Monday, September 23, 2002

An Evening at the Top O' the Senator

A year ago we spent a week taking in the sights, but especially the sounds, of New Orleans - we particularly enjoyed "The Funky Butt." Great jazz. Good food. Wonderful atmosphere. So it seemed only appropriate to mark our first year anniversary with an evening of jazz, and the Top O' the Senator seemed just the place.

Neither of us have actually been to the Top O' the Senator, but I've often seen it featured on TV Ontario's "Studio 2" and "In Coversation with Allan Gregg."

I had always pictured it to be a suave club at the top of one of Toronto's mammoth office towers. Actually, The Top O' the Senator rises all the way to the 2nd floor atop the Torch Bistro, which was probably quite the place in it's time, but has lost much of its lustre. Still, the club itself is rather suave in appearance and atmosphere. We weren't disappointed.

The scheduled act for the evening was the Yoon Choi Quartet - which actually turned out to be a QUINtet. They failed to warn us about the trombone player (what is it, some secret union of Trombonists asserting their will over the will of the people?). This is what happens when 5 graduates of a university jazz programme are set loose on the world. It's like newly ordained pastors who actually believe they should put into practise everything they learned in seminary. Sounds great in theory!

Like parishoners hearing a new pastor's sermon for the first time, the music wasn't what I expected to hear - Diana Krall it was not. And I'm actually quite glad for that. Here were 5 young musicians stretching their experipental jazz wings, and doing a fine job of it. Especially appealing for me was the piano player's incredibly soft touch in contrast to the drummers heavy hands. The tunes were a mix of originals and pop standards - everything from The Beatles to Howard Jones to Bjork - all done will expeme creativity. Purists would be appalled, but appreciated the new take on the familiar tunes.

I'm not sure the clientelle at The Funky Butt would approve, but everyone at the Top O' the Senator had a marvelous time. It was a great way to mark the first year.