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Triple Jazz Threat

April 10, 2009

Groups led by Saul Berson, Brent Jarvis, and Jon Miller kick the scene up a notch or three

get-1Judging from what’s going on musically, it’s pretty clear that the gigging season is upon us – big time. Three dynamic local (if we include Vancouver) groups take to the stage next week, starting with the phenomenal Saul Berson Quartet at Hermann’s on Thursday, April 16.

Berson’s group, which has been together for over 10 years, mixes various world beat flavours, including Middle Eastern and Latin, into their swinging jazz cauldron, and they do it so well that their 2008 CD Intricacy was nominated in the Outstanding Jazz Recording category at the Western Canadian Music Awards last year.

Berson’s alto sax and clarinet work has been described as everything from “tonally rich,” to “delicate” but one thing is certain – it’s good, very good, schooled as he is by his longstanding immersion in the rich Vancouver scene, playing a variety of styles from Klezmer to avante-garde to the swinging big-band charts of the Dal Richards orchestra. Berson produces supple, expressive lines on both instruments and can take the listener from the delightfully off-kilter to the deeply sublime in the blink of an eye.

And his bandmates are no slouches either. With the wildly masterful Kim Darwin on accordion (he also plays piano), Hornby Island’s virtuoso Tony Wilson on guitar (this guy shifts easily from burning, hard-edged solos to sweet, sweet lines that will melt you), and the much-in-demand Paul Blaney on bass (he’s played with everybody from John Handy to Ingrid Jensen), anyone who cares to wander down to Hermann’s on Thursday night and plunk down the bargain-basement $10 cover charge will be getting a million dollar musical experience.

And if you can’t make it to Hermann’s, the good news is these guys are doing a bit of island-hopping on this tour. They play Mayne Island (Ag Hall) on Friday, April 17; Hornby Island (New Horizons) on Saturday, April 18; and Courtenay (Elks Hall) on Sunday, April 19. Then in May they are off to Ottawa for a 2010 Olympics cultural concert before hitting the CBC studios and the Red Robinson Theatre back in Vancouver.

Have a listen at http://www.sonicbids.com/epk/epk.aspx?epk_id=154590 and I think you’ll agree that you are not going to find better jazz anywhere. These guys swing and burn with the best of them. This promises to be one of the hottest shows of the year.

Stay tuned for follow-up pieces on the Brent Jarvis Trio and the Jon Miller Quartet. They’ll be posted in the next day or two.

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