By Christine Leonard
CALGARY – The 1920s was a dirty lil’ decade notorious for debauchery and flapper girls with feathers in their headbands à la Boardwalk Empire. But it was a more recent vintage, 1967, that possessed the room at Betty Lou’s Library on a foggy Thursday night. Taking the well-appointed gin joint in the palm of his capable hands, the veteran jazz pianist and trumpeter Brad Turner set the mood for a night of sophistication and swing. A Canadian jazz legend at the spry age of 51, Turner has already won a hattrick of Juno Awards and captured a half dozen Canadian National Jazz Awards for his virtuosic recordings and firm embouchure. When he’s not fielding accolades for Jazz Trumpeter of the Year, Jazz Composer of the Year and Musician of the Year honours, the accomplished musician/composer performs with his Trio and Quartet while enjoying the lush life in Langley, BC.
Given the cozy confines of the under wraps establishment, it was an impressive feat to squeeze an entire four-piece jazz ensemble into Betty Lou’s hideaway, but The Red Line Trio, featuring frontman/saxophonist Mark DeJong, fit the bill like the seasoned pros they are. Keeping the room hot and the tempo cool, Turner and company moved a practically private audience through lively and engaging pieces from the Porter and Baker genre staples to Turner’s own compositions including the exotic “Pacific” and fulsome “Bread Sandwich.” As a founding member of Toronto’s Metalwood, Turner is no stranger to jazz fusion concepts, but for this occasion he played it close to the bone, providing a rapt audience with a carefully considered survey of modern and nostalgic numbers.
White-sleeved bartenders brandished their metal cocktail shakers in time to the sketchy, skittering and unshakeable beats, whilst whipping up liquid palette-pleasers named for tastemakers like Josephine Baker and Anais Nin. Best sip that prohibition-era giggle water slowly, my pretty. A signature Negroni, so smooth it chases its bitter self, will set you back almost 20 clams. Worth it. As was the trip behind the bookcase to witness firsthand the pervasive and invigoration sensation of having a top-notch jazz band all to yourself. Offering an alluring sub-rosa setting, replete with antique furnishings and the moodiest of lighting, Betty Lou’s jazz nights are more than an event they are an experience. One that should be enjoyed with the finer things in life in mind.
Betty Lou’s Library features live jazz and burlesque performances every week.
For event details and reservations visit https://www.bettylouslibrary.com/
Discover Brad Turner here: http://www.bradturnermusic.com/Brad Turner, Red Line Trio