Alex of course impressed me an "awe-full" lot. I had first heard him play last year in a MacEwan Music Ensemble concert and I thought his playing was exciting, exquisite, masterful and "contrabutional" to the ensemble as a whole. On this gig my expectations of Alex were met and went really beyond from what I had heard before—even with an electric piano. Beautiful lines very compositional and engaging soloing. The arrangements (heads) were nicely developed and to the point and worked very well. Alex's composition that I heard was a stunning piece showing some fresh harmonic direction full of surprising and engaging solutions—it really catches the ear of the listener. I would like to be able to do that !! :) maybe he'll show me that one or perhaps they'll record it— it is worthy. That was a great first set!!
I then travelled to my next stop: The Yardbird Suite. Tania Gill, a fine creative composer, musician, and improvisor, presented a chamber-music jazz sound with finessed compositions with material that was well worked out. Her music was quite complex at times, with an unfailing sense of clarity and artistic intent. She had a very wonderful band (4 tet) that realized her sensibilities with passion and concern for Tania's art. Lina Almano played trumpet. Lina is one of our unforgettable heros from MacEwan U. Music and has gone on to being a creative band leader/composer/force in her own right. I have her CDs: The Lina Almano Four... She is always a thoughtful deeply considerate music maker. Tania Gill plays beautiful swinging jazz piano when it's called for and it was really respectable and swingin'. Mentionable is her playing of melodica which has gained some popularity recently because I think it gives a keyboardist the added dimension of a crescendo on a sustained melody note or chord. She would play melodica and piano together to some good effect—not easy to do. She also featured compositions of her band members: Lina Almano trpt, Clinton Ryder bass, and Jean Martin on drums which gave the audience a look at the character, dimensions, and musical depth of her ensemble. The audience was definitely enthusiastic and engaged, and called for an encore, a piece which highlighted and capsulized both the sensitivity, musical direction/intelligence, presented throughout the evening.