Monday night's concert at the Carleton University jazz camp was a jazz geek's paradise.
Not only did the audience get more than 90 minutes of duo, trio, and quartet ensembles playing less-common standards, they also got the stories behind the arrangements and choices by the musicians on-stage.
As guitarist Tim Bedner pointed out, in a restaurant the diners eating their fettuccine don't want the flow of music interrupted by an explanation of how he interpolated "Coltrane changes" and "countdown changes" into his adaptation of the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood".
But this audience of jazz lovers: they were drinking it up, listening intently and asking questions. At one point, a student asked vocalist Elise Letourneau if she had added an extra chorus to one song. It turned out it was a quick recovery from a missed cue, assisted by pianist Mark Ferguson, and only the one student had noticed it.
The concert started with Bedner and Toronto bassist Kieran Overs playing four songs as a duo. In the standard "Just Friends", each followed the other's lead in a classic jazz duet. The contrast between Overs' large, resonant notes on the bass and Bedner's light, fluid lines on his arch-top electric guitar was to their advantage as they played in and around each other.
Bedner is know for his jazz arrangements of popular songs from the 60s and 70s, with additions from other sources. He showed that with Paul Simon's "Fifty Ways to Leave your Lover": true to the original, but with a small section from "Nardis" (by Miles Davis) interpolated in the chorus. Bedner said he realized the difference between the two pieces was only two extra chords in one place, so he contrasted them.
Next came Letourneau on vocals and flute, Ferguson on piano, and Overs on bass. The trio played a selection of happily-unhackneyed jazz songs and popular songs in jazz adaptations, such as "Still Crazy After All These Years". Particularly noteworthy were a soulful and tender "People that You Never Get to Love", and a surprisingly-wistful "Stolen Moments", where Letourneau replaced the normal horn line with flute to excellent effect.
In several songs, particularly noticeably in a syncopated blues by a saxophonist friend of hers from Boston, Letourneau showed off her scatting ability, alone and in conjunction with bass and piano. That prompted another question from the audience about how she picked her syllables to scat to: Letourneau explained there was a very long answer, but the short one was that it came with lots of practice and listening to jazz instrumentalists.
The concert ended with all four musicians playing a rousing version of "Doodling" by Horace Silver.
The concerts continue for the rest of the week at the Kailash Mital Theatre in Southam Hall at Carleton University. A map showing the location of the hall is here
Tickets for the Wednesday and Thursday concerts are $10 each. The Friday concert will be performed by the students; admission is free / free-will.
– Alayne McGregor