©Brett Delmage, 2018
Landen Vieira celebrates the jazz tradition in his own compositions
©Brett Delmage, 2018

The Landen Vieira Quartet
2018 Merrickville's Jazz Fest
Holy Trinity Anglican Church
Sunday, October 14, 2018 – 3 p.m.

View photos by Brett Delmage of this performance

Toronto saxophonist Landen Vieira is only 26 years old but a strong promoter of the jazz tradition, judging from his afternoon concert at the 2018 Merrickville's Jazz Fest.

He celebrates the tradition in his own jazz compositions, and those were what he primarily presented in his afternoon concert with a high-powered jazz quartet. It was an accomplished show, with consistently interesting performances from Vieira on tenor sax, Dave Restivo on keyboards, Morgan Childs on drums, and Malcolm Connor on double bass.

Almost all the set list came from Vieira's latest album, Dream. The tunes drew primarily on bebop and modal jazz, and, listening to them, you could imagine yourself back in the 1950s or 60s. Vieira's song, “Do It” was reminiscent of Freddie Hubbard, with a deep and growling bass riff opener and a swinging tenor melody, while “Double Vision” was a double-time bebop number with with pointing and questioning tenor lines.

The quartet opened with the Coltranesque “Light Piece”, an attention-drawing opener showing off their tight ensemble playing. The commanding sax line was easily matched by the fast and exact piano solo, the constructive bass solo, and the propulsive and cymbal-heavy drumming.

But the ensemble could also go more deeply and intently in the ballads, for example, the wistful and contemplative “Dove”. The quartet particularly let themselves dig in on the two standards, “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise” and “Body and Soul”. Vieira told the audience that “Softly” was one of his favourite tunes, and you could hear that in the devotion and warmth with which he played the melody before taking it out with fast, vibrating lines.

The show was full of fine musical moments from the individual musicians. Listening to Restivo's reflective piano solo on “Do It” was like sinking into a pool of sound. He opened “Body and Soul” with a lovely quiet piano solo with a hint of underlying sadness, the melody just barely perceptible.

Connor, who has played on both of Vieira's CDs, was a strongly melodic player whose notes sang out in his solo on “Softly”, but who could also play authoritatively and with considerable swing in his openings for “Vista” and “Do It”. In “Body and Soul”, his solo restated the melody in its simplest form and yet was full there.

On “Two Blocks East”, Childs attacked his drumset in a sizzling solo with swishing snares and cymbals filling in the spaces between hard sticks attacks. On “Body and Soul”, he stood up for a few moments partway through, waving his hands near the cymbals but never missing a beat; we learned afterwards that that was his improvised response to being attacked (but luckily not stung) by a wasp!

The quartet closed with Vieira's “Dream”, an expansive piece opening with expressive tenor lines underlined by lightly buzzing bowed bass. Initially sweet and dream-like, it gathered energy with some hard drumming to become breakneck-paced, before finally slowing down back to restful, sleepy long tenor lines, bowed bass, and light cymbals.

This was Vieira's first introduction to Eastern Ontario – and a happy one. The audience, which nearly filled the church, appeared to find the music much to their taste, applauding strongly throughout and giving an almost-complete standing ovation at the concert's close.

Set List

  1. Light Piece / Landen Vieira
  2. Do It / Landen Vieira
  3. Dove / Landen Vieira
  4. Two Blocks East / Landen Vieira
  5. Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise / Sigmund Romberg, Oscar Hammerstein II
  6. Vista / Landen Vieira
  7. Body and Soul / Johnny Green, Edward Heyman and Robert Sour and Frank Eyton
  8. Double Vision / Landen Vieira
  9. Dream / Landen Vieira

Read all the stories by OttawaJazzScene.ca about the 2018 Merrickville's Jazz Fest: