Whenever I visit the fair city of Toronto (Canada) I make it a point to support the city’s vibrant jazz scene.
Some years ago I had the pleasure of covering the Toronto Jazz Festival. This time, I stopped by the Rex Hotel Jazz & Blues Bar, where Cuban pianist, Hilario Duran and his trio performed two lively sets before a packed and enthusiastic house.
Joined by his long-time “compadres” bassist Roberto Occhipinti and drummer Mark Kelso, the trio effortlessly performed classic Cuban music, Latin jazz and modern jazz.
Repertoire wise, the trio drew much from the highly acclaimed (album) “Motion,” which was nominated for two Juno Awards (the equivalent of the Grammy Award in the U.S.) in 2010.
Tunes such as “Conversations with a Lunatic,” “Havana City,” “Danza Negra” and “Timba En Trampa” reflect Duran’s journey, from Cuba to Canada (1998) and showcase his penchant for composing tunes with depth, passion and swing.
The trio is a revelation, a tried, tested well-oiled machine that exudes camaraderie and a sixth-sense.
Between sets, I spoke with Hilario, who told me that he has “big plans” for 2015, among them, composing new music for the upcoming Pan Am Games, which will take place in July of this year. I also had the pleasure of speaking with Roberto Occhipinti, whose penchant for storytelling is unrivaled.
If and when you visit Toronto, stop by the Rex. It’s an oasis for anyone who enjoys good music in a relaxed, friendly setting.
Photo by Tomas Peña