Wednesday, August 15, 2018

NYC-based trumpeter Aaron Shragge and guitar master Ben Monder new release This World of Dew

This World of Dew is Aaron Shragge’s third release with Ben Monder.  The duo project, an exploratory, meditative collaboration, has been praised as “...lyrical and heartwarming...” (Jazz Times) and “thoroughly modern with a definitive sound...” (The Birmingham Times). 

The album features guitarist Ben Monder’s otherworldly harmonic virtuosity in expansive sonic textures that highlight Shragge’s subtle and distinctive lyrical voice on the shakuhachi and dragon mouth trumpet (a custom microtonal instrument). 

**Stream and download the album on Bandcamp HERE

official website:

The fourteen new compositions by Shragge are inspired by the writings of both ancient and modern poets: Kobayashi Issa, Matsuo Bashō, Li Po, Nishiyama Sōin and Charles Bukowski.   Tracks 2-7 make up “This World of Dew Suite” which follows the emotional arc of poet Kobahashi Issa’s grief as he mourned the loss of his young daughter. What ties all these compositions together is how they explore themes of loneliness, perseverance and impermanence. 

Instruments: Ancient and Modern
-Aaron Shragge’s plays a custom trumpet that has both valves and a seven position slide. The “Dragon Mouth Trumpet” is based in part off the Holton Firebird that was custom made for Maynard Ferguson.

- Aaron Shragge also doubles on the Shakuhachi, an ancient Japanese Bamboo flute. It is widely known for its distinctive husky/breathy sound and its ability to play microtones.

-Both Aaron Shragge and Ben Monder use Strymon reverb pedals (Blue Sky and Big Sky) taking advantage of their unique “shimmer effect” to create richly detailed sonic textures.

-Aaron Shragge and Ben Monder have been collaborating since 2009.

Marty's review: The combination of the talents of these two musicians and the unique and ancient instruments used makes this release a blend of meditative and sublime music that creates color, atmospherics and mood differentiations. Hearing it once or twice won't be sufficient. There is much to explore and discover with every listen as the compositions deal with various subject matters and these are expressed through each note and piece of musical thread that weaves it all together. An exceptional release that is unlike most forms of jazz you might have heard before.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Jazz Manouche collective Les Petits Nouveaux's new album release "Stockholm"...Django mixed with Art and Nostalgia

Les Petits Nouveaux’s sophomore release is an exciting breath of fresh air in a genre that is often mired in traditionalism. The album’s namesake is a tribute to both Django Reinhardt and the group’s connection to the Swedish capitol through band member, Mikko Hilden. Half recorded in Toronto and half in Stockholm, it captures the musical journey of a Jazz Manouche ensemble that is set on pushing the envelope while respecting the traditions. Fusing Django Reinhardt’s infectious swing and the modern advancements of the post-war jazz era, Stockholm is a record that sounds nostalgic yet current. The group collaborated with many of Canada’s well-established personnel to produce this record; including virtuoso vibraphonist, Michael Davidson, award-winning mix engineer, Don Kerr (Ron Sexsmith, Bahamas, Rheostatics), and Canadian Jazz Manouche ambassador, Denis Chang. The album is released with support from the Ontario Arts Council.

Les Petits Nouveaux is a Jazz Manouche collective based in Toronto. The band's founder, Mikko Hilden, joins Aline Homzy, Andy Mac, and Tak Arikushi and overcome geographic challenges (Mikko now lives in Stockholm and Andy lives in Monteral) to create music. The band's name means "A little bit of new" in French, and they continually strive to introduce bits of modern influences while respecting the traditions of the genre. Influences as diverse as Astor Piazzolla, Julian Lage, and even Dr. Dre can be found in their repertoire.

Marty's review: this unique and very talented collective have taken the essence of Django Reinhardt, added their own colorful and artistic interpretations and produced an album that swings and flows with a nostalgic air yet sounding contemporary at the same time. A fusion of jazz, classical and world music, this release will more than surprise and delight the listener and take you to a place that is somewhere between Paris and wherever you want to be.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Innovative big band The Toronto Jazz Orchestra new release "20" ... jazz with grooves

20 is the fourth independently released album from the Toronto Jazz Orchestra (TJO). Recorded in May, 2017 at Revolution Recording in Toronto, it showcases the composition and arranging work of TJO Artistic Director Josh Grossman. 20 is a celebration of both the TJO’s 20th anniversary, and of Grossman’s evolution as an Artistic Director, composer, and arranger.

The seven original compositions and one arrangement featured on 20 were all written by Grossman between 2009 and 2016, with the most recent work (Georgie and Rose) completed specifically for this recording. The album's repertoire reflects in part the range of musical influences that inform Grossman’s approach to programming and composing: traditional big band swing, funk, rock, hip hop, samba, and free jazz.

Georgie and Rose, a pseudo-samba dedicated to Grossman's kids
Brad’s Prudence, an arrangement of Dear Prudence, based on Brad Mehldau’s performance of the tune
4 PN, a four-movement suite inspired by Phil Nimmons, loosely based on his Atlantic Suite (and other Nimmons compositions), and written in celebration of his 90th birthday
Reflection, a ballad inspired in part by the passing of Grossman's grandfather, but more generally by any life event which gives us pause
The Blob, a funk/rock tune which aims to capture the excitement and trepidation of becoming a parent

The production team for 20 features some of the most respected personnel in Toronto. JUNO Award-winning bassist Roberto Occhipinti, who has served as a personal mentor of Grossman's for many years, is the album’s Producer; JUNO Award-winning John “Beetle” Bailey engineered and mixed; Peter Letros, former Chief Mastering Engineer at Sony Music Canada, handled the mastering. 

The Toronto Jazz Orchestra has established itself as one of Toronto’s most exciting and important big bands, performing repertoire and undertaking special projects not tackled elsewhere. With its 20th anniversary coming this fall - and nearly ten years since the ensemble’s last studio recording - the time is right for 20.

official website:

Marty's review: The TJO is not your average big band but more of an expanded jazz ensemble. With the music covering several genres of contemporary sounds and traditional jazz arrangements, this album is a treasure of delights that excites and surprises with each unfolding composition. Full credits to the production team and all players involved. Jazz with grooves and creative delivery.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Jazz guitarist/oud virtuoso Amos Hoffman & world-class pianist/composer Noam Lemish release Pardes...pure magic!

Internationally renowned jazz guitarist and oud virtuoso Amos Hoffman and world-class pianist/composer Noam Lemish have teamed up to release Pardes, an enchanting album offering an inspired blend of jazz, North African and Latin rhythms as well as melodies that come from various Jewish communities across the Middle-East and Eastern Europe.  

Amos Hoffman

For years, Hoffman and Lemish have been collecting Jewish melodies from different parts of the world including Kurdish, Yemenite, Moroccan, Russian, Central Asian, and Israeli songs. In Pardes they team up with a stellar Toronto-based rhythm section featuring Justin Gray on bass and Derek Gray on drums & percussion to present vibrant re-imaginings of these beloved melodies.

Hoffman and Lemish, both of whom have roots in Israel but have spent much of their adult life in North America, began collaborating in January 2016. Lemish is deeply rooted in jazz and classical music and Hoffman is equally well-versed in jazz, Arab classical music, and North African vernaculars. Together they create a refreshing and compelling sound, filled with vibrant sonorities, unique instrument combinations and compelling arrangements.

Noam Lemish

Their work together started when Lemish, who grew up admiring Hoffman’s pioneering blend of jazz & middle-eastern influences invited Hoffman for a series of performances in Canada. The two musicians clicked on their initial tour and decided to launch the Pardes project. The pairing of their unique talents and backgrounds brings about this truly exciting project. In their first year of performances of the Pardes repertoire Hoffman and Lemish have played to sold out houses in New York City, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Buffalo, San Diego (CA) and Columbia (SC). 

The meaning of the word Pardes in Hebrew is “orchard” or “fruit garden”. The word also carries with it many layers of meaning in Jewish philosophy. Pardes is etymologically rooted in Farsi and is the origin of the word “paradise”. The songs in this album are both geographically diverse in origin and cover a wide-range of emotional terrain and sonic landscapes. The renditions are simultaneously faithful to the songs’ origins and rooted in the African-American and Afro-Caribbean musical traditions. The result is a joyous, uplifting celebration, texturally rich music, filled with groove, lyrical melodies and outstanding solos. In Pardes, Hoffman and Lemish breathe new life into gorgeous melodies that had been forgotten and create music that is appealing both to listeners completely unfamiliar with the melodies in their original context and to those who recognize these songs.  

official website:

Marty's review: With its combination of traditional and world music instruments, this album works like a dream. The talents of these two virtuosos unite and they display their instrumental mastery on each and every composition. The beautiful sound of the oud adds another dimension by conjuring up images of African and European locales that take you on your own journey of musical discovery. An outstanding production and just pure magic!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Jazz bassist-composer Solon McDade debut release "Murals"..essence of modern jazz

Murals” the debut release by Juno Award winning bassist-composer Solon McDade features nine original modern jazz pieces infused with a love and respect for tradition as well as a passion for modernity and progress.

Solon McDade grew up on stage performing with his family and has developed into a versatile performer equally able to unleash his "complex and literate bass playing" (Dirty Linen Magazine) in jazz clubs, blues bars, and at folk and bluegrass festivals. He has been a part of numerous tours in North America, Europe and China and his distinctive melodic and powerful bass playing provides the foundation on which the sound of many recordings are built. His group The McDades won a Juno Award for their album “Bloom”.

official website:

Marty's review: Solon McDade's debut release is an exercise in the essence of modern jazz. Pure, flowing lines from Solon and his well-chosen group of musicians makes this album outstanding in many ways. Compositions that are well crafted and executed and integrating each instrument exactly where they should be without sounding contrived or using a jazz formula. Totally original and a delight to listen to with many repeats.

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 MontrĂ©al’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: