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:

Monday, April 2, 2018

Toronto-based jazz quartet Peripheral Vision's new album release More Songs About Error And Shame

JUNO-nominated Canadian jazz quartet, Peripheral Vision recently launched their fourth album, More Songs About Error And Shame.

"A rules-breaking quartet made up of some of the best modern players around. Fast-paced, intricate, and inventive" (CBC), Peripheral Vision extends their no-holds-barred performance aesthetic into the production concept on this album. Once again, they have teamed up with mad-scientist engineer, Jean Martin (Barnyard Records) to orchestrate a bigger sound for the record, adding layers of overdubs and studio treatments to the live-off-the-floor recordings.  Peripheral Vision has always been a live show band, and the seven new Herring and Scott originals on More Songs About Error And Shame show what can be gained from years of touring, including three recent tours throughout Europe as well as many trips across Canada. 

Co-leaders Michael Herring (bass) and Don Scott (guitar) delve into their own neurotic psyches, finding inspiration not only in music, but also in art, literature and stand-up comedy.  The album title is a reference to the iconic album by famously neurotic band, Talking Heads, and this cross genre nod is indicative of how they like to mix genres and themes, blending classic and modern jazz, the rock music of their youth, and non-musical influences such as the Catalonian artist Miró, and British comedian Stewart Lee.

This is a working band with a long-time rapport - Herring and Scott have been joined by drummer Nick Fraser and tenor saxophonist Trevor Hogg since the band's inception in 2008.  Peripheral Vision is fueled by this long-time musical friendship, bringing years of tour van talks about music and life to the stage and studio, and this dynamic group interaction creates the provocative sound of More Songs About Error And Shame.

Peripheral Vision is:
Trevor Hogg – tenor saxophone
Don Scott – guitar
Michael Herring – bass

Nick Fraser – drums

Marty's review: On this their fourth album release, the combined talents of Peripheral Vision take us on a musical journey of contemporary jazz with classical influences. Each track is a blending of multiple elements that form to create a colourful canvas of rich, textured layers with a sense of humour and neuroticism in the titles. The personalities of each member come through in the compositions with their unique style of musicianship and delivery, making this release a top-shelf item that is easy to navigate through.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Debut album release "NEVER DIE!" by \\livingfossil//, led by saxophonist Gordon Hyland

NEVER DIE! is the debut album by \\livingfossil//, led by Toronto born-and-raised saxophonist Gordon Hyland. The band features a roster of musicians - all active players in Toronto - who have had important roles in Hyland’s life: be it as collaborators, friends, and/or mentors.

The central band is comprised of Mackenzie Longpre on drums, Neil Whitford on guitar, and Andrew Roorda on electric bass, all of whom have played music with Hyland for over a decade, having been members of the band Ninja Funk Orchestra. Torrie Seager (Hush Pup) adds additional guitar, often doubling the melody in Hyland’s arrangements. Vivienne Wilder provides acoustic bass, and Mike Murley (Metalwood), on tenor saxophone, is featured on several compositions. Murley also co-produced the album with Hyland’s longtime collaborator, engineer and mixer, Andrew Mullin at Canterbury Studios in Toronto. The non-standard instrumentation (two guitarists) allows each musician to shine equally, and leads to the exploration of interesting new timbres: doubling between guitars and saxophones, effected instruments, and compositional forms influenced by graphic scores and free improvisation.

Most of the tracks on this album are original works composed by Hyland, several of which are highly programmatic. The lead track on the album, ‘Macrophages’, zooms into the world of the white blood cell on its noble quest to seek and destroy an infection. The album begins with a nebulous opening section that coagulates into the pulsating rhythmic heartbeat provided by Longpre and Roorda, underscoring the mysteriously determined melody of Hyland’s sax. ‘Living Fossil’, from which the band’s name is also derived, alludes to a concept that Hyland discovered while reading ‘The Ocean World of Jacques Cousteau’, a series of books that Cousteau published in 1975. At one point, the author asserts that a sea creature called the nautilus is effectively a ‘living fossil’, having apparently not evolved significantly since the Cambrian period some 500 million years ago. Hyland explores this theme by guiding the listener through a lush, whirling ocean of crystalline chords and shimmery guitar that cradle an exquisitely lonely sentiment.  NEVER DIE!, the album’s title track, encapsulates the overall theme of the album: it is a tragicomedy, where a nostalgic sounding saxophone melody is interrupted somewhat rudely by an explosive Zappa inspired groove. Despite the cacophany, Hyland’s sense of humour never allows the album to sink completely into the darkness.

Levity is also provided - with slapstick insanity - in the playful rendition of the Ornette Coleman song ‘Lorraine’ and Hyland’s arrangement of the aptly re-titled ‘Lessforgettable’, his take on Irving Gordon’s classic standard originally made famous by Nat King Cole. Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps’ is retitled ‘Baby Steps’, both a tip of the hat to one of the world’s greatest saxophonists, and a simultaneous wink to the absurdity of jazz school hero worship. The stadium saxophone track ‘Satellite’ harkens back to Hyland’s days in the electro-prog rock club scene with Ninja Funk Orchestra.

Official website:

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Guitarist and composer Harley Card new album The Greatest Invention...a musical tapestry

Harley Card is a Toronto based guitarist and composer. Well versed in jazz and popular music, Harley has been a collaborator in Toronto’s diverse music scene since 2003. He has released three albums of his original music; ‘The Greatest Invention (2017), Hedgerow (2013), and Non-Fiction (2008). In addition to leading his own projects, Harley is a member of the the innovative Toronto groups; Stoptime, Hobson’s Choice, and God’s Gift To Yoda. 

The Greatest Invention is Harley's third CD and is the follow up to 2013’s ‘Hedgerow’ and his 2008 debut, ‘Non-Fiction’. It introduces eleven new compositions written for his long standing group, The Harley Card Quintet.

The music on The Greatest Invention ranges from longer developed pieces to more direct themes that bring the soloists into focus and pay tribute to the tradition of the great quintets in jazz. The album draws inspiration from a range of musical influences, memorable places, and Harley’s deep interest in exploring the process of composition. The title track is inspired by the bicycle and the joy of cycling. It is an album unified both by Harley’s voice as a writer and the Quintet’s sound and approach, developed over the last twelve years as a working band. 

Card takes the listener on a captivating journey. Virtually flawless with an ensemble cast second to none!Brent Black -

As a sideman, Harley has played with a wide array of bands including; Carlie Howell and The Deharms, Harrington, Karl Silveira Quintet, Heavy On The Willie, and The Dan Jam Orchestra. As a freelance guitarist he has worked with; Richard Underhill, Alex Dean, Alex Samaras, Dave Clark, David Virelles, Mike Malone, William Carn, Bernie Senensky, Michael Herring, and Michael Davidson among others.

In 2008 Card traveled to Switzerland to compete as a semi-finalist in the Montreaux Jazz Festival’s Guitar Competition. Harley is a five time recipient of the Toronto Arts Council Creation Grant, a three time recipient of the Ontario Arts Council’s Popular Music Grant, and a two time recipient of  Canada Council Tour Grants for tours with his quintet. Harley is a graduate of Applied Music at Mohawk College and Jazz Performance at The University Of Toronto. 

Marty's review: Harley Card's talents as a composer and guitarist come to the fore in a big way on this his third album release. Each composition is a craft in itself as the quintet weave and flow through their paces with almost effortless abandon. I would call it a musical tapestry, as each picture comes together and tells a story that allows the listener to create their own story from the sounds that are formed and created. An exceptional release that highlights the talents of all involved.

Official website:


Monday, February 19, 2018

Instrumental fusion project NOOP release first single "Evolve"..stunning track from talented musicians

Los Angeles based composer, writer, producer, guitarist and bassist, Nipun Nair, recently started up an instrumental fusion project called NOOP. They recently released their first single which has gone viral on Facebook, accumulating over 35,000 views in under a week.

NOOP began as an experiment for Nipun Nair - an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and performer. Years of growing his sound and understanding the role that music plays in his life led him to the creation of NOOP.  The concept behind it was to create honest instrumental music (Free to be interpreted in any way for the listener), that is not made to impress, or cater to the boundaries of the commercial music industry, and see how that would resonate with listeners.

In order to do this, Nipun had to find the right musicians to be a part of this project. This means that the primary motivation behind being a  part of the project had to stem from the joy of creating and playing music. They say light attracts light, and almost effortlessly, these phenomenal musicians emerged from the crowd… 
Lemuel Clark - one of the most talented drummers today, ever increasing in demand, yet one of the most humble people around. 
Renny Goh - Such an incredibly talented young keyboardist, who strives every day to be better than she was yesterday.. Her exponential growth has caught the attention of many musicians prominent in the industry today. 
Gabriel Coll - One of the youngest and most gifted bassists in Hollywood today. His understanding of music is so natural, that he is able to navigate it and communicate through it like it’s simply a part of his existence. 

With these elements in order, Nipun brought the project to life with their first single: Evolve 

Evolve -  is a story of evolution and growth… an honest revelation about the struggles as an artist… As artists, we all start off with a clear vision of what we want to do… express ourselves through our art. However making that art noticeable in such a competitive market begins to throw doubt on ones-self, leading one to believe they need to conform to the mainstream industry to be taken seriously or noticed. However by doing so, and paying close attention to what our inner monologue is saying, we end up realizing that we are stifling ourselves by not being true to ourselves… and then begins the process of re-discovering ourselves through honesty, and what we end up finding is that the struggles that we just went through, brought us out in the end, more honest than before, and on the next level, and step towards evolution. This is what E-volve tries to depict, that through the ups and downs, the overall trajectory is progress!

Marty's review: NOOP's first release is a stunner! Combining flowing keyboard strokes with exquisite guitar licks and a tight, funky rhythm, this collaboration hits the spot and showcases the amazing talents of these four young musicians. They bounce off each other like seasoned professionals and it all comes together in this smooth, almost effortless composition that will more than impress listeners of fine music.

Available on Spotify

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Justin Gray and Synthesis debut album "New Horizons" ..Indo-Jazz blending Indian and Western music

Justin Gray and Synthesis is a contemporary world jazz ensemble that explores a captivating cross-cultural blend of Indian and western music. The ensemble features Justin Gray on Bass Veena and Electric Bass, Ted Quinlan on guitar, Drew Jurecka on Violin, Ed Hanley on tabla and Derek Gray on drums, percussion and Tibetan singing bowls. 

Bandleader Justin Gray is an award-winning bassist, composer and producer based out of Toronto, Canada. In 2010, Gray designed and co-created the bass veena, a multi-stringed instrument, which combines the fretless bass with elements inspired by various Indian stringed instruments. Justin is the first artist to perform on this instrument worldwide. 

Justin Gray and Synthesis’ debut album, New Horizons, features a collection of original compositions, which feature the bass veena performed alongside an inspiring line up of global artists. The music draws inspiration from Justin’s wide range of musical influences, including Indian classical, jazz, western classical, electronic and R&B music. Gray’s compositions synthesize these musical traditions with a unique combination of creative melodies, rich sonic textures, and exotic grooves. 

New Horizons features a number of exciting guest artists, including: Dhruba Ghosh (Sarangi), Trichy Sankaran (Mrdangam), Alam Khan (Sarode), Steve Gorn (Bansuri), Joy Anandasivam (Guitar), The Venuti String Quartet, Naghmeh Farahmand (Persian Percussion), Demetrios Petsalakis (Oud), Gurpreet Chana (Hang Drum), Todd Pentney (Piano), Joel Schwartz (Resonator Guitar) and Jonathan Kay (Esraj). 

Marty's review: the blending of jazz, classical and world music unite on this most adventurous and intelligent production. Justin Gray's bass veena is the rock on which all elements meet with the instrumentation of Indian music being the sound that weaves it together. Fans of jazz and world music will more than appreciate the combining factors that make this release a sheer piece of joy that resonates from all directions.

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Twitter - @Justingraybass

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