Sunday, 2 November 2014

Petr Cancura and Down Home amaze fans in The Jazz Room

WATERLOO ON., Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014 --- Brian Drye operates IBEAM Brooklyn when he's not playing trombone and piano in Petr Cancura's award-winning quintet, Down Home, so he knows something about audiences.

"I think it's going to be hard to beat this," Drye says after the show Saturday night in The Jazz Room that sparked a long-and-loud standing ovation.

A live jazz show is a two-way street where musicians and audiences must come together to make the magic happen.  And it happened in a big way in the little club on Saturday.  Hard to say who was more amazed, the musicians or the audience.

Drye says even the audiences in Brooklyn, where the band is based, are are not as appreciative as their new-found fans in The Jazz Room.

As the director of IBEAM, Drye oversees the performance, rehearsal and teaching space in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn for established and emerging artists.  The organization aims to create a community of musicians, educators and students based out of the space at 168 7th St in Brooklyn . It is outfitted with a Schimmel Concert Grand Piano, a vintage set of Gretsch drums and a state of the art sound system.

It sounds a lot like The Jazz Room, which has created a tight and growing community of artists, fans and music students that gather twice a week in the club to hear live shows, and attend Saturday workshops to learm from some of the best jazz musicians playing today - Loren Lofsky, Matt Brubeck, Ingid Jenson, among others.  The next workshop is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 15th with the Torontlo-based sax player and composer Tara Davidson. 

The standing ovation on Saturday was only the fourth one in The Jazz Room since it opened more than three years ago. Cancura's band now keeps company with the Spike Wilner Trio (based out of Smalls in the West Village), and Johnny O'Neil (also New York based) in getting The Jazz Room fans on their feet clapping and hollering for more.

Cancura played tenor sax and banjo, Richie Barshay played drums, Garth Stevenson played bass and Kirk Knuffke played coronet during three sets that trawled the deep-wide river of America's music, fusing Mississippi blues, the second lines of New Orleans and urban jazz. Cancura wrote all the music for Down Home, which won Jazz Recording of the Year at the Independent Music Awards and was nominated for a Juno Award.

Nobody in The Jazz Room on Saturday ever heard anything quite like the music Cancura wrote for Down Home.  Cancura's stories behind the music took the audience to the Otha Turner Family Goat Roast and Picnic in Senatobia Country, Mississippi.  It was August 2010, the cops sold booze in that dry county.  Goat meat roasted on the barbecues and loaves of Wonder Bread were on hand for making sandwiches.  Blues musicians from the Mississippi Delta and the Hill Country played on the back of a flat-bed truck. The sounds took Cancura back to his musical roots in Eastern Europe -- gypsy jazz.

"We have really enjoyed playing The Jazz Room, thank you so much, you have been a great audience," Cancura says near the end of Saturday's show.  "We would love to come back."

And the club would love to have them back.

The band was fresh from a gig and workshop at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and Saturday's show in The Jazz Room was the second stop on its Canadian tour.  Drye says he's crossed Canada several times with Cancura in the past, and never had a reception like the one at The Jazz Room on Saturday.  Today, the band plays The Rex Hotel, that yappy bar on Queen Street West in Toronto where world-class jazz competes with loud-mouth patrons to be heard.

Cancura and Down Home also play the Ironworks in Vancouver Nov. 6th, the Yardbird Suite in Edmonton Nov. 7th, and Jazz YYC Canadian Jazz Festival in Calgary Nov. 9th.  Western Canadian jazz fans are in for a special treat.  Do not miss this band if it plays anwhere near you. It is a musical phenom like no other that is bound for something very, very special.