The Montreal Jazz Festival: Day 9, 7/2/11
July 4, 2011. Posted by Michael Bourne.
I have said for years that I like Montreal's Pizzedelic so much that I rarely eat pizza in New York anymore. I've been to four: St Laurent, St Denis, Notre Dame, and Mont Royal -- but, noon-ish on a Saturday, with countless customers on the street, when I taxi'd up St Laurent, they were closed (!) and when I taxi'd down St Denis, they were closed (!) -- I felt downright betrayed. I settled for a so-so pizza at Napoli, and, after all the taxi-ing, I got back late. Susie Arioli, waiting, hungry herself, performing on the big stage that evening, wanted to kill me, literally.
We laughed anyway in the interview.
Jesus Room: Grace Kelly, alto saxist and singer, young phenom, thanked everyone for last year at the jazzfest. "You made me feel like a rock star," she said. And she looked cutely glamorized like a rock star, very pink and sparkling. She plays straightahead. She inspires one of the alto masters. "I wish Benny Carter could have heard Grace," said Phil Woods. Grace sang Benny's "People Time" as Phil, Benny-like, so cool, obligatized lovingly. When they played together, they harmonized as if one cool breeze, especially on Grace's "Man with a Hat" -- for always hatted Phil. Sweet, swinging, funny in her patter, Grace played an encore alone, "Over The Rainbow," and the sold-out Gesu was again cheering, like a rock star.
Maisonneuve: Oliver Jones remembered Oscar Peterson. Oliver grew up listening to Oscar. Oscar's sister Daisy taught them both. "I listened to Oscar practisce," said Oliver. "I'd listen to him play boogie woogie twice as fast as everyone else -- because he could!" Oliver opened with an Oscar-like "Tenderly," lyrically at first, then with a romp like Oscar that always sounded to me as if the piano itself snapped fingers. "He made the piano roar," said Oliver, "and he'd play like ..." -- he looked for a word, a word that might encompass someone so unencompassable, "a lullaby," said Oliver. Oliver's trio, with bassist Eric Lagace and drummer Jim Doxas, played mostly, as Oliver promised, "some of the 450+ compositions of Oscar Peterson." Highlights for me were movements from Peterson's "Canadiana Suite": the breezy "Wheatland" and, as Oliver said, "my favorite tune, from our neighborhood, Place St Henri." "I Remember OP," Oliver's heartful remembrance of his friend and inspiration, was a touching prelude to the finale, the Peterson classic that Oscar and Oliver played at the climax of his last concert at the Montreal jazzfest, "Hymn to Freedom." You can hear (and see) that final concert on the jazzfest's DVD of highlights. You can hear Oscar Peterson always echoing at the jazzfest.
Susie Arioli, one of the most charming singers at the jazzfest, charming even when she's angry enough to kill me, was spotlighted with a Grande Evenement: on the TD stage of the Places des Spectacles, playing to tens of thousands of lovers of songs. Susie, uniquely, sings standards while also playing a snare drum with brushes. She usually sings only with a bassist and guitarist Jordan Officer. For her big event, she got three horns and a full-kit drummer. She played her snare anyway, like an extra breath of her voice. So intimate is Susie's act (and art) that I wondered whether she'd be lost in the rumbling of the beer-drinking multitude, usually partying with "event" stars like the hip-hop-electro-flash-and-funk of the jazzfest's previous "evenement," Misteur Valaire. Susie was not as loud. Not as noisy. Not as technologically funky. Susie was much more ... actually musical. And down-to-earthy soulful. "Can't We Be Friends." "Blue Skies." "Nuages" -- so quiet yet resounding through the hub-bub. "The Big Hurt" was a grand finale to Susie's grand event. "Wow," said jazzfest artistic director Andre Menard walking by, "real jazz on the big stage!"
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