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“Night of the Cookers” Cooks

January 8, 2012

Percussionist and impresario Kelby MacNayr asked if I would write a review of his newly-minted “Night of the Cookers” series that launched at Hermann’s last night with an appearance by Phil Dwyer accompanied by MacNayr on percussion and Ken Lister on bass.

I thought I probably wouldn’t because I’ve written a lot about Dwyer lately.

Then I went to the show and was once again gobsmacked by this giant of jazz who lives amongst us mere mortals here on Vancouver Island.

Covering everything from Coltrane to Evans to Rollins on sax and piano, along with a few original compositions and arrangements, Dwyer and the trio wowed a packed house that included a number of Victoria’s top jazz musicians.

Actually “covering” is the wrong word because Dwyer does more than that – he channels the jazz greats, all the while infusing their music with his own soulful and playful energy.

It goes without saying that he’s technically and musically brilliant, but he also brings a drive, energy, and joy to his playing that elevates the music, his audience, and his band mates as he challenges them to go beyond themselves.

Both Lister and MacNayr rose to that challenge, with Lister delivering several gorgeous bass solos and MacNayr, ever the consummate and subtle accompanist,  playing with added muscle.

It was a thrilling show, made all the better by Dwyer’s witty and adept handling of the drunk at the back who insisted on shouting out questions every time he introduced a tune.

Just before jumping into the closing piece, a slightly exasperated but still-in-good-humour Dwyer responded, “I don’t need to talk to you, I can listen to the voices in my own head.”

That pretty well silenced her and ultimately it was the music that spoke the loudest.

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