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A Chilly Gonzales review

By Jared Epp on July 14, 2015



Welcome us all to the Chilly Gonzales concert, Laurence Wall of the CBC. Yoke that voice made for radio. Give us your one-liner. Please Laurence. There it is.  “The National Research Council official time signal…the long dash…” Thank you.  Now butter us up inside Dominion-Chalmers United Church for a Chilly Gonzales basting. But who will Chilly Gonzales be: a rapper, a pianist, pop or classical? We know you are all of these but how can that be? Show us, Chilly. Show us the merging and the difference.  The room is full of differences. Hip differences: hipsters and prosthetic hips. Now lead us through and between them.

You emerge in a red-velvet bathrobe, slippers and red socks. Here is our guide. Where will you take us? With your first notes you cut the Laurence Wall jingly thread. Delicate, delicate and we’re all quiet and with you. It’s just you and us, this space and your piano. Dance us, Chilly. Yes, that’s it. This one, take us there. Now that one, this way is beautiful. Oh, what’s this now? You’re rapping with the delivery of a classically trained, Anglo-Montreal pianist.

Hip. Hop. Hip. Hop.

What are we to expect? That’s your point, isn’t it? You prove your playfulness through these merging borders. Let’s laugh together through conversation. Work us, Chilly. Teach us.

“The (major)-ity chords give us the conservative sound maintaining power. The (minor)-ity chords for the complaint, a wish for something different.”

Play us the “Jewish scale of your grandfather’s.” “A chord is not music” you say. “A chord is only a colour.”

It’s all playful in this cavernous church. Your piano is flanked by red roses beneath a cross.

Play! Bang! Thunder! Was that a sledgehammer in your velvet bathrobe or just your arms? I have not seen a piano act this way. What have you done to it? It shakes. It growls, exploding. Growing, growing the whole room is shaking. You tug the leash and bring it back and you bring us back and we’re hooked.  Standing ovation mid set but the crowd doesn’t stop clapping and you start again. And then you invite us to sing together humming. And you leave.  Play us another one, Chilly. Play us another one. Come back. We are not finished. What will it be?

“Another rap song.” Oh.

Why have you left us with this? You took the piano to wild places. You gave us a glimpse but you left it there. Instead you brought us back to meticulous middle-aged piano rap. You tucked away the wild piano beneath your slippers. Or did the OGs dig the rap and us youngsters wanted the piano? Oh [insert distinguished name] darling what is a Hip-Hop, it’s so interesting! You leave again and we cheer. You come back one more time and there’s the wild but too brief piano. It’s not enough. It looked like you had fun up there and we had a genuine blast out here. You showed us something strange. We heard an exploding piano but only momentarily. Maybe through all the play and fun that’s what we really wanted. We wanted that powerful darkness in this gilded high-ceilinged temple. But you left us in pop. Not on the piano.