120717 Ivan Mazuze Quartet, Ottawa, ON

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On December 7th, 2017 I was sitting comfortably at my computer doing laps around the internet when I noticed a facebook message from my friend Gord.  He had written to ask me what I was doing that evening; he and a few friends were going downtown to the Mercury Lounge to see some jazz dude I had never heard of named Ivan Mazuze.

Gord had been away on a continental criss-crossing adventure in an olde-school customized van since the summer and this was the first I had heard that he was back in Ottawa.  Because of this, despite my pixel-driven lethargy and my acute disinterest in paying a $15 cover I pulled my butt out of my chair and went to Gord’s place for a few pre-drinks.

M’lady was kind enough to drop us off at the bar where we met another pair of pals and headed up the stairs.  I’ve always known that the Mercury Lounge was a super-hip venue that completely reminds me of another good friend’s old studio apartment in Toronto – all bricky and high-ceilinged – but I hadn’t noticed before how very reasonably priced their drink menu was.

And so we dug in a little.

The opening band (whose name is lost to my own personal recorded history) and the headlining act were similar in overall feel – both certainly had a heavy bass presence – but the upper-lever professionalism of headliner Ivan Mazuze was pretty obvious from the get-go.  He and his three amigos played Montreal Jazzfest-style jazz: that is, lots of long fluid soloing over relaxed and clever extended-chord progressions.

But as good as it was and as talented as the musicians were I just didn’t find the music all that interesting, and who cares?  Sometimes (but only sometimes) the whole point of a show is to go out and spend quality time with a solid group of friends, and if you can be supporting a small touring act with respectful and quiet (if somewhat inattentive) attention at the same time then all the better.

And if it happens to be occurring in a cool venue with good, cheap drinks, well, that’s certainly enough to make me glad I got off my keister, turned off the computer, and forced myself out the door.  

And that’s a really, really good thing to remember.

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