Sunday, December 14, 2008

Midday Monk

Thelonius of course...the onliest Monk.
It's a grey day here in Toronto and what better way to bring some sun than with Mr. Monk's wonderful compositions courtesy of the Art of Jazz studio down in the Distillery District.
Larry Cramer, who is co artistic director of the Art of Jazz Festival with his wife Jane Bunnett, and Andrew Scott, educator, Managing Editor of "Coda" and stellar guitarist, welcomed everyone and before introducing the band, announced that this was hopefully first in a series of concerts in the studio in the coming months. Potential guests would include the likes of pianist Fred Hirsch...exciting stuff!
Led by the two Janes (Bunnett and Fair) on soprano sax and flute (for Ms. Bunnett) they were ably assisted by the effervescent Norman Marshall Villeneuve on drums, Kieran Overs on bass and Mark Kieswetter on piano - Mark is a recent "immigrant" to Toronto brought here on the wave of jazz mastery and enthusiasm that is the great Jon Hendricks (both hail from Toledo Ohio).
Larry himself later joined in on trumpet and flugelhorn on a number of tunes.
Opening with "I Mean You" they followed with a seldom heard Monk "Light Blue" as Jane Fair explained, bringing the tempo down to a more mellow groove continuing with the beautiful "Crepscule for Nellie".
In the second set, Art of Jazz president Bonnie Lester provided vocals on "Ugly Beauty" and then the band got things cooking (with an infectious groove from Mr. Villeneuve) on "Bemsha Swing" and "Bye Ya".
This is a wonderful intimate space with room for about 50 . It's welcome news as we can always use more venues for jazz and especially a venue where jazz is listened to for its' own sake and not above the din of crowd chatter.

As a side note, I filled in a newcomer on all the jazz venues and possibilities...for this she dubbed me the "Jazz Fairy"...well, I like fairies....though can you worship a fairy? :)

I could be the Jazz Fairy Goddess..hmmm...or Fairy Godmother?

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