Monday 26 May 2014

Tenor sax sensation John Tank Returns to roots in downtown Kitchener

KITCHENER — The legendary saxophone sounds of John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Lester Young, Wayne Shorter, Charles Lloyd and Joe Henderson will ring from the stage at The Registry Theatre on Friday night in a unique celebration called Giants of the Tenor Sax.
Kitchener’s own John Tank, a tenor sax player, composer and recording artist based in New York City, returns to anchor an all-star band in this tribute to the instrument that defined the sound of jazz for many fans and played an enormous role in the music’s evolution.
Joining Tank on stage will be Don Thompson on piano, Terry Clarke on drums and Dave Young on bass.
“I would call it kind of a super band,” Tank said. “I thought this was a good combination. Don is harmonically very deep, but Dave Young is in a way his opposite.  He likes simplicity, and swinging is the most important part of the music for him to get the groove happening.”
Young played with the Oscar Peterson Trio for 25 years, and is a member of the Order of Canada. Young is well known to local jazz fans and last played with Tank at show in Waterloo last December.  Thompson is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and winner of three Juno Awards. Clarke won a Juno Award a few years ago for a collection of live recordings.
 “It is almost like going to a jam session with a bunch of charts, and saying: ‘Okay, let’s play a Dexter Gordon tune,’ and then you play a Dexter Gordon tune,” Tank said.
“I didn’t re-arrange them at all.  They are all basically right out of the book, standard lead sheets that I use.  Most of the music is so perfect. There is really not a lot you can add to it,” Tank said.
The lineup includes  Lester Young’s Tickle Toe, Joe Henderson’s Black Narcissus, Benny Golson’s Whisper Not, Hank Mobley’s This I Dig of You, Sonny Rollins’ Airegin, Dexter Gordon’s Fried Bananas, John Coltrane’s Naima (named after Coltrane’s wife), and Spiral, Charles Lloyd’s Forest Flower, Wayne Shorter’s Infant Eyes and Footprints, and Eddie Harris’ Freedom Jazz Dance.
When Golson wrote Whisper No, he was part of a group that included Art Farmer and McCoy Tyner and Curtis Fuller on trombone.
 “It was sort of pre-Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers,” Tank said. “Then Art Blakey took over the Jazz Messengers and Benny Golson played with him in that group.”
The Dexter Gordon tune Fried Bananas is based on a song called This Could Happen to You.
“And I might do another one of his. I might do Cheese Cake,” Tank said.
No celebration of great tenor saxophone music would be complete with Coleman Hawkins’ Body and Soul, which Tank included on the set list.
 “I chose the tunes based on their most famous songs,” Tank said. “Wayne Shorter has so many famous songs, but Footprints is probably the most popular. It is kind of a blues. It is probably his most covered tune.”
“I also picked tunes that I felt would be good for this band to play,” Tank said.
It was 40 years ago this month that Tank moved to New York City to make his living playing jazz. He has lived in the same apartment building on 4th Street in East Village ever since, and regularly plays at Fat Cat in the West Village and elsewhere.

John Tank Group: Giants of the Tenor Sax.

Where: The Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick St.
When: Friday, May 30th.
Showtime: 8 p.m.
Tickets: $25.
Available at Centre in the Square box office, or call 519-578-1570.

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