By: Jaymz Bee

Photographer: George Gardiner

I’ve helped Produce 13 Jazz Lives concerts with Ross Porter for JAZZ.FM91 and our latest show (April 12th) was my favourite yet! Every show has been special and unique but I’ve never felt a sense of community more than this last event. Even the staff of Koerner Hall kept saying “wow, this is a really great HOUSE”…meaning “your audience goes crazy after every brilliant solo” or “how many standing ovations can one concert get?”

The show began with Shawne Jackson singing Leonard Cohen’s masterpiece, “Hallelujah”. Shawne is a renowned singer and actor but hasn’t performed live in many moons. It was a very special moment.

Ross Porter, President and CEO of JAZZ.FM91 welcomed everyone and ran down a hilarious list of “How You Know You’re Truly A Canadian Music Fan”. My favourite was “when you buy Rush tickets for a show and are upset that you don’t get to sit with Alex, Neil and Geddy Lee.”

The house band featured Eric St-Laurent on guitar, Marc Rogers on bass and Davide Direnzo on drums and our musical director for years, Lou Pomanti played grand piano and B3 Hammond Organ. Bill McBirnie joined them on flute for a wicked version of Moe Koffman’s “Swinging Shepherd Blues”.

Barbra Lica was next and amazed the jam-packed house with two classic pop hits. Silvia Tyson’s “You Were On My Mind” (written when she was Sylvia Fricker) and “Something To Talk About” by Shirley Eikhard.

David Clayton Thomas paid homage to one of the most famous songs written by a Canadian, Ruth Lowe’s I’ll Never Smile Again”. This song was made famous by Frank Sinatra and DCT nailed it with the help of William Carn on trombone and The Willows on backing vocals. Colleen Allen joined in on sax and Jason Logue hit some blistering high notes on trumpet for DCT’s own International hits “You’re The One” and “Spinning Wheel”.

At intermission Heavyweights Brass Band entertained in the main lobby and marched everyone back to the stage. They performed “YYZ” by Rush and two Tragically Hip hits “Ahead By A Century” and “New Orleans Is Sinking”. The JAZZ.FM91 Youth Big Band were next up, first with a Rob McConnell/Boss Brass arrangement of “Oh Canada” and then a big band chart of the song “Bad Dream” by Earl MacDonald. The band is comprised of some of the best High School students in the GTA and never fail to impress.

Heather Bambrick sang Bruce Cockburn’s “Lovers In A Dangerous Time”, a song featured on her recent Juno nominated disc, You’ll Never Know. She was then joined by Steven Page who went on to thrill the audience with two Leonard Cohen compositions, “A Singer Must Die” and “Memories”. He invited Colleen Allen back to the stage to join him and It was one of the highlights of the night.

The only “non-Canadians’ have been part of the JAZZ.FM91 family for years. Radio Deluxe hosts John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey came up from New York and played three Canadian classics: “Harvest Moon” (Neil Young), “Help Me” (Joni Mitchell) and “Everybody Knows” (Leonard Cohen).

Robi Botos was given the TMA ‘Musician of The Year Award’ before closing the night with the legendary Jackie Richardson, who performed Oscar Peterson’s “Hymn To Freedom”. It brought the house down!

The encore featured the entire house band and most of the artists from the evening for a funk version of Crowbar’s “Oh What A Feeling”. After that fifth standing ovation, alas it was time to depart Koerner Hall. Watching our JAZZ.FM91 donors and music fans leave the building with big smiles on their faces was the perfect ending to a very long but amazing day.