Canada's Jazz Magazine since 1958

issue 337 - January/February 2008

2007 Concert Highlights

David Occhipinti
Hugh’ s Room
Toronto, Ontario
October 2, 2007
            Toronto guitarist David Occhipinti is an articulate, intelligent and thoughtful individual. Is it any wonder that his music shares all of these characteristics? Occhipinti, who studied with Jim Hall in New York on a Canada Council Arts grant in the mid-1990s, numbers as one of the more prolific contemporary jazz artists living in Toronto. Despite his young age, he has already put out two duo recordings with the fine saxophonist Mike Murley, and has released three albums as a leader. On October 2nd 2007, Occhipinti threw a CD release party for his latest quartet offering, Forty Revolutions (reviewed in CODA 336). The title is a simultaneous nod to his age, and his continuing affection for the music of the Beatles. And like his previous recordings, the material is all-original Occhipinti.
            The CD release party was held at the west end haunt, Hugh’s Room. In a city struggling to keep a top-drawer jazz room afloat, Toronto could do worse than Hugh’s Room—a beautiful and spacious club with good acoustics, whose only drawback is the lack of a resident piano.  Well attended by jazz fans and numerous music students from the two universities where Occhipinti teaches, the release featured the kind of blue-chip group interplay and collective improvisation that connects everything from the hot New Orleans-style groups of the teens and twenties to the “free,” but dialogically fascinating work of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. In fact, it is the way that Occhipinti and group (Murley, bassist Andrew Downing and drummer Terry Clarke) situate themselves within the continuum of the jazz language—aware of the past without being shackled by it—that the Hugh’s Room audience seemed most drawn towards. Less a guitarist working within a standard quartet context, and more four engaging voices involved in a meaningful musical conversation, the group played two lyrical sets that were performed quietly enough to hear the acoustic qualities of Occhipinti’s beautiful guitar tone. Finally, having Terry Clarke on the bill (who has previously worked with such fine guitarists as Sonny Greenwich, Jim Hall and Ed Bickert), must have been as big a thrill for the guitarist as it was for the audience.
Andrew Scott

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