Jazz Blues

Tim Posgate's jazz juggling act

THE FESTIVAL OF AUTUMNAL HAPPINESS with TIM POSGATE, ROB CLUTTON and guests, Mondays at Revival (783 College), $6-$8. 416-535-7888, www.guildwoodrecords.com.

Rating: NNNNN

Tim Posgate admits his reasonsfor launching his own mini jazz festival are essentially selfish.The third annual Festival Of Autumnal Happiness, curated by the Toronto guitarist with bassist Rob Clutton, is a cozy affair running in the basement of Revival every Monday in November.

Postage and Clutton perform as a duo every week, joined by special guests including trumpeter Lina Allemano, Doug Tielli and Bill Grove. The easygoing format, featuring open-ended music interspersed with occasional storytelling, is a nice change from the typical jazz fest fare.

Better yet for Posgate, he only has to lug his guitar and amp across the road from his house on Shaw to Revival. And then there’s the biggest bonus.

“Doing something like this is a good chance to hear a bunch of my friends play music,” he laughs. “Rob and I have been playing together as a duo since high school, so the twist this year is that we’re going to have a special guest each week.

“When you play with someone that long, it becomes really comfortable, but both of us like it when there’s the chance to surprise the other. That’s the nice thing about having a special guest — we really don’t know what’s going to happen.”

There are also business reasons for throwing your own party. The number of jazz venues in Toronto is limited (and shrinking, with the closure of Sax on Yonge), so independent musician Posgate, like many other players, has had to double as an amateur promoter to support his professional musicianship. This festival, first and foremost, is about freedom.

“Most of this music doesn’t really work as background to dining, which things related to jazz often do, so in a sense this is a desperation move,” he admits. “This is a chance for the people involved to play whatever we want. There are no limits. If we want to go up onto the stage and scream for an hour, we can do it, and some of these people might.

“My group Jazzstory just finished a week at the Top o’ the Senator, where we didn’t have to temper what we do at all. That said, all of us end up playing music in places where there are different limitations. What this festival does is take all of those away.”

In part, that distinction is what separates being a jazz player in this city from playing virtually any other kind of music. Rock musicians don’t have to worry about whether what they’re playing fits in with the larger context. Jazz musicians are restricted by the venues available.

“One of the strange things about being a jazz musician is that we work for a living in music, and rock musicians don’t always have that option,” Posgate continues. “I still go out and entertain people occasionally, because it’s fun and it’s a good way to make money.

“As versatile as he is, someone like Kurt Swinghammer can’t really do that. It’s easier if you know how to play Satin Doll and Take The A Train. Most of the people in this series do that this is a chance to exercise the creative parts of our brain.”mattg@nowtoronto.com

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