Metalwood at The Rex

I thought it was only a figment of my imagination.  It really does exist, however: a pub that has jazz every night of the month (except occasionally when there’s blues) and that’s The Rex in downtown Toronto.  It was the site of our first live music outing as new Toronto residents.

On our way here from Vancouver, one of our key bits of road music was Metalwood’s album Chronic. We just so happened to have it in our disc binder – a bunch that we grabbed at random the last time we visited my parents, where most of my collection is. It is super groovy, exciting music and excellent for the highway, particularly when the light is getting low and you need a boost of energy.

I was telling Marion that it’s too bad the band hadn’t put out an album in quite some time. I thought this might be because band members are quite scattered.   Saxophonist Mike Murley is a long-time local Toronto icon – and I know him originally from his regular tours all the way east to St. John’s. Trumpeter/keyboardist Brad Turner is now on faculty at Capilano University in North Vancouver. We saw him twice while we were in Van – once at the Tangent café on Commercial Drive and another time in a concert at Capilano. I think both the bassist Chris Tarry and drummer Ian Froman are based in New York.

It’s a real treat to be able to hear them locally and also fitting since we sort of book-ended our move with their music, by disc on the road (it was the first thing we popped in the stereo) and seeing them in our first live music outing in Toronto.

The musicianship here – all around – is second to none. We take in the first set before hitting the road. The compositions are exciting and unpredictable and super funky, in a post-funk era, jazz-fusion embued way. The music was less groovy to me than the stuff on Chronic but never lacking in excitement. And I think it could’ve been a bit tighter, although the massive musicianship tends to mask any tentativeness in transitions, for instance. There was just a certain something – hard to put a finger on – that suggested to me that the tunes were fresh to the band and haven’t quite settled yet. That being said, sometimes the music turns on a dime and everyone is spot on 99% of the time. We bought the album on the way out at intermission. We spoke briefly to Brad as we left. He’s a very unassuming, soft-spoken character. But with good humour. We told him we saw him in Vancouver and he told us he was following us.

Metalwood’s new album is called Twenty.

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