Roddy Ellias / Ben Heard / Keagan Eskritt (set 1)
The Chris Maskell Quartet (set 2)
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Three talented young jazz musicians teamed up with three experienced musicians on Tuesday to perform two sets, each with a very different vibe.
Common to both was young bassist Ben Heard, who arranged the first set with fellow student drummer Keagan Eskritt and master guitarist Roddy Ellias. The three met at the JazzEd sessions which Ellias had taught with local high school musicians in 2013, and kept playing together even after the last JazzEd concert.
Although the trio's set had lots of swing, it was on the quiet, thoughtful side, opening with a flowing version of Henry Mancini's “Days of Wine and Roses”. Ellias contributed a new composition, “Postcard”, a wistful, melodic piece which included exploratory passages; Heard's original, “Spindle”, moved from stately and a bit melancholy to almost flamenco in style, before ending with delicate harmonic notes on the guitar.
They closed in a more emphatic vein with Eskritt's “Smash”, which began with a deep bass riff and hard drumming and then added strongly-accented guitar lines, to produce intense music where notes were held and played before and after the beat. It ended abruptly, and was greeted with appreciative applause from the audience, which filled almost every seat in the café.
For the second set, Ottawa tenor saxophonist Chris Maskell, who will enter his final year studying jazz performance at McGill University this fall, teamed up with Heard and two well-known players on the local scene: drummer Mike Essoudry and guitarist Alex Moxon. They played originals by all members of the group and a good mixture of less-common jazz classics, such as “Punjab” by Joe Henderson and “Take the Coltrane” by Duke Ellington.
It was a more upbeat set, opening with the bright, sunny “My Shining Hour” by Harold Arlen. Particularly memorable were Essoudry's “Forsaken But Not Forgotten”, a ballad with a side of blues with lovely, conversational-style solos; the vibrant “Punjab”, which featured punctuated rhythms and pointillist guitar solo, all delivered with a noticeable groove; and the sweet, melancholy sax solo in “My One and Only Love”, contrasting with shimmering harmonies on guitar.
“Scientology” is Moxon's tip of the hat to bebop classics like Charlie Parker's “Ornithology” and “Anthropology” (and has no relation to the religion). He and Maskell alternated insistent solos in this fast-moving, in-your-face piece.
The evening ended with two more melodic pieces: Maskell's romantic “Gemma”, with expressive, sparse solos, and the infectiously-rhythmic “Take the Coltrane”, in which all four contributed to the swing.
This Saturday (May 30), you can hear three-quarters of this quartet (Essoudry, Maskell, and Moxon), together with bassist Alex Bilodeau. They'll open for the Joel Kerr Quintet's CD release show at the Raw Sugar Café.
– Alayne McGregor
Read the OttawaJazzScene.ca interview with Ben Heard about this show:
Set1 - Roddy Ellias, Ben Heard, Keagan Eskritt
- Days of Wine and Roses (Henry Mancini)
- Spindle (Ben Heard)
- Solar (Miles Davis)
- Postcard (Roddy Ellias)
- Smash (Keagan Eskritt)
Set 2 - The Chris Maskell Quartet
- My Shining Hour (Harold Arlen)
- Blues for Bruce (Ben Heard)
- Forsaken But Not Forgotten (Mike Essoudry)
- Punjab (Joe Henderson)
- My One and Only Love (Guy Wood/Robert Mellin)
- Scientology (Alex Moxon)
- Gemma (Chris Maskell)
- Take the Coltrane (Duke Ellington)