Carleton University Jazz Camp
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Kailash Mital Theatre
The first evening concert at the Carleton University Jazz Camp attracted an unexpected fan.
Shortly after Elise Letourneau played her first few phrases on flute, something flashed by over the heads of the audience. And swooped, and turned, and jetted repeatedly around the upper reaches of the stage and the hall – thoroughly puzzling and then amusing the audience, who really weren't sure what it was or where it was going.
It turned out to be a bat, which had entered sometime earlier through an open door and may have been woken by the flute ultrasonics – and unfortunately it wasn't really keeping time to the music. But Letourneau and guitarist Tim Bedner continued on with aplomb, playing three vocal standards in a non-standard way, adding frequent fluid flute interludes to the first, and giving the last two an absorbing up-tempo interpretation marked by fluent scatting.
Ticketless, the bat was eventually escorted out, and, for the remainder of the evening, the audience could concentrate on the stage.
The evening consisted of four duo performances from musicians teaching at the camp. First up were James McGowan on piano and Wayne Eagles on electric guitar, whose jazz interests are quite different, but who created a middle ground for music that ranged from jagged to tender to thoughtful. Their last piece, “Green Tea” by John Scofield, allowed each to explore some interesting ideas over a strong rhythmic connection.
Following Letourneau and Bedner was a short (one-song) set by Torontonians John MacLeod on cornet and Brian Dickinson on piano. As expected (they've played together for more than 20 years), their rendition of “You and the Night and the Music” showed an easy communication. However, they also gave the piece a thorough and stimulating workout, ending almost unexpectedly with a few separate notes on piano, and a series of muted puffs on cornet.
But the most interesting music came at the end of the evening with tenor saxophonist Kelly Jefferson and drummer Ted Warren. While the two have played together many times in different combinations, this was their first duo, and they demonstrated that the format has a lot of possibilities. Playing two standards (“Monk's Dream” and “Donna Lee”), they created an overall stripped-down feel that nevertheless left a lot of room for changes in dynamics and rhythms – and solos. Jefferson played his saxophone through a microphone that was attached to a whole series of foot pedals, which allowed him to repeatedly and drastically change his sound from smooth to rougher-edged to muted. Jefferson also sampled his own playing, allowing him to play duets with himself as well as Warren. He was well-matched by Warren whose sound ranged from hard and resonant, to light and delicate with mallets.
– Alayne McGregor