Now THAT'S how you do it!

I haven't yet slipped into full festival mode, nor have I decided how I will document this year's shenanigans (blog postings? Tweets? A series of grunts?), but I will say this: if I needed a refresher on how great music should sound, I got it yesterday evening at the hmv Underground.

We're pleased this year to present a series of three preview concerts in the recently unveiled hmv Underground. The series got underway yesterday with the Mike Downes Trio - Mike on bass with Robi Botos on piano and Larnell Lewis on drums. They were playing music from their 2014 JUNO Award-winning album Ripple Effect, along with arrangements of jazz and pop standards.

The show was, in a word, fantastic. I don't suppose this should be a surprise, given the caliber of the musicians on stage, but putting three great musicians together on the bandstand does not necessarily a good show make. Mike, Robi and Larnell have clearly been playing together as a unit for a while - they communicated brilliantly, displaying a relaxed demeanour which comes only from knowing each other intimately as bandmates. Intros, outros, melodies, solos - they nailed them all. And they were smiling the whole time. As I said on Twitter: "Whoa. @mikedownesmusic @robibotos and @Larnell_Lewis are putting on a clinic in amazing trio playing @HMVSuperstore…"

We should be in for similar treats each of the next two nights: this evening, Myriad 3 (Chris Donnelly, piano; Dan Fortin, bass; Ernesto Cervini, drums) celebrates the release of their new CD The Where - they've been playing together for four years. And tomorrow evening, Eliana Cuevas (voice) is joined by long-time bandmates Jeremy Ledbetter (keyboard) and Daniel Stone (percussion). Shows start at 6 pm.

The opportunity to hear well-rehearsed groups - ensembles which have been playing together for a while, who have gelled in a particular way - is one of the reasons I enjoy jazz festival season so well. While it's possible to hear great groups year-round, the "off-season" is also time to explore new ensembles, try new arrangements, work with different musicians - that sort of thing. It's a vital part of the creative process, and it's always fun to see in progress. But to see a group of musicians for whom playing together is second nature? That's something special - and there are lots of examples at this year's festival.

But more on that tomorrow. Tonight, join me at the hmv Underground for Myriad 3. Complete details here.


Site by GoodWeb & plousia