Pages

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Jim Brenan 11 release 50/50....a unique and inclusive collective of soul and energy


Spending half his life in Edmonton and half in Calgary, Jim Brenan knows well the wealth of talent harbored within their city limits. The Jim Brenan 11 is a union of the most versatile and talented Alberta-based jazz musicians you can find.

Brenan was raised in Edmonton and now lives and works in Calgary. Playing regularly in both cities, he wanted to capture the talent and creativity of the musicians from both communities. As the eleventh member of the group, Brenan serves as the composer, arranger, tenor saxophonist and peace-keeper between Oilers and Flames fans.



The creation of this music began with Brenan’s desire to unify two communities but also to express an identity focused on inclusivity. “I had a desire to create a large, acoustic band that brought a powerful, groove based sound - just rhythm section and horns. While thinking of the instrumentation, I knew that I wanted to showcase a wide variety of musical minds. It’s the guys in the band that collectively come together to make up the unique sound”. Jim Brenan’s sound is infused with a soul and energy that bursts through the seams of its songs. Tiger’s Milk is a tribute to the Tied and Tickled trio’s blend of jazz and world music; an uncompromising power-to-the-people anthem that changes gears mid-way through it’s loping melody. Jocasta plays like a cop show car chase while Empress and Hiding Place, impossible to define by genre, ease into the more soulful side of the band.

Featuring Chris Andrew was a “no brainer” for this project. Chris, originally from BC has come to represent the best-of-the-best in his adopted province - quite simply every project is better with Chris. Having worked together for many decades, Brenan knew this collaboration was a natural fit and one that paid off spectacularly. Check out Chris on any of the tracks, but especially his space time warp on Fant-O-Max, reminiscent of the greatest explorations of Bitches Brew.

The soloistic firepower is evident, with the likes of Craig Brenan, Sean Craig, Mike Gardner, Sergio Rodriguez, Jamie Cooper and Rubim de Toledo featured throughout. The gritty loose funk is an undeniably catchy blend that punches above its small ensemble weight. The results of blending 11 of Alberta’s finest musicians creates a true 50/50 collaboration of talent and skill, proving we can come together to focus on what’s important; the music.




web page: http://www.deathdefyingrecords.com/jim-brenan/


Marty's review: The diverse talents of saxophonist Jim Brenan together with his collective of 10 unique and eclectic jazz musicians have collaborated on this release to produce and instantly accessible and highly-listenable album of contemporary jazz that features funky grooves, tight rhythms, bold brass licks and a cohesiveness that makes everything weave and ebb in a unified form. Each track allows the individuals to shine on their respective instruments and deliver Jim Brenan's compositions and arrangements with skill and passion that makes the album a sheer delight to soak in and enjoy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Toronto-based saxophonist Allison Au and her quartet release "Wander Wonder"..stylish and sophisticated

Recently released is the new album from JUNO Award-winning, Toronto-based saxophonist Allison Au and her quartet, entitled Wander Wonder. It's the much anticipated follow-up to her 2016 JUNO Award-winning album Forest Grove.

The culmination of an incredibly busy 2017 that saw the ensemble scoop up both the 2017 TD Grand Prix de Jazz (Festival International de Jazz de Montréal) and the 2017 Sting Ray Rising Star Award (Halifax Jazz Festival), Wander Wonder highlights Au’s maturation as a composer while continuing to showcase the strengths of her long time musical collaborators.

Wander Wonder opens with ‘The Valley,’ a lush sonic amuse-bouche that features keyboardist Todd Pentney front and center on the Prophet Rev2 while the other band mates attentively weave in and out of the background. The following track, ‘Future Self,’ begins with a hypnotic vamp that eventually blossoms into Au’s angular melodic statements on the saxophone. ‘The Rest Is Up To You’ is an amalgamation of influences; a sort of Wayne Shorter-esque composition that also draws much inspiration from Brazilian pop music of the ‘70s. ‘Looking Up’ showcases some of Au’s strongest penmanship as a composer as it highlights the ensemble’s ability to transition seamlessly between rich contrasting sections. The pensive ballad, ‘Morning,’ establishes an atmosphere of repose and calm as the instruments are slowly, yet thoughtfully layered in. The album continues with ‘The Lie That Saves Us All’, a contemporary swing tune of changing meter and harmonic textures. ‘Red Herring’ emerges as an exploration of asymmetric melodies and equally jagged counter parts deftly executed by the rhythm section. ‘Grounds’ serves as an eloquent interlude to the robust exposition ‘Force Majeure’ that showcases Ragnelli’s apt drumming sensibility in a concluding solo. ‘A Trick of the Moonlight’ is a fitting finale; a introspective ballad that draws inspiration from a novel by British author Zadie Smith.   




Juno-award winning Jazz Saxophonist, Composer and Arranger, Allison Au refuses to be defined. Born to a Chinese father and Jewish mother, and raised in the multicultural metropolis of Toronto, Allison found music as a young child. Exposed to a wide array of musical styles, she was captivated by the unhinged freedom of Jazz. Jazz became Allison’s lab for self-expression, exploration, and musical experimentation. Her work weaves a mosaic of influences into a seamless and soulful sound, a concoction steeped in the tradition of Jazz but skillfully laced with elements of Classical, Pop, R&B/hip hop, Latin, and world music. 

Au’s music transports you to a place where instrumentals ring bold and emotions run free. Melodies cascade and collide, highlighting Au’s gift for layering voices and rhythms. Her writing showcases the color and character of each instrument, while providing ample room for her band mates to push her compositions to new heights.  

Personnel:
Allison Au Alto Saxophone
Todd Pentney Piano, Prophet Rev2
Jon Maharaj Bass, Electric Bass
Fabio Ragnelli Drums

Produced by Todd Pentney

official website: https://www.allisonau.com


Marty's review:  "Wander Wonder" as an apt title for this latest release by Allison Au. Listening to the tender yet textured compositions that make up the album you let your mind "Wander" where the music may take you and "Wonder" at the musicianship of each member of this quartet as they meander and merge with Allison Au's ethereal saxophone that is exceptional and refined. Atmospheres abound with elements of jazz, world and classical embedded in the mix that makes this a stylish and sophisticated release.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Benjamin Deschamps Quartet release No Codes...a collective with power, energy and originality


Made up of Benjamin Deschamps (alto sax), highly acclaimed Canadian veteran Frank Lozano (tenor sax), Sébastien Pellerin (bass) and Louis-Vincent Hamel (drums) No Codes is the product of a collective work of research and a desire to explore and to push the boundaries of music. After presenting the Quintet all around Canada and France and being nominated for the Halifax Jazz Festival TD Rising Star award and the Montreal International Jazz Festival TD Grand Award, Benjamin Deschamps has released this new project as his third record as a leader.

Borrowing from the rhythms and the colours from the Andes, Motown or even Free Jazz, No Codes offers a musical research inspired from the Jazz tradition without actually copying it in its form. The band, without any instrumental or harmonic support, bets on its interaction, its listening and its spontaneity. 



official websites: 





Marty's review: this very talented and exceptional collective have produced an album that has ample doses of power, energy and total originality. With each respective musician showcasing their ebullience and dynamism for their instrument, the combination works extremely well to create pieces that weave and exhilarate with each note. The terms "free jazz" and "progressive" apply in some cases but elements of other genres are also in the mix making this a highly entertaining and unified release.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Toronto based jazz duo Blue Standard debut release “A Good Thing”..stylish and accomplished


A Good Thing” is the debut release from new Toronto based jazz duo Blue Standard, featuring singer/actor Raoul Bhaneja on vocals and Jesse Whiteley from the first family of Canadian roots music on piano. Drawn together by a love of some familiar and not so familiar standards, they recorded songs inspired by takes from vocalists they admire such as Joe Williams, Nat King Cole, Chet Baker and Jimmy Scott to name a few. An intimate, unadorned and raw take on the classics.




The album was recorded live off the floor with no overdubs at Canterbury Music Company in Toronto, Canada. Engineered, mixed and mastered by James Paul, assistant engineer Jeremy Darby. Produced by Blue Standard and James Paul.



Marty's review:  Blue Standard's selection and delivery of 12 standard and timeless vocal classics is nothing short of sophisticated, polished and highly entertaining. The emotionally-rich voice of Raoul Bhaneja combined with the masterful piano licks of Jesse Whitely come across as tender yet effervescent and more than do justice to these tunes that will be familiar to most jazz vocal aficionados. A stylish and accomplished collaboration that is solid and finely-calibrated.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Modern jazz release from The Johnny Griffith Quintet, featuring Jeremy Pelt - The Lion, Camel and Child


Recently released is the modern jazz album from Toronto saxophonist Johnny Griffith and his quintet, entitled The Lion, Camel and Child.  It's the second release from  Griffith’s all-star quintet - a band made up of of four of Toronto’s leading jazz lights, along with the legendary New York trumpeter Jeremy Pelt


For this release, Griffith drew inspiration from the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche - specifically his book Three Metamorphoses. As Griffith explains, “Metamorphoses is concerned with what propels each new phase of human growth, so it seemed fitting to frame this as a suite – each track individual unto itself, yet when listened to as a whole representing the arc of the personal struggle to know more and be more.” 

Central to the album is the suite that illustrates these phases and the qualities that define them: The Lion, virtuous and rebellious; The Camel, courageous and dutiful; and The Child, playful and free of spirit. 


Johnny Griffith is a multi-Juno Award nominated saxophonist, composer and producer who has played and recorded with numerous artists including Don Thompson, Hawksley Workman, Jeremy Pelt, Charlie Hunter, The Wailers, Alex Dean, Laila Biali, Al Henderson Quintet, Brandi Disterheft and Terra Hazelton to name a few, and is a member of the popular Canadian funk/hip hop group, the Pocket Dwellers. He has toured extensively across Canada, the United States, and Europe performing at all the major Canadian music festivals as well as several international venues including the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.  

official website: http://www.johnnygriffith.com


Marty's review: this highly original and conceptual production is unique and visionary with each player bringing their musical talents to the fore. Johnny Griffith's saxophone licks are top-flight and soaring as they weave in with the exceptional quintet of Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Adrean Farrugia (piano), Jon Maharaj (Bass) and Ethan Ardelli (drums). Each track is an individual, exhilarating composition blending in with the album as a whole by creating a progressive and symphonic style of modern jazz that is intoxicating and invigorating. An accomplished effort that will delight the listener and expand the visions within. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Holiday album release from Toronto vocalist Sam Broverman "A Jewish Boy's Christmas" ..fun and witty


For almost ten years now, Winnipeg born, Toronto based singer Sam Broverman has been presenting his cabaret show A Jewish Boy’s Christmas every holiday season. Initially inspired by the fact that many of the best known Christmas songs were written by Jewish songwriters, the show has evolved into a well loved holiday revue driven by Sam’s love for comedy and novelty song. After almost ten years - and countless requests - it was time to record an album.

For A Jewish Boy’s Christmas - his fourth full length album - Sam enlisted the help of several of Toronto’s best musicians, including his working band with Peter Hill and Jordan O’Connor.  Featured as a guest soloist is Broverman’s regular special guest, Whitney Ross-Barris, the Toronto jazz and theatre scene stalwart whose wit is widely known. Ken Whitely - the multiple award-winning Canadian music legend- was invited on board to produce the whole affair after his involvement in the inaugural show. 



Having celebrated the work of great songwriters like Johnny Mercer and Jimmy Van Heusen on his previous recordings, it was time for Sam to return to one of his first loves: parody songwriting.  In addition to working as a singer, Sam is also a professor of actuarial mathematics at the University of Toronto - he put himself through school singing, and has delivered his book of math based parody songs at academic conferences for years.  A Jewish Boy’s Christmas is a hilarious and irreverent take on the holiday season.

Sam Broverman is a Winnipeg-born, Toronto based jazz singer and songwriter. He has performed in venues across Canada, the US, Europe  and Asia. He began his professional singing career in Winnipeg as a teenager, appearing in theatre and cabaret productions and also on the nationally televised shows "Hymn Sing" and "The Doug Crosley Show". Sam regularly performs in the Summer Entertainment Series at Winnipeg’s Lyric Theatre.

official web page: http://www.brovermusic.com




Marty's review: whether you celebrate Christmas or not, and, depending on your own perception of it (love it or grinch!) this alternative Christmas album by Sam Broverman is not only fun to listen to but is cleverly written and performed. Looking at the season from a Jewish perspective is what Sam Boverman does here and no, it doesn't have to be Christmas time to enjoy the album as it will put a smile on your face any time of the year. With titles such as "Hanukkah in Santa Monica" and "What's A Jew to Do on Christmas", you can't go wrong. Excellent vocal performances by Sam and guest vocalist Whitney Ross-Barris.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Toronto super-group Collective Order release Volume Three....cultural and personal


Toronto super-group Collective Order recently released their third album entitled Volume Three.  

The album marks another important step in the evolution of Toronto’s Collective Order.  Having released two volumes of music, they have solidified a vision for the future of the project:  “Looking ahead, Collective Order plans to continue to become more inclusive and to better reflect the musical and cultural diversity of Toronto.” 

With Volume Three, the band has created a collection of compositions inspired by individual band members’ cultural backgrounds and personal experiences. Toronto is a collection of incredibly diverse and culturally rich communities, and in this collaborative project, the band aims to eliminate imaginary boundaries and establish new musical traditions. 

In keeping with the collaborative nature of Collective Order, the opening title is a composition written to accompany a traditional land acknowledgement by Indigenous artist Melanie Montour



Collective Order is a collaborative recording project featuring 21 jazz musicians based in Toronto. Since forming in 2015, the band has released one album of jazz standards and two albums consisting of all-original compositions. Now releasing their third album, the band has undoubtedly developed a distinct aesthetic centred around a shared creative process. 

The idea of collaboration is fully explored in the music of Collective Order. Each piece is written by a different member of the band, who then curates the personnel for the recording of their piece. As a result, the sound of their albums covers a wide array of arrangements and textures. 

Jazz FM host John Devonish has said of Collective Order, “In times when concepts of community are screaming out for serious revisiting along comes a uniquely sensitive album project."



official website: https://www.collectiveorderjazz.com


Marty's review: The 21 musicians of Collective Order have once again come together to pool their multiple talents and produce an album that is diverse in not only the style of music played but also in their own individual compositions. They take the essence of contemporary jazz and expand it in several directions to present a 14 track sublime symphony that is eclectic yet accessible and transports the listener to a place of their own choosing. Call it a soundtrack to your life if you may and match each track to a moment in your past or present. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

"Drink You In" the gorgeous and luscious album from Toronto singer/composer/lyricist Steven Taetz


For his sophomore feature-length album, accomplished singer and composer/lyricist Steven Taetz presents a new sound: a cocktail of vintage- pop, jazz, and swing, backed by a sure shot band made up of several of Canada’s top jazz musicians. The album presents six new compositions - sure to become popular with singers everywhere - plus a few re-imagined classics. 

The Alberta-born, Toronto-based Taetz was raised on Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and classic standards. He was trained classically, and at an early age he travelled throughout North America with ensemble Into the Light from Burman University performing Adult Contemporary, jazz, and classical material at festivals and venues such as Disneyland, Honolulu Cathedral, Toronto’s Rogers Centre, and Carnegie Hall. 


Steven Taetz Drink You in contains material co-written with award-winning artists including JUNO-winner Sonia Johnson (Vocal Album of the Year), JUNO-nominee Barbra Lica, Tia Brazda, and producer Drew Jurecka. Along with duets featuring Johnson and Brazda, it includes performances by noted artists such as Kevin Turcotte, John Macleod, Ernesto Cervini, Nathan Hiltz, and many others. The album is distributed by Flatcar Records/Fontana North.  

Steven is proud to follow in the tradition of legendary LGBT leaders in jazz, including Billie Strayhorn, Ma Rainey, Fred Hersch, and Gary Burton. 

official website: https://www.steventaetz.com



Marty's review: this most beautifully produced release highlights the multiple talents of Steven Taetz by taking jazz vocal classics and reworking them in a style that is fresh and intoxicating. This formula is also adapted for his own compositions that blend right in and make this an entertaining and lush set of tunes. Most notable as his duets with vocalists Sonia Johnson and Tia Brazda. If you like a good dose of vintage pop/swing/jazz this will guarantee you a good time. 

Friday, December 14, 2018

Montreal-based Lawful Citizen rockin' new album "Internal Combustion"...unique and exceptional


Internal Combustion is the first full-length record from the Montreal-based band, Lawful Citizen. Fueled by a fiery vision, the music takes a deep journey through the entire spectrum of human emotion. This album is influenced by the history of the internal combustion engine, particularly in the early days of motorcycle racing and land speed record attempts. The feeling of grit, brutality and rawness, along with the entire sensory experience surrounding the extreme danger were the largest inspirations for this music.

The band features saxophonist Evan Shay with Aime Duquet on guitar, Antoine Pelegrin on electric bass and Kyle Hutchins on drums.




Fearlessly combining jazz, metal, electronic, and Americana, Lawful Citizen is an explosive force on the Canadian jazz scene. Formed in 2015 after meeting at McGill University, the band name reflects the discord felt by the common man, between remaining complacent and refusing to abide. The pendulum of their music swings from subtle beauty to relentless rage, driven by the musicality and sensitivity of the four musicians 

Internal Combustion was recorded, mixed, and mastered in Montreal. The resulting journey weaves together the somber and the rough. The band’s signature sound is on full display with searing sax, fierce guitar, guttural bass, and propulsive drums. Their raucous blend of musical brutality, heavy emotion, and forward momentum is perfect for this moment in time.

official website: https://www.evanshay.com




Marty's review: Lawful Citizen's debut album is multi-genre mix that is powerful and intoxicating and delves the listener into a progressive jazz experience filled with thunderous and unpredictable instrumentation that is mesmerizing, ambitious and at times poignant. I applaud these four talented musicians for stepping outside the boundaries of contemporary jazz and allowing their eclectic visions to create music that is unique and exceptional.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Renowned jazz musician Patrick Boyle new album "After Forgetting"..a tender and textured journey




Renowned jazz musician Patrick Boyle recently released his new album After Forgetting. Boyle is known for his outstanding prowess as a trumpet player. A provocative and prolific composer, his performances are filled with jazz enthusiasts and music lovers who are lured into the purity and creativity of his playing. After Forgetting, Patrick Boyle’s fourth solo album, showcases his uncanny sense of the moment and exquisite understanding of melody.



After Forgetting is an exploration of sound and patience” says Patrick. “Any magic on this record comes from how well each musician listens to the entire sonic landscape, allowing our distinct personalities to contribute to the moment. I am so thrilled with the high-end audiophile sound of this album and can’t wait to share it with music lovers.”




Together with Patrick on the album are Bill Brennan (piano), Mike Downes (bass) and Mike Billard (drums); the album is produced by Glen Tilley. Previous solo albums include Rock Music with Curtis Andrews (2010); Still No Word (2008 ECMA Nominee); Hold Out (2005 ECMA Nominee). Artist Bruce Alcock designed the artwork, using a photo taken by Boyle of a shed in his father’s family home in Ireland. The album features original compositions alongside tunes by Bob Dylan, William Walton, and Michel Legrand. The album is now available on vinyl, digital download, and CD.



Hailing from Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, Boyle is a fearless sonic explorer. His frontiers are in performance (trumpet and guitar), improvisation, composition and education. He holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Toronto, a M.A. in Ethnomusicology from York University and a Bachelor’s Degree in performance from Memorial University. Dr. Patrick Boyle is currently an Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Victoria. He appears on over fifty commercial releases and four acclaimed solo albums. In 2009, he performed at Carnegie Hall with tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain. Boyle has cultivated the rare ability to synthesize a range of influences – including jazz, rock, traditional, Balkan, and South Indian music – which all come together into a rhythmically compelling musical voice. A composer for theatre, film and the concert stage, Boyle scored the recent Artistic Fraud production of Colony of Unrequited Dreams at the National Arts Centre.

Marty's review: Patrick Boyle's new release is an exploration of jazz in its many forms. Combining flawless trumpet licks with emotional and classic accompaniment on piano, double bass and drums, the compositions blend together to create a contemporary jazz soundscape that is tender and textured that take the listener on a sublime and stylistic journey.

Listen to the album here

Buy the album here