The city of Markham (Ontario) kicked off its 16th annual Jazz Festival with the great Canadian talents of Denzal Sinclaire & Elizabeth Shepherd at the Varley Art Gallery. The Varley Art Gallery is a small but nice place to see a duet or trio – very cozy.
Denzal really showed off this talents at this concert, in addition to his cool vocal stylings he also played piano, drums and a melodica, also known as the blow-organ. Denzal began the show with an acapella version of “Amazing Grace” that truly was amazing. He followed up with the oldie but goodie You Treat Me So Good, great bass playing by Devin Henderson. He then sang I’ve Got Rhythm & I’ve Got the World on a String – Denzal played nice brushes on the drums for this tune. The next tune was a great rendition of Mona Lisa -he played the intro on his melodica – nice touch – it’s tough to do such a well known Nat King Cole tune, but Denzal owns this tune. You and the Night and the Music, one of my favourites tunes was next – great phrasing & delivery. On the drums he did a tune that was new to me called The Ruby and the Pearl, written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston (who also wrote Mona Lisa), nice brush work, a haunting beautiful song. He did a medley of I Can’t Stop Loving You, You Don’t Know Me, Be My Love and How Glad I Am; he ended off with just the bass and him snapping his fingers to a the Beatles tune, Eleanor Rigby. Nice, really nice – I finally know what this tune is about! Great show – well done!
Elizabeth Shepherd started the second half with a great rendition of Love for Sale – vocal & piano solo by Elizabeth, followed by a bass solo from the great Ross MacIntire, and finished off with a vocal scat by Elizabeth. The bass play & drummer, Colin Kingsmore, also do great vocal harmonies and back ground singing with Elizabeth on a number of tunes – multi-talented! The next tune was written by Shepherd, called Lonely House, haunting…. The next tune was in French – I didn’t catch the name – but it sounded beautiful – rich harmonies of the three – cool finger snapping from the drummer! (Is this a new trend?) She performed a couple more home grown tunes – one started with very primal beat with the bass – very cool – called People are Different in the Night & a solo piano vocal piece entitled Close Enough for Love. The last tune was You Know How I Feel – nice transition from jazz to rock feel. Her encore piece, Just for Now, was what she felt was an appropriate benediction tune on which to end the night – no surprise here, she was raised by the ministers of the Salvation Army. I quote from Do Right! Music column “As far as being a “jazz performer”, Elizabeth does not count herself as one to be defined by a particular genre; her music comes straight from the soul, and is more than just what she does, but what she loves and who she is.” Well said.