A Look Back at

Roger Humbert
As a reporter for The LMR, every year I get to hear a lot of concerts. Last year I attended over 100 performances — a lot of these were excellent, a few were extraordinary. Listed below are twelve truly memorable live music experiences I have had the privilege to witness in 2007. They are listed in chronological order.

Rhys Chatham — "Guitar Trio" @ Tranzac Club (Jan. 31)
Rhys Chatham called ahead and we gathered — an audience, nine electric guitars, a five-piece string section (amplified), electric bass and drum kit... And we experienced "Guitar Trio" — BLASTING LOUD rock minimalist trance music at its best.
> LMR report

Kevin Mahogany with the Art of Jazz Orchestra @ Lula Lounge (Feb. 8)
Kevin Mahogany! Backed by a seventeen-piece band!! In a small club!!! Here in Toronto!!!! Pinch me; I must be ... Thanks Art of Jazz for making a dream come true.
> LMR report

Serena Ryder @ Hugh's Room (Mar. 9)
Serena captured her audience from the get go. And she did it with great style. With her four-piece band waiting in the wings she walked on to the stage. This young woman simply started singing the blues, acapella — stomping her foot in deep rhythm… Well before the end of the song she had a mesmerized audience in the palm of her hand. And after that? She could do no wrong.
> LMR report

Harry Manx & Kevin Breit @ Hugh's Room (Apr. 13)
Two master performers who enjoy making music together. One image persists: Kevin Breitt eyes closed, deep into an impassioned solo. Slung around his shoulders the electric guitar he chose a moment ago from amongst the many others held in a rack off to the side. Harry Manx, plucking at the homemade sitar resting on his lap is looking on. His whole face lit with a most radiant smile.
> LMR report

The Shuffle Demons @ Lula Lounge (Apr. 24)
Every once in a while a group of Toronto jazz musicians put on their special suits, let their hair down and metamorphose into The Shuffle Demons. On this rare club gig the exuberance could not be contained — the music and merriment spilled out the door and onto the street. (If you’ve never experienced the Demons, words of advise: best enjoyed after checking highbrows at the door.)
> LMR report

Havana Norte @ Lula Lounge (May 19)
On this night, Roberto Linares Brown’s 15-piece band made its first public appearance. They served up some of the hardest hitting timba anywhere, to the delight of a jam-packed audience. Brown’s charts are masterful — such intricate rhythmic mesh.
> LMR report

Don Byron plays the music of Junior Walker @ Courthouse (Jun. 25)
What a treat to hear a group of musicians with serious chops get down and funky. Under the guidance of Don Byron the band had great fun with the material — Guitarist David Gilmore was on fire, vocalist Dean Bowman astonished. The music we heard was so refreshing (danceable too).
> LMR report

Mavis Staples @ Toronto Jazz Festival Main Stage (Jul. 1)
It was perfect — hundreds of us gathered under a big white tent to hear gospel queen, civil rights movement icon Mavis Staples. She sang songs of praise and songs of freedom. She was awesome. She gave us all she had and was left visibly drained. When we left, we all felt a little richer.
> LMR report

Anthony Braxton & Diamond Curtain Wall Trio @ Guelph Youth Music Centre (Sep. 9)
Anthony Braxton picked up the hourglass, flipped it and set it down. As the sand slowly funneled down the music evolved, pulsed and meandered. After some time (perhaps 45 – 50 minutes), as the last grains of sand came to rest, the music’s last echoes dissipated. Music like no other.
> LMR report

Yoruba Andabo @ The Phoenix Concert Theatre (Oct. 12)
A premier Cuban folkloric group, Yoruba Andabo gave us a masterful performance. With a program combining song, dance and drums, they elevate the portrayal of the Orishas pantheon to high art. A feast for the senses and for the soul.
> LMR report

Giraldo Piloto y Klimax @ Lula Lounge (Nov. 17)
November saw several major Latin bands perform in Toronto (Willie Colón, Charanga Habanera, etc) — that's a lot of great shows. I decided that from amongst all these, I would choose one for this list — Klimax. Led by Cuban drummer Giraldo Piloto, this band delivered inventive timba that was tight as a drum. (And what a party it was.)
> LMR report

Kahil El'Zabar & Hamiet Bluiett @ Trane Studio (Dec. 1)
An intimate performance by two visiting jazz masters. Kahil El’Zabar is a most powerful trance master. Let me simply quote from David Fujino’s report on the performance: “… this relaxed duo offered a sound experience that was both healing and somehow fortifying.” Peace.
> LMR report

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Roger Humbert
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