Volume 91, Issue 21

Thursday, October 2, 1997



All that jazz

By Kevin Dunklee
Gazette Writer

Jazz fans in London are a breed of people who seek opportunities to defy the cold, conservative image of the city and escape to the few available venues to savour their music of choice. Sometimes it is about music and sometimes it is about image and atmosphere. Thursday evenings at the Westin Hotel are definitely about image.

Upon entering the casual elegant foyer of the hotel, the strains of recorded be-bop waft through the halls. The trio of John Noubarian on grand piano, Steve Litman on bass and Richard Brisco on drums began with a gentle mid-swing "On Green Dolphin Street" and then moved into the haunting "Stella By Starlight."

Although the pianist focuses on over-zealously soloing through both songs, the rhythm section brilliantly held down the basics and rescued the opening from what could have been nebulous musical bantering. Litman's sonorous bass solos tastefully evoked memories of Jaco Pastorius and were eloquently punctuated by Brisco's careful rhythmic simplicity.

Caroline Gibson then took the microphone and immediately her stage presence brought a refreshing mood of subtle anticipation to the room. She and the band soared through Sinatra's "World On A String" showing maturity in her interpretations proving she has come into her own as a major London talent.

Moreover, her stunning audience rapport created a warmth which contrasted the cold urban skyscape in the background. In the song "One Note Samba," Brisco shone yet again by alternately playing timbale lines and claves on the rim of the snare drum. It is always a pleasure to hear young players who have gone to the source and learned the fundamentals of the music they are playing. Brisco obviously keeps his ears open.

The set closed with the delicious sociological irony of Peggy Lee's "I'm A Woman," which rallied suppressed grins from those in the audience who were comfortable enough with themselves to consider the song within the context of its own time.

Noubarian churned out yet another piano solo displaying his apparent technical mastery of the instrument and brashly continued his theme of reckless egocentrism. Again Litman and Brisco, working as a polished team, provided gravity and brought Gibson back to superimpose her lush vocals over the relatively trite lyrical content. The final chorus brought enthusiastic applause from a crowd that had been given just enough to make them want more.

Gibson was gracious and left the bandstand after reminding the audience to, "Spread it around. We want to keep this jazz thing alive in London."

The Caroline Gibson Quartet plays Thursdays from 9 p.m. to midnight in the second floor lounge at the Westin Hotel (formerly The Radisson), 300 King street in Downtown London.

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997