David Clayton-Thomas at the 2014 Toronto Jazz Festival

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A beautiful evening, a memorable concert. Everything was perfect, the weather, the band and a full house including friends, family and longtime fans. 1200 people under the tent in Nathan Phillips Square and several thousand in the plaza outside were treated to an outstanding performance by David Clayton-Thomas and his all-star 11 piece band.

The set opened with “Spinning Wheel”. After introducing his killer band made up of Canada’s top jazz musicians under the direction of Brigham Phillips they kicked off “And When I Die”. The infectious Laura Nyro tune had the entire audience clapping and singing along. Then a new composition, “It’s All So LA”, a down and dirty blues about the perils of fame and life in Hollywood featuring a funky baritone sax solo by Colleen Allen.

Following the title song from his new album “A Blues For the New World” a complete change of pace. David introduced the superb acapella quartet “Cadence” and they joined him onstage for “Common Ground” also from the new album. Their performance just about brought the house down and earned the first of many standing ovations that evening. Lucretia McEvil, Go Down Gamblin’, You’re The One, Gimme That Wine”. One great song after another brought the audience to it’s feet time and time again. Fine solo work by Michael Stuart, Colleen Allen, Jason Logue and Rob Gusevs satisfied even the most hardcore jazz fans in the audience. David closed with “You Made Me So Very Happy” and left the stage, but the packed house wanted more.

After the first encore, David’s classic reading of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless The Child” the entire band left the stage and made it all the way back to the dressing rooms but it soon became obvious that the crowd wasn’t ready for the show to end. So the band returned to the stage and launched into “Hi De Ho” the entire audience standing with hands raised, singing along with the Reverend Clayton-Thomas who led the choir like a baptist preacher. The show lasted for almost two hours, with two encores and several standing ovations.

This year’s Toronto Jazz Festival was graced by an amazing lineup… Chaka Kahn, Earth Wind & Fire, Bobby McFerrin, Melissa Etheridge, Gregory Porter, Keith Jarrett and Roy Hargrove. Just a few of the outstanding artists that played shows in venues all over town. For ten days the city of Toronto hosted the finest jazz, blues and rock artists from around the world.

The David Clayton-Thomas show on the main stage in front of City Hall was one of the high points of this year’s festival and David was obviously proud to be headlining this major international festival in his hometown of Toronto.

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