Monday, October 15, 2018

Canadian jazz icon and octogenarian Al Muirhead new release Undertones...pure jazz from a true legend

2016 JUNO-nominated trumpeter Al Muirhead is excited to present his most intriguing project to date; Undertones. Recorded in mid February 2018, the album features Muirhead on the rare bass trumpet with his new Canadian Quintet. The album highlights musicians he has admired over the years, including Canadian jazz heavyweights Kelly Jefferson (sax), Reg Schwager (guitar), Neil Swainson (bass) and Ted Warren (drums).

With a 70-year career in music, Muirhead is a true expert at what he does – and every time he steps on stage or into the studio, something special comes out of his horn. He is one of the few masters in the world on the rare bass trumpet, and Undertones showcases its mellow and deep tones. 

The album is a collection of standards that he and his quintet selected in studio, along with two tribute pieces composed by Muirhead. “A Tune For Cal” is a post-bop celebration for his late and eldest brother, a magnificent musician and one of Canada’s finest copyists. “Take It To The Bank Tom” pays homage to his life-long friend and collaborator, Tommy Banks, who passed away weeks before this recording.

1. A Tune For Cal 4:11 (Al Muirhead)
2.Rose Room 6:20 (Art Hickman & Harry Williams)
3.‘Deed I do 5:11 (Fred Rose & Walter Hirsch)
4.Tenderly 5:49 (Walter Gross & Jack Lawrence)
5. You’re My Everything 4:25 (Al Muirhead)
6.Take it to the Banks Tom! 5:18 (Al Muirhead)
7.Charade 5:05 (Henry Mancini & Johnny Mercer)
8.S’posin’ 4:03 (Paul Denniker & Andy Razaf)
9. I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You 4:28(Bing Crosby, Ned Washington & Victor Young)

10. Four Brothers 3:12 (Jimmy Giuffre)

Al Muirhead has long been an iconic figure on the Canadian jazz scene. And the trumpeter, composer, arranger, sideman and recording artist has been making listeners take notice for longer than jazz fans might realize. Born in Regina in 1935, he was playing in the Regina Symphony and dance bands by age 12. Muirhead began to take notice of greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Louis Armstrong. While Muirhead’s playing is infused with the indelible influence of the jazz giants, his flowing, melodic sound is his own — and has become influential in its own right. He unleashes melodies that are incredibly inventive and utterly timeless.

Muirhead has worked with legends such as Diana Krall, Paul Anka, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Mills and Dizzy Gillespie. 

official website: /

Marty's review: hearing jazz in its purest form is a sheer delight, and the senses are awakened and indulged on this new release from trumpeter Al Muirhead and his Canadian Quintet. The years have not aged this master and the musicianship is in top flight with textured and rhythmic compositions that soar with every note. Sophistication and style abound on this release which makes it an endlessly-playable album to wrap your ears around.  

Friday, October 12, 2018

Rob Clutton and The Cluttertones second album release "Leeways"..eclecticism and uniqueness

Leeways is the sixth album of compositions by Rob Clutton, and the second album by The Cluttertones. “The Cluttertones trade in a sort of weirdness and beauty you’re very unlikely to have encountered before” (Musicworks). This album features special guest pianist, Lee Pui Ming: “classical precision on the keyboard with a seemingly effortless flow of improvisational ideas” (Exclaim). The new CD stays true to the Cluttertones aesthetic, with unique instrumentals and songs, including features for each of the band members. The 25-minute “Leeways” was composed for a collaboration with Lee Pui Ming at the Guelph Jazz Festival in 2017. The recording took place at Canterbury Music studio in Toronto.

Led by bassist and composer Rob Clutton, The Cluttertones features mind-melting trumpet mastery of Lina Allemano, magical synth wizardry and voice of Ryan Driver and the intrepid joyful sophisticated banjo and guitar of Tim Posgate. All of these musicians are band leaders and composers in the Toronto creative music scene that has recently been described by Greg Buium as “moving into its own powerful, signature moment” (Point of Departure). The group has been together since 2007, and released their first CD/LP, Ordinary Joy, in 2015. 

Stuart Broomer writes, “Clutton composes pieces that begin with the improbable and sometimes approach the uncanny, strange states of musical mind in which the heterodox elements seem to tune calmly to a new standard” (Whole Note).

official website:

Marty's review: this is an album that takes a bit of "getting into" but is also satisfying as a conceptual creation. It has an eclecticism and uniqueness which is delivered by the visionary talents of composer Rob Clutton and his collective of enigmatic musicians The Cluttertones. It has been described as "otherworldly chamber music" and the terms avant-garde, ambient, experimental, progressive and sublime may also apply. Certainly one for "the listener" who will appreciate the intricacies and development of each piece as it unfolds in sonic waves that transport the sounds to stratospheric places unknown.

Monday, October 1, 2018

University of Toronto 12TET album release When Day Slips Into Night..young musicians with a professional sound

When Day Slips Into Night is a compilation of songs, original compositions and jazz standards reflecting the musical aesthetic and artistic sensibility of the University of Toronto jazz students and faculty. The album focuses on material written exclusively for this band by students of the program in the composition/arranging stream, many of whom are also current members of the 12TET. The 12TET band leader Terry Promane - a widely celebrated arranger and composer himself - contributes 2 additional arrangements.

Drawing from a deep pool of talent, the U of T 12TET is comprised of current undergraduate and graduate students in Jazz performance.  Although quality orchestration and arranging are paramount,  improvisation and jazz soloing remains a high priority. 

Smaller than a traditional big band, the 12-piece format allows more freedom for soloists while still offering a wide range of ensemble textures. The 12tet takes cues from classic bands like Art Pepper Plus 11 and The Rob McConnell Tentet, but also steps further by embracing more contemporary sounds and approaches.

Members are:
Terry Promane - Band Leader
Brooklyn Bohach - Vocals
Michael Henley, Kaelin Murphy - Trumpets
Karl Silveira - Trombone
Brandon Tse - Alto Saxophone
John Nicholson, Kieran Murphy - Tenor Saxophones
Russell Matthews - Baritone Saxophone
Noah Franche-Nolan - Piano
Julius Clegg - Guitar
Evan Gratham - Acoustic and Electric Bass
Keagan Eskritt - Drums

official website:

Marty's review: The combined talents of this 12tet have produced a textured and finely-calibrated collection of compositions that take their groundings from classic jazz and add a contemporary and sophisticated edge to the overall sound. The result is a flawless and unified body of work where each instrument is equally represented and the player is allowed to highlight their talent in a  masterful and passionate sense. This small "big band" soars in its delivery and musical brilliance.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Tiki Collective release debut album "Muse" featuring 15 incredible guest vocalists in jazz-exotica style

The Tiki Collective are a large ensemble of friends who perform jazz, pop and exotica music. The collective was conceived by Toronto jazz producer/personality, Jaymz Bee and guitarist/music director, Eric St-Laurent in 2016.  Bee has been a fan of exotica and lounge music for years and felt the time was right to present a nuevo-retro sounding ensemble that included elements of surf, jazz and pop with a nod to Tiki culture. 

The instrumentalists bring decades of experience and share a love of world music while the singers bring a fresh approach to a diverse array of material. This ensemble steers clear of the type of cultural appropriation that appeared in exotica recordings of the fifties, relative to Polynesian and South Pacific island cultures. Instead, the collective  focuses on using similar instrumentation to those of early exotica records, with thoughtful arrangements that blend Eastern, Western, and local influences.

The name Muse carries with it two meanings: first, a way of honouring a person who acts as a source of artistic inspiration; secondly - as a verb, since they mused over how to create a fresh new sound. The album is a blend of exotica, jazz, and pop music that will have you dreaming of beaches, palm trees, and wondrous sunsets. The melodies are timeless, while the production is modern and seamless. 

The recording features new arrangements of popular songs including “Don’t Fear The Reaper” and “The Sweetest Taboo,” as well as exquisite classic rarities such as “All Too Soon” and “Chelsea Bridge.” Also featured are original compositions “Dreaming” and “The Wanderer”. 

official website:

Marty's reviewTo put this in layman's terms, this album is soooo COOL! Dreamy exotica with a contemporary feel that reinvents the style in a way that creates an exquisite and stylish sound that swirls and soars. The re-interpretations of past classics like "Don't Fear the Reaper", "I'll Be Seeing You" and "Sweetest Taboo" are delivered in a unique and sensitive way that breathes new life into them.  With seductive vocals, lush and layered instrumentation and a production quality that is sublime and polished, this release is destined to create a new genre in jazz-exotica.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Jazz artist Ilya Serov upcoming album release "Back In Time" ..a homage to the Big Band era

Young jazz artist, Ilya Serov, is a classically trained Russian trumpet player who fell in love with jazz as a teenager.  He came to the US about 10 years ago to pursue a career as a jazz musician.   Back in Time, his upcoming album (out in September), is an homage to the Big Band era and features collaborations with Roger Kellaway, Poncho Sanchez and Eric Marienthal.

Russian-born Ilya Serov is a young jazz musician with an old soul.  Classically trained at the prestigious St. Petersburg Conservatory, trumpet player and vocalist Serov decided to follow his love of jazz, cultivated as a teenager in the Russian city of Saratov, by pursuing his dreams in the U.S. He now is building a following among fans and seasoned players alike as one of the scene’s budding new talents.  

Serov’s new album, Back in Time, to be released later this year, is an homage to the Big Band era and features classic tunes that showcase both his musical chops and vocal interpretive skills.   The first single, “Swing 42,” featuring a duet with Grammy-winner and Oscar-nominated pianist Roger Kellaway, is a new take on the Django Reinhardt tune.  “Tangerine,” the second single, is a collaboration with Grammy-winning percussionist Poncho Sanchez.  “C’est Si Bon,” the third single, is a re-imagining of the French popular song and has background vocals by The Swing Kittens and piano work by Kellaway.  “Old Devil Moon” is highlighted by a solo from Eric Marienthal, Grammy-winning sax player.  The album is loaded with other classics that Serov has lovingly interpreted.  

After Back in Time, Ilya plans a smooth jazz recording with self-penned material (and featuring the Jazz-o-horn).  His goal is to explore all forms of jazz, including smooth jazz.  

I love all forms of this music,” he said. By going Back in Time, Ilya Serov is moving jazz forward.

Visit for more information.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Toronto-based trumpeter John Pittman and his new quintet album Kinship. ..mesmerizing and flawless

Kinship is the debut solo release from Toronto-based trumpet player John Pittman, who is best known for his work with the critically acclaimed Heavyweights Brass Band. Pittman shines here in the roles of performer, composer, band leader and producer. Kinship features singable tunes that linger in the ear and improvisations that excite the imagination. The music stretches from swing to the avant-garde with a sense of joy and playfulness. 

Pittman assembled a stellar cast of musicians who are giants individually, and their collective studio chemistry is palpable on this release. Shirantha Beddage, Jeff McLeod, Mikes Downes and Curtis Nowosad are all well-known to the Canadian jazz scene as band leaders and Juno award winners or nominees. Their musicianship, creativity, and virtuosity is on full display here without overshadowing the need for a cohesive group dynamic. 

Kinship is a uniquely personal statement from John Pittman that reflects on family, teachers, mentors and friends. The music presented on this album evokes the nature of these relationships from the playful “Homio-stasis” or the challenging “Where Is The Love?” to the wistful “Reminiscing” or comforting "Home”. 

official website:

Marty's review: Kinship is an apt title for this new release by trumpeter John Pittman. Not only does it showcase his own masterful and accomplished talents, but he is joined by an outstanding array of musicians that complement each other and build a cohesive structure around each composition to allow the music to flow almost effortlessly with room to explore and expand. A finely-calibrated effort that is both mesmerizing and flawless in its delivery.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Guitarist Chris Monson releases debut album Seldom in the Well..contemporary sensibilities with a 60’s vibe

Seldom in the Well is Toronto-based guitarist Chris Monson’s debut album – a sometimes meditative, sometimes explosive exploration of disparate jazz genres.  Monson’s nine original compositions and arrangements seamlessly meld an iconic 60’s vibe with decisively contemporary sensibilities, resulting in a strikingly fresh and unique album. The material weaves between many touchstones – at times reminiscent of Chick Corea and Allan Holdsworth, and other times bringing to mind a sense of space and depth heard in classical composers such as Bernard Herrmann, all of which is underpinned by Monson’s early roots as a prog-rock guitarist. 

Stream and download the album on BANDCAMP here

In addition to Monson on guitar, the ensemble is comprised of Juno Award winners and other veteran Toronto players: Kelly Jefferson on tenor saxophone, Kevin Turcotte on trumpet/flugelhorn, Anthony Panacci on piano, Artie Roth on acoustic bass, and Tom Rasky on drums. 

Marty's review: Chris Monson's debut release is nothing short of outstanding. Bringing his own unique and accomplished talents to the fore as well as assembling a stellar cast ensemble, the musical creations are a blend of contemporary and traditional jazz with a nod to the 60's and 70's fusion masters. Each track plays out beautifully with all involved working together in a seamless way that allows their creativity and abilities to blend as one cohesive unit.