A Serious Beating at Hugh’s Room!

A Serious Beating at Hugh’s Room!


I need to rant about three things today. Hugh’s Room will be relocating from their Roncesvalles location at the end of this Month. Where they will go is unknown to us, but I believe it is up to us to support their live music series no matter where they end up. If you haven’t been to Hugh’s Room before, go there now so you can say you have been to their iconic spot where great music was. Rant #1 OVER…

I got lucky because I was invited out to see Mark McLean play and I did not know Rich Brown and Larnell Lewis would be opening the evening. Now Rich I have seen before as he played referee between Laila Biali and her drumming husband a few months ago. Instead of being the guy who held everything together, he got to explore a different side to his music. The two of them are like the Dynamic Duo. It’s a good thing Larnell calls Rich, Batman. These guys simply led us by the hand and led us on a journey of mystical discoveries. With a piece called, “Twice”, you could feel fragility being manipulated into a sense of freedom and cautiousness. Rich’s playing was very sensitive and gave us all a safe environment to wander free of stress and strife. They finally went to an incredible piece of music that let them love each other as boundless musicians. There was a lot of love and appreciation when they played, “In the Moment”. With Larnell handling his kit so well and feeling the excitement of every drummer in the room, I could go on for an entire chapter about Mr Lewis’ prowess and process, but I will simple wrap up his energy in just one short sentence. Larnell Lewis transcends… Rant #2 OVER….

Here are a couple images from Larnell Lewis’ performance:

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Now this was to be the first time I have witnessed Mark McLean live. The first thing you notice is the obvious. This guy knows how to choose top notch musicians. Each one of them brings their“A” game and plays it out very well. It seemed you would want to listen and watch Mark drum, but he handed the reins over to the other players and gave them the spotlight for several songs before we got to really know Mark. He had a drum solo while opening the piece called, “South of Broadway”. At one point I swear I could hear him hitting his snare and playing his drum sticks at the same time. I stretched my neck to get a better view of what he was doing. I also noticed other audience members engaging the same neck strain looking for the answer to this very cool moment. Mark told me later he had no recollection of himself doing that. Clearly this guy lives in the moment.

What makes this band stand out is most every Jazz band has their style and it is pretty cool as they play within the realm of their effervescence. This band expands their orbit and takes you to new truisms. It is both fun and playful. Speaking of playful, it is hard not to notice the guitarist Kevin Briet. His herky jerky style reminds me of David Byrne channeling Adrian Belew on guitar. His intrinsic meanderings are that of a lost explorer remapping his world to traverse.

Here are a couple images from Mark McLean’s performance:

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There are no territories this band will not delve into. I could hear a little R&B, New York jazz, the Blues, some Funk and like I keep saying a whole lot of exploration. Songs like, “Everything is Beautiful”, is just that. With arms outstretched, you could walk down the sunny side of the street as you soak in all those cathode rays.

Lil Boy Blues got cosmic and St Louis Blues brought you back in time. It is a good thing they had Lester McLean in the audience that night. He got up and added his soulful voice on two of the songs that night. It truly a night where Drummers UNITE! Rant 3 …Out!

Check out Mark McLean’s Playground at https://www.facebook.com/Mark-McLeans-Playground-150363131648827/

If you want to tune into Rich Brown’s Radio show go to http://jazzcast.ca/

Larnell Lewis can be found here… http://larnelllewismusic.com/

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