If any of you ever get a chance to see professional jazz musicians play, do it. Now, I will add a caveat to that suggestion: Don’t expect sing-along favourites. Because even if you do recognize the melody, good, professional jazz musicians will put their own spin on it and make it virtually unrecognizable. Which is what I was witness to last night when The Love Orchestra played The Rex.

The first set was pretty straightforward. Sax, guitar, bass, drums. Joel Joseph, Rob Ritchie, Mark Cashion, and Tim Shia, respectively. The opening number, Chief Crazy Horse, was probably close to the best impression of the band they could have given the audience. It started with Joseph’s solid sax and gave us solos from each of the players, which was like being introduced to new friends.

Now I’ll mention the recognizable melody, which I can only describe paradoxically as an original cover tune, the second tune played: Tears for Fears’ Everybody Wants to Rule the World. Tim mentioned it was an 80’s tune, but it still took me about a minute or so to put a title to it. Again, Joseph’s sax opened things up and gave us the familiar melody, but Ritchie’s guitar solo gave a whole new dimension to the tune. And without a vocalist, the band gave us a solid opportunity to hear the music, without being subjected to 80’s pop.

The band followed these up with a Coltrane number and an Tim Shia original named for his month-old daughter. I will mention here that Tim is of Chinese descent, which will add some clarity to the joke. Tim named the tune after the way his parents pronounce his daughter Chloë’s name. “Crowy or Glowy” “We can say it! We can say it! Crowy!” Tim told us. And that’s as much personal information as was given out.

The second set was a tribute, of sorts, to Tim. It was his birthday, and so had a number of his friends, equally proficient jazz musicians, join the band for a few numbers each. Since I didn’t actually interview anyone, I will only use the artists’ first names, because I can’t remember last names. Ali played melodica, which is the second-most awkward jazz instrument I’ve seen, after Rufus Harley‘s bagpipes. It’s a keyboard you blow into. It provides a great sound and an appropriate one, with Joel Joseph having moved over to keyboards. Next to join up was Patrice on trumpet and Rhonda on vocals for an Ani DiFranco tune, the title of which escapes me. Patrice stayed on trumpet for the rest of the set and provided a whole new layer of sound when Joseph returned on sax. Then we got a huge horn sound when Mark joined in on trombone on the final Wayne Shorter tune.

All in all, the audience got their money’s worth, especially since the admission was “pay what you can”. I had to leave after the 2nd set, you know, day job and all. But I can only imagine the 3rd set was complementary. I don’t think they could have made the night any better than they already had.