreamy and poetic too.
> go to review

*Independence – Kobotown
It is daunting to attempt to describe a CD created by a poet with the eloquence of Trinidadian-born Drew Gonsalves. His “St. James” would fit nicely in an anthology of Caribbean and Caribbean-born poets that would also include the works of Linton Kwesi Johnson. Some heavy material, but there is levity too — and rhythm! Lots of sounds to savour.
> go to report

*Magic Numbers – Quinson Nachoff
A creative first effort from saxophonist Quinson Nachoff played by jazz trio and string quartet which works surprisingly well. It owes more to Bartok, Shostakovitch and Schoenberg than to Duke Ellington, Coltrane and Sonny Rollins but all are present. The 13-minute “Sun-Day” is an especially strong piece and perhaps the best marriage of the two genres, it won me over. Every one of the musicians shines on this one.

A Lot of Love, Live – Reggie Washington
A recording that features two different trios led by Reggie Washington. In one trio is Ravi Coltrane on sax and Gene Lake on drums, in the other, two Belgian musicians, Erwin Vann on sax and Stephane Galland on drums. Washington plays both electric and acoustic basses. The style? Hard-bop, free-bop, jazz-funk. Washington’s electric bass is especially interesting for even though he can sound sharp and funky, he can also be subtle, using a full dynamic range and playing off the saxophone and even the drums like any jazz instrument.
> go to review

African Guitar Summit II – African Guitar Summit
The original African Guitar Summit personnel plus Muna Mingole and Oumou Soumare create a rich African fusion. The guitars of these fine players are its raison d’être but the vocals and percussion are an integral part of the sumptuous weave. Sure to make you feel good.

*All the Things We Still Can Be – Jacob Varmus
“All the Things You Are” has been brought up to the present and is open to the future on this CD. I had never before heard of Jacob Varmus when I first put this CD on — what a discovery! I have found out since that the length and breadth of his musical background is astounding for such a young man. A fresh, original jazz trumpet-player and composer.
> go to review

Other recordings of note, including two more “first” CDs, in no particular order:

*Crucible – Gordon Sheard
I could have easily placed this in my top ten depending on what day I was making up my list…..but that could be true of a few others as well.
> go to report

*Thanks for Coming Out – The Worst Pop Band Ever
This one seems to have passed under the radar but is worth seeking out. A true fusion of jazz and pop/rock, lots of attention to detail, slow builds and some free jazz blowing.

I Love Being Here With You – Dione Taylor
I love hearing this voice, and the musicians and arrangements on this CD are top drawer.
> go to report

Mnemosyne’s March – Murley Braid Quartet
The musicians on this CD are among the best and most interesting anywhere.

Spain Again Michel Camilo and Tomatito with guest Juan Luis Guerra
A jazz/Latin piano virtuoso with a flamenco guitar legend and one of the most important “merengueros” ever to emerge — how could you lose?

And, and, and……..

We welcome your comments and feedback
Joyce Corbett
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