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Domenic Troiano with Doug Riley on Hammond B-3

The Orbit Room in Toronto, Ontario -- known for its high caliber of funk, R&B and blues -- came up with a stellar all-star cast of musicians on Tuesday, May 25, 2004. Guitarist Domenic Troiano (hailed as one of the very best to come out of the Toronto Sound music explosion of the mid-‘60s in Canada), along with the other awesome players this night, created a true, modern-day musical masterpieces, in two mind-boggling 90-minute sets that evening. Troiano has been part of several bands in his musically prolific career; including The Mandala, The Guess Who, The James Gang and Bush.

Accompanying Troiano on Hammond B-3, was Doug Riley. Riley is founder of late ‘60s Toronto band, Dr. Music and many others - and is touted by many as the finest B-3 player in Canada, and one of the best in the world. Added to this impeccable lineup of talent is Howard Ayee on bass, who was at one time bassist for iconic ‘70s-‘80s Canadian rock band Rough Trade, featuring lead vocalist Carole Pope and guitarist Tony 'Wild T' Springer, (ex-David Bowie).

This specially put together combo also features the fine drumming and percussion talent of Ben Riley on drums. Ben is Doug’s son, and has been playing drums since he was three - (by simple coincidence, the elder Riley began playing piano when he was three, too - no wonder he’s so good at it!)

There were several musicians and media types in the audience this night, including keyboard master Mike Fonfara (Downchild, ex-Electric Flag/Lou Reed/Rhinocerous.)

Troiano and the others performed some of the most amazing jazz, blues and R&B you could ever hope to hear in one concert at one time. Some of the intricate, thoughtful, jazzy chords and melodic leads Troiano ingeniously created, boggled the mind to listen to - all were purely crafted genius! Doug’s accompaniment on B-3 was the quintessential complement to Troiano’s guitar ingenuity, as were his out-of-this-world B-3 solos and intricate harmonic keyboard rhythms. Ayee’s bass lines kept the groove going, with pleasing root note accompaniment, and all-too-few but totally amazing bass solos. The arrangements were tastefully and masterfully performed by all -- including Ben’s always in-the-groove drumming. Nothing was overdone or underdone that night --- a totally appetizing musical smorgasborg, in just the right helpings, so as to be enchanting, without being overwhelming.

In the first of two captivating sets, Troiano, as well as the two Riley’s, with Ayee on bass, warmed up the eager audience with an amazing rendition of the jazzy Bush hit, "Turn Down". Domenic’s inspired guitar soloing turned on the enthusiastic audience in a big way with this number; as did Doug’s ingenious B-3 riffs, backed impressively by Ben’s drumming and Ayee’s bass excellence.

The already-electric atmosphere at the Orbit this night, was thoroughly enhanced with a sweet, romantic version of the Troiano original, "Lonely Girl". This tune is my favorite pick from Domenic’s recently released CD, 20th Century Masters -- The Best Of Domenic Troiano -- the Millennium Collection, available through Universal Music. This spectacular compilation features "Turn Down", as well as the classic Mandala hit "Opportunity". There are several other incredible Troiano originals in this compilation, including the Bush classic, "I Can Hear You Calling". I highly recommend this impressive, entertaining CD, as a ‘must’ for any Troiano fan’s music collection.

My personal favorite from the first set, is the heartwarming Stylistics’ romantic R&B hit from the ‘70s, "You Make Me Feel Brand New" - it is both deep and insightful. A Latin samba Troiano original from the ‘70s, entitled "Melting Pot", featured an incredible drum solo by Ben, that helped finish the first set with a bang!

The talent and performance on every tune in this first set (as well as in the second) was flawless -- with energy abounding! I thought I’d mention that original Mandala vocalist George Olliver, was in the Orbit Room audience that night, enjoying this fine performance, too. It was great to see George there. I’ve attended many of his awesomely energetic and highly entertaining performances over the years.

In the second exceptional set, while introducing "Eleanora Fagan" to the packed and discerning Orbit Room audience, Domenic informed us that ‘Eleanora Fagan’ was the real name of jazz diva Billie Holiday. (That little bit of music history helped add interest to an already terrific tune, and evening). "Eleanora " hit outer space as the intricate leads and guitar rhythms Troiano came up with; were added to with zest and flair by Doug on B-3. Ben and Howard were able to offer their own unique contributions on drums and bass respectively, helping "Eleanora " transcend the original recording (available on Dom’s newest Best Of CD), to reach new heights of interpretive excellence.

Another inspired tune put across by this very special four-piece combo, was the Beatles song, "Eleanor Rigby" - a wise choice in name association and musicality with the previously mentioned "Eleanora ". Domenic’s intricate, jazzy guitar leads, which began this Fab Four hit, hinted only slightly at the well-loved Beatles’ classic. However, this rendition, came across as a totally unique, original creation - as only a master guitarist like Troiano can magically conjure up. A few times in this tune, the orchestrated and well-balanced familiar melody of "E. Rigby" came through - but exquisitely unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. You really had to be there to appreciate how great it sounded. Doug’s soloing and harmonies on the B-3 were breathtaking - and added great variety to this much-loved Beatles’ song.

Spectacular Latin rhythms abounded in Cannonball Adderly’s impeccable "Jive Samba". Ben excelled on the skins with imagination and execution on this one, as did Troiano’s incredible guitar wizardry, drawing every nuance out of each and every highly musical passage. Ayee’s bass went wild here, spurred on by the unrelenting fire that Doug unleashed from his smokin’ B-3.

Doug again excelled on B-3 in the late, great Jimmy Smith tune, "The Cat". He provided the quintessential interpretation of this all-time Smith classic, with some wild, jazzy riffs that knew no bounds! Domenic’s guitar rhythms and solos helped the mix simmer nicely, with Ben’s energetic drumming and Ayee’s bass lines helping to drive this winner home! An incredible choice of tunes like "Burnin’ at the Stake", and "A Change Is Gonna Come", really helped accentuate the high quality of musical output at the Orbit that night.

The final spectacular tune of this very special evening, was Freddie King’s "The Stumble". The whole band went ballistic on this King classic, with some of the finest leads, soloing and heavy-duty rhythm playing around. This superb piece drifted into a totally ballistic blues jam that went places with the players’ imaginations and talent that were mind-boggling. This was the absolutely perfect ending to a stunning performance by an all-star roster of players, who know how to entertain an audience the best way there is. The audience’s reaction was ecstatic in its appreciation -- loud applause and screams for "More" -- as it should be, when the quality of music is this good! It was a great pleasure to be present at such a fine performance as this, at the Orbit Room, in Toronto this night.

Artist: Domenic Troiano
Domenic Troiano’s Official Website:
Domenic Troiano in Canadian Music Scene:
Mandala Official Website:
George Olliver Official Website:

Artist: Doug Riley
Doug Riley/Dr. Music bio/info (in the Canadian Music Encyclopedia):
Doug Riley: (bio in Canadian Music Scene):

The Orbit Room
580ACollege Street (2nd floor)
Toronto, Ontario
M6G 1B3
phone: (416) 535-0613

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Domenic Troiano and Doug Riley
  • Concert Date: Tues/ May 25, 2004
  • Subtitle: the Orbit Room, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Venue: The Orbit Room, 580 'A' College Street, (2nd floor)
  • City State Country: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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