The Nick Maclean Quartet featuring Brownman Ali are doing over forty performances and master classes between April 12 and June 3. Their tour will take them from Toronto to Nanaimo and back. They will appear in some of Canada’s most famous jazz clubs and music venues such as: The Bassment in Saskatoon, the Yardbird Suite in Edmonton, the Ironwood Stage and Grill in Calgary, The Dream Cafe in Penticton, The Vernon Jazz Club and Frankie’s Jazz Club in Vancouver. Also, on Friday night they made a stop at On the Rocks in Kamloops! Their first set contained mostly standards, including “There Will Never Be Another You.” During this set all the musicians got to solo and show off their considerable talents.
Trumpet player and occasional percussionist Brownman Ali is a star. It was a joy to listen to and watch. He is an award winning and hugely talented trumpet player. His enthusiasm for the music and his joy of playing is reflected in his every move and also shows through on his face. He is really in his happy place performing those songs on stage. This positive energy flows into his band mates and it shows in their performances!
Bennett Young on bass and Jacob Wutzke on drums provided the essential backing and got to show off their substantial chops during a number of solos.
While every tune played deserves mention, some of my favourites were taken from the Herbie Hancock catalogue, including “Watermelon Man,” and “Butterfly.” Their Latin influenced version of Oliver Nelson’s “Song For My Father” and “Bye Bye Blackbird” were certainly audience favourites. Brownman Ali, now a resident of Brooklyn, NY, lead a rap singalong to Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay.” It had a surprising amount of audience participation.
The second set was contained some originals from keyboard player, Nick Macleans’s personal catalogue, including the wonderful “Verboten.” There were more solos from the band and some wild cowbell percussion from Ali. Maclean got to shine through on the Herbie Hancock tunes and his originals. Part of the tour focuses on teaching and students attending these master classes are very lucky! During the break Maclean visited many of the tables and talked to audience members, individually. Another nice touch from this uber-talented and classy band.
These road warriors, the Nick Maclean Quartet featuring Brownman Ali headed off into the night to continue spreading the jazz word to western Canada, including a sold out gig at Frankie’s in Vancouver.