The Beeched Wailers
CD Release Concert for The Johnson Lake Sessions
The Gladstone Theatre
Sunday, December 13, 2015 – 7:30 p.m.

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There's something to be said for running a jam session every Tuesday night for almost two years: you really know how to pick material and how to keep the attention of your audience. The Beeched Wailers' CD release show on Sunday evening was energetic and tight, showcasing the band's strengths and the high quality of the music they performed.

Tyson Harris responds to a solo by Nicholas Dyson
photo ©Brett Delmage, 2015

The songs on the band's first CD, The Johnson Lake Sessions, are all originals: four by band members trumpeter Nicholas Dyson and saxophonist Tyler Harris, and the rest by other Ottawa-area jazz musicians. These are all pieces they've played on Tuesdays – I immediately recognized the Mark Ferguson number, “You are the one”, which opened the concert (and the CD) – but hearing them in a concert environment instead of a bar emphasized how well-made those songs are.

Whether the reminiscent combination of flugelhorn and alto sax in Harris' “PTA”, or the grooving lines in Peter Hum's “Sojourner's Truth”, or the swinging lines curling around the melody in Dyson's “April Fools”, or the bold, punctuated feel of Mike Essoudry's “Circular”, or the atmospheric and full-bodied “Clayton Gone” by Steve Boudreau, they're all pieces with shape which develop in interesting ways and show off the talents of the band.

All the band members – also including Alex Tompkins on guitar, Dave Schroeder on electric bass, and Michel Delage on drums – contributed substantially to the sound, underscoring each other's work and creating solos that fit and added to the shape of each number.

The 229-seat Gladstone Theatre has not generally hosted jazz concerts before, other than a big band show in 2013. But now under new management, the theatre has started to allow local musicians to book there. The sound was clear and undistorted, and served the Wailers well.

It also had a bar in the lobby. Unsurprisingly, the band's fans, more used to the jam format, were out refreshing their drinks during the concert – enough that Dyson called an impromptu intermission. But the audience didn't need lubrication to applaud enthusiastically throughout, giving the group a standing ovation at the end.

For an encore, the Wailers performed one of their perennial favourites – “The Sticks” by Cannonball Adderley – which they had played in their opening jam set in both their first location and in their current location. But jam-goers probably wouldn't have recognized it: with raw, bluesy trumpet lines, a pointillist bass solo, fast, infectious guitar riffs, and in particular hard, fast drumming, this was a deconstruction and then a reconstruction of the classic bop piece. Its vibrant energy gave everyone in the audience lots of heat to face the cold, wet weather outside.

    – Alayne McGregor

Set list:

  1. You are the one (Mark Ferguson)
  2. PTA (Tyler Harris)
  3. Sojourner's Truth (Peter Hum)
  4. Harvest Stroll (Steve Boudreau)
  5. April Fools (Nicholas Dyson)
  6. Circular (Mike Essoudry)
  7. Clayton Gone (Steve Boudreau)
  8. Maxxtone (Nicholas Dyson)
  9. One for Gerry (Garry Elliott)
  10. Espistaxis (Tyler Harris)
  11. Ventana Abierta (Steve Boudreau)
    Encore: The Sticks (Cannonball Adderley)

View photos of The Beeched Wailers CD Release concert

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