Mark Kelso, a drummer with tremendous chops, the head of percussion at Humber College in Toronto, a sideman for an impressive list of artists, in an even more impressive list of styles, ranging from pop to theatre, with just about everything in between. His first selection of the evening was somewhere in-between, a song from his album Lost Kingdoms (Independent 2002) entitled "Enuma Elish," an ancient folk song, with the two earliest instruments known to mankind, drums and voice. The song featured Kelso’s voice in a percussive manner boom, chick a boom style with drumming as accompaniment, resulting in a type of call and response solo. The next three songs were performed as a trio with Mr. Kelso calling upon special guest artists, Hilario Duran on piano and Roberto Occhipinti playing acoustic bass. The trio would tear it up with Mr. Duran’s compositions, "Timba En Tramba," "Moonface" and "Por Emiliano." A wonderful selection of songs to highlight the drummers role in keeping, making and setting up the groove, not to mention creating illusion as Kelso is so apt to do, as he drums in a style that combines conga, timbale and kit drum set.
The next drummer to take to the stage, the host of the evening, Rob Brown, who brought along his band mates from Rich Brown & Rinsethealgorithm with Robi Botos playing piano, Luis Gonzalez Deniz playing alto saxophone and leader Rich Brown playing electric bass, the band, quite possibly one of the most under rated super-groups of the new millennium, put on a tremendous display of high energy high tech - jazz artwork and showmanship. The band would play three songs with a drum clinic following the second song. The show started with a funky number, drummer Rob Brown took charge with solid back beats and funky syncopated rhythms interspersed with heavy hitting fills of excitement. The rhythm section backs up saxophonist Deniz who plays as an explorer in a new world - laying down melodic lines of pure beauty and catching you unaware to blow as a holy terror and knock you from your reverie. If not for the skill of the other band members the show would be all saxophone. Robi Botos, a world class pianist is up to the task of playing as equally impressive, one of the greats in electric bass, Rich Brown can also hold his own against any musician in the world and plays a most melodic and highly inspirational mode of bassist wizardry.
Abandoned by his band mates Rob Brown played a groove inspired solo that covered a wide range of diversified playing. The band joined him on stage and proceeded to play one more high energy tune prior to a short intermission.
Paul Brochu, perhaps best known from his days with jazz fusion band UZEB a band that he was with for twelve years and that won numerous awards for both jazz album and jazz group of the year - spanning the years, 1983 to 1991, took to the stage and put on a first rate clinic. The accompaniment was recorded bands that he had played with, less the drum track, Brochu would perform three extended numbers and laid down a combination of grooves. The audience sat in rapt attention to this master drummer as he verbally and audibly explained how he made his music.
The evening held many surprises, the above mentioned guest artists, cash awards and percussive prizes that were given out throughout the evening. The big sponsorship award, a $500.00 gift certificate to Long & McQuade, a very generous prize from this large Toronto head office music store conglomerate, that went to a ten year old drummer who demonstrated the basics in fine form.
The show is growing year to year, drummers, drum students, drum enthusiasts, percussionists and music fans, who missed this show, missed one of the high light shows of the year. The show, Drums Live III featured some of Canada’s top drummers, some of the worlds top musicians, performing in a relaxed, non-competitive, friendly drum battle where the outcome, excellent music - produced only one winner and no losers. The winner, of course the kid who received the five bills as well as the audience who witnessed one of this years top ten musical extravaganzas.