Monday, May 27, 2013

Brass Bonanza (Part 2) - Live This Time!

Friday May 31st is a busy night for creative music in the state of Connecticut.  Firehouse 12, 45 Crown Street in New Haven, welcomes the Dave Douglas Quintet for 2 shows - 8:30 and 10 p.m.
Composer/trumpeter/educator Douglas celebrated his 50th birthday in March and, as I wrote last week (read here), has embarked on a musical journey to commemorate the milestone year.  Before he's finished, Douglas will have performed, at least, one gig in every state of the Union.

For the Connecticut leg of the tour, he'll bring most of the Quintet that recorded his 2 most recent CDs, 2012's "Be Still" and this year's "Time Travel."  Pianist Matt Mitchell, saxophonist Jon Irabagon and drummer Rudy Royston played on both recordings as did bassist Linda Oh and vocalist Aoife O'Donovan.  Ms. Oh is currently in Banff, Alberta, Canada doing a residency at the Banff Centre while Ms. O'Donovan is on tour promoting her first CD as a leader (she's a member of Crooked Still.) Chris Tordini takes over on the bass - he's worked with saxophonist Steve Lehman, drummer Tyshawn Sorey and vocalist Becca Stevens. With the addition of Mr. Tordini, that makes the Firehouse gig a "Boys Night Out" and an all-instrumental show.  Not to worry because the music on "Time Travel" is quite engaging.  The blend of Douglas and Irabagon creates sparks throughout the while Mitchell plays with great inventiveness.  As for Rudy Royston, he's right there as one of the hottest drummers on the scene.

As of this writing (5/27), there are still tickets available for both shows.  Call 203-785-0468 or go to for more information and reservations.  This should be a spectacular evening of music!

The young man on the left, Petr Cancura, was born in Czechoslovakia and moved to Ottawa, Canada, when he was 10 years old.  He then moved to Boston, Massachusetts, to study music and on to Brooklyn, New York, to pursue his dream to be a professional musician. He's worked with or is now working with pianist Danilo Perez, trumpeter Frank London, guitarists Julian Lage and Joe Morris plus with his very good friend, drummer Richie Barshay (a native of West Hartford, CT.)  Not only does Cancura play jazz but he also has a Polka band and a "Roots Music" quintet known as Down Home.

It's Down Home that is coming to Hartford on Friday night to play a gig at 7:30 p.m. in La Paloma Sabanera Coffee House, 405 Capital Avenue.  The band consists of Cancura (who, besides saxophones, plays banjo and mandolin), Barshay, cornetist Kirk Knuffke (a member of Matt Wilson's Quartet), trombonist and baritone horn player Brian Drye (of the four bags) and bassist Garth Stevenson (Martha Wainwright, Harris Eisenstadt's Canada Day). The quintet is on tour in support of Cancura's new CD, from which they derive their name.  The inspiration for the program came from a trip Cancura and Barshay plus wives made to Mississippi and the annual Otha Turner Family Goat Roast - Otha Turner, who died in 2003 at the age of 94, was considered one of the greatest fife players in the history of African American fife and drum corps.  His ensemble was featured on the soundtrack of Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York" and in director's PBS series "The Blues."  Cancura was struck by the Blues sounds he heard at the "..Roast" and, while his CD does not try to imitate the music (with one "live" exception), his compositions do have a deep roots connection.  Barshay's "elemental" percussion is quite impressive and the horn arrangements really capture a slice of Southern Brass Bands.

For more information about Petr Cancura and Down Home, go to  You can check and see where the group is going to be during the tour.  Besides his work as a musician, Cancura is in his 3rd year as the programming director for the Ottawa (CA) Jazz Festival taking place this year from June 20 - July 1.  For more information, go to

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