Masterclass was a 90 minute session on Stage Three of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2008. The musicians Alison Brown, Jerry Douglas, Daby Touré and Maura O'Connell were given the theme for the session, one which gave them a lot of latitude in choosing their songs. It became a master class, one which provided a learning experience for them and for us, the audience. They learned from each other and we learned from all of them.
I had heard the great Jerry Douglas before, but I'll never hear enough of his music (you'll hear some of that music if you click on this link). When he played his first song today a fellow sitting behind me said 'It doesn't get better than this.'
One could say the same about the amazing Alison Brown and the excellent musicians who work with her: bassist Gerry West, violin player Paul Elliot, John Burr on piano, and drummer Larry Atamanuik.
I had never heard of Daby Touré or Maura O'Connell before yesterday's session. Touré has roots in Mauritania, Senegal and Paris while O'Connell hails from Ireland and Nashville. Their backgrounds and their musical skills combined with those of Brown, Douglas and the other musicians and created magic on Stage Three.
Touré was a great catalyst: he watched, listened and often joined in, sometimes with verses sung in another language. His joy in the music was reflected and amplified by others, particularly Brown and Douglas.
The audience had as much fun as the musicians did.
I'm off to the next series of sessions at the festival which finishes today (Sunday, August 10).