This past Saturday, our writing staff had the pleasure of watching an acclaimed vocalist, Kellylee Evans, perform at the CBC Glenn Gould Studio in downtown Toronto. The concert inspired today's post, as we will be reviewing her latest release, entitled "Nina". She was born in Scarborough Ontario, however she has had a career based out of Ottawa. While studying law at Carleton University, Evans discovered jazz; as she has stated: "I got lost in the elevators of the Loeb Building and found the Music department on the ninth floor of the A tower." Since then, her career has exploded, with four releases and multiple awards, including a 2007 Smooth Jazz Award, and a 2011 Juno Award, both in the category of vocal jazz. Her latest release, "Nina", is a tribute album to the late Nina Simone. Evans was invited to France by Plus Loin Music to record the album back in 2009. The album's personnel are made up of internationally acclaimed jazz musicians including: Marvin Sewell on the guitars, François Moutin on the bass, and André Ceccarelli on the drums. Despite this, the lineup performing with Evans on her current tour include Dave Thompson on the guitar, Matthew Lima in the bass, and Giampaolo Scatozza on the drums. Some songs to note on the record are "Ain't Got No / I Got Life", "July Tree", and "Sinnerman". In addition, Evans did a wonderful job on her latest release. As well, we could not imagine a more perfect way to honour the great Nina Simone.
For today's post, we're going to change things up a bit. We've all heard of music being made for films. This music comes in the form of original songs or orchestral scores. Though, it's kind of hard to imagine a film being made for music, with the exception of concert DVDs of course. How would this relationship even work? Films are supposed to present a visual perception, and music and sound is added to films to merely enhance our experience. However, there was a Canadian filmmaker who seems to have achieved this seemingly impossible task. So, today we will be featuring a film, rather than an album. But don't worry, this is still a jazz blog, for the film that we're reviewing is a jazz film... Intrigued yet? Well lets start off with the filmmaker. Norman McLaren was born in Scotland, however, had a career based in Canada. He was most well known as an animator, as he pioneered various techniques such as draw on animation, and pixilation. Today, we will be discussing his 1949 short "Begone Dull Care". This film is characterized by McLaren's experimentation with draw on animation as each individual strip of film is in sync with the beet of an Oscar Peterson tune. We know...Kinda hard to rap your head around; you'll be able to see for yourself bellow. However, rather than the music enhancing the film, the film in this case enhances the music, adding a whole knew element to the Peterson composition. Furthermore, we apologize if you were expecting us to feature an album today, however we felt that this film has been sitting in the National Film Board of Canada's archives for far too long. We hope you all enjoy!
We've been talking a lot lately about jazz and its fusions with other genres. Though, when we look at jazz, we see a genre that bares its roots in the American musical tradition. With the exception of Latin music, it seems to be a rarity when we listen to jazz that has been combined with music from other cultures. Most notably, contemporary bassist Avishai Cohen has been at the forefront of this musical style. However, there is currently a Toronto based group who has been making a lot of noise with their own culturally diverse compositions. The Thing Is was formed in 2006 by Tova Kardonne, a vocalist and composer who uses this ensemble as an outlet for her music. Her compositions have been acclaimed for combining jazz with the Jewish, Balkan, and South african musical styles, respectively. The group has also attracted guest appearances from the likes of Ted Quinlan, Dave Restivo, and Bill McBirnie. Most recently, The Thing Is released their much anticipated self-titled debut album, who's personnel include Kardonne on the vocals, Graham Campbell on the guitars, Dave Atkinson on the piano, Amy Medvick on the flute, Mike Wark on the saxophones, Christian Overton on the trombone, Trevor Falls on the drums, and Chris Kettlewell on the bass. Some songs to note on the album are "Moving On", "Wonder", and "Spending Time". Furthermore, Kardonne and her octet released an absolutely fantastic debut album. Kardonne is definitely one of those musicians who we should all be watching out for as she takes Canada and the world by storm with her original and incomparable musical style. Preview some of the album via their Myspace.
During the 1920s, 30s, and 40's, jazz (notably swing) was the music of young people. However, during the 1950s, rock and roll began to steel away America's youth, and by the 1960s, jazz was associated with its current connotation: "the music my parents and grandparents listen to". Though, there have been many musicians who have attempted to bring jazz back to a younger audience. Most notable of these musicians was Esbjörn Svensson, whom with his trio, composed music that helped restore jazz back to its original glory. However, it was with great sadness that Svensson tragically passed away back in 2008. Fortunately, there have been musicians who have been picking up where he left off, and one of these musicians is currently making a name for himself on the Canadian jazz scene. Nova Scotia native, Jeff Torbert, has received much acclaim for combining his intensive classical and jazz training with easy going compositions. Following his release of multiple award nominee "This Weather Honest", Torbert has done it again with "Urban Poultry & Other Hopes". The album features his sextet, whom include Torbert on the guitars, piano, and vocals; David Christenson on the bass clarinet and alto saxophone; Adam fine on the bass; Lloyd Quinton on the drums; Matt Myer on the trumpet and organ; and Kenny Talkowski on the alto and soprano saxophones. The record is characterized by relaxing grooves, instrumental pop ballads, spectacular improvisations, and a some beautifully added vocals here and there. Some songs to note on the album are "Last Bastion of No Hope", "Public Affection Number One", and "Indra's Net (Afterward)". In addition, "Urban Poultry & Other Hopes" is a fantastic sophomore release. It is definitely an unfortunate thing that jazz these days has the connotation that it has. However, thanks to musicians like Jeff Torbert, jazz is being seen in a whole knew light. So perhaps, jazz will soon have a new connotation in the future. That is, "the music everyone listens to".
For today's review, we will be featuring Pram Trio and their debut release "Spring Tour 2011". Formed in 2009, the group includes Jack Bodkin on the piano, Mark Godfrey on the bass, and Richard Piasetski on the drums. Bodkin was born in Waterloo, Ontario, and started playing the piano at the age of 10. After achieving his ARCT (Associate of the Royal Conservatory in Toronto), he was inspired by Bill Evan's "Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival". He then pursued jazz performance at the University of Toronto. Raised in Southwestern Ontario, Godfrey is a graduate of both the University of Toronto jazz performance program, and the Banff Centre for the Arts Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music. His career has been wonderfully well rounded, performing both jazz (as leader and sideman), and popular music with Canadian rock bands, such as Mookie and the Loyalists and The Mike Butlin Band. Also a graduate of U of T, Piasetski has been noted for his proficiency in a variety of different styles, and has had success both as a composer and lyricist. Not only does he play the drums, however he is also an established bluegrass guitar player. The album features a selection of live recordings from various venues across Ontario, as well as a CUIT 89.5 FM interview with Mark Godfrey. Some songs to note on the album are "Tunnels", "Rachel Bilson", and "Karen Michelle". Each composition is beautifully written, and they feature spectacular improvisations from all three members. Furthermore, though this album is an unofficial release, "Spring Tour 2011", gives Canada and the world a taste of what's to come from this new and talented jazz trio. The group is currently in preparations for their nationwide tour this upcoming May. Take a listen to the album bellow!
Its always interesting to look at how jazz has influenced other genres in the western musical tradition. We've discussed how jazz has been fused with prog rock, funk, and even classical music. However, these days, jazz can be heard in more contemporary genres such as hiphop, electronic, and indie music. But what exactly is indie music? Well firstly, indie stands for independent. That is, the music is produced independently from major commercial record labels or their subsidiaries. However, these days, there is a ton of music from all genres that are produced independently. So where did this "indie genre" come from? There is no definitive answer to this. Though, many believe that the "indie genre" was created through the sound of popular indie bands. Many Canadian bands, such as The Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, and The FemBots, were paramount in creating this "indie" sound. As usual, were going to show you how this "indie sound" is fused with jazz by way of an example. A. David MacKinnon is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, and sound engineering who rose to popularity through his membership in The FemBots. His latest release, "The Past is a Foreign Country", is completely instrumental, for MacKinnon has retired from singing. He describes the album as "the soundtrack to a film that doesn't exist". However, keeping with the original FemBots sound, MacKinnon makes use of both traditional instruments and "junk instruments" (instrumental everyday items) in his compositions. Each one of his originals is completely unique in their own way, that is, there is no recurring theme heard over and over again throughout the record. Some songs to note on the album are "The Past is a Foreign Country" (title song), "March of the Hydro Towers", and "Gospel vs. Church". To conclude, MacKinnons release is absolutely fantastic. Not only does he capture the "indie sound", however he wonderfully makes use of traditional jazz influences in his compositions as well. We're very excited to see what's next for this talented artist. Take a listen to the album bellow!
For today's post, we will be honouring Canaille and their latest release "Practical Men", as they bid their fair well to jazz world (at least for now). The group was formed by composer and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Strachan back in the summer of 2008. Since then, they have crossed boundaries unheard of in the world of experimental jazz. To date, Canaille has released two albums, and has been the recipient of numerous creative and academic grants. The ensemble has also been met with much critical claim. Strachan describes his music as an attempt to make creative and experimental music more accessible to everyone. So lets get into the album, shall we? The personel include: Strachan on the flute, alto sax, baritone sax, bass clarinet, and guitar; Nick Buligan on the trumpet, Jay Hay on the tenor sax, Jesse Levine on the organ and rhodes, Mike Smith on the bass, and Dan Gaucher on the drums. Each composition pushes the limits of experimentation as they take the listener on a kind of trip that was far more common during the summer of love, back in 1969. Though, Strachan's compositions are not only characterized by their unique experimentation for they put forth an original kind of beauty that is truly indescribable as well. Some songs to note on the album are "Angeer", "Practical Men" (the title song), and "Critical Path". Furthermore, we were truly saddened to hear about Canaille's extended hiatus. Though, they have left behind a legacy that they can truly call their own, which is something that is not common in contemporary music. Nevertheless, we are truly excited to see what comes next for Strachan and the gang. Take a listen to the album bellow!
Alongside fusion music, the 1960s and 1970s saw the birth of another musical genre, progressive rock. However, besides coming about in the same decade or so, do these two musical genres have anything in common? Some will argue that progressive rock is actually fusion music with vocals. Others will argue that progressive rock has nothing todo with jazz or fusion, and that it is just a more complex subgenre of rock and roll. Despite deferring opinions, there is currently a group out there who is succeeding in bringing these two genres closer together than they have ever been before. Formed in 2006, Muskox is a Toronto based instrumental group led by composer and multi-instrumentalist Mike Smith. Today, we will be discussing their most recent release, "Invocation / Transformations", whose personel include Smith, Ali Berkok, Pete Johnston, Jeremy Strachan, and Jake Oelrichs. Some songs to note on the album are "Generic Organs", "Gelding", and "Fever Dream III". In addition, Smith describes this release as the soundtrack of his youth, as each song takes the listener through the worlds of sci-fi and fantasy that characterized his childhood. Like their previous recordings, "Invocation / Transformations" features Smith's unique banjo "mathematics", and a minimalist sound. Though, as previously stated, through "Invocation / Transformations", Smith succeeds in pushing the experimental boundaries to finally provide an answer to the "fusion - prog rock" question. Curious to know if he succeeds? Take a listen bellow.
The nice thing about the Canadian jazz scene is that our members are widespread. And so, we have a group of world class musicians representing us as nearby as the United States, and as far out as Japan and Australia. Therefore, today we will be discussing one of these artists living in "the diaspora". Vocalist Brigitte Zarie was born into a musical family in Toronto. Her parents, both local musicians, exposed her to jazz at a young age as she fell asleep at night to the music of Frank Sinatra and Stan Getz. After being exposed to live jazz for the first time, Zarie knew her calling. Her debut album, "Make Room For Me", features eleven tunes that were all composed and penned by Zarie herself; an accomplishment that, these days, is uncommon to jazz vocalists. The personel on the record include herself on the vocals, Randy Brecker on the trumpet, Jeff Golub on the guitar, and some of New Yorks finest session musicians. The first song that we're going to note is "See You Again". This original highlights Zarie's exemplary abilities as a composer and a lyricist. As well, Zarie and Brecker's respective tones work side by side to set a beautifully mood for this soft romantic piece. The next composition that we're going to discuss is "Make Room For Me". As the title song on the album, Zarie recorded it in both English and French, shedding light on her Moroccan ancestry. As well, she has dedicated this original to her parents. In addition, it is sometimes seen as an unfortunate circumstance when our fellow Canadian musicians have to start their careers abroad. However, in the case of Brigitte Zarie, her pursuits in the United States can be seen as a fortunate circumstance, for her extraordinary talent allows her to act as a cultural ambassador, exposing the world to our unique Canadian sound.
For today's review, we're going to be discussing a prodigy. However, what does it even mean to be a prodigy? Surely there a many talented youths out there who excel in all areas of life. Especially in the jazz world, it seems like most musicians show exceptional talent during their childhood. So lets re-frase the question...What separates a prodigy from the abundance of extremely talented young people. Well, we're going to have to answer this by way of an example: Born into a musical family, Joel Miller first picked up the saxophone when he was ten. By the time he was thirteen, he was performing at the St. Francis Xavier University summer jazz workshop, where his dexterity was recognized by the likes of Kevin Dean, who would later go on to teach Miller at McGill University. Since then, he has released six records as leader, and has won numerous awards including the prestigious Grand Prix Jazz award at the 1997 Montreal International Jazz festival. As well, his recent compositions on Christine Jensen's "Treelines" helped to lead the album towards a Juno award and an Opus Prize award, both in the category of contemporary jazz. All of this has culminated in "Swim", Miller's latest release. The album also includes Geoffrey Keezer on the piano, Fraser Hollins on the bass, and Greg Ritchie on the drums. The first song we're going to discuss is "Teeter Totter". As the opening song on the album, "Teeter Totter" is characterized by a melody line that literally takes you up and down on the musical seesaw. Both Miller and Keezer pull out virtuosic improvisations that will have you begging for more by the end of the piece (thank God there's still ten songs left!). The next song that we're going to note is "Nos étoiles (Intro)". This piece highlights Miller's compositional proficiency, as he has truly written a masterpiece. Furthermore, we didn't quite provide a clear cut answer to what a prodigy is. Nevertheless, you're going to have to find out by listening to "Swim", because only a former prodigy like Joel Miller can truly shed light on what a prodigy actually is.
The contemporary jazz world is filled with a wide range of musicians, styles, and instruments. However, these days, it seems like the trombone has become some what forgotten. As well, with the exception of a few trombonists, such as Glenn Miller and Tom Dorsey, most of its players have been (rather wrongfully) viewed as the sidemen of jazz. Even though these musicians are unwarrantedly depicted this way, as mentioned, there are those great players who nevertheless, make their mark on jazz as leaders. One of these great trombonists is doing so, as we speak, here in our own Canadian jazz scene. Originally from Nova Scotia, where he received his Bachelors of Music (BMUS) from St. Francis Xavier University, Robin Jessome relocated to Toronto to achieve his Masters of Music (MMUS) from the University of Toronto. Since the relocation, Jessome has been bringing the trombone back, as he leads both his own quintet and Blunt Object, a large music ensemble made up of mostly his fellow U of T alumni. However, the focus of this post will be on his quintet, which recently released their debut album, "For Whatever Reason". The group includes Jessome on the trombone, Gordon Hyland on the tenor sax, Tom Van Seters on the piano, Mark Godfrey on the bass, and Mark Segger on the drums. The first song that we're going to note is "Powderkeg". This piece is characterized by the improvisational partnership between Jessome and Hyland. At first, they go bar for bar, playing "catch" with a musical ball. However, this culminates into an intense climax, where both of them are soloing on top of each other, adding to the delight of the listener. The next song that we're going to discuss is "A True Story". This blues is introduced by Van Seters who improvises over two heads. Following this, Jessome and Hyland come in with a uniquely composed melody line. Jessome is the first to solo, followed by Godfrey, Hyland, and Segger. Each musician wonderfully adds their own originality to the blues through their respective improvisations. In addition, "For Whatever Reason" is a wonderful debut album. Though, its leader may find himself being praised for much more than his superb compositions. Rather, we believe that through his contributions to the jazz world, he will be praised as a super hero, who helped to bring the trombone into the spotlight, where it will rightfully remain. Take a listen to the album bellow!
For today's review, we are going to be discussing Circles, and their sophomore release "Autumn Dance". Formed in 2006, the group includes Matthew Roberts on the bass, Hayoun Lee on the piano, Alexandra Tait on the vocals, Neil Whitford on the guitars, and Mackenzie Longpre on the drums. Circles has been making a name for themselves in the Canadian jazz scene as they push the limits of modern jazz, and explore the use of musical story lines in their compositions. The first song on the album that we're going to note is "Song for the Fox". This composition explores the underlying emotions expressed by "The Fox" in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince. The song begins with the utterance: "My life is very monotonous". After a short reading, the song exemplifies a mix of non-lyrical vocals, unique improvisations, and beautiful harmonies. The tune comes to a close in much different way than it begin; for Circles succeeds in taming the fox, and thus, allowing the sun to finally "shine down on his life". The next song we're going to discuss is "Should". Once again, Tait shines out with her non lyrical vocals, beautifully singing the melody at various points throughout the song. However, the song is also characterized by Whitford and Lee who both pull out some impressive solos. Though, the most interesting part of the piece is the very end, where the song transitions into a camp fire setting, with Whitford strumming the acoustic guitar, and the other band members singing the melody line. This one of a kind conclusion to the piece sheds light on the group's pop influences. Furthermore, Circles has done it once again. Following in the footsteps of their debut album, "I Understand", this virtuosic quintet continues to push the boundaries of modern jazz in their brilliant sophomore effort, "Autumn Dance".
When asked about jazz fusion, it sometimes seems like a rudimentary question. However, if you really dig deep into the topic, you will actually find yourself with an answer filled with much complexity. Its hard to even say when the fusion movement began or how it came about. However, most music historians postulate that the movement began in the late 1960s. Throughout the 1970s, Fusion artists like Al Di Meola and Miles Davis composed music that combined jazz with rock music. However, with the rise and popularity of funk, fusion music in the 1980s had a very different sound. The 1990s saw the emergence of nu-Jazz, which fused jazz with a more electronic and industrial sound. Though, with all of these sub-movements in the fusion word, its hard to imagine a fusion between jazz and classical music. As Chase Sanborn notes in his Jazz Tactics, "classical and jazz musicians rarely mix at cocktail parties." Despite all this, Canadian guitarist and composer Roddy Ellias seems to have found the perfect fuse between these two, seemingly, conflicting musical genres. Throughout his career, he has been described as "positively brilliant" and "a Zen master on the guitar". Most recently, Ellias collaborated with Canadian soprano Donna Brown, on their new album "Acts of Light". The personel on the record include Ellias on the guitar, Brown on the vocals, Jennifer Swartz on the harp, Ken Simpson on the marimba, and Frederic Lacroix on the piano. All tracks on the album were composed by Ellias with texts written by Sandra Nichols. Some songs to note on the record are "What You Wanted Was So Simple", "Puzzle Pieces", and "Looking Up". We're not going to discuss each noted song in detail like we usually do because they are truthfully indescribable. So instead, take a listen to "What You Wanted Was So Simple", and you'll realize why we could not justify doing an in-depth analysis of these beautiful compositions . To end things off, Roddy Ellias does not provide an answer to fusion music. Rather, he continues to add to the complexity. Though, it is due to this complexity that we love jazz music in the first place. Bravo Mr. Ellias, bravo.
Since this blog's inception, we've been writing about jazz acts from all over Canada. However, we seem to have forgotten about a vital part of our scene, that is, French Canadian jazz. Over the years, the Quebecois have produced their own unique sound as well as many jazz legends, including: Alain Caron and Ranee Lee. However, it seems, unfortunately, that this unique Quebecois sound has been overlooked far too often by us English speaking Canadians. This brings us to today's post, for we here at The Canadian Jazz Review believe that jazz is jazz, no matter where it is performed. Sylvain Picard is a freelance guitarist, composer, and arranger based out of Montreal. With a strong belief in maintaining a unique French Canadian culture, Picard is perhaps most well known for his group, Pic et Ses Blancs de Mémoire (previously known as Ensemble Fleur de Lys), which performs jazz arrangements of popular Quebecois songs. However, now, Picard is storming the jazz scene with his new trio and their debut album "Airs à Faire Frire". The trio includes Picard on the guitar, Mathieu Descheneaux on the bass, and Charles Duquette on the drums and percussion. The album features a whole knew sound, however the trio's diverse influences, whom include Bill Frisell, Erik Satie, and Tom Waits, are easily identifiable. The first song we're going to discuss is "Annie et les Oiseaux". This tune is introduced by Duquette on the vibraphone. Following this, the song is all Picard, who plays both rhythm and lead on this beautiful composition. The next song we're going to note is "C'est Comme Sas". This composition has a nice latin jazz influence to it. After Picard takes the song to climax with an impressive solo, Descheneaux brings the pace back down with his turn at improvising. In addition, Sylvain Picard has produced an astounding debut record with his knew trio. Despite his diverse musical influences, this composer wonderfully maintains a strong Quebecois sound. Take a listen to the album bellow, and don't for get to like our Facebook Page!
For today's review, we're going to be discussing Taylor Cook and his most recent studio release "For Lilia". A graduate of the University of Toronto's prestigious jazz performance program, Cook has been tearing up the Canadian jazz scene, with three releases to date, and a number of extensive tours with both his quartet and quintet. Despite being a multi-instrumentalist, Cook only performs with his alto sax on this release. The album has been garnering a ton of interest because it was produced by Tim Ries of The Rolling Stones. Ries also appears as sideman on the album; playing his tenor sax on a number of tunes. Other personel on the record include Paul Morrison on the piano, James Genus on the bass, and Clarence Penn on the drums. In addition, the record was produced at the internationally renowned Avatar Studios in New York City. The first song that we're going to note is the arrangement of Thelonious Monk's "Evidence". Ries is first to take off on an impressive solo. Following this, Morrison and Penn begin a musical dialogue, conversing back and forth with their respective instruments until Cook comes in, taking the song home with a powerful improvisation. The next song we're going to highlight is the arrangement of Sonny Rollins' "St. Thomas". The tune is characterized by both Cook and Morrison, bringing out everything they've got on two amazing solos that will have you shivering by the end of the song. To conclude, "For Lilia" is a Grade A album, featuring beautiful compositions, and cleverly arranged standards. Despite this, the album brings forth a young musician and composer, who will undoubtedly by a household name in the jazz world as he makes his way onto the musical main stage.
There is something to say about contemporary jazz culture. Whilst in the roaring twenties and dirty thirties, jazz found itself on top of North America's musical shoulders (and the billboard album charts for that matter), however, after the second "Great War", its audiences began to diminish. Today, jazz fans and musicians alike find themselves in a tight-nit community, that spans both national and international borders. Its to this wonderful community that we owe the success of this blog, for we're not only reaching large audiences around the world, however, we are reaching the musicians who fill our ears with the sweet sound that we call jazz, as well. This leads us into today's post...When we were first contacted by Andrea Superstein to review her debut album, "One Night", we were rather excited... Not because of the usual thrill of receiving emails from our readers, but rather, we were excited because we saw the goal of our blog being achieved. That is, to help get the names of our talented Canadian jazz artists out there...and where is there? Well, that can only be decided once these musicians get their feet through the door, and that is exactly why this blog was started in the first place. So lets start off by telling you a little bit about this vocalist. Born in Montreal, Quebec, Superstein now resides in Vancouver, British Columbia, where her career began to buzz a couple years ago. She made her debut performance at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival in 2010, which led to a Galaxie Awards nod in the category of Emerging Talent. Naturally, this has all cumulated into the highlight of her career thus far, her debut album, "One Night". So without further adieu, lets start off with some personel. The album includes Andrea Superstein on the vocals, Jen Lewin in the keyboards, Budge Schacte on the guitar, Joseph Lubinsky-Mast and Adam Thomas on the bass, Andrew Peebles on the drums, and John Korsrud on the trumpet. "One Night" is made up of ten standards in which Superstein has uniquely adapted traditional performances to her modern vocal style. The first song we're going to note is the arrangement of The Beatles' "I Will". On this tune, Superstein does a wonderful job, appropriately arranging an iconic pop song into a jazz setting. The song also features a tasteful solo on the part of Lewin. The next song we're going to note is the arrangement of Django Reinhardt's "Nuages". This arrangement features a duet including Superstein and Schacte. Superstein delivers a masterful performance, shedding light on her years of training in vocal technique and speech articulation. Getting back into the original subject of this post, contemporary jazz culture, Andrea Superstein succeeds in utilizing "One Night" as a musical outlet, that does justice in two ways: Firstly, it succeeds in the realm of innovation and moving jazz forward. However, secondly, and most importantly, it succeeds, as has been proven already, in bringing people together in our tight-nit community, and thus, rather perfectly, helping to restore jazz back to its original glory.
Today on The Canadian Jazz Review, we're going to be featuring a wonderful Canadian jazz duo. Hailing from our west coast, this twosome consists of pianist Miles Black, and bassist Rene Worst. As well, vocalist Jennifer Scott also makes guest appearances throughout the album. Lets start off with a couple bios. Born in New Guinea, Rene Worst has been a professional upright and electric bassist on the Canadian scene since 1971. Despite many impressive appearances with the likes of Chet Baker and Joe Pas, Worst is arguably most well known for being the leader of the renowned jazz fusion group, Skywalk. Miles Black was born in Victoria, British Columbia, and has been playing professionally since he was fourteen. Like Worst, Black has collaborated with some world class musicians including Lee Konitz and Slide Hampton. However, Black is perhaps most well known for his collaborations with vocalist Glenda Rae, with whom he has co-written over 300 songs with. The first song that we're going to note is "Quiet Ballad". This composition starts off, rather quietly for that matter, with a beautiful movement by Black. Shortly afterwords, Worst joins in, and Black takes off on an impressive improvisation. Following this, Worst pulls out a virtuosic solo that clearly shows why he has been touted as one of the best bassists in the country. The next song that we're going to mention is "Whitt". This is one of the pieces that features singer Jennifer Scott. The song is characterized by Scott's scatting and non-lyrical vocals, which adds perfectly to the duos already established chemistry. Jazz is either performed individually, or with a group. However, in the group category, it is very rare to see a collaboration between a pianist and a bassist. Nevertheless, Black and Worst come together on "Escorial" like a chemical bond.We look forward to seeing future collaborations between these two fantastic Canadian jazz musicians.
Innovation seems to be the common theme in the Canadian jazz scene, and a frequently discussed subject on our blog for that matter. Nevertheless, the more innovative albums we get to listen to... the happier we get writing these posts... So to all you hard working Canadian jazz artists out there...keep up the amazing work! Yes, this schpeel is leading to something, or someone for that matter...Christine Bougie. Rightfully acclaimed, Bougie started playing the guitar when she was just ten years old, and since then, she has appeared on over thirty recordings varying in genre. Now, she is one of the most in demand session musicians in the country. So lets get into her second studio release "Aloha Supreme". Were going to start off with some personnel... Of course, there's Christine Bougie on the guitars and lap steel, frequent collaborator Dafydd Hughes on the wurlitzer, Paul Mathew on the bass, Kieran Adams on the drums, Andrew Downing on the cello, Julia Hambleton on the clarinet, and Bryden Baird on the trumpet. "Aloha Supreme" features a mellow and unique avant-garde-fusion style that is unlike anything you have ever heard before, or ever will hear. So lets get into the noting. The first song we're going to tell you about is "Me Her". The composition is introduced by Bougie on both the acoustic guitar and the lap steel, paving way for an absolutely gorgeous melody line. Despite the song progressing, Bougie and her ensemble manage to maintain the mellowness that, as mentioned earlier, characterizes the album. The song comes to a conclusion, again with the beautiful harmony between the acoustic guitar and the lap steel. The next song we're going to note is "Blanche Rose", the final track on the album. The song begins with Bougie on the lap steel. Shortly after, the acoustic guitar comes in, as well as Hughes, who perfectly adds to the mix with his wurlitzer. The song features some nice changes in pace, as more members from the ensemble come in and out of the piece. Christine Bougie and "Aloha Supreme" perfectly fit the profile of this blog, and you know what? We loved writing about her! Wanna know why? Because she's innovative...which is what our great Canadian jazz scene is (thankfully) all about. We cannot wait to see what's next for this talented Canadian jazz artist. Take a listen to the album bellow!
For today's review, we're going to be featuring Sophie Milman, and her recently released "In the Moonlight". Born in Russia, however based in Canada, Milman's career has received both national and international praise. As well, Milman was the recipient of a Juno Award in the category of vocal jazz for her 2007 release, "Make Someone Happy". "In the Moonlight" is Milman's fourth studio release, and like her previous records, it presents an artist who is rightfully touted as one of Canada's finest vocalists. The album is made up of songs that contain beautiful orchestral arrangements, as well as songs that feature Milman singing with small jazz ensembles. Milman had the pleasure of recording this album with some world renowned jazz musicians including Randy Brecker on the flugelhorn, and Larry Grenadier on the bass. The first song we're going to note is the arrangement of Meredith Wilson's "Till There Was You". The song features Milman on the vocals, Grenadier on the bass, Gil Goldstein on the accordion (also arranger of the piece), and Julian Lage on the acoustic guitar. The song's arrangement is almost Romani inspired with Lage's Django Reinhardt style voicings on the acoustic guitar, and Goldstein's beautiful rhythm playing on the accordion. But of course, the star of the song is Milman, who perfectly adapts to the song's unique arrangement with a strong voice, yet wonderfully soft tone. The next song we're going to note is the arrangement of Tom Jobim and Jon Hendricks' "No More Blues". The song features Milman on the vocals, Grenadier on the bass, Gregoire Moret on the harmonica, Gerald Clayton on the piano (also arranger of the piece), and Lewis Nash on the drums. This songs arrangement is Latin inspired, however the song would not have been done justice without Moret, who introduces the tune, and whips out a beautiful solo that just brings a smile to the listener's face. In the end, this was another fantastic release from Milman. She will be performing this spring in both Winnipeg and Toronto so if you live there, definitely get out to see her!
For today's post, we're going to be getting a little bluesy. "You Can't Make Peace" is an album made up of mostly blues, with some pop and jazz, standards performed by a trio of Canadian legends: the late Doug Riley on the piano and organ, Danny B on the vocals and harmonica, and Bernie LaBarge on the guitars. What makes this album so special is that it was recorded at Riley's home studio on Prince Edward Island, and it was the last record that he produced before his tragic passing in 2007. Now lets get to some noting... We're going to begin our discussion with the group's rendition of T-Bone Walker's "Stormy Monday". The song is introduced by Riley on the hammond B3, who gives the listener a taste of his lifetime's worth of achievement on the organ. Following this, the listener is introduced to LaBarge's rhythm playing as well as B's soulful voice. B is the first to solo on his harmonica, followed by LaBarge, and then Riley, who's impressive improvisation leads to the conclusion of the song. The next tune we're going to discuss is the arrangement of Cat Steven's "Father and Son". The song introduces a new side to B's voice, who perfectly mimics and adopts to Steven's vocal style (rightfully so). This piece is also characterized by LaBarge, who brings out an acoustic guitar (like Steven's would have), however adds some original voicings, greatly contributing to the beauty of the song. The last song we're going to note, as a tribute to Riley, is the arrangement of Fats Waller, Harry Brooks, and Andy Razaf's "Ain't Misbehavin'". The star of this one is Riley, who pulls out a beautiful stride in this jazz / ragtime standard. Despite Riley mostly being known for his Organ work, this song shows that he had no trouble adapting to different keyboard instruments, and different styles of playing. Furthermore, "You Can't Make Peace" is a spectacular release, and is the perfect final farewell from the legendary Doug Riley.
One of the many things there is to love about music is innovation. But what does it mean to be truly innovative? Well to answer that question, we're going to show you by way of an example. The Element Choir is what we'd like to call a musical experiment. Led by Christine Duncan, and funded by a Canada Council Arts Grant, the choir brings together a group of fifty vocalists coming from varied musical backgrounds. So lets get into why this choir is so innovative. We're going to start off by introducing the conductor of this great ensemble, Christine Duncan. Duncan was born into a musical family, whom she sang gospel and jazz with as a child. However, as her musical pallet grew, her taste for music became deeply routed in vocal improvisation. With her five octave range, Duncan has had a successful career as both a performer, and instructor. Now, lets get into the choir and their music. The Element Choir produces music based on both structure and improvisation, queued by their conductor. However, this music is both tonal and atonal, resulting in a masterful engagement of its audience's emotions, and curiosity. This brings us to the album. "At Christ Church Deer Park" is a collaboration of different musical connections, including The Element Choir, New York bass legend William Parker, and The Andrew Downing Trio, which includes Downing on the bass, Jim Lewis on the trumpet, and Jean Martin on the drums. Sounds like a lot of sound doesn't it? To be honest, we are a bit lost for words. The only thing else we can tell you is that if you really want to know what innovation means, give this spectacular record a listen to.
For today's post, we are going to be featuring the Toronto based, Robi Botos Trio. This group, led of course by Botos, also includes his brother Frank on the drums, and Attila Darvas on the bass. Born into a musical family, Botos began his musical career as a child growing up in Hungry, self-teaching himself both the drums and the piano, which he soon mastered. Since moving to Toronto in 1998, this pianist has won numerous international awards such as the 2004 first prize and public prize at the International Montreux Jazz Festival's solo piano competition, and the 2007 Now Magazine award for best jazz artist; just to name a few. He has also made his mark on the Canadian jazz seen, frequently collaborating with legendary bassist Dave Young, and being a member of the acclaimed fusion group rinsethealgorithm. Despite numerous appearances as sideman and leader, "Place To Place" is Botos' first album with this trio. The record includes mostly Botos originals, however a few covers as well. The first song we're going to note is Botos' arrangement of Wayne Shorter's "Footprints". Botos adds his own uniqueness to the song, slowly building it up with band, as his improv moves the piece forward towards climax. In our opinion, this solo gives Botos something to brag about, putting him in the same musical realm as other modern piano virtuosos, like Geoffrey Keezer and Brad Mehldau. The next song we're going to note is "Smedley's Attack". This Botos original allows the listener to make out some of this pianist's diverse influences, such as Oscar Peterson and Thelonious Munk. The song also features both bass and drum solos, allowing Botos' sidemen to make their mark on the album as well. To conclude, this was a fantastic album, and a great first effort by Botos. Now that the album has made headway, we look forward to seeing Botos perform during the 2012 summer jazz season.
For today's post, we're going to be featuring Toronto based guitarist Caleb Elias. This artist is particularly special to The Canadian Jazz Review because without him, this blog may have never existed...Let us explain. In 2009, our editor-in-chief, Myles Rosenthal, was looking for a guitar teacher. After consulting his brother, Myles was pointed towards Elias, one of his brothers best friends. The lessons began, and Myles was inspired by this guitarist's superb musicianship, and teaching method. After a few months, Myles became interested in Jazz, as that was what Elias was studying at Humber College in their prestigious jazz program. It took a while for our editor-in-chief to get into jazz, however, it was in 2010, when he saw Elias' final recital live, that got him hooked forever. So, as you can see, from years back of inspiration, Caleb Elias is actually part of the backbone of our review, and we thank him for that. So, it is only fitting, although it will never be released officially, that we discuss his debut album, "Dualistic Forces". The album begins with a soft acoustic number called "Revelations". This first song sets the tone for the album. It is a duet, including Elias on the guitar and Steve Lavery (Aphrodite's Bodice) on the keyboards. Just like the album, the song slowly builds on itself, as both musicians continuously adds a new layer of sound to the mix. The next song on the album is "St. Anne Des Lacs", which was written by Caleb in the summer of 2009, while spending time at his family cottage in the Laurentians, Quebec. An acoustic song as well, this composition picks up right where the last one left off. However, it adds another element to the already sweet sound, percussion, which is played by masterful drummer Jon Hyde. The number concludes with Elias' beautiful acoustic solo. The third composition, "Lights and Color", forwards the transition into the second half of the album. This song, again building on the last, adding two new musicians into the mix: Julian Nalli on the alto sax, and Jon Amador on the bass (both reviewed bellow). The song climax's with a very tasteful, now electric, solo from Elias, and just when you think it's going to end, they go right back into the head of the piece to the listener's delight. The fourth and final number, "Funky Thang" was co-written by Elias and bass sensation Josh Cohen, while they were playing together in Toronto based jam band, Toast. Yet again, the song adds even more musicians into the mix: Andrew Jackson on the trombone, Tom Moffett on the trumpet, and Phil Skladowski on the baritone sax. This song is characterized by a fusion between funk, jazz, and a re-harm on the 12 bar blues. "Funky Thang" is definitely the climax of the album, as it includes a heavier new sound, and an amazing improvisations by Elias, Amador, Nalli, Lavery, and Hyde. Although "Dualistic Forces" will never be released officially, Elias has generously posted the album onto soundcloud, so everyone can listen to it for free! Caleb Elias has been at the forefront of the Canadian jazz student scene for years, now beginning his professional career, we cannot wait to see what's yet to come from this amazing Canadian jazz artist.
Today, The Canadian Jazz Review will be presenting Guido Basso and his most recent release "Changing Partners". Now for those of you who don't know who he is, Guido Basso is a legendary, Montreal born, jazz musician who has built his career by mastering both the flugelhorn and the trumpet. On "Changing Partners", Basso arranged eleven duets of jazz standards, featuring himself performing with changing partners, literally... His duet partners include pianists Robi Botos, John Sherwood, and legendary Don Thompson. As well, the album also includes guitarists Lorne Lofsky, and Rob Piltch. For most of the songs, Basso serenades the listener with his beautiful flugelhorn playing, however he does manage to pull out his pocket trumpet on the track "Down By The Riverside". Well lets start out by noting the obvious... ("Down By The Riverside"). Besides Basso's superb trumpet playing, the song also features Robi Botos on the piano, who shows off a powerful stride influenced rhythm and solo that transports you back in time to an old western saloon. The next song to note is "On a Clear Day" which features Lorne Lofsky on the guitar. On this track, Basso has no difficulty impressing the listener with his flugelhorn playing, however, he is perfectly accompanied by Lofsky, who acts like an expertise bass player while playing the rhythms, and an amazing lead man while improvising. To conclude this review, we don't think there's anything else that we can say other than buy the album...Its Guido Basso...
Today, we are going to be featuring David Braid, and his recent release "Verge", where he explores the uncharted territory of solo piano. The album has garnered recent attention because it won a 2012 Juno Award. David Braid began his musical career while studying at the University of Toronto. Since then, the student has become the master, winning countless awards, and being a National Jazz Awards recipient. Braid has become most well known for his works with the David Braid Sextet, and his collaborations with Mike Murley. However, recently, he has opened the door to solo piano music, as seen on "Verge". The record features compositions that blend modern classical and jazz idioms together. The first song to note on the album is "Le Phare", which is characterized by Braid's left hand producing a strong bass line, and a powerful rhythm. Despite this, the listener's interest is equally ignited by Braid's right hand, which produces a swaying melody line that pulls you in just like the great romantic pieces of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The next song that we're going to note is "The Way You Look Tonight", which is characterized by Braid's use of a prepared piano("A piano that has its sound altered by placing objects (preparations) between or on the strings or on the hammers or dampers." (from wikipedia.com)). The sounds created by the preparations almost add a ringing sensation to the song. David Braid has been called one of the most gifted and talented young pianists in Canada. However, with his most recent release, he has also proven to be one of the most innovative as well. He will be traveling as far as China on his upcoming tour. We here at the Canadian Jazz Review cannot wait for more releases from this talented Canadian jazz artist.
For todays post, we are going to feature Tunnel Six, and their superb new release "Lake Superior". Although not entirely Canadian, the group has three Canadian members which is good enough for us! Well, lets start off by introducing this "border crossing" jazz sextet. On the Canadian side, there's Ben Dietschi on the saxophones, Brian Seligman on the guitar, and Ronald Hynes on the bass. On the American side, there's Chad McCullough on the trumpet, Andrew Oliver on the piano, and Tyson Stubelek on the drums. This eclectic group of musicians all met at the Banff Centre For The Arts in 2009 where their chemistry was noted almost immediately. On a side note, for all of you rock fans out there, Brian Seligman is best known for his position as lead guitarist in the hit Canadian pop band, The Little Black Dress. Well, lets get into the album. "Lake Superior" features compositions by all six members in the band. The first song we're going to note is "Moving Day". The song begins with a beautiful chord progression by Oliver. The rest of the band joins in and the song beings to progress. Suddenly, a spectacular solo by Hynes. This is quickly followed by McCullough, who shows the listener how talented you really have to be to attend Banff's prestigious program. The piece begins to conclude with a slow building solo by Seligman, where the listener can make out assorted influences such as Kurt Rosenwinkel. As the melody comes back in, and the song begins to dwindle down to completion, out of nowhere, Stubelek comes in, showing off everything he learned while in Alberta. The next song we're going to note is "Lake Superior". It starts off beautifully with another short piano intro. Each member begins to join in, adding into a very relaxing mix of sounds. Oliver now comes in with a tasteful piano solo that creates a ton of interest in the listener. Following this is a change in the rhythm as Dietschi begins to improvise, adding an entirely knew light to the song. Unfortunately, because the band lives so far apart they we don't get to see them that often. Nevertheless, we are all going to have to live with only having "Lake Superior" (which is absolutely fantastic) for now. We can't wait to see what's next for these guys!Take a listen to some songs from their North American tour bellow!
Saint Dirt Elementary School is at the forefront of Canadian avant-garde jazz. No, this isn't some elementary school marching band (even though that would be cool too), do not worry. However, what does it mean to be at "the forefront of Canadian avant-garde jazz"? Well, I hope you're all prepared because today we have a pop spelling quiz, and the first and only word is "avant-garde". No? Ok ok, lets turn to our friends from dictionary.com. Avant-garde can be described as "the advance group in any field, especially in the visual, literary, or musical arts, whose works are characterized chiefly by unorthodox and experimental methods". So how does this pertain to Saint Dirt? Well, this ensemble is "an advanced group", in the "musical arts", "whose works are characterized chiefly by unorthodox and experimental methods". Don't worry, there is a point to all this... Lets introduce the band. The ensemble includes: Wes Cheang on the acoustic guitar, Ryan Driver on the analog synthesizer, Myk Freedman on the lap steel, Tania Gill on the piano and the melodica, Julia Hambleton on the clarinet, Kai Koschmider on the alto sax, Jake Oelrichs on the drums and glockenspiel, and Mike Overton on the bass. If you couldn't tell by the diverse list of instruments, this band is most definitely unorthodox and experimental, but lets get into the album. Saint Dirt's most recent release, "Abandoned Ballroom" features an assorted group of compositions, each one more different than the next. The first song on the record to note is "Zombies Love Dancin' to This Number". When listening to this composition, its like you're entering the world of Jacques Tati's Playtime (for all you film buffs out there), characterizing itself with almost a carnival like theme. The next song to note is "Lulliby for Naughty Children". In regards to this particular tune, the title says it all. This piece is characterized by many different keys, tempos, and movements...in other words... tension! Despite the tension (not what a child wants to hear before bed), it is a subtle tension, allowing the listener to stay interested, very interested. All in all, this album is two things, different and amazing. It is so "avant-garde", that it isn't even available on itunes! Do not fret, it is still available online (see bellow). Well, we hope you all enjoyed your first lesson in avant-garde jazz, and don't worry, you all passed the pop spelling quiz!
Four hands, one piano. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Not
Exactly. The pno duo, consisting of Trevor Hewer and Rosano Coutinho, are at
the forefront of the free jazz movement (if you couldn’t tell from our previous
posts, we here at The Canadian Jazz Review love free jazz). Perhaps a little
explanation of what these guys are all about is needed. The pno duo was created
as an attempt to escape from musical norms, and to cross as many musical boundary’s as
possible by way of the piano and improvisation. However these guys take improv
to the next level…All of their songs are composed and played spontaneously
without any discussions about musical direction beforehand. We know…we thought
it was pretty cool too. Their most recent release, “Hold Your Breath”, is
collaboration between this spectacular duo, and Mike Romaniak, who adds to the already unique sound with the alto sax and sopilkas (Ukrainian woodwind
instruments in the flute family). The record is made up of three compositions,
“Testing the Waters”, “Passing Tides”, and “Reflections”. Each piece takes you
down a different musical road, allowing the listener to experience various
themes and styles offered in both the classical and jazz idioms, through
various movements. While Hewer and Coutinho have an unspoken chemistry,
Romaniak, rather un-sheepishly, perfectly places himself in the musical blend,
even adding in percussion on “Reflections”. We can only imagine how badly you
all are yearning to listen to this album right now. Well we have some good
news…”Hold Your Breath” has been generously donated by the ensemble, so a free
download is available below! Check it out, and we hope you enjoy it as much as
we do. Take a listen to the album bellow!
For todays feature, we're going to introduce you to an extraordinary group of musicians, hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia. First, a bit of history. The trio includes Evan Arntzen on the saxophones, Josh Cole on the bass, and Dan Gaucher on the drums. This talented act met when its three members were studying jazz at Capilano College in 2004. Since then, their work has been astounding, including three critically acclaimed albums, and a Western Canadian Music nod for best jazz performance. There most recent release, "New Dream", continues along the band's path of exploring free jazz. One song to note on the album is "Imagine It". This compositions begins with a fast paced tempo. As the song progresses, the listener both hears and experiences each member's individual musical journey. As the piece reaches its climax, vocals join in on this already unique sound, making you want more and more. The next song to note on the album is "Do Your Thing". This tune, while exploring the theme of free jazz, also characterizes itself with middle eastern influences. Each member, once again moving along their own respective paths, come together to create one amazing sound after the other. The October Trio will be touring extensively with this album, including tours in eastern and western Canada, followed by a supporting tour in the United States. Can't wait to see whats next from this unique trio! Take a listen to the album bellow!
We first had the pleasure of seeing Julian Nalli perform at Caleb Elias' (review to come) Humber College Final Recital in the winter of 2010, and man we were blown away. Ever since then, we made it our mission to find, and listen to as much of his music as possible. Both unfortunately and fortunately (unfortunately because there is only one song, fortunately because the song is amazing), we've been listening to the one composition, "Vicissitudes", on his myspace page on repeat for the last two years. Yes we know...you don't need to say anything. Nevertheless, we waited and waited, and finally we were able to get a hold of Julian Nalli's debut album, which is yet to be released, and named officially. Now we get to listen to an additional five songs of his on repeat! Yes we know...you don't need to say anything. Anyways lets get into it. The album includes two different ensembles; with Julian Nalli (alto sax), and Eli Bennett (tenor sax) as the record's only permanent members. The first ensemble includes Paul Morrison on the piano, Josh Cole on the Bass, and Fabio Ragnelli on the drums. The second ensemble includes Hayoun Lee on the piano, Mike Downes on the bass, and Ethan Ardelli on the drums. Despite the change in members, Nalli's compositions remain wonderfully consistent over the course of the record. The first song to note is "Pass the Baton", which is performed by Nalli, Bennett, and the first ensemble. The song is characterized by harmonizing melody lines between the alto and tenor saxophones. It begins with a strong rhythm line on the piano by Morrison. As the rest of the band joins in, Nalli takes the first solo, and its pretty f***ing crazy btw (by the way). Then, out of nowhere, Bennett comes in with his equally amazing, yet different, style of improvising. The next song to note on the album is "Glow In The Dark". The song features Nalli, Bennett, and the second ensemble. This composition provides a change in pace on the album with its slower tempo. Once again, Nalli has no difficulty showing off his talent with another pretty f***ing amazing improvisation. However following this, the listener is serenaded with a beautiful solo by Canadian bass legend, Mike Downes. The song concludes with Nalli and Bennett replaying the, rather beautiful, melody line while Lee solos in the background adding to the climax of the piece. Well, now that this post is done, its time to go back to listening to the album on repeat. Yes we know...you don't need to say anything. We look forward to the album being officially released, and named for that matter. Julian...please don't let it be another two years before we get some knew music...its just not fair to all the available space on our itunes.
Now this is an album that we have been waiting for... We here at The Canadian Jazz Review are huge fans of the critically acclaimed Susie Arioli. After witnessing the success of her internationally renowned "Christmas Dreaming", we knew we could only expect great things to come from this Montreal, Quebec native...and great they were. Arioli has done it again, bringing her soft, and rather soothing voice to an album made up of thirteen songs, featuring guitarist Jordan Officer, from the "great american songbook", including show tunes such as Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart's "My Funny Valentine", and jazz standards like Frank Sinatra's "Heres to the Losers". Not only does Arioli tackle these wide range of songs, however she masterfully displays great emotion over the many themes presented throughout the album. One song to note on the record is Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's "Come Rain or Come Shine". The song begins with a beautiful introduction by Officer, followed quickly by Arioli's sweet voice. Like all the other songs on the album, as Arioli displays her wide range of tone and pitch (somewhat reminding the listener of Ella Fitzgerald), Officer does an amazing job harmonizing with the vocal line on his guitar. After listening to the album, you can't help but reflect on your own life (somewhat wishing you had Susie Arioli's voice). In the end, we loved the album, and can't wait for this vocalist to produce another five star record!
On February 29th (of this year), Tesseract, a "modern jazz quintet" based out of Toronto, released their debut album, "Impossible Images". Released independently, the album features Edwin Sheard on the alto sax, Leland Whitty on the tenor sax, Patrick O'Reilly on the guitar and electronics, Julian Anderson-Bowes on the bass, and Derek Gray on the drums. So what makes this album so special...Well lets first talk about the record's style before we get into the nitty grits...Tesseract is a "modern jazz quintet", with an emphasis on the modern. That is to say, Tesseract, as described, moves jazz forward. Well, that is exactly what we hear on the album. "Impossible Images" is characterized by diverse compositions, which touch upon elements of bebop, fusion, latin, and world music...the sub-genre list goes on and on. However, this diversity isn't just seen from song to song, but rather, within the songs themselves. Intrigued yet?? Well lets start getting into the nitty grits. The first song we're going to discuss is "Venezuelan Independence Day". The song is introduced by O'Reilly, who has no trouble showing off his McLaughlin-Esc (Jon McLaughlin that is) chops. As the introduction peaks, the ensemble joins in, causing a sense of repose (as ethnomusicologist Donald J. Fune would put it) on the listener. The song begins to slow down as Sheard begins his solo...slowly building the song back up to another climax. The piece ends with a drum solo by Gray, followed by a final addition from O'reilly. The next song to be noted is "Enut Wen", which begins with a conversation between the alto and tenor saxophones. Following the exchange of words (notes), both sax's get a chance for their voices to be heard with their improvisations, respectively. As the song concludes, the listener not only hears, but feels the end of the conversation, that has by now swept you away. Rather than ruining it...we'll let you listen to see who got the last word in! All in all, the album was a fantastic debut for Tesseract. Already heard on the international level, we can't help but be excited to see what's next for this "modern jazz quintet" and their journey in moving jazz forward.
All we can say about this album is wow... Nicolas Ladouceur's debut EP, "Pequod", is one of the most unique albums we've listened to all year. The EP introduces Ladouceur's trio, niiic, which includes himself on the guitar, Jonathan Amador on the Bass, and Derek Gray on the drums. "Pequod" is characterized by, what we'd like to call, the acoustic sandwich...let us explain. It begins with a beautifully mellow acoustic tune called "Apartment 1209". Following this, the album progresses. The second song on the album is "Baggage". "Baggage" is the only song on the album to feature a trombone. When listening to the song, the first thing you'll notice is the exchange of counterpoint (alternating melody lines), and harmony between the electric guitar and trombone. Next comes "Serenity Row", and "Ahab". Both of these pieces highlight Ladouceur's electrifying guitar solos where the listener is able to experience his diverse influences, including the likes of Jeff Beck and Bill Frisell. The album closes with another beautifully mellow acoustic tune, however solo this time, called "Rue Main"...Thus completing the acoustic sandwich. Whether you are an avid jazz listener, rock and jam band enthusiast, or just a music lover in general, you are going to fall in love with this album just like we did...We actually guarantee this. niiic recently finished some studio work in Oakville, and will be playing an upcoming show at Zaphod's in Ottawa, Ontario. Can't wait to see whats next for Ladouceur and his trio! You can stream the album on myspace and buy the album on itunes.
This year, The Worst Pop Band Ever (abbreviated WPBE) released their third record, "Sometimes Things Go Wrong (and other songs we shouldn't play) live at The Cellar", featuring both covers and originals, recorded live at The Cellar in Vancouver, British Columbia. The group includes: Chris Gale on the saxophone, Drew Birston on the Bass, Tim Shia on the drums, LEO37 on the turntables, and both Dafydd Hughes and Adrean Farrugia on the keyboards. Some songs to note on the album are "High and Dry", and "If You Want Me to Stay" (both covers). In regards to the former, WPBE joined the likes of other jazz musicians, such as Brad Mehldau, by covering a song by British alternative rock band Radiohead. While the cover follows the original structure of the composition, it features both keyboard and saxophone solos that allow WPBE to make the song their own. The second song noted, "If You Want Me to Stay", is also a cover, as made famous by the popular 60's 70's and 80's group, Sly and the Family Stone. Once again, WPBE made the song their own, featuring a unique solo on the turntables by LEO37. Not only does the album feature these great covers, however some intricate compositions as well. This critically acclaimed Canadian jazz group just finished off a year long tour, and will be playing a show this weekend at The Rex in Toronto! Hope to see you all there!
One of things we love todo here at The Canadian Jazz Review is go out, and see our talented Canadian jazz artists live! Last night, we had the privilege of being blown away by 17 year old Sarah Troy. Native to Calgary, Alberta, this vocalist and keyboard player took a couple days off school this week to come to Toronto and play two after hours shows with bassist Alex Rand, and guitarist Kyle Rosnick (both 17 as well), whom she met at the prestigious Berklee College of Music last summer. "A Dozen Hearts", though technically not a jazz album, is Sarah's fourth independent release. However, when you see her live, you get to experience the effects that Berklee's program had on her song writing style, adding a jazz element that isn't found in her earlier works. One of the songs to note on the album is "Arson". This song begins with a progressing introduction that sets the tone for the piece. As the song continues, Sarah's voice pushes and pulls on the music, creating a unique effect on the listener. Whether you listen to the album, or see her live, you cannot help but wonder about Sarah's future in the music industry. Sarah will be continuing her studies next year at Berklee full time. We look forward to seeing what's next for this young Canadian jazz artist!
Now this is what this site's all about...Jamie Ruben is a graduate of the prestigious Humber College Jazz Performance program. After finishing his tutelage at Humber, Ruben left Canada, expanding his musical vocabulary, and performing in the far east for 7 years. After moving back to Canada, Ruben released his debut album, and if you couldn't tell from the album title, it is groovetastic!!! The album features Jamie Ruben on the guitar, Steve Zsirai on the bass, Ryan Granville-Martin on the drums, William Sperandei on the trumpet, and Dafydd Hughes on the keyboard. Technically a fusion album, "Groove*O*Ly*O*Scene" is filled with easy listening compositions that even the non-jazz enthusiast will enjoy. Some songs to note on the album are "Pai Crowd", and "Monsieur Slidey".While "Pai Crowd"is characterized by Ruben and Hughes' mellow improvisations, "Monsieur Slidey" features a solo introduction by Ruben that makes you want to pick up the guitar immediately and attempt to learn it by ear. All in all, Ruben's debut album is absolutely fantastic, and uniquely introduces him into the Canadian jazz scene, specifically in Toronto. Thanks to Ruben's generosity, the album is available for free below!!
We are going to start our reviews off with Brian Dickinson and Ted Quinlan's "around the bend". Released by Addo Records in the fall of 2010, once you put this album in your car, its never coming out. Featuring Dickinson on the Piano, and Quinlan on the Guitar, the album presents compositions by both musicians respectively. One of our favourite songs on the album is "Vibrolux", a composition by Quinlan, originally featured on his debut album "Streetscape" (review to come). Despite our love for the original recording, Dickinson adds a whole knew element to the piece with his piano playing. Like all the songs on the album, "Vibrolux" is well organized with Quinlan and Dickinson taking turns soloing and playing the rhythm. Another song on the album to note is "Love theme from "Sparticus"", a song originally composed by master pianist Bill Evans. Our favourite part of the song is the introduction, which begins with Dickinson on the piano. As the piano progresses, Quinlan joins in on the guitar creating a beautiful harmony that you may have to stop and rewind to listen to over and over. We believe that this album should be added to any jazz lover's "must have" list. A link to the album on itunes can be found below. Ted and Brian, you two truly know how to make beautiful music.