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Kelly Craig Sextet plays Adam Daudrich at the NAC 4th Stage (review)

Montreal's Alex Bellegarde (bass) and Ottawa's Kelly Craig (trumpet) ©Brett Delmage, 2012

The Kelly Craig Sextet plays Adam Daudrich
Friday, May 11, 2012
National Arts Centre, Fourth Stage

View photos of this show

The connections among jazz scenes in different cities are often very personal. It's often who's previously played with whom, where musicians have studied, who happened to move and brought their contacts with them.

And the interactions that result can often lead to cross-pollination and compelling music.

Ottawa trumpeter Kelly Craig's current sextet is a perfect example: two musicians from Ottawa and four from Montreal, one of whom is formerly from Ottawa. Their concert at the NAC Fourth Stage on Friday, May 11, showed off the music they've been working on since the New Year, and the strength of the connections that can develop between cities.

Central to the band is ex-Ottawan pianist and composer Adam Daudrich. He composed all the material showcased at the concert – almost all of it in an intense period over last Christmas to New Year's day. He also brought along the other two members of the rhythm section, with whom he has a steady trio: bassist Alex Bellegarde and drummer Alain Bourgeois, both also from Montreal.

What the audience heard on Friday was mainstream modern jazz, performed with a great deal of energy and verve. It varied from clear and bluesy, to fast and punctuated, to melodic and melancholy. Overall, it was melodic, compelling, and likely to appeal to a wide range of jazz audiences.

Daudrich's compositions were multi-layered, providing many opportunities for the musicians to play in smaller combinations within the larger sound. Particularly notable was the bass and drums alternating in the last piece, "Bitchin'", both supple and clear and perfectly maintaining the forward motion in the music. In a number of the pieces, rather than having the horns playing all at once, tenor saxophonist Patrick Lampron would duet with Craig, and then the piece would switch to having alto saxophonist Zakari Frantz playing with Craig, for a more nuanced sound that gave more opportunities for each musician to shine.

Particularly appealing were two slower ballads in which Craig played flugelhorn: "Last Dance" and "If Only There Was You". in the latter, Daudrich challenged the other musicians by writing it in G-flat, and ended up with a beautiful noir-ish feel.

While Daudrich had some notable piano solos, he mostly played a supporting role, except in "One Move", which was simply piano, bass and drums. Daudrich had just written it that morning, on the drive from Montreal, yet the smooth interplay of rhythm among the musicians and its highly danceable feel made it seem like a piece that would have required much more development.

If you missed Friday's show, you will be able to see the sextet on the Main Stage of this year's Ottawa Jazz Festival, where they should have no problem connecting with the audience in the park. They will perform at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 25 – opening for Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, followed by Allen Toussaint.

    – Alayne McGregor

View photos of this show

See also: Jazzfest 2012: Local musicians you will want to hear

All images ©Brett Delmage, 2012
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