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The Baroque Jazz Connection


THUNDER BAY, ON   ---   March 6, 2011  -----  Glenn Jennings and Elizabeth Ganiatsos share a few Glenn Jennings and  Elizabeth Ganiatsoswords before the concert last Saturday night. Billed as the Baroque Jazz Connection it was the first ever collaboration between an early music ensemble and the contemporary sounds of a jazz trio. Glenn is the leader of the well known Mood Indigo, and this is the 32 year at the helm for Elizabeth and the Consortium Aurora Borealis of Thunder Bay, Ontario

While the concert going public expect jazzmen to make up their parts as they go few realize that a very similar activity is going on for the continuo players in a baroque ensemble. Just like jazz today the music was adapted to play with whatever instruments that the musicians had on hand, and that means there has to be some give and take with the notes on the page. Baroque continuo players realize their parts from a figured bass, a single line of notes with a few numbers sharp and flat indicators thrown in for good measure now and then. Jazz musicians play a lot from lead sheets which have the melody, words and the bass and a few chord symbols which the performers use to fill in the rest. When the musicians are truly accomplished they throw away the lead sheets as well.

One comment I heard about the concert was “That was the coolest Consortium I’ve ever heard.” Certainly the regular Consortium crowd showed up but there were a number of new faces who all came to experience an experimental concert. Largely featuring music by Purcell, Bach and Handel, the musicians of the Consortium would start by playing the piece in the traditional style. As the piece moved along then the Jazz trio would pick up the beat and take the piece over.

There was some stunning playing on the part of all musicians, Consortium violinist Michelle Zapf-Bélanger did a stirring rendition of a Gershwin melody which not only showed how well she could work with a Jazz trio, but that she has a great sense of style needed to play this music. Also there was some great playing by flautist Doris Dungan, particularly the closing of the Bach suite. That was a hard act to follow.

In all there were ten musicians on stage. That is a fair number for essentially a chamber group and somehow the Consortium has managed to present a season of $25.00 concerts for and average admission of less than $15.00. Be sure to support their fundraising efforts and give generously at the door if we expect these concerts to continue.

There is one more concert in the Consortium season. On Saturday March 12th the Consortium will present a “Flute Fest” Music for one, two, three and four flutes. Once again Doris Dungan will be the key performer for this group and you can look forward to the silvery sounds of a flute quartet.

Bert Rowson
Arts Editor:

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