Sunday, July 03, 2016

Alfredo Rodriguez concert review

Last night I went to see Cuban jazz pianist Alfredo Rodriguez at The Jazz Bistro in downtown Toronto as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival. I wasn't planning to attend any of this year's concerts until this one was announced after the rest of the schedule was announced. There is a big problem with the Toronto Jazz Festival as it currently stands and that is program director Josh Grossman's insistence on bringing in non-jazz artists like Sarah McLauchlan and KC & The Sunshine Band. After the latter was announced as the opening night free concert, the controversy erupted to the point where the CBC did a piece on this last week. We don't see this same problem for either the Ottawa or Montreal jazz festivals. And Grossman's defense is not compelling. He thinks bringing in KC draws attention when all it does is attract anger from jazz fans. Maybe they should stop calling it a jazz festival. But maybe sponsor TD Bank won't sponsor it. But I think it is disgraceful that during the festival, jazz musicians Kamasai Washington and Melody Gardot played the Danforth Music Hall and not the Toronto Jazz Festival. The Jazz Bistro is not an ideal venue for a concert because it's a restaurant. And a restaurant has to turn over paying customers. That's why the tickets were inexpensive and they were giving away comps. They are expecting you to eat there. It's too expensive for me. That being said, I enjoyed Rodriguez' brief solo concert. If you haven't heard him, Rodriguez should remind you of pianists like Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Michel Camilo or Chucho Valdez. He records for Mack Avenue Records and his latest CD Tocororo was released in March. I enjoyed his music enough that I will go see him again if he performs at a suitable venue. Maybe it's time for local jazz fans to organize and get rid of Josh Grossman. Because this is not a jazz festival anymore.

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