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Celebrating flying fingers and fingers that flew
I'm very much looking forward to tomorrow night's performance at Koerner Hall featuring one of Canada's most exciting pianists, Robi Botos, sharing the stage with some very special guests. In the first half of the concert, Robi will be joined by other members of the Botos family, talented musicians all, and we're promised a few surprises; in the second half, Robi will be joined by jazz heavyweights Branford Marsalis, Robert Hurst and Jeff "Tain" Watts.
The first time I saw Robi Botos perform was while I was Artistic Director for the Markham Jazz Festival. I had booked the Daniel Barnes Quartet and he mentioned he would have this hotshot pianist named Robi Botos on the gig. I was looking forward to seeing Robi in action, since I had already heard so much about him. I was blown away within a matter of minutes. I remember at a certain point catching Daniel's eye - in the middle of a fiery piano solo - and exchanging this kind of look that said "whoa..." Since then I've seen Robi in a variety of settings - on his own projects and as a side musician, on acoustic and electric pianos, performing original compositions or paying tribute to Oscar Peterson - and he's been impressive every time. If you haven't yet seen him in action, join us tomorrow night at Koerner Hall - that Marsalis guy's not too bad either. Complete concert details are available here.
As for "fingers that flew" (see this post's title), I was excited to see on Facebook (yay social media!) the announcement of a concert taking place on November 6th at Glenn Gould Studio in celebration of Ed Bickert's 80th birthday. I think it's fair to say that Ed Bickert is one of Canada's greatest ever jazz musicians. When "jazz guitar" and "Canada" are mentioned, Ed's name is one of the first to come up. He's a multiple JUNO Award winner, a member of the Order of Canada, and over a fifty year career played with many of the major Canadian and international names who passed through Toronto.
I know Ed's playing best from his years with Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass. I would see the group annually at the Toronto Jazz Festival, and there would be Ed, helping to solidify the rhythm section and always playing beautifully, no matter what the arrangement - swing, blues, bossa, funk...he could do it all. One of the albums that still epitomizes "swing" for me is a trio album with Ed and Rob McConnell (I forget which bassist is featured...) - valve trombone, guitar and bass is a rare combination but they made it sound as if it was always meant to be.
Ed Bickert has been largely out of the spotlight recently, but I've seen him on occasion at a show here and there over the past few years. The chance to celebrate him and his contribution to jazz - something we don't always do so well here in Canada - is most welcome. Details for the November 6th concert are still being finalized, but the lineup already announced indicates the breadth of Ed's influence on the music, and the respect that musicians of various generations have for Ed: Terry Clarke, Barry Elmes, Jake Langley, Lorne Lofsky, Mike Murley, Chris Norley, David Occhipinti, Michael Occhipinti, Reg Schwager, Neil Swainson, Don Thompson, Kevin Turcotte, Steve Wallace and Ted Quinlan are all on the bill. Katie Malloch will host the evening, and it will be recorded by CBC Radio 2's Canada: LIVE! for future broadcast. More information is to come, but in the meantime check out the event's Facebook page.
I'll be in the audience for both of these shows - I hope to see you there.
P.S. - And - I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you that we're excited to be presenting the Robert Glasper Trio next Friday, October 19 at The Hoxton. See our website for complete details...