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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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K-OS at the McInnes Room, Halifax

Canadian hip-hop supastar K-OS (Knowledge-Of Self) played tonight at the Dalhousie Student Union Bldg with a full band comprised of guitar, bass, drums, percussion, DJ, and keyboards. It was by any measure a powerful show, and a good one. Fantastic jumping beats, great friendly hippie dancing vibe, and an old McGill Music classmate of mine name Maury LeFoy playing some truly fonky bass all night long.

My anecdote about Maury LeFoy (who has also played on Sarah Harmer recordings) has to do with my audition for McGill when I was 18. I flew to Montreal to audition for the Jazz Studies Programme in person, and Maury, along with a great pianist named Tilden Webb, were the accompanists the school provided for my audition. I'd never met them before that day, though.

My first tune was a B-flat blues called Tenor Madness. In Calgary, where I was from, if you called a B-flat blues at a nightclub, you were just as likely to get a IV-V-I standard delta blues than you were a standard jazz or bebop blues, which is peppered with II-V7-I progressions and features a tonicization of the II chord leading up to the last 4 bars of the form.

I gave Maury and Tilden each a lead sheet for them to follow along with me on that tune. A chart for Tenor Madness, which is such a hoary old bebop standard that practically every jazz musician on Earth could play it, although I didn't know that at the time. I even made a point of telling them that I liked to play the changes on the blues where you play a II-V7-I turnaround to the II chord near the end of the form. And they looked at me politely, albeit a bit strangely, and nodded.

I was taken aback when they didn't appear even to glance at the lead sheets I'd provided them. Were they going to screw this up? Who are these guys, anyway? If I get to that part and they don't play the changes right, what am I gonna do?

Of course, as I didn't know at the time, Maury and Tilden were (and are) killer jazz musicians, arrangers and composers in their own right at that time. And lesser guys would have either looked down on me for insulting them with those lead sheets, or tease me mercilessly about it when I came to the school next year. But they were always really gracious about that, and we were always really friendly to each other after that.

I considered trying to get backstage to see him and say hi, but I'm not really sure that he'd remember me. If he didn't remember me, I wouldn't want to embarrass myself by trying to explain who I am... :)

At any rate, that was a heavy, great show. I have lots of constructive criticism for K-OS's performing, especially near the end, but overall it was a very tight set (85 min long), very high-energy with totally heavy, real hip-hop beats; the real deal, with real live musicians -- the best! -- it was fantastic.

Good dancing, too! That whirling dervish I met named Lolita with the waist-long dreads and the rag cotton dress tripped me out hardcore too, with her spinning. It was wild, watching her turn around and around and around. She had that legit hippie thing down for real -- no frontin'  by her, no how.
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kumaraka October 22nd, 2006
Ha ha, great entry. Music has always been a mystery to me, and lines like "I even made a point of telling them that I liked to play the changes on the blues where you play a II-V7-I turnaround to the II chord near the end of the form" make me REALLY curious about music. How much of what sounds good sounds good for mathematical reasons, and how much of what is good is determined by what we grew up growing comfortable with?

iamom October 23rd, 2006
I think that's a bit of a chicken and the egg kind of question. Plus it's worth noting that almost only bad music is composed solely with the underlying mathematics in mind; the mathematics (in this case, the systematic use of harmony and written music) generally arise out of the creation of the music itself; in other words, after the music is created, it's written down.

It can be different nowadays, where you can compose music with a computer and samples and stuff, but then again, don't get me started on that. Despite my love for good hip-hop, my chief complaint of it and most popular commercial music these days is its complete lack of harmonic variety and interest. Everything's in one key or tonality and the rhythms are utterly boring.

jdquintette October 22nd, 2006
I guess this is one of those "one degree of separation" moments. I played a couple of gigs with Tilden in Vancouver in the summer of 2005. He's currently married to McGill alum (and killer bassist) Jody Proznik. They did a great CD with Jesse Cahill and Fathead Newman on the Cellarlive label a couple of years back.


There's a lot of McGill grads working in Vancouver.

I also did a few gigs with Greg Clayton in Montreal about 6 years ago. One was New Years eve at Koji's. I can't remember where the others were. We also did some recording in Mcgill's studio B, but nothing ever came of it.


jdquintette October 22nd, 2006
I tell a lie. The guitar player on the Mcgill sessions was Mike Rud. The bass and drums were Dave Laing and Dave...I forget. But Double Daves nonetheless.

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iamom October 23rd, 2006
Wow! Dave Laing and Dave Watts -- Dave Watts was my roommate at McGill and the best man at my wedding!

Jodi Proznick... everyone always thought Tilden was lucky to nab her. I remember when she arrived at McGill, a fresh-faced young cutie with this enormous acoustic bass... I also know Jesse Cahill really well (he dated my wife just before I hooked up with her, actually), but I haven't seen him since school.

Thanks for the link to that album, though -- I should check it out for sure. And what a small world! It's so like that with jazz musicians in particular though, don't you think?

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jdquintette October 23rd, 2006
Yes! Dave Watts. Terrific player. The bass players name on the Koji's gig occasionally floats to the top of my conciousness too, but apparetly not today. I do remember he was a top notch player and one of the 'first call' guys on the Montreal straight ahead scene. I was a last minute sub for Boogie Gaudet, Greg's usual tenor player.

Yeah, it's a small (jazz) world, for sure. I've 'lived' (meaning 'paid rent') in NYC, Montreal, Toronto, Seattle, San Francisco, London England and Vancouver, and now New Orleans, and spent substantial chunks of time in other cities, and you always at least know someone who knows someone. There's just not that many people willing to invest the time and effort it takes to play jazz.

Did you know Randy Cole at Mcgill? He would have been there around that time too.

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iamom October 23rd, 2006
That name RandY Cole rings faint bells, but I don't recall him directly.

I think I know who you're thinking about when you're talking about that first-call bassist; particularly if he was a good electric player, and particularly if he was black. And faintly bad-ass.

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