Virginia MacDonald led a date on her jazz tour of BC, in a quartet at Numbers Cabaret on March 2, 2022. Virginia played with David Sikula on guitar, Jodi Proznick on bass, and Nicholas Bracewell on drums.
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Leaning into the jazz language
I first heard Virginia play clarinet live on Monday night in New Westminster, at a school clinic. When she responded to students' questions, she emphasized how jazz is a language.
Like most jazz performers, Virginia has a couple licks that she deploys often and well: the phrase that ends "Four" by Miles Davis and kind of appears in "If You Could See Me Now" by Tadd Dameron, and another one that's like the ending of "This I Dig Of You" by Hank Mobley.
That's the point; these phrases are known, and they get around, because they are well-loved bits of jazz language. Trying to be too cool, and avoiding the core language, can backfire in a straight-ahead jazz gig setting.
This band understands that they are speaking to one another, and they want to make sense. That's why all four band members used a bounty of jazz licks and phrases in fun strings of sound. They sound fluent.
Set list: Virginia MacDonald Quartet at Numbers Cabaret
The first set really stretched with longer solos, including only four tunes.
- "It’s You Or No One" (F), the first example of the band's light touch, even on a C pedal; Virginia got off to a quick start with a strong solo
- Hope, an adventurous original to level-up the complexity of the set
- "Star Dust", a ballad that began with just Virginia and Jodi
- "Last Call at Dimitri’s" (not sure of the spelling on that name!), a highly angular blues head that has space for grooves and drum trading built-in
- untitled original
- "Good Bait", a time to relax and jam out, almost Tangent Jazz speed. Jodi briefly took the spotlight with long runs of improvisation; of her many skills on the bass, one of the most notable is how effortlessly she can zoom up and down the fingerboard
- "Up High, Down Low", the tune where the band really got heavy and Virginia laid down some powerful minor pentatonics
- "Three Little Words" (feat. Laura Anglade), the arrangement that seemed most well-worn to Virginia, Laura, and Jodi; they probably have ended every gig on the tour with this song
- "Straight, No Chaser" (feat. Laura Anglade), a revisit of what they played at the school clinic in New Westminster (and possibly the other gigs)
Later this year, expect Virginia to record her original material and get ready for an album release, possibly in 2023. At that time, she'll have to consider coming back to BC.
Find Virginia MacDonald and her links via her website.