01 Paul Novotny Robi BotosSummertime in Leith – In Concert at the Historic Leith Church
Paul Novotny; Robi Botos
Triplet Records TR10026-ATMOS (tripletrecords.com)

When two of Canada’s finest, most skilled and internationally acclaimed jazz musicians come together in a performance of phenomenal symbiosis, it is an occasion worthy of celebration. As the title of this fine recording would suggest, bassist/producer Paul Novotny and pianist (and Oscar Peterson protégé) Robi Botos graced the stage of the Historic Leith Church in Annan, Ontario on Georgian Bay and performed much loved compositions for an enraptured audience. With exquisite production, all of the electricity and spontaneity of the live event has been captured here. 

Six dynamic tracks are included in the recording – each one a rare jewel. Appropriately Gershwin’s Summertime opens the programme. The arrangement begins with a deep, languid bass pizzicato, which intertwines with diaphanous upper register piano keys as the tune morphs into a sensual, timeless journey. Novotny’s solo is lyrical, facile and loaded with emotional colours, and Botos answers with deeply rhythmic ideas, never overplaying.

A stand-out is the duo’s take on Wheatland from Peterson’s Canadiana Suite. Novotny and Botos capture the majesty of central Canada, grooving à la the iconic Peterson and yet putting their own, contemporary and harmonically complex stamp on it. Novotny uses the full scope of his bass to create fluid, gravitas-laden tones that are imbued with a profound sense of rhythm and joy, and Botos is just simply breathtaking.  

Another highlight is The Flick which comes from Earl VanDyke (Motown’s “Soul Brothers”). This track is pure adrenaline, excitement and elation, with Novotny relentlessly laying it down while Botos fearlessly dives deep into blues and American soul. On this brilliant and well-produced project, the pair have created not only an auditory delight, but healing music for our very souls. Bravo!

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