So Long Seven
Parc de l'Imaginaire, Gatineau (Aylmer sector)
Wednesday, July 20, 2016 – 7:30 p.m.
So Long Seven is a mélange – and a delicious one, too, judging from the enthusiastic response to its recent show in Gatineau.
Its four musicians play guitar, violin, five-string banjo, and tablas. Its music – almost all originals – draws from folk, bluegrass, and world music, but with a strong jazz and improvisational focus.
That's not surprising given the backgrounds of these musicians: banjo player Tim Posgate from avant-garde jazz; guitarist Neil Hendry from jazz and blues; violinist William Lamoureux from pop and jazz. Tabla player and percussionist Ravi Naimpally is trained in Hindustani classical music and other world music traditions, but has also been featured in jazz groups.
They've been together as So Long Seven (formerly Oolong 7) for three years and recently released a debut CD.
It was a perfect summer evening for their free, outdoor show in Aylmer, and they drew a large crowd ranging from toddlers to seniors, almost filling the park. And appreciative, too – intently listening throughout.
“Torch River Rail Company”, their first song, exemplified their sound: a melodic ballad with intertwining lines on guitar, violin, and banjo, and propelled along by the insistent rhythm of the tablas. It was a style that instantly caught my attention – and kept it. Like most of their pieces, it was an instrumental.
I particularly liked Naimpally's “Aarti”, a fast, dancing, fun mixture of textures; Posgate's “Miles from Appalachia”, with blues and bluegrass accents and featuring a finely-attuned guitar solo with light harmonics; and Hendry's “Banjo Tequila”, which matched hard-edged banjo riffs against earthy tabla rhythms and a mournful violin melody.
Naimpally loves waterfalls, the audience was told – and he contributed two pieces based on falls in Ontario. “Quetico Falls” featured Lamoureux on violin, starting with held vibrating notes and moving to rhythmic bowing and then to very light attenuated notes with just the tablas underneath, before the rest of the group joined in and Lamoureux ended the piece with one last long violin note. “Kakabeka” was a happy piece opening with a bright banjo introduction, followed by a sweet melody on violin.
As the one local musician (the others are from Toronto) and the only one who could speak French, Lamoureux introduced all the music and was warmly received by his home-town crowd. Lamoureux has studied both classical violin at the Québec Music Conservatory and jazz and popular music at Humber College in Toronto, and one could hear both influences in his playing. He also added pleasant tenor vocals on a fast-paced and swinging version of Neil Young's “Heart of Gold”, and his violin was the central feature on the fast fiddle tune, “Danse du Bonheur”.
The group closed with Posgate's “MSVR” (aka “My Swedish Viking Roots”), a dramatic piece which inspired the audience to start clapping along without even being asked, and spiraled higher and higher before ending with a quick jig. The audience responded with a standing ovation.
– Alayne McGregor
- Torch River Rail Company (Neil Hendry)
- Aarti (Ravi Naimpally)
- Miles from Appalachia (Tim Posgate)
- Heart of gold (Neil Young)
- Danse du Bonheur (Shakti)
- Jlo's Wise Monster Dance (Neil Hendry)
- Quetico Falls (Ravi Naimpally)
- Banjo Tequila (Neil Hendry)
- Kekabeka (Ravi Naimpally)
- No Jazz for Elvis (Tim Posgate)
- One Day Bigger Kitchen (Neil Hendry)
- MSVR (Tim Posgate)
This show was OttawaJazzScene.ca's Pick of the Week.