This was the week that a local groundhog interrupts his burrowing to see what the winter duration will be. The Hamilton Philharmonic’s Pops Concert paid tribute to the rodent by presenting a concert that was…Boring! Promoted as a jazz event with guest soloist Diana Panton, the selections and arrangements were stereotypically ‘piano bar’ and should have had the percussion team clinking glasses as background.
Miss Panton, a popular concert & recording artist, possesses a silky voice and a velvet tone. Her lyrics are articulate and the phrasing is carefully deliberate. Her entire presentation is intimate yet certainly calculated. The tempo so mirrors Streisand that this writer kept looking for the switch to change 33⅓ to 45rpm!
The HPO’s conductor, Jamie Sommerville introduced her and the quartet with a bit of his own history vis-a-vis jazz; I’ll do the same (minus the ‘uhms’). As a teenager, I attended a couple of JATP concerts at the Forum; would go the Metropole every time I visited NYC; and through other aficionados, had the opportunity to meet Cole, Ella, Illinois, Gene, Buddy, Dizzy and Hampton. During my dating/engagement period, George’s Spaghetti House was our place! The thing that they all had in common – improvisation! Last night, improv was non-existent.
The backup musicians – Don Thompson on piano, guitarist Reg Schwager; Jim Vivian on bass and Guido Basso on flugelhorn & trumpet, are all renowned performers. My old mentor, Geoff Chapman of TorStar always wrote superlatives about Basso. Being introduced to him at one of the National Jazz Awards ceremonies (along with Phil Nimmons) was a highlight of that event. Their solo riffs all received polite applause – they deserved better. Even the guest solo-ing horn by Sommerville was only respectfully acknowledged …maybe it was a lingering chill from the previous day’s storm.
The next H.P.O. concert is on March 2nd and features works by Dvořák & Liszt.