TO Jazz Review: Brandi Disterheft, June 26, Toronto Star Stage

Toronto – I’m going to start this review not with a review, but with a story. Gather ‘round friends. Don’t worry, there is a point to all of this. The year was two thousand and spluh, and I was studying for exams. There I was, at my favourite coffee shop where I had befriended one of the employees and was downing free caramel macchiatos for my troubles. Just beside the shop was a bar and a I could see a jazz trio setting up. I looked at my textbooks and thought “Screw this! If have to study for exams, I might as well do it to the sound of live jazz.” So I packed up my stuff and hopped over.

Being one of the few attentive listeners in the audience, the performers came up to talk to me after their set. There was a piano player, a drummer, and a bassist. All nice people, and all happy to talk jazz. I offered them a hand with their take down because it seemed like a nice thing to do. Also, I am an expert procrastinator and this is exam time folks. This is when things got interesting.

I had no idea how dicey it can be to transport a double bass around the city. This young bassist had her system and it was the most ridiculous thing I could imagine. She got me to help hide her bass in the building entrance, well away from the street, and would flag down a cab. Then, when the cabbie stopped, she’d quickly grab her hidden bass and try to manoeuvre it into the taxi before the driver could object. Inevitably, as soon as the cabbie was wise to the trick, he would drive off; most wanting nothing to do with transporting such a big and expensive instrument. At first this was pretty entertaining, but it took about 5 times before a driver looking at the bass half sticking out of his cab let out a sigh and gave in.

So what’s my point? The point is that it’s tough to be a young double bassist in the city without a car. The good news is that with the right mix of talent and drive, it can get easier. That bassist was a young Brandi Disterheft. The pianist was Laila Biali, both of whom have blossomed into fine jazz musicians in their own right. It was rewarding to see Brandi open for Herbie Hancock last weekend. Her music walks the line between the traditional jazz of yesterday and the more progressive sounds of today, all the time remaining accessible. She has successfully surrounded herself with musicians that compliment that style.

Thankfully Brandi doesn’t have to trick cabbies into helping move her bass around anymore. She can focus on thumping that bass and we can focus on appreciating it.

Posted on by Mark in Concerts, Toronto Jazz Festival