Distillery Jazz Festival

Shurum Burum / Kollage / Laura Crema
Distillery Historic District
Friday, May 21, 2004
A soggy Friday night provided the backdrop for version 2.0 of the Distillery Jazz Festival. Judging by the number of punters scattered amongst the grounds, a few droplets of two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen wasn't going to suffice in scaring away the throngs.

Vancouver's Laura Crema made do beneath of canopy of late day sun and shadows and came out relatively unscathed. A light piano accompaniment bathed her vocals, which themselves were seasoned with both underscored attitudeÍ and thyme (signatures). Crema looked like the proverbial cat that ate the canary, exuding both an understated confidence and a willingness to let the players play. The performance left lots of breathing room and like a gentle breeze off Lake Ontario, set the tone for what was to come.

Nobody would ever mistake Kollage for the Greater Tillsonberg Players but their mobile version of hard bop succeeded in making love to the limestone. All brass taps on hand as Doug Richardson and his tenor sax went blow-to-blow with Cuban trumpeter Alexis Baro. And the winner? Who cares?!? In the world of Kollage, these disparate bedfellows are allowed to take turns in what essentially turns out to be a shiny musical version of one-ups-manship. All the while, Michael Shand tickled the ivories and wasn't afraid to venture into wuss territory, albeit with all the style and grace of a seasoned pro. Bud Powell would've been proud.

One of the featured attraction of the entire festival was Shurum Burum, a bizarro spectacle that combines music, dance, gymnastics and a few other knick knacks. Unfortunately, the Glenlivet Caberet perhaps wasn't the ideal accommodation and it showed. A dozen plus players littered the stage and immediately burned through a number of Latin-influenced fusion crankers that would've done just as well backing a Mexican hat dance. Then, like a bat out of hell, some lass in a leotard descended from the ceiling and all bets were off. Picture a low-rent version of Cirque de Soleil performed by a collective of community theatre drop-outsˇthat's what we laid witness to. Again, Shurum Burum were victimized by the venue and from my vantage point, it was difficult to differentiate between the tumbling ensemble and the wait staff. Hot freaks began to prance around the venue and a couple of beautiful babies in body suits performed a peculiar spinning routine on a makeshift carousel suspended from the ceiling. My main issue with Shurum Burum is that there didn't seem to be any continuity between the musicians and the rest of the cast. For example, an peppy trumpet solo would be unfolding on-stage while in the audience, some middle-aged crank would be tippy toeing around, pretending to be a swan. Maybe I've just been kicking around the mosh pit too long but either way, the impact that the Shurum Burum folks were aiming for when plum over this head.

Writer: Cameron Gordon

Photo:Jackie Sin

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