|Top 10 Concerts For 2008
(in chronological order)
SalsAfrica @ Lula Lounge (Feb. 8)
Over a few late night drinks and while swapping CDs in the player, José Ortega (Lula Lounge co-owner) and Luis Orbegoso (percussionist/band leader) concocted this recipe: to a solid salsa core add the panache of Africa and, for good measure, blend in some jazz. SalsAfrica was born. This was their first live appearance and a memorable night it was.
> LMR report
Kurt Elling @ Humber Lakeshore Auditorium, Toronto (Feb. 13)
Kurt Elling was guest of honour at this years Humber Music Artist in residence concert. Outside the auditorium the city was digging itself out from the snow brought that day by a storm that still lingered. Those of us who managed to attend were amply rewarded. Elling, together with the Humber Studio Jazz Ensemble, gave us a concert of great intimacy. A highlight: Ellings vocalese rendition of Love Supreme astounding.
Hugh Masekela and Chissa All-Stars @ The Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto (Feb. 15)
Masekela is a legendary South African musician. He worked his magic on a willing audience. By the end of the concert, the people gathered sang as one ".... Bring him back home, Nelson Mandela. I want to see him walking down the streets of South Africa..."
> LMR report
The Roberto Linares Brown Orchestra @ Lula Lounge (Feb. 22)
This Toronto-based bands first live performance (as Habana Norte) took place on May 19, 2007 (I included this concert in my Top Ten list for that year). Nine months later, after several live appearances and time in the recording studio they were ready to celebrate the release of their first CD, Que no se pierda la esencia. It was an astounding performance. Take what I said about their first performance (They served up some of the hardest hitting timba anywhere, to the delight of a jam-packed audience. Browns charts are masterful...) and multiply by 10.
Alexis Baro Sextet @ Lula Lounge, Toronto (Jun. 26)
A night filled with original compositions by a top-notch trumpeter. On this night we heard jazz that ranged the gamut from tight driving funk to quiet and sensitive introspection. (Baro has since recorded this material for his second CD, From The Other Side, due for release at the end of January 2009.)
Naturally 7 @ Primus Stage (Jun. 29)
at the TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival
Seven talented young vocalists + seven microphones = Naturally 7. This was a very solid and spirited performance. They mesmerized the audience with their vocal prowess.
Burnt Sugar: The Arkestra Chamber @ Lula Lounge (Sep. 7)
Burnt Sugar is a collective of highly creative New York-based musicians led by Gregory Tate. Improvised music at its best they dont even work from a set list. The music they play on any one night is in correlation with the vibe of the venue/audience and of their individual moods at the moment. This was the third time I experienced the music of Burnt Sugar in 2008 no two concerts were the same.
rinsethealgorithm @ Lula Lounge (Nov. 2)
On this day, master electric bassist Rich Brown celebrated the release of his long awaited first CD, Locutions. This concert brought pianists Robi Botos and David Virelles together on the stage! A highlight: near the end of the concert Botos and Virelles sat side by side at the grand piano furiously and joyfully trading lines.
> LMR report
Hilario Duran Trio with Changuito@ The Rex (Nov. 6)
In 2008 I attended several concerts featuring the Hilario Duran Trio (Duran, piano; Roberto Occhipinti, bass; Mark Kelso, drums). These three musicians have now been playing together for several years and they have truly grown into a premier jazz trio. Cuban master percussionist Changuito joined them on this night. Unforgettable and off the chart.
Roberto Occhipinti Quartet @ The Rex (Nov. 12)
A Bend in the River CD release party
Occhipinti proved once again that he is a solid bassist, composer and leader. With this quartet he brings together some of the most talented young Cuban jazz musicians David Virelles on piano and keys, Luis Deniz on alto sax and Dafnis Prieto on drums. The musicians were always fully engaged and played with great passion. A real treat.
(Hopefully we will get to hear them play this music with the string section heard on the CD in 2009).
> LMR report