Once upon a time, in a music galaxy far, far away – Dr. Trevor Payne, the Father of The Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir, played Rock n Roll.
The group was named Trevor Payne and The Triangle. In most triangles there are three points. Two at the bottom and one up top. A peak in the middle is the indication of a triangle as opposed to a square or circle. Every triangle has a peak.
What does any of this have to do with Dr. Payne’s 14th appearance and final time as leader of the choir at The Montreal Jazz Festival? Lots.
Like a triangle , Dr. Payne is leaving the choir up top. In peak form.
Not only did the choir astound and uplift the Festival attendees – Payne himself displayed no signs of wear and tear. No jagged edges , no broken lines. Yes sir – Dr. Trevor Payne , holder of no less than seven educational degrees is leaving the choir in top form.
Any man or woman in top shape is aware of his / her surroundings. Astute in the knowledge of ‘who helped to feed’ their career. In this case, The Montreal Jazz Festival is one of those troughs.
To pay homage and honor the Festival and the nature of its beast – Payne dipped into Jazz territory to start the procedings before an audience ‘ not quite used to ‘ Ray Charles. The Gospel Choir , after all – just that ; Gospel …
Payne had some help to ease the audience into foreign territory.
Guitarist Andy Dacoulis, pianist Medad Ernest and the Go-For-Broke Brass tore the lid off three numbers from Charles ‘ Newport album.’ Blues Waltz ‘, ‘Sherry‘ and ‘ Hot Rod ‘ were intense when they needed to be, soft when they had to be and instrumently delicate most of the time. Graham Chambers who played with Payne in that musical galaxy far, far away – pushed and pulled the rythym on drums with magic and mystery. It was easy to accept Jazz and not even dive into the Gospel waters at this point. The Jazz was that good …
To attend a Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir show is memorable. Always was – always will be .The onset of the choir from the rear , down aisles and in full vocals is awe inspiring. ‘Highway to Heaven‘ was the opening anthem and life was born into the most bitter of punters.
Gospel music instills passion. Every genre can do that yet Gospel is different. The skin gets absorbed. The heart drenched. The brain injected with natural seretonin. Mother Nature’s anti – depressant. The Lord’s medication .
Sunday at Maison Symphonique, the pharmacists were on the job and working overtime.
David Dryden sang a cappella and tweaked the senses with his rendition of ‘ Every Time I Feel the Spirit‘. Sharon Othello , not to be outdone , brought the intensity and energy to a different level with ‘Glory , Glory ‘. The band , the choir and Sharon – reaching and obtaining the tips of the Angel’s wings above.
Damian Jackson was next.
Grabbing the ‘Gospel baton’ and running as fast as the sweet sounds allowed on ‘Peace Be Still’. Damian setting the tone for movement from within as Dayhana Maria Santos grabbed the momentum and delivered magic with a pair of tunes; ‘ Yes, God is Real‘ and ‘How I Got Over’. Santos’ enticing hugs through song. Emotion through words. Fatigue through feeling.
If Dr. Payne was emotional and experiencing anxiety and trepidation – it was not evident save for one moment. Choking up is natural for a man saying goodbye to his child. The wonder is how Payne kept it together at all …
” I can’t tell you how difficult it is to give you up, and to give up the people who have been my family for 35 years ” .
Cracked voice and all, Dr. Trevor Payne continued with a proverbial hat- off to himself and most importantly to the institution he built. The Choir he equipped. The students he taught.
“I have a feeling the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir will be around for a long time “.
Like his teacher , his musical father figure – Dr. Oliver Jones, the good doctor may unretire a couple of times. Or – maybe three.
Like a triangle – there are three sides. Trevor Payne has only shown us two thus far.