100209 Mike Gordon/Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Toronto, ON

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On October 2nd, 2009 I went to the Mod Club in Toronto for the first (and to date, only) time to see Mike Gordon.

Of course Mike is the bass player from Phish, and given that in any good jamband the bass player is the one that really drives the bus it was great to see Gordo whilst unencumbered by the guilt that invariably comes with not paying attention to Trey at a Phish concert.

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey opened the show with a thinking-man’s groove rife with clever polyrhythms and perfectly executed awkward time signatures.  It’s too bad they were only given about a half-hour, especially after all the trouble (and fines) they had to deal with to cross the border into Canada, given one member’s DUI record.

When Mike and his band hit the stage the four hundred or so in attendance screamed their appreciation for one of the bona fide champions of the genre, and he delivered big time.  Gordo was at the top of his game; his game is being one of the world’s great pick-wielding bass players.  (While most bass players eventually turn their noses up at plectrum-playing as their skills advance, Mike has stuck to his guns and the result is a percussive style of weaving harmony that is all his own.) 

There was some stellar playing coming from the rest of the band (highlights included a ngoni solo from the percussion player and some great riffing from Scott Murawski playing a very Trey-sounding Languedoc guitar), but on this night the bass was king.

Encoring with the Beatles She Said She Said was a closing nod to all things bottom end, given that Paul McCartney pretty much invented relevant rock bass playing.  Sticking to what Gordon described as “a very strict curfew” at the venue we all ended up standing outside in the drizzling rain by 10pm.  This left plenty of time to stumble towards any number of “official” afterparties, and from the packed house I found at the Diesel Dog show it was clear plenty stumbled there.

(One embarrassing memory from this show: I had recently received a Mike Gordon bobblehead.  After the show I met someone from the band and asked if they could help me get the bobblehead signed [yes, I had brought it with me – what a geek huh?].  He told me that sort of thing wasn’t his job.  I walked away from the conversation feeling pretty stupid.  My bobblehead remains unsigned.)

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