PEter Kauffman Quartet at the Rex Hotel, January 13. Tickets: $5 Attendance: 25. Rating: NNN
for a few minutes during lastweek's International Association for Jazz Education conference, the Rex must've seemed like the jazz corner of the world -- one of only three Toronto jazz venues spotlighted in the conference guide. Even saxophonist David Murray was seen stopping by on Wednesday afternoon to jam with anyone who had the huevos to join him on the bandstand, but alas, such moments of glory are fleeting, and it was soon back to business as usual. On this night it was ubiquitous saxophonist Bob Mover sitting in with 30-something piano upstart Peter Kauffman and his 'shedding crew, whose lone claim to notoriety thus far is having hooked up while working a Caribbean cruise ship gig.
Throughout the evening, Mover, now the grand old man of the local scene, seemed oddly preoccupied, offhandedly tooting a chorus or two, then stepping off the stage to wander among the empty chairs while puffing on a cigarette and maybe sipping a little house red wine as he peered out through the door. Concerned about a parking ticket? North Korea's nuclear brinkmanship, perhaps? Who knows?
After a few more drags, Mover would eventually saunter back onstage as Kauffman -- lightly tip-tapping florid runs like someone who hasn't yet unlearned his classical training -- was bringing the chosen standard to a close. Mover would then use his right index finger to fold over his ear to stay in key as he crooned a verse as a closing coda. Next ballad, same routine.
During the between-sets break, Jerome Godboo wandered in, apparently hoping to use the facilities, and was immediately transfixed by the sight of Brandi Disterheft's double bass lying on its side. He stood there gazing quizzically as if it were a landed alien space craft. It took Disterheft's picking it up for the second set to finally snap Godboo out of his trance.
Nothing that followed was anywhere near as entertaining. Even though Mover blew some heat on Hot House, there was very little in the way of what might be called thrilling interactions between the players -- more like four mildly interesting monologues, actually.
Half of the remaining crowd took the familiar opening phrase of Bye Bye Blackbird as an exit cue.