Respected across the national jazz scene for more than three decades, the hard-swinging CANADIAN JAZZ QUARTET have established themselves, individually and collectively, among the elite of jazz musicians on air and in recording studios, in clubs and on concert stages, and at major music events and jazz festivals all over the country.
Founded by the late guitar luminary Gary Benson in 1987, the lineup has evolved over the years, but under the long-time current leadership of iconic vibes-master Frank Wright, today’s Canadian Jazz Quartet (FRANK WRIGHT on vibes, TED QUINLAN on guitar, PAT COLLINS on bass, DON VICKERY on drums) remains a standard of excellence in jazz in Canada.
After a record-breaking decade-long run creating new mainstream jazz collaborations weekly for packed houses at leading downtown jazz venues, the classy CJQ is now in their fourth year in residence at the the Old Mill’s Home Smith Bar, where they bring their graceful treatment of standards and original material to “First Fridays”, and showcase a different headlining superstar each month.
Tonight’s featured guest is saxophone icon PAT LaBARBERA. Born in Warsaw, New York, he spent the first thirty years of his life in the United States before moving to Toronto in 1974. He studied at the famed Berklee College of Music, and soon after graduating, began to make his presence felt with the best of the American big bands. By the time he relocated to Toronto in 1974, LaBarbera was already well-known for his solo work with the bands of Louis Bellson, Woody Herman, and for seven years, touring and recording as featured tenor saxophone soloist with the Buddy Rich Band. Universally considered one of the world’s most exciting saxophonists, LaBarbera worked consistently with Elvin Jones since 1975, appearing at premier jazz festivals all over the world. After a brief hiatus, he rejoined Elvin Jones’ ‘Time Machine’ in 2001 to perform and tour North America, Britain, Europe, and Japan for the next two years. Called ‘a true intellectual of improvisation’ by Justin Time Records, Pat LaBarbera has been among the key members of the Toronto jazz scene for the past three-plus decades, claiming Junos and ‘Jazz Report’ Awards for writing and performing with his own jazz ensembles all along the way.