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August 2001 - Nr. 8


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Down On The Town

Alexander Ooloby Alexander Oolo

All That Jazz – Lucky XIII

What a great time was had by all during the thirteenth edition of the Beaches International Jazz Festival, July 26-29, 2001, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada!

It all was kick-started during the 2nd "An Ovation Of Jazz" premiere party (July 25) with the evening’s proceeds going to the Toronto East General Hospital Foundation (416-469-6003).

Bill King's All Stars grooving it up at the Balmy Beach Club  (Photo: Alexander Oolo)Held at the nice- and clubby feeling Balmy Beach Club (416-691-9802), the "Best of the Beach" was celebrated. Not only that, but the best-of-the-best in culinary delights was dished out and sampled plus many-a libations from menu-selections by restaurants located in The Beaches and/or sponsors from the surrounding community.

Jazzing it up at the Balmy Beach Club  (Photo: Alexander Oolo)It was a great treat to have ‘Bill King’s All Star Saturday Nite Fish Fry’ band provide the evening’s entertainment - especially since the last set brought out the dancer in one the attending female guests…

It was also very choice to have featured such lovely door prizes, a large-enough silent auction and such generous raffle prizes, and all that for a mere $ 60 each.

What I personally really enjoyed is the easy-going atmosphere that only this particular Toronto club gives off. It literally lends itself to relax, chat or just promenade on the club’s huge, outdoor patio, overlooking beautiful Lake Ontario alongside Toronto’s Beaches’ boardwalk.

And then July 26-29, 2001 came and went much too soon...

I admit it freely: I never made it to the new stage at the historic R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant featuring the Classic Jazz Society Showcase. I don’t know why that was, I just never found my way to it.

But I did make sure to take in the musical action during the all-roads-closure based StreetFest (26-28th), and of course, the main concert venue at Kew Gardens (28/29th).

What a gas, man!

You know, we really don’t know how lucky we are having this annual street festival go on each year. I don’t mean this in regards to the 40+ acts being featured there annually, offering a whole rainbow of musicality. That’s obviously a beautiful and good thing, and is ours for the taking, to enjoy – each and every year. What makes the StreetFest so remarkable, why we should feel so lucky about it, is its very safety aspect. Have you ever heard about any incidents, any, be it during the street festival at the annual Beaches International Jazz Festival (BIJF) or the week end concerts in the park? The answer is No!

Explosive rhythm's Cimarron-style  (Photo: Alexander Oolo)Now take any of the other major street-based Jazz festivals, from New Orleans to Montreal, none of them go without any to major incidents; sometimes even right up to riot-like conditions. And so, lest we forget: in all its thirteen years as a festival, nothing significant has ever occurred and, god willing will never do so. And then there was this year’s line-up in Kew Gardens. The first and only crowd sway on the Saturday-portion came via the explosive rhythms of ‘Cimarron’ who so effectively revealed their Afro-Cuban roots in their "salsa dura" (hard salsa).

His Worship, The Mayor, Mel Lastman, showed up as well that day. He did look quite a bit more bruised than I have ever seen him, but he was still up to his usual spiel. In fact, to me he remarked that he controlled the weather, predicting "that everybody is enjoying themselves – it will be a great day, and in the four days of the festival there will be over a million people attending." Well, he was actually right on all accounts.

Bill King's Saturday Nite Fish Fry  (Photo: Alexander Oolo)Sunday, July 29, featured the ultimate in this year’s musical experience. ‘Bill King’s Saturday Nite Fish Fry’ got us all into the right groove but it was guest guitarist, New York’s Hiram Bullock, jamming with the Saturday Nite Fish Fry  (Photo: Alexander Oolo) Hiram Bullock, that really got the crowd going - for good. This former front man of the original Dave Letterman band allowed his fingers to do the wailing, riff after riff after riff.

Mike Welsh, taking it home  (Photo: Alexander Oolo)And who did replace the Missing-in-Action, ‘Big Joe and the Dynaflows’? None other than an already previously featured festival act: the very bluesy ‘Sugar Ray and the Bluetones’. It was at this point where things reached a first fever pitch, especially once special guest guitarist Mike Welsh overextended his strings with ease and mastery.

In-between all these beautiful acts came festival founder, Lido Chilelli. He presented the Toronto East General Hospital Foundation with a cheque of $ 100,000 on behalf of the Beaches International Jazz Festival.

While the last act was getting ready to pick up where Sugar Ray left off, ‘Joey DeFrancesco Trio’, I had a chance to briefly chat with the festival’s Musical Director, Bill King.

He was really pleased that everything turned out so well. "I just love the crowd. And the weather has been unbelievable. You don’t have to look to the sky and worry about it". I couldn’t have agreed more.

The groovy antics of Joey DeFrancesco  (Photo: Alexander Oolo)The final act had one more surprise in store. No, it wasn’t Joey DeFrancesco, who was voted the world’s # 1 jazz organist in all major jazz polls.

So then, if Hiram Bullock was the sensation during the 13th BIJF, then Joey’s guest drummer, 20-year old Carmen Tutorre, had to be its ultimate surprise.

As the act went on, one got increasingly the feeling that the young Buffalo native and current Juliard Orchestra member not only outplayed Joey DeFrancesco and his local guest guitarist, Ted Quinlan -- but every performer of the entire festival week.

The pyrotechnics of one Carmen Tutorre  (Photo: Alexander Oolo)Carmen Tutorre’s drumming was absolutely remarkable; his musicality and the rhythms were dead on, so sure, so intricate, showing more genuine fire and precision than I have ever seen from any jazz drummer playing live.

More than that, Carmen’s natural energy and pure, almost extracted enthusiasm reminds me very much of the late, great Buddy Rich whom I had the great pleasure of seeing in action in the early 1980’s at the fabled, former Ontario Place Forum. In fact, when Carmen soloed during "Black Nile", well, I actually thought that this could have easily been Buddy Rich drumming.

I can only tell you what I saw and listened to and this kid is the real thing. I was there and I’m sticking to my guns. It seems, therefore, that we likely haven’t heard the last of one Carmen Tutorre. I think his future is among the giants but only time will tell if that is in the stars.

The real all-stars behind the Beaches International Jazz Festival  (Photo: Alexander Oolo)In either case, now you see why it is imperative to never miss the Beaches International Jazz Festival. You just never know what future sensation you might discover on their way to conquer the world…musically that is.

Post-festival meditation  (Photo: Alexander Oolo)In that spirit, see you next year!






Witness all the senses come into play as East meets West at Toronto’s Harbourfront on the city’s south shore.

Join in the exotic Philippine & Asia Pacific Arts Festival, August 10-12, 2001 as presented by Western Union, the Philippine Independence Day Council, in partnership with Harbourfront Centre.

What will await you is a free-of-charge, kaleidoscopic view of Asian culture!

Don’t miss the vibrant display of elaborate costumes and joyful music in a lion dance and other Asian dances in performances by the Fiesta Filipina and Folklorico, plus martial arts demonstrations and mesmerizing dances from Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the fabulous Philippines.

Listen and watch traditional and contemporary musical acts come together in numerous concerts throughout this spectacular festival-weekend on the waterfront, and watch in particular for the re-enactment of Harana, a performance of traditional Philippine serenade ballads.

Enjoy rhythmic drum performances from Japan, Korea and various Asia Pacific countries. Also catch performances on traditional instruments such as the Chinese harp, Indonesian gamelan, Indian tabla, Japanese koto & shakuhacki, and Tibetan instruments.

That’s all the above, plus the screening of popular and rare films of the Asia Pacific nations, visual Arts & Crafts exhibitions, a beautiful fashion and culture showcase.

But the best I’ve saved for last.

Join in the Ati-Atihan, the Mardi Gras of the Philippines as revelers rub themselves with soot, don colourful masks and costumes, and dance uninhibited in the streets to the frenzied beat of drums (Saturday). Then on Sunday be dazzled by the Santa Cruzan traditional Philippine parade of regal beauties with representation from many of the participating countries, all-the-while led by the Award-winning Philippine Heritage Band, culminating in the "Asia Pacific Circle" festival finale.

Whatever you do, make sure not to miss this, especially if you a knack towards the exotic and far away.

See you there!

Norigen Hotline, (416) 973-3000

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