AHEAD OF THE BEAT
by Peter North
Trio floored the fans whoíve seen it all.
comes time to look back on what happened in this town in terms of musical
events at the end of the year, the past week should get some serious
that had been building over the course of the last two weeks surrounding the
impeding visit of Quantum turned out to be more than justified as the
trio of master musicians turned in two jaw-dropping performances in the
jammed-to-the-rafters Yardbird Suite.
monstrous rhythm section of Airto Moreira and Alphonso Johnson
and guitarist Prasanna held audiences spellbound each night over the
course of two sets that encapsulated each musicianís brilliance as soloist,
improviser and ensemble player.
on traps, it was like the resurrection of Art Blakey had taken place, thanks
to his incredibly fluid yet flexible attack, which was coupled with many
exotic percussive instruments that he shook, rattled, knocked and banged.
One of the
recurring comments heard following the first show was directed at Johnson,
the onetime member of Weather Report and Santana, who is currently a pivotal
member of Jazz Is Dead, a quartet that takes aim at Grateful Dead
compositions and wraps them in jazz fusion arrangements. Many observes felt
Johnson dished out a single greatest electric bass performance ever
witnessed in this city and itís pretty hard to disagree.
This fan was
so swept away by the extraordinary interplay and the joyous nature of the
majority of the pieces that the concept of time went out the window during
the first set on Friday evening. It could have been 35 minutes or three
hours, but a glance at the watch confirmed it was just over 90 minutes. At
$23.50 a pop, everyone in attendance had received more than his or her
moneyís worth halfway through the night.
And just to
put the icing on the cake, Moreira took the time between the final two
pieces of the set to make mention of his old friend Gaye Delorme, with whom
he worked in the early and mid Ď70s in both New York City and California.
The two havenít crossed paths in the number of years, but Moreira let it be
known that time hasnít changed how he feels about the guitarist and ex-Edmontonian
who was sitting front row centre on his night off between gigs here and in
to all the folks at the Suite and those with Raga Mala Society who made this
gig happen. Itís not just a hard act to follow Ė this was one that is
virtually impossible to match.