Jazz trio warms up the Owens

Myriad 3 bring a host of original compositions.

In front of the Alex Colville serigraph prints at the Owens Art Gallery, Myriad 3 played modern jazz piano that veered toward the experimental. The Catbird Jazz Society and the Department of Music at Mount Allison hosted the Toronto jazz trio the Wednesday before last. The show was the first that the society has held in the Owens. The trio and the dimmed gallery lights established a comfortable atmosphere that starkly contrasted the snowstorm that raged outside.

The impression given was that they had a deep reverence for traditional roots but wanted to innovate beyond them, and they did just that. The music twisted, turned, stopped, and started, but amidst its acrobatics, it retained a consistent and emotive tone. However, the tone did change from piece to piece—dark and moody in some, and triumphant and full of hope in others. The excesses in instrumentation worked because of how well they functioned together as a unit.

Cohesion seemed to be the group’s strongest point. It was in their approach to musicianship as well: each member composed their own set of pieces, which were fleshed out with a little exposition in the pauses between the sixteen arrangements they played. The set as a whole was split into two sections, which gave the audience the chance to get to know the performers on a more personal level.

The trio showed off their traditional jazz roots as well. This was most notable in their take on Oscar Peterson’s “C Jam Blues” and a bebop medley that encompassed some of the genre’s standards. Aside from these two pieces, the entire performance was made up of original compositions and each had its own distinctive personality. Standouts included “Little Lentil”—a piece written by the trio’s drummer, Ernesto Cervini, about his son when he was still the size of a lentil, which featured a xylophone that made the song lullaby-like—and “Mr. Awkward,” which faked out the audience at the end, resulting in a premature applause.

“The Strong One,” played close to the start of the set, was particularly interesting. It toyed with a clock-like drumbeat, slightly altering it throughout the piece. The result was a weird sensation of time becoming slower and slower as it neared its end. “Tell,” also the name of their album, stood out because of its remarkable bass line, which allowed for a lot of variance in both the drumming and the piano on top of it, demonstrating the full range of the group.

The trio consists of Chris Donnelly on piano, Dan Fortin on bass, and Ernesto Cervini on drums. They met during their studies at the University of Toronto and have since become highly regarded in the Toronto jazz scene. The band has now returned to Ontario, where their sixth tour of Canada is drawing to a close.

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