Freakin’ Friday

The Atlantic Jazz Festival is winding down, but don’t rest yet?there’s a trio of worthy shows for you to cram in on July 20.


A 2005 comment by "trumpetguy" on Sporting News message board (sic): subject - Best Guitarist? "There is a guy," trumpetguy reveals to all and sundry, "I play with around here (Jeff Torbert of Torbert, Fine and Cameron) who is great—absolutely blows my mind when he solos and plays his riffs solidly (this is of course Jazz Guitar). If you're ever in Halifax, check them out. They're fantastic."

Not an isolated opinion expressed about young Torbert. CBC tapped him for a 2006 Rising Star Award. Together with fellow Dal music alumni and multi-tasker, the string-thin bassist Adam Fine, and drummer-percussionist Doug Cameron, this trio performs with "synergistic energy," a "solid sense of structure" to achieve a "darker modern edge."

No question that each player is musically accomplished, and brimming with probing creative intelligence. TFC compositions can swing between hushed plainsong to joyous speed thrills driven by ripping beats from Cameron and Fine's crisp electric bass voicings.

You've likely caught Fine as bassist with the outrageously popular Django-jazzster outfit, Gypsophilia. Or with the Museum Pieces. Maybe too with salsa-groovers Alma Latina. The Fancy Lebanese Country Band? You dig funk? And have bopped to jazz funk Atlantic Standard Time? Fine again.

In 2004, when Torbert squeezed out sweet, sour and sophisticated sounds on his fretboard with Candali, pop-rock jazzers with look-backs to electro-rock-fusion jazz powerhouses Return to Forever (biggest hit: "Spain") and Weather Report (biggest hit: "Birdland"), he said in an interview, "Everybody has different influences which I think brings us something original. Everything we do, we do from a jazz approach, but we cover every end of the spectrum."

From many listenings to TFC's debut CD, Rhizomatics, it's possible to detect hues of guitar behemoths Pat Metheny, Wes Montgomery, John Scofield, Jaco Pastorius, Marc Ribot and, yes, Pink Floyd. Plus touches of that seminal scaffolding of Western jazz, the blues.

If you're into works of "holy minimalism" by mystical-minded composers such as Estonia's Arvo Part, the late Armenian/Scottish/American Alan Hovhaness (biggest hit: "Mysterious Mountain") and Brit John Tavener, you'll find nods to them here, too. Evocative. Surprising. Provocative. That's TFC, friends.

—Graham Pilsworth

Friday, July 20 at Festival Tent, Queen and Spring Garden,1pm, free

Holly Carr w/Men with Gloves

Ever wanted to watch a painter at work? Let's go a step further. Ever wanted to see a painting being created, inspired by the music of a live jazz trio? How about by a live jazz trio wearing—wait for it—gloves?

Well now you can. Men with Gloves, veteran fixtures of Halifax jazz all, are keyboardist/educator Dave Staples, longtime music scene regular and guitarist Scott Macmillan and brawny saxophonist Chris Mitchell. The trio will synergize on stage with artist Holly Carr, a force of artistic nature as a performer in her own right. Carr is no neophyte when it comes to creating paintings in tune with live music before an audience. Indeed, she and Macmillan have paired up for "improvised music/art happenings" in the past.

Their performances ran like this: Three new pieces of music. Three 20-minute segments. Three paintings described as "fashioned within the boundaries of those musical creations" in "perfect harmony" and "delicious syncopation."

"That creation, for me, is electric. I'm in the middle of it, scared, but very excited, right in my element," says Carr. "I'm creating my story and my song. Every time it's like being a visual composer. It's the most alive feeling."

How can this work on stage, you wonder? There is a terrific precedent available on DVD: a 1956 documentary by Henri-Georges Clouzot entitled Mystery of Picasso in which the artist paints on paper with coloured inks. Reverse images of brush strokes "magically appear." The POV of Clouzot's camera is locked into the paper's reverse side. We see "bleeding inks in volatile motion as works of beauty spontaneously burst forth."

Carr, renowned for her bold strokes and vibrant colour, paints on silk mounted on large stretchers. The effect mirrors the "magic of Picasso." For an audience, this cross-disciplinary experience can be exhilarating, revelatory and, mos' def, unforgettable. One writer on a Carr-and-music collaboration wrote, "To get these talented musicians who love to work together connected with creative whirlwind like Holly is a treat."

Keyboardist Staples has shared the stage with Dionne Warwick, Kenny Wheeler, Mike Murley and Ian Janes. Sax player/ composer Mitchell, a first-call instrumentalist, blows great live with well rounded melodic style and clarity. Guitarist/composer Macmillan ranks as Carr's creative whirlwind match. Guarantee? Carr and the Gloves will be on.

—Graham Pilsworth

Friday, July 20 at Festival Tent, 2pm, free

Joel Harrison and Harbor

Recalling the days when Bob Wills mixed swing with Texas two-step and created country swing, Joel Harrison creates a new world of jazz and Americana. Aside from his endeavours in Americana, Harrison has an all-encompassing sound that includes African and Indian ideas interlocked with contemporary classical and blues.

The diverse guitarist graduated from Bard College with a Bachelors degree in composition in 1980. After releasing three CDs and organizing tribute concerts to jazz greats Jim Pepper and Jimmy Guiffre in San Francisco, Harrison moved to New York in 1999.

It was here that Harrison released some his most exciting work, such as critical favorite Free Country. The disc features revolutionary arrangements of old country and Appalachian folk music and includes artists as eclectic as Norah Jones, Uri Caine and David Binney. If that where not enough to showcase Harrison's diversity as an artist, he created the jazz record Harrison on Harrison, featuring re-worked George Harrison compositions with Dave Liebman.

Harrison has been noted for his skills as a composer and arranger, twice winning the Jazz Composers' Alliance Julius Hemphill Composition Competition as well as obtaining grants from Chamber Music America, Meet the Composer, the Cary Trust and numerous others. He has scored several films and television shows while performing with contemporary players such as Dewey Redman, Nels Cline, Darol Anger, Paul Hanson and Mark Feldman. Though he has been recently involved in String Choir—a string quartet and two guitars working over the music of percussionist/composer Paul Motian—and a 60-minute jazz composition for a double quartet entitled "The Wheel," he has also recorded the multi-genre Harbor with renowned guitarist Nguyen Le. Playing with him will be long-time sideman saxophonist David Binney, critically acclaimed percussionist and band leader Dan Weiss and Stephan Crump on bass.

—Trevor MacLaren

Friday, July 20 at Commons Room, 1781 Robie, w/Davidson/Murley/Braid Quintet, 9pm, $25

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