Sunday, June 24, 2018

Adrean Farrugia & Joel Frahm new album Blued Dharma.. a piano and tenor sax duo performance

Pianist Adrean Farrugia and Tenor Saxophonist Joel Frahm explore the exciting and intimate world of duo performance with their new album Blued Dharma

After a 9-year musical relationship performing in drummer Ernesto Cervini’s groups, Farrugia and Frahm show the world what musical simpatico is all about. In a gorgeous set of music, they prod and poke, cajole and inspire each other to create beautiful musical landscapes for all to enjoy! 

I first became aware of saxophonist Joel Frahm in the late 1990’s. I was sitting in my car on a rainy evening with my friend and we were listening to a bootleg recording of Joel playing at a jam session in New York with sax legend Chris Potter. I remember exclaiming ‘who IS this guy?!?!’ I was mesmerized with his incredible melodicism, prodigious technique, and his sense of joy, groove, and humour in his music. I was instantly a fan. 

Frahm and Farrugia present a set of spirited music including 2 standards (with 2 vastly different versions of Cherokee) and 5 original Farrugia compositions. The interplay is exquisite! 

Frahm and Farrugia have toured extensively across the globe together as members of Ernesto Cervini's ensembles.  During one of these tours, the pair were playing in the duo format during a soundcheck, and having a blast, when Frahm quipped 'Hey man, we should record a duo record sometime.'  With that, the seed was planted, and in August of 2017 Farrugia headed to NYC to record.

"What resulted was, for me, a magical experience. I stand by my younger self in saying that Joel plays with incredible melodicism, prodicious technique, joy, groove and humour. But my older self is able to also recognize that he plays with deep empathy, camaraderie, and a love of music and the people who make it. Maybe the pain was a good distraction, and my mind got out of the way, but the songs seemed to play themselves. This is human music: it unfolds like a conversation between two people exploring what makes us vulnerable. And this album captures a special, and very long-awaited moment in my musical life and I’m very happy and grateful for the result. It was a labour of love. "

Official website;

Marty's review: I think "exquisite" would be an understatement when describing this recording. The way these two musicians come together and bounce off each other almost sends shivers down your spine. They have created a series of musical compositions that go beyond jazz and weave as one. Hard to believe there are only 2 musicians involved as they make it sound like a full combo with the overall sound that is projected. Do yourself a favour and have a listen, you will not be disappointed here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Jazz vocalist Deanne Matley’s 5th album "Because I Loved" ..emotional tour-de-force

Canadian jazz vocalist Deanne Matley’s fifth album, Because I Loved, is a tour-de-force, taking the listener on an emotional journey from despair to quiet contentment, with stops at red-hot passion and the excitement of new love along the way.

Deanne recruited some of Montréal’s premier jazz talent for the project, including drummer Jim Doxas (who also produced the album), pianist Paul Shrofel, bassist Adrian Vedady, and guest vocalist Ranee Lee. 

Because I Loved features four new tunes of Deanne’s to round out a song list that includes saxophone legend Stanley Turrentine’s “Sugar,” the haunting “Forget Me” (written for the great Shirley Horn), and remarkable covers of songs by Journey (“Open Arms”) and Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors (“The Wine We Drink”). Throughout, Deanne shines as a first-rate vocal stylist, deeply rooted in the jazz tradition but unafraid of pushing the envelope. Her seen-it-all authority permeates every cut. “This is an album about love, melancholy, and starting again … about relationships,” says Deanne. “It’s the album I’ve always dreamed of making.” 

A singer since she was a child, Deanne studied at the Berklee College of Music, the Banff Centre for the Arts, and the Stanford Jazz Institute both before and after launching her career as a jazz vocalist.  She is the singer for Calgary's Prime Time Big Band, and performs with ensembles in both Calgary and Montreal, her second home. 

Deann has performed at jazz festivals in Canada and France, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia as part of Canada's contribution to the Giant Steppes of Jazz festival, and has shard the stage with Canadian greats including the late Tommy Banks, and trombonist Al Kay.  

official website:

Sunday, June 3, 2018

NYC-based bassist Frank Wagner's new album "Floating Holiday" .. an interesting palette of colors

Floating Holiday is the exciting new album from NYC-based bassist Frank Wagner. The title is a reflection on a painting by Magritte and it describes both the weightlessness of a character in the painting, as well as the peaceful feeling Wagner gets when he is playing music. 

Floating Holiday is primarily a collection of tunes I wrote during my formative years while studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston. It also includes some tunes I recently wrote in 2016. This project is the fulfillment of my desire to re-examine my earlier tunes and to reshape their existing harmonies and rhythms. In this way, I was able to merge the past with the present as well as to deliver an interesting palette of colors for the listener to experience.” 

Frank Wagner was born in Levittown, New York. Graduating in 1980, Frank attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, studying jazz bass with Steve Swallow and Ron McClure as well as classical music with William Curtis from the Boston Philharmonic and Walter Botti of the New York Philharmonic. He has performed all over the world in a host of musical settings including all star jazz bands, Broadway shows, national tours, recording sessions, cabaret, society bands, and classical orchestras. Some of the big bands Frank has toured with are Buddy Rich, Larry Elgart's Manhattan Swing Orchestra, Glenn Miller and Clem Derosa's All Stars.  Mr. Wagner has played numerous Broadway shows, jingle sessions, society orchestras and classical chamber groups.  He has taught music throughout his career in a variety of capacities. Mr. Wagner served as a faculty member at the Rudolf Steiner School in New York City.

Mr. Wagner has played in many small jazz band settings including: Tiny Grimes, Milt Jackson, Ray Nance, Gary Smulyan, Earth Kitt, Bobby Sanabria, Joe Puma, Johnny Ray, Eddie Fisher, and Carrie Smith to name a few.  

In 1989, Mr. Wagner returned to formal study and entered the City College of New York as an art major with a minor in psychology.  He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1993, Magna Cum Laude and was admitted into Phi Beta Kappa.  In 1995, Mr. Wagner was accepted into NYU’s Music Therapy program and in 1997 graduated with a Master’s Degree in Art.  For the past ten years, he has been practicing music therapy at Brooklyn's Woodhull Hospital in Inpatient Psychiatry and chemical dependency department. He is an adjunct professor at Queensborough Community College and Pratt Institute, teaching composition, jazz theory and music therapy.

Mr. Wagner's website is:

Sample the album on CD Baby

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Detroit Bop Quintet release Two Birds paying tribute to the great Charlie Parker and his quintet

Is it possible to recreate a classic Jazz recording in modern times? The answer: with some hard work, a little luck and a great band - Yes! 

On Two Birds, TQM Recording Co. and Detroit Bop Quintet pay tribute to the great Charlie Parker and his quintet made up of Miles Davis, Max Roach, Tommy Potter and Duke Jordan and the legendary recording they made at United Sound Systems in Detroit on December 21st 1947. 

As one of the world’s first independent recording studios, United Sound Systems has a wonderfully rich history, serving artists from John Lee Hooker to Jackie Wilson, Bob Seger to MC5, The Rolling Stones to Aretha Franklin, Issac Hayes to Parliament-Funkadelic to Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was founded by Jimmy Siracuse in the 1930s and has been at its current location, 5840 Second Avenue since the early 1940s. 

The Detroit Bop Quintet was assembled specifically for this United Sound Systems session in Detroit. The band is made up of four of Detroit's best Jazz musicians and Saxophonist Pete Mills from Columbus, Ohio that says he is proud to be called an honorary “Detroit-er”.

Dwight Adams is a soul-inspired, R'n'B trumpeter. He has played and recorded with Marcus Belgrave, Rodney Whitaker, James Carter, Shawn Wallace and Donald Walden, and tours with Stevie Wonder. He has served as a jazz trumpet instructor at both Ohio State University and Michigan State University.

A native of Toronto Canada, critics have called saxophonist Pete Mills playing “virtuosic” and “gorgeous” (David Franklin, JazzTimes) and The Columbus Dispatch writes of Mills’ compositions as being “impressive with solos that are ear opening…with a tone that is big and rich”. 

Rick Roe is Assistant Professor of Jazz Piano at Michigan State University. Roe won First Place in the Great American Jazz Piano Competition in 1994, was twice a Semifinalist in Thelonius Monk International Jazz Piano Competition, in 1993 and 1999, and has been a featured performer in the Jacksonville (Florida) Jazz, Savannah (Georgia) Onstage International Arts, Montreaux/ Detroit Jazz, Birmingham Jazz, Lansing Jazz, Flint Jazz, and Hawaii Jazz (with Frank Morgan) Festivals.

Jazz string bassist Paul Keller wears many hats: He is a well-respected master of his instrument; he is a prolific composer and an outstanding arranger of music for small and large ensembles; he is an educator, an entertainer and impresario; he is a lover of, a student of, and a proponent of The Great American Songbook; he is a successful bandleader of several different groups and he is an in-demand sideman who has performed all over the world with a myriad of jazz luminaries. 

A consummate musician, Nathaniel Winn discovered his passion for the drums in church at the age of 4. Since then, the Detroit, Michigan native has never looked back. Nate has had the pleasure to work with many well-known musicians such as Danilo Perez, Robert Hurst, Pat Metheny and Joshua Redman. Nate's versatile, but unique style has earned him the opportunity appear on numerous albums.

Ron Skinner began his career as a musician in Southwest Ontario. Growing up a stone's throw from one of the world's greatest music cities, Detroit had a major impact on his musical tastes and sensibilities.  After attending the Music Industry Arts program at Fanshawe College in London, ON Skinner began working as a recording engineer and producer in Toronto.  Building on this experience, Skinner opened Heading North Mastering in 1999. Since then, he has mastered projects for a wide range of musicians, including Canadian indie artists Dan Mangan, Amelia Curran, The Once and Elliott Brood. 

In 2015 Skinner started his dream project and opened the Jazz label, TQM Recording Co. The mission of TQM is to record acoustic music in unique acoustic environments while telling interesting stories about the history of recorded music. 

official website:

Monday, April 30, 2018

Toronto-area drummer Robert Diack releases exciting and progressive debut album "Lost Villages"

The Lost Villages were a collection of nine communities and townships in Southern Ontario. The people therein were forcibly removed to make way for the St. Laurence Seaway, a 1950’s project which linked Southern Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean by a collection of waterways. The houses are submerged underwater, as the places where there once was human community there are now lakes. 

The album Lost Villages, which shares its name with the communities discussed above, was written with that inspiration of upheaval, however, the composition is grounded in and inspired by its own local geography; it is a product of the environment it was created in (largely composed in Southern Ontario, and Toronto). The writing of the album is extensively inspired by “post-rock” elements, and uses large scale repetitions and layering. These elements, when blended with those of jazz (and post-bop) synthesize into wholly new formulation of musical style. Citing influences from Godspeed You Black Emperor, Aaron Parks, and Philip Glass, the material is a fluid and flexible musical exploration.  

Using acoustic and electronic instruments, this recording pushes boundaries in the jazz anthology, building off tradition to create something new. This recording has embraced post-production editing, allowing for techniques and influences from different genres to proliferate into the contemporary jazz moment. Some tracks feature editing, creating sounds which are impossible otherwise, and some tracks feature no editing at all.  The thematic material that this recording draws on is that of loss and submersion, set in the capitalist machine of society, and mirrors the namesake event. 

Featuring Patrick O’Reilly on Guitars, Jacob Thompson on Piano, Brandon Davis on Bass, and Robert Diack on drums, this recording showcases the next wave of talent in Canada.  

Robert Diack is a drummer and composer from Toronto, Canada. He has studied music extensively in Toronto, with over fifteen years of learning in various institutions across the city. Robert studied jazz at the University of Toronto and is a student of Nick Fraser. Composing for many years, he draws his influence from jazz and post-bop, to folk and traditional, to post-rock and pop music. As a drummer Robert has recorded and played over Canada, especially in Toronto. Recordings include two indie pop albums with Reenieband, large-scale informal releases with the musical collective Luscar, and an upcoming folk-rock album by David Madras. 

Marty's review: this album takes elements from jazz, world music, progressive rock and combines them to create a themed "soundtrack" to a movie that plays in your own imagination. With superb musicianship and creative editing effects, this will take the listener to a place where the music is part of the scenery and tells a story in several chapters of music-scapes.

official website:

Monday, April 23, 2018

Jazz guitarist Chris Platt new album release Sky Glow...the jazz trio in its most exquisite form

The album Sky Glow is a culmination of the various artistic influences that inspire and drive Toronto-based jazz guitarist Chris Platt. It features a collection of original compositions by Platt inspired by the incredible works of Billy Strayhorn and Guinga, amongst many others. Sky Glow is a continuation of the long standing tradition of the guitar trio. A major influence on Platt’s playing comes from groups that put the guitar at the forefront, where the responsibility of both the melodies and harmonies land on the guitarist to creatively navigate. Echoes of trios led by Ed Bickert, Lenny Breau, and Jimi Hendrix can be heard here, with all three instruments collaborating to create more than the sum of its parts. 

Stream and download on BANDCAMP

A large part of the sound of the album was the guitars Chris played. For the majority of the project, the warm, woody sound of the traditional ‘jazz-box’ (or archtop) guitar gives a nod to tradition, while dawning a new guitar sound that brings clarity and freshness. The other guitar used on “Platter” and as a rhythm track on “No More” was a Tele-style guitar by the same luthier. The Tele bring a familiar sound that has permeated genres since the early 1950’s. With these sounds, Sky Glow brings a new feel to a genre steeped in tradition. 

official website:

Marty's review; Chris Platt takes the jazz guitar back to its natural form, with exquisite, flowing lines and a subtlety in his playing that is almost sublime. Combine this with the added bonus of his equally talented accompaniment of Phill Albert on bass and Robin Claxton on drums and you have an album that is pure, natural and even "organic" in its production with a nod to the traditional style of the jazz trio.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Heavyweights Brass Band album release "This City" inspired by the New Orleans brass band tradition

"This City won't wash away. This City won't ever drown". The words of outlaw poet Steve Earle echo through the Heavyweights Brass Band's newest release, This City

In their highly anticipated third full-length album, The Heavyweights have taken a pilgrimage to the city that has inspired them since their inception. Recorded in New Orleans, the cradle of jazz ,with a second-line of special guests from groups such as Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Trumpet Mafia and many more, the Heavyweights bring a fresh, energetic take on a deeply grounded tradition.

Not forgetting their roots in Toronto, where they cut their teeth in the most diverse and multicultural music scene on the planet, the album also furthers their hometown collaborations with the 10-time Grammy contributor Kevin Breit on guitar and Canada's reigning queen of jazz, blues and gospel Jackie Richardson on vocals. This City paints a beautiful duality between two cities that have informed their music and is without a doubt the strongest release from Canada's reigning champions of feel-good horn music.

Whether receiving props from The Roots on Twitter, jamming with puppets on CBC Kids' Mamma Yamma, recording with the legendary Giovanni Hidalgo or being championed by influential DJ and tastemaker Gilles Peterson, The Heavyweights Brass Band pack a one-two punch of crossover appeal and respect from music's elite.

Inspired by the New Orleans brass band tradition, the Heavyweights' original stance keeps one foot firmly rooted in the rich legacy of jazz, while one foot steps forward into the future. Like the music's originators, the Heavyweights are unafraid to incorporate influences from disparate areas of the musical spectrum, from pop hits of the day to original compositions, from R&B and funk throwbacks to the infectious rhythms of Latin America, all woven together with the thread of adventuresome sophistication.

The uppercut ascent of the Heavyweights' arc has been the result of relentless dedication. Touring across Canada and sharing the stage with such influential groups as The Roots, Trombone Shorty, Galactic and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble has helped build the group a loyal following.

The Heavyweights Brass Band’s newest recording, This City, is a celebration of New Orleans horn styles of past, and present and brings the songs into tomorrow.  With elements of gospel, traditional New Orleans jazz and brass lines recalling the Dirty Dozen(Roger Lewis guests,) and Rebirth; The HW.B.B. crafts tunes that resonate in your bones, booty and soul! Murf Reeves - WWOZ Radio

Marty's review: The Heavyweight Brass Band pay homage to New Orleans jazz with this release and they do it in style with panache. Sounding like more than the 5-piece outfit they are, with a few guest musicians lending a hand, the album combines traditional jazz with a contemporary style that is a joy to listen to without being extensive and overbearing. Each member contributes an equal share of their instrument throughout the album which emphasises the combined talents of the outfit.

official website: