WBGO Blog
  • Bourne in Montreal - Part Three

    June 30, 2008. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    Rainy FIJM

    Day Three Saturday June 28th

    Rainy but not raining, what Michele says folks in the Northwest call "spitting." Were it not wet I might've enjoyed the first group to be judged, a generic quartet fronted by saxist Jerrold Dubyk. All of these groups are good enough to be up for the prize, but only a few have that unique "thing" (tunes, grooves, presence, a character or sound) that elevates them into a winner. Dubyk's group was more or less the same as about half the groups in the competition -- except for the electric bass player's solo, which was only notes up and down the scale. "I don't want to be prejudicial," I said to some of the other judges, "but that was the worst bass solo I've ever heard." And they expressed consensus.

    Group #5 is a contender: WAZA, a trio with electric keys, electric bass, and an electrifying drummer. They played solid and quite compositional grooves, especially from the drummer. They were fun to listen to, as if listening to really hip toys. After a thunderstorm of funk from the bassist, Nancy, one of the judges, said "Now that was a bass solo!"
    Hank Jones was joined for duets by Brad Mehldau, and the interplay was wonderful. Hank played melodies or only changes elegantly while Brad danced around and through -- danced like Barishnykov.

    "Night in Tunisia" they played at first fragmented, but then Dizzy's tune blossomed. Hank's solo of "The Very Thought of You" was so deeply beautiful that Brad mostly listened, enraptured. Hank was again whimsically witty about which song they'd play next, or which piano they'd play. "Just One of Those Things" was a joyful finale, and I could hear the lyric: "it was great fun!"

  • Bourne in Montreal - Part Two

    June 28, 2008. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    Smoked Meat

    Schwartz's for lunch with my Other Half, Michele, and my BFF, Amy. Montreal smoked meat is like pastrami, and it's best at Schwartz's, an old Jewish deli with large chunks of the meat in the window. Crowds wait in line all day to eat at the little tables. When you order a sandwich, you're asked "lean, medium, or fat?" I opt for medium, comes on rye with mustard and a giant pickle. I walked back down St Laurent and the Hill, the walk a payback to my body for ingesting so much meat ...
    Eating, walking around, hanging with some of my favorite people in the world, especially all the loveable kids in the press room, is why I come every year. And the music ...
    M. le Juge was back judging at 6 a sextet called The Odd Lot, playing free funk with a ferocious tenor player. I also heard a piano trio called Indigone Trio. Even though they were all reading charts, the interplay sounded (and felt) spontaneous, especially in the rhythmic effects of the drummer. Both of these groups I felt are in the running for the prizes, but I have 7 more groups yet to judge.
    Brad Mehldau played a solo recital in the Jesus Room (salle de Gesu), mostly standards ("No Moon at All," "Secret Love," "Airegin," "God Only Knows") with flabbergasting chops. I appreciated how he de-constructed melodies, but every song turned into a display of rambling and rumbling, virtuosic but exhausting.
    1st trip to Pizzadelic: chevre et noix (goat cheese, walnuts, black olives, tomatoes, mozzarella) and siciliana (various Italian meat) ...

    Michael B