John Geggie / Brad Turner / Ian Froman: Ottawa, Canada, October 6, 2007
Geggie Concert Series
National Arts Centre, Fourth Stage
October 6, 2007
Ottawa bassist John Geggie opened up his seventh season of music without a safety net by bringing two Canadian artistsone from the west coast, and the other an expat Ottawa native who has been living in New York for nearly two decadesfor an easy-on-the-ears but never less than substantive evening that mixed original music with some well-traveled standards, and a couple of lesser-known covers thrown in for good measure.
Pianist/trumpeter Brad Turner and drummer Ian Froman are no strangers to each other, having worked together in the Juno Award-winning fusion band Metalwood through the latter part of the 1990s and early part of this decade. But it was an all-acoustic evening at Ottawa's Fourth Stage, and an opportunity to hear a trio that, while unequivocally rooted in the tradition (at least for this performance), demonstrated its own combination of elegance and fire, subtlety and power.
There were plenty of fans in the audience for Froman, who rarely gets to town to perform, most recently at a Metalwood reunion in June of this year and a couple of years back as part of the Mike Murley/David Braid Quartet, which put on a stellar performance at the 2004 Ottawa International Jazz Festival far eclipsing the headliner, singer Jane Monheit. While Froman is known for his big ears and capacity for relentless energy, he's always been a nuanced player, capable of driving the pulse with the most understated brushwork, as he did on the first set opener, Geggie's "From Which," which also featured a lyrical Turner on piano. Even his brief solo turn at the end of the tune, when he traded fours with Turner, was the epitome of restraint and construction.
Turner switched to trumpet for a solo introduction to the classic standard, "I Hear a Rhapsody.""An extended solo followed, with Turner's lyrical ideas punctuated with the occasional raspy growl, as Froman and Geggie kept the pulse strong but interactive.
Geggie, always a dryly congenial host, let Turner explainequally straight-facedthe title to "Sorry, Pablo," a recent original written as a mea culpa for his son's hamster, the casualty of an accidentally left-open cage and a family cat. Alternating between 3/4 and 4/4, it was a high point of the first set.
Last year's season represented something of a watershed for Geggie, whose playing took a significant leap forward. Whether he was working hand-in-glove with Froman behind (or, rather, interactively with) Turner or playing one of his many strong solos of the night, he's demonstrating greater facility and some technical approaches that are becoming definitive and distinctive.
From left: Brad Turner, John Geggie, Ian Froman
Another highlight of the evening was the group's take on saxophonist Joe Lovano's "Fort Worth," with Turner on trumpet. Froman's solo was the perfect mix of dynamics, fluidity and melodicism. It was one of only two extended solos of the night, but was conceptually rich and exciting.
Geggie opened the second set with a bass intro to his own "Run Away Sheep," one of a few tunes that will be heard on two forthcoming releasesone with pianist Marilyn Crispell, the other with saxophonist Donny McCaslin. It was a free intro that ultimately led into a no-changes 7/4 pattern that gave Turner another strong turn on trumpet, with Froman providing fiery and intuitive support. Geggie also played a bass intro to Turner's "Close to Nowhere" which, with its three-chord foundation, Geggie twisted into a humorously unexpected reference to Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water." It was also another opportunity to hear Froman the colorist, as he pulled a lot of texture out of his relatively small kit.
Two standards finished the nightPaul Desmond's less often-covered "Late Lament" and Michel Legrand's "You Must Believe in Spring.""With so many artists continuing to mine the popular standards songbook, it was a treat to hear a trio capable of reverence and open-mindedness, drawing the evening to an elegant end.
Geggie's series continues on November 17, 2007, when Montreal pianist Steve Amirault (whose Breath (Effendi, 2005) was one of that year's best Canadian releases) teams up with Geggie and legendary Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a staple of the ECM label last seen in Ottawa in 2000 with Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson.