The Roddy Ellias Trio
2018 Festival de Jazz du Parc de L'Imaginaire
Parc de l'Imaginaire, Gatineau (secteur Aylmer)
Thursday, July 26, 2018 – 7:30 p.m.
Rain and calm: that marked both the music and the weather for the Roddy Ellias Trio's performance in Parc de l'Imaginaire on Thursday.
The weather had been calm and summery all day, enough so that the Festival de Jazz du Parc de L'Imaginaire decided to stay outdoors for its second 2018 concert. Then, about 10 minutes before showtime, a cold front blew in with high winds. Just as the trio finished their first number, the rain started falling.
After a brief wait, the musicians resumed the concert. The rain died down quickly, completely ending within half an hour – and those listeners who stayed were rewarded with a beautiful and meditative performance in a peaceful setting.
And one that reflected the rain, whether its fluid nature or its staccato bursts.
For the show, Ottawa guitarist Roddy Ellias was accompanied by Montreal bassist Adrian Vedady, a long-time partner in Ellias' trio, and by Montreal drummer Alain Bastien, who had never played before with Ellias before but who kept up well with the new-to-him repertoire. Their setlist featured pieces from Ellias' two most recent albums, plus several of his favourite standards, and all three contributed strongly to the interpretations.
If you'd attended previous Ellias concerts, almost all the tunes would have been familiar – but not the same, and worth hearing again. They opened with “Nardis”, a Miles Davis tune which Ellias explored with pianist Marc Copland on Ellias' most recent album, Sticks and Stones. This version was elegant, with non-essentials stripped away, and with both the guitar and bass solos expressing the melody in storm-like bursts of notes.
The trio played a varied and absorbing collection of Ellias' compositions: “Hymn”, with Vedady's extended and emotional bowed bass solo; “Monday's Dream”, with its evocative guitar melody; “Folksong”, with a reminiscent and building riff that grew like circular ripples from a stone thrown in a pool, and ended with a series of liquid guitar notes; the spare and melancholy “Postcard”; and “Sonnet”, with Vedady and Ellias jointly creating variations on the memorable and staccato theme.
“Domino”, a standard made famous by saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, has always been an Ellias favourite with its easy-going and insinuating melody. The trio began very smoothly and developed the number slowly into a more swinging vibe, with strong guitar lines over rolling drums, before slowing and ending with a last guitar flourish. In contrast, “Once I Had a Secret Love” was given a more Caribbean feel, bright and upbeat.
The clouds had blown past and the sun was starting to set as the trio played their last number. There was a relaxed and smiling vibe in the audience, from listening to contemplative trio jazz, rich and nuanced.
(all songs by Roddy Ellias unless otherwise specified)
- Nardis [Miles Davis]
- Domino [Don Raye, Jacques Plante, Louis Ferrari] [jazz version by Rahsaan Roland Kirk]
- Monday's Dream
- Once I Had a Secret Love [Paul Francis Webster, Sammy Fain]
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