All That Jazz, and Afrobeat, and Calypso, and…
by Laila Boulos, The Live Music Report

MusicDish 10th Anniversary Canadian Music Week Showcase
presented by MusicDish
Caroline Glass | Gr?voria | Kobo Town | The Souljazz Orchestra
March 8, 2007 – Trane Studio – Toronto

What a fabulous way to spend a cold and damp evening – in the cozy and vibrant atmosphere of the Trane. The room filled up slowly with an energetic and enthusiastic crowd that kept heating up with each successive act.

Caroline Glass was the first performer of the evening, she is a multi-instrumentalist whose involvement with Cirque du Soleil was evident in her work.

Still frozen from the outdoors, coming in to be greeted by the soul-stirring sounds of her music was a feeling akin to being comforted by a good friend and wrapped in a blanket to sit in front of the fire with some mulled wine.

Her technique involved playing an instrument, recording it, then looping and layering each successive instrument, creating a piece that became more complex, sensual and haunting with each progression.

While being extremely talented, Caroline did not let her ego get in the way of the music, instead allowing the music to take over while she remained in the background. And play she did, working with baritone flute, drum machine, bass flute, English horn, bass clarinet, dijeridoo, electric guitar, keys, and, oh yeah, singing and recording.

Although the music of Cirque du Soleil was mentioned previously as being evident in her music, one could also hear tones of Loreena McKennitt and Dead Can Dance.

Caroline’s performance was a wonderful, warm and inviting way to greet the evening.

Gr?voria a 7-piece jazz-funk ensemble took over the stage next. At this point the room began to fill up and people immediately began to groove – a definite testament to Gr?voria’s energetic influences as Toronto audiences are usually slow to find their way onto the dance floor.

Their high energy and infectious sounds infiltrated the already enthusiastic crowd making them even more charged.

Their music was full of energy and pure joy, and the bandmembers seemed to effortlessly fill the room with the magnetism of their sounds. It was wonderful watching Gr?voria play because they sincerely looked as if they were having a fabulous time doing it.

Kobo Town glided onto the stage next, mellowing the atmosphere of the evening with their calypso (Kaiso) music which at times revealed reggae, latin and jazz influences. Once they hit the stage, one could feel the proverbial sunshine streaming in through the windows transporting the crowd to a beach somewhere in Trinidad.

Drew Gonsalves, the leader, had a great rapport with the audience, although, at times, with his soft-spokenness, it was difficult to understand some of what he was saying. A shame since his lyrics are so wonderfully powerful.

As previously mentioned, there were many influences permeating Kobo Town’s repertoire. On a few songs, the complex guitar work was evocative of some of the mind-blowing Hendrix songs while, in contrast, during “Corbeaux Following”, it was begging someone to produce a limbo stick and drag it into the audience. It was very apparent that Gonsalves and his band members were very appreciative of the Audience’s support.

During their performance, the crowd peaked and it became difficult to manoeuvre around the room. From some of the conversations heard around the room, it seemed that a lot of people were Kobo Town supporters.

When The Souljazz Orchestra blasted onto the stage turbo-charging the room with their signature “Mista President”, the electricity in the air was palpable. As it was late in the evening, the crowd had dwindled, but the enthusiasm of those gyrating around the room and the inherent fire of the band’s energy kept the atmosphere pumped.

Thinking it impossible that the energy could rise any higher, it practically catapulted during the performance of “Freedom No Go Die”.

Although The Souljazz Orchestra originally began as a jazz-funk outfit, they are now concentrating on afrobeat, yet Latin, calypso and acid jazz influences can be heard in the infectious mosaic of their music.

Later during their set, keyboardist and spokesperson, Pierre Chr?tien invited Alanna Stuart onto the stage where she proceeded to belt out lyrics to Coltrane’s “Lady Jane” accompanied by the band. It was a truly beautiful song showcasing the band’s versatility and transporting the mood to a sultry dimension.

The end of the evening arrived much too quickly but The Souljazz Orchestra skillfully kept the crowd in the stratosphere, so much so that the poor staff at the Trane had to announce a number of times that it was beyond closing time before people even began to look at the exit, let alone actually move towards it.

It was a long night for all the bands involved but it was a testament to each act’s professionalism and dedication to their craft that they kept their energy and enthusiasm up and the crowd reciprocated by showing tremendous support. Although each band played 45- to 60-minute sets, it still seemed too short. The only casualty of the heavy line up and breaks, was Melissa Laveaux who would have been the final act, and missed her chance in the limelight.

In closing, the evening provided much variety musically and energetically, and carried the crowd to a myriad of levels. Everyone came in, feasted and left satisfied – and definitely much warmer than when they first arrived.

Republished with permission from The Live Music Report. Photos by Mike Colyer and Roger Humbert

Provided by the MusicDish Network. Copyright © MusicDish LLC 2007 – Republished with Permission