Bailey's alto sax was given the type of workout that can only be expected from someone of his pedigree, who has put in the endless hours of performance with cream-of-the-crop players, over many years. His sound is potent but also fluently soulful. Bakkestad-Legare confirmed for me that he is more than capable of sharing the stage with masterful musicians. His craft is always on the up-rise every time I see him.
Bonness showed his sense of humour by injecting a few (piano) notes here and there as Nowosad was speaking, sometimes mimicking the organ sound at hockey games. The audience enjoyed these moments and once again, they were spellbound by his performance. I've never been a fan of the sound of electric pianos, but I do understand how they are far easier to schlep around than acoustic ones. Having heard Bonness on a grand piano before, I felt as if I was missing out on hearing a superior piano sound.
Nowosad's command of the drums displays his skills for subtlety and nuance, as well as strong fluidity when he gets into a groove. Given the quality of the musicians he plays with, I expect him to continue to develop his style and craft.
To add to the diversity of the sounds that evening, local hip-hop singer/poet Ismaila Alfa appeared as a special guest and impressed me with his performance. It's not the kind of thing you would see at a traditional jazz show, but times are changing. (Witness the almost unheard of popularity for the Robert Glasper Experiment's Black Radio CD.)
Numerous times throughout the show, the affable Nowosad recognized his bandmates for the evening and was gracious as he thanked them as well as his other critical influences in his life, including all his teachers, the Park Theatre, and finally, his wife.
At the end of the band's performance, it came as no surprise that the audience quickly rose to their feet and offered up a heart-felt standing ovation. This was a terrific evening, exactly what I was expecting, and an important and well derserved milestone for Curtis Nowosad.