Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chet Doxas Trio at the Upstairs with Tim Hagans

Chet Doxas is a regular in the Montreal jazz scene, with regular gigs at places like the Upstairs and Café Sarajevo. As someone rather removed from the jazz scene (albeit, someone who likes jazz), I have never seen him play, except perhaps at the jazz fest when he’s been a member of a band. Doxas is an accomplished musician in his own right: a composer and a saxophonist. So, this opportunity to see Doxas jam with Tim Hagans, a New York trumpeter, known for his willingness to experiment was not to be missed.
The trio plus Hagans put on an engaging show. Doxas’ trio was clearly enthused to be playing with the jazz giant. They pulled out all stops in showing off the range of their talents. The Doxas trio are not minimalists. They fill their solos with fast movement, scales flying up and down, and clock breaking time changes. This is not jazz you can sleep through. It isn’t the jazz one recites beat poetry to. This is jazz that confuses and awes at the same time. It’s complexity makes it challenging, but also fun. I feel guilty drawing any attention away from Chet’s accomplishments, but his brother (Jim Doxas) is the most dynamite drummer I have ever had the pleasure of hearing.
Hagans was far more subdued in comparison with the Doxas trio. Though, I suspect, this is because the trio was carrying the bulk of the action in the music. I would have liked to hear more of Hagans’ virtuosity, since he is the special import. Of the four (five?) songs played, only one was a Hagans composition. I would have liked to see Hagans take the lead on a song as well.
Ultimately, I was impressed by the Doxas trio, but a little disappointed that Hagans played a very subdued role in the night’s proceedings.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stephen Harper and his Rich Galas

How could I write an arts and culture blog and fail to include some famous remarks by one of arts' biggest supporters (ahem)???

Anyway, the peeps of Montreal are not amused. A concert was held at Club Soda the other night to protest Harper's remarks and the cuts.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Land of Talk at La Sala Rossa

It’s been far too long since I’ve made it out to a show and huzzah for the one I pick to restart the September season of Dreadlocks. Friday night found me at the D’Urbervilles and Land of Talk show at the improved(???) Sala Rossa. I’d never noticed the sound panels on the ceiling before. Are they relatively new? No matter. They are there and the acoustics sounded better in Sala than I remember in a long time.

I’d not seen or heard of d’Urbervilles before, but I’m glad I’m now in the know. This band of 20 somethings burns up edgy energy and the dance-ability simultaneously. In their set, they tore through song after song, with a few modest remarks by lead singer John O’Regan that we could buy their album or any of the other excellent albums for sale by other bands. While the spazzy dance moves, complete with fist pumping action, and some retro bass are memorable, that hardly characterizes the performance. This is solid Canadian indie music, a la the Constantines, with a mélange of subtle influences from across the garage rock genre in other songs. Good things will come from these guys, so keep an eye out.

Land of Talk delivered a riveting show that picked up momentum as it went along, Elizabeth Powell is one of my favorite performers in Canada. Her dreamy, smoky vocals go perfectly over her academic guitar playing. At the same time, she can cut deep through the skin and pull out rich, emotional feelings, transforming what seems almost too precise into a warm frenzy of creativity. She is a force.

The performance, as mentioned, started a bit subdued. Well, the first song was subdued. Powell, for one thing, was on crutches. She remained seated (from my vantage, behind tall viewers) the entire show, which perhaps stopped her from the physicality that often accompanies her playing. But, she seemed to give herself over to the jubilant and appreciative mood and soon it was the chapel of the Land of Talk. Every song was a peony coming into bloom and flashing its magnificence.
I did note that this is the third, perhaps fourth, drummer I’ve seen play with this band. Years ago, Powell picked up a Montreal friend (Bucky) to fill in on drums at the Parc D’Amerique show. I’d seen others play with her since. Tonight was Lowell Campbell of Wintersleep filling in with his talents. I describe Mr. Campbell as the best drummer in Canada, so… lucky Powell for snagging him for this show.