TO Jazz Review: The Andrew Stew Art Project, July 2, The Rex

Toronto – If there was one thing that was missing from the early part of my jazz festival experience this year, it was some time checking out some small clubs. This was certainly due to my own designs; there were so many great acts happening at the main stage at Nathan Phillips square that I had difficulty straying from the beaten path. But jazz is a music that works best in intimate venues. It was with this thought held firmly in mind that I embarked on the final weekend of the festival. The mission was clear: spend some quality time at the local clubs in the city.

Friday night found me at The Rex, one of the few institutions left in Toronto. This place is an integral part of the jazz community in the city. It balances great live music with a laid back vibe that welcomes music lovers of all stripes. The Andrew Stew Art Project consisted of the namesake of the band on bass, paired with some excellent Toronto musicians, and a bona fide steel pan player in Gareth Burgess. Tastefully done steel pan jazz is one of my very favourite things, so going to this show was a no-brainer for me. This show gets my top marks this year in my newly created Favourite Jazz Show At A Small Club category. The musicians were into it, the crowd was into it, and the vibes were positive. What more can you ask for?

At one point during the second set, a female vocalist was invited on stage for a few numbers. Unfortunately the result was a little lacklustre, as it was difficult for the crowd to maintain the momentum and sheer groove that accompanied the purely instrumental songs. It was a fun show at a great little club, and would easily earn 4.5 stars in my books if done again sans vocals.

Posted on by Mark in Concerts, Toronto Jazz Festival