Kent Sangster’s Obsessions Octet in Review

Kent Sangster’s Obsessions Octet
Presented by MidAmerica Productions
Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall
October 6, 2012

Kent Sangster’s Obsessions Octet


Kent Sangster’s Obsessions Octet gave us a lot to obsess about during the concert—mainly how good they are. Sangster is an excellent saxophonist, and moreover, the group he assembled performed with both an infectious energy and a spicy rhythmical precision throughout the evening. The hall was jam-packed. At one point, Sangster told the audience that the concert was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. One certainly hopes not, and that they appear in Weill Hall (or Zankel Hall) at Carnegie–and certainly in New York—more often.

The compositions crossed over from Jazz to Latin music to Classical, and each piece had its own appeal. There was a great deal of variety on the program: from Piazzolla to Cole Porter to excellent new material from Allan Gilliland and Sangster himself. Piazzolla’s “Oblivion”, “Melodia in A Minor”, “Preludio 9” and “Fuga 9” are in a class by themselves. These are also virtuosic pieces, and the intricacies of the off beats were handled with confidence and finesse.

A string quartet comprised of violinists Joanna Ciapka-Sangster and Neda Yamach, violist Rhonda Henshaw, and cellist Ronda Metszies swayed together with a unity of coordination and passion. Bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer Jamie Cooper were rock-solid, and pianist Chris Andrew has plenty of chops, but he also displayed a good deal of sensitivity.

Sangster performed with both warmth of expression and a suave detachment when needed. He played each of his saxophones with its own unique expressive voice and showed a very impressive technique to boot. A prominent member of Canada’s jazz scene for almost twenty years, Sangster and the group are based in Edmonton. He has released five original jazz albums; his CD “Melodia”, the second recording by the octet, was nominated for a 2010 Western Canadian Music Award for Best Jazz Recording.

Sangster is a full-time faculty member at Grant MacEwan University and the Executive Director and Producer of the Edmonton International Jazz Festival. There are plans for an Obsessions Octet tour to Europe; international—as well as national—exposure is what this group deserves to have.