Pages

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Kirk MacDonald Jazz Orchestra new album release "Common Ground"


Released this week is the amazing new album from Canadian saxophonist Kirk MacDonald entitled "Common Ground". The album features his all-star Jazz Orchestra, consisting of many of the nation's top musicians.

With an established reputation as one of Canada's leading saxophonists, Kirk MacDonald cut his first record at the age of thirteen. Throughout his career, he has received numerous awards, and has worked with many leading musicians in a variety of musical genres. He has performed on over fifty CDs as both leader and sideman, and has participated in numerous national broadcast recordings for CBC Radio. In addition to performing extensively throughout Canada, he has also performed in the USA, Spain, France, Italy, Holland, Monaco, Australia, Korea, Bermuda, and the Bahamas.




It is always a major undertaking to produce a recording for large ensemble - Common Ground was no exception. This is the third recording by the KMJO (The Kirk MacDonald Jazz Orchestra) and MacDonald's thirteenth as a leader. 

This CD is a follow up to the 2015 Juno Award Winning Vista Obscura (AJR025). KMJO has come a long way from their debut performance at the Halifax Jazz Festival in 2004. Since then, the group has performed extensively, released two albums, and developed a book that consists of over thirty-five of MacDonald's compositions arranged by some of Canada's finest composers/arrangers. 

Preview selected tracks from the album HERE

Official website: http://kirkmacdonald.com/

Watch the videos

Common Ground will be released internationally on Friday, February 24th, 2017





  
Marty's review: The KMJO take big band jazz to another level on this new release. With an 8 track collection that clocks in at a generous 88 minutes, making the average length of each track around 11 minutes, this is certainly one that highlights the professionalism of each member of the band. Starting with Kirk MacDonald's skillfully honed saxophone licks right through to the bass and percussion, this masterpiece of progressive jazz is one that will delight the serious jazz listener. 




Visit my other blogs and pages here:







 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Multi-talented vocalist Heather Bambrick new album "You'll Never Know"



Out this month is a wonderfully swinging yet introspective album from one of Canada's top entertainers, Heather Bambrick, entitled You'll Never Know.  The album features an incredible group of musicians including bandmates pianist Mark Kieswetter (Jon Hendricks, Zoot Simms), bassist Ross MacIntyre (Matt Dusk, Emilie-Claire Barlow), drummer Davide DiRenzo (Cassandra Wilson, Holly Cole), and trumpeter Chase Sanborn (Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin), as well as guitarist Rob Piltch (Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Carol Welsman), John Johnson (Holly Cole, Manteca), and legendary flugelhorn virtuoso Guido Basso. 

The material ranges from seriously swinging standards ("Get Happy" and "I Only Have Eyes For You”), and stirring original arrangements of pop tunes (“Lovers In A Dangerous Time”) and theatre mainstays (“Far From the Home I Love”), to stunning interpretations of Newfoundland folk music (“Petty Harbour Bait Skiff”) … all delivered with an emotional and vocal maturity that demonstrates a new level of engagement and comfort in her artistry.

Recorded by Juno winners John “Beetle” Bailey and Jono Grant, this album lives where tasteful elegance, introspective interpretation, and straight-up fun all intersect!

Check out selected tracks from the album on SoundCloud.  

Heather Bambrick has been wearing many hats for many years - and all of them fit her well! She’s an award-winning vocalist, voice actor, broadcaster, and educator, working with some of the best in the business. 

Heather has performed internationally collaborating with artists such as Phil Nimmons, Fred Hirsch, Gene DiNovi, Guido Basso, Lea Delaria, Anne Hampton Callaway, Carol Welsman, Jackie Richardson, Ian Shaw, as well as the late Rob McConnell and Peter Appleyard. She is a founding member of the Beehive Singers (1994 - 2001) and Broadsway, a Jazz / Cabaret ensemble with whom she is currently actively recording and touring. Heather has been a guest performer with various Jazz ensembles, as well as with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, the Cathedral Bluffs Orchestra, and the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. She will make her debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2017. 

You'll Never Know will be released internationally on Friday, February 10th, 2016.   



brand new video for "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" released today


Marty's review: Heather Bambrick's array of talents certainly shine through on this latest release. A smooth and polished production that highlights Heather's up front and clear vocals that are at home with jazz, soul and blues styles and she delivers each track with passion and much more than the required aplomb. Combined with top quality jazz musicians that shine on every note, it all comes together in a recording that will please all music lovers, jazz or otherwise. My favourite tracks, "I Can't See for Lookin'" and "Get Happy". 

Find out more on official website: http://www.heatherbambrick.ca/

Visit my other blogs and pages here:







 





Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Jazz Pianist Brian Dickinson new album release "The Rhythm Method"



"The Rhythm Method" is the engaging and swinging new album from Canadian jazz pianist, composer and arranger Brian Dickinson. Featuring 10 original, and incredibly creative tracks, The Rhythm Method is a sonic adventure that bears repeat listening!

This is Brian Dickinson’s eleventh release as a leader. It features Dickinson on piano, with Kelly Jefferson (tenor saxophone), Luis Deniz (alto saxophone), Neil Swainson (bass), and Ted Warren (drums). The ten tracks are all original compositions by the leader including, “Orion”, a tribute to the great Wayne Shorter and “The Rhythm Method Suite”, a series of compositions inspired by the music of Lennie Tristano.

Stream selected tracks on Soundcloud HERE




Veteran jazz pianist Brian Dickinson has been a mainstay on the Toronto jazz scene for over thirty years. As well as leading his own trio, quartet, quintet and (most lately!) big band projects, he can be heard in bands led by Pat LaBarbera and Kirk MacDonald. He has also worked and recorded with Kenny Wheeler, Jerry Bergonzi, Lee Konitz and Tom Harrell among many others.

Marty's reviewThe professionalism, experience and creativity of Brian Dickinson and his quintet all come through on this most enjoyable release. Classic jazz lines combined with a contemporary edge make this album a masterpiece that must not be overlooked. Every track is a unique piece that is cohesive in its production and where each musician excels at their craft. The line up consists of Brian Dickinson - Piano, Luis Deniz - Alto Saxophone, Kelly Jefferson - Tenor Saxophone, Neil Swainson - Bass and Ted Warren - Drums.

Find out more on official website http://briandickinson.ca/

The Rhythm Method will be released internationally on Friday, January 20th, 2017.  They will celebrate the release with 3 nights at the Jazz Bistro in Toronto,
January 26th to 28th.


Visit my other blogs and pages here:







 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Chelsea McBride's Socialist Night School CD release The Twilight Fall...Contemporary Big Band



Based in Toronto, The SOCIALIST NIGHT SCHOOL -- under the leadership of fast-rising, 24-year old award-winning composer, orchestrator and multi-instrumentalist Chelsea McBride -- is a 19-piece modern big band whose melody driven, lyrical compositions often hide the complex writing style at work. This is high-minded jazz orchestra writing, in the spirit of Bob Brookmeyer, Maria Schneider and Darcy James Argue -- but with a contemporary, modern twist.

The Twilight Fall is the group's first full-length recording and is a very specific vehicle for Chelsea's story-telling, with each tune having it's own narrative direction accompanying it, and outlining a life-cycle that starts you at birth, and then -- one tune at a time -- moves you forward through a life-time of experiences. Each tune is to be treated as a soundtrack to this life-cycle and I highly encourage you to read the "Compositional Narrative" (download here) in order to appropriately frame each tune. This is a very well thought out recording, both from an orchestration standpoint, and as a unique Chronicle of 10 tunes, where each tune is one small element of a larger whole.

Legendary trumpet player Randy Brecker (long-time mentor to Socialist Night School trumpet soloist and label executive Brownman Ali) had this to say about the recording:  "... this is a record that deserves a full, focused top-to-bottom listen to truly hear the depth of Twilight Fall’s engaging story”.




Chelsea McBride's SOCIALIST NIGHT SCHOOL is a unique cross-generational collection of some of Toronto finest musicians, where award-winning veterans like William Carn, Colleen Allen and Brownman Ali find themselves standing next to some of Toronto's hottest jazz 20-somethings, handpicked by McBride for this project.  

Chelsea has long envisioned a big band without borders, without prejudice and without limitations, able to execute her challenging material as a singular organism -- this project is the culmination of that vision. Her complex original compositions (often changing meter from bar to bar) has been called "picturesque", "cinematic" and "joyful" by Canadian media, but what's more striking on this recording, is the long-form narrative at work.  For example, for the album's title track -- The Twilight Fall (track 3) -- during live performances Chelsea asks this of her audience : "Close your eyes and picture your six-year old self in onesie pajamas falling through a purple sky with orange clouds. Until you land in a carnival -- broken, tilted Ferris wheel on one side, dusty abandoned carousel, chipped paint, fading, on the other.  You see the gates open, and the buttons for the carousel are exposed in front of you, so you approach, teddy bear in one hand, the other outstretched to turn on the machine – when grey, translucent spirits, begin to swirl around your head. This is the Twilight Fall".



Marty's review: "The Twilight Fall" is what I would call a progressive jazz epic, done in a big band style, with creativity that takes the listener on a journey through several elements of contemporary jazz. The instrumentation is strong on brass and keyboards with solid backing by some very fine musicians. Some tracks range from 7 to almost 10 minutes in length but this actually adds to the quality of each piece, resulting in a musical experience that delights in many ways.


The Socialist Night School's The Twilight Fall was produced by Kevin Stolz (a gifted young Toronto producer who has overseen many of Chelsea's projects) and will be released internationally on Friday, January 13th, with a CD Release Party scheduled at Toronto's Lula Lounge on Sunday, January 15th.  


Here is the album's BANDCAMP page.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Electric Jazz Quartet Dog Leg Dilemma new album release "Not this Time"



Introducing the incredibly eclectic and energetic new album by bassist Peter Bull's quartet Dog Leg Dilemma entitled Not This Time.

Dog Leg Dilemma is a playful and hard hitting electric jazz quartet that borrows from a wide variety of styles including heavy metal, disco, reggae, rock, funk, fusion, world music and movie soundtracks.  Their debut studio album Not This Time is a meticulously planned sonic experience, designed to flow smoothly from beginning to end as one continual experience. Unlike many freshman albums, Not This Time takes full advantage of the possibilities of the studio, featuring additional string performances, ambient soundscapes, and much more. 

Sample and stream tracks on Soundcloud....
https://soundcloud.com/dog-leg-dilemma




The group features Anthony Argatoff on alto saxophone, Nick Lavkulik on guitar, Peter Bull on bass and Noah Sherman on drums. Anthony's lyrical style and harmonic agility lend a slippery strength to the band's melodic voice. When Nick isn't melting faces or supplying atmosphere so thick you can almost drink it, he can be found on the front line next to Anthony, functioning as a second horn. At the back of the stage there is the rhythm section. Band leader, bass player, and composer, Peter dances along the fine line between holding down the groove and providing a running melodic commentary for what everyone else is playing. On the drum throne, Noah is a perpetual trickster, keeping things playful and lighthearted. His is the perfect rhythmic accompaniment for Peter's compositions which seamlessly fuse the frenetic, the tragic, and the comic. 

Dog Leg Dilemma originally came together in 2014 as a kind of experiment. Peter Bull created the group to play adaptations of music he had composed for several different ensembles over the past few years. A big fan of the works of Frank Zappa, Charles Mingus, Bernard Herrmann, and Canada's own Chris Tarry, Peter had always wanted to have a dedicated band to bring life to his more adventurous compositions. Listening to the output of this group, it is safe to say that this is that band. 

Dog Leg Dilemma was recently the first place winner of the Jazz Sudbury Emerging Artist Showcase which earned them a spot on the 2015 stage opening for The Borealis Quartet and Steve Hill. This accomplishment set into motion plans for the group's first studio recording. 


..find out more on their official website: www.DogLegDilemma.com



Visit my other blogs and pages here:





 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Introducing Modus Factor - debut album The Picasso Zone..ambient electro-groove



Based in Toronto, MODUS FACTOR, ­­under the leadership of in-­demand session drummer Chris Lesso, is an ambient electro-groove trio whose material is highly improvised.  Using loose frameworks as their starting point, and then improvising the structures of the tunes together in-studio, the collective consciousness of the trio is showcased throughout this recording. In contrast to their energized live shows this album is much more nuanced and textured employing a lot of intriguing electronics from all members.


This electric groove trio also features multiple National Jazz Award winning trumpet player Brownman Ali and Juno-winning Sisters Euclid bassist Ian De Souza. Deep interaction and collective musical interplay is the name of the game on “The Picasso Zone”.  With more than 75% of the recording being improvised, this album is an outstanding, high-minded example of the musical richness that can come from 3 kindred artists when they all create together and move in a singular direction as improvisers.  By making enough room for each other, the creations presented on this recording are greater than the sum of the individual parts.

You can check out selected tracks from the album on SoundCloud

You can also check out videos of the band performing live via this YouTube playlist.




“This is some of the realest, most mature music I've heard in the electric-jazz genre in recent years...an accurate description of them would be 'OTHER world music'.  It's off-worldly and alien and weird and wonderful in all the best possible ways ...  There's always something new leaping out of the speakers for you to marvel at.  Most importantly, it is a testament to the community-minded creative process that this band encompasses. The depths of the individual identities of these high-end musicians always ring through the collective, making this a truly inspired album of palatial creative music making." -- Paul Delong, iconic Canadian drummer (from The Picasso Zone’s liner notes)

Modus Factor’s The Picasso Zone was also produced by Brooklyn / Toronto based jazz trumpet player from Guru's Jazzmatazz -- Brownman Ali (protege to Randy Brecker) and signed to Brownman's Browntasauras record label in 2015. The label is now widely regarded as a vanguard for new and visionary talent in the evolution of Jazz in Canada.

Marty's review: the theme of The Picasso Zone is an eclectic mixture of jazz-fusion-electro-funk in a (slightly) ambient groove with world music elements (how else could I describe it?!). Lots of creative energy here with sounds that bounce from left to right and a professionalism that shows in the crafty musicianship. I can hear hints of Chuck Mangione, Spyro Gyra and even a little Weather Report, but the overall production is totally original with a guarantee of repeated listens.





The Picasso Zone was released internationally on Friday, December 9th, 2016. 


Visit my other blogs and pages here:





 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Manchester act Mercury reshaping jazz with new album Sea Speak



Formed out of a bunch of music students from RNCN, Mercury performed their first gig at the Manchester Jazz Festival back in 2012. Here they were discovered by a group of organisers at the legendary Kings Place in London, who were so impressed by the group’s sound that they invited them to play at King’s Place itself, propelling the band into a new level of recognition.

Mercury has since gone on to be nominated for awards such as the Whittingham Jazz Award in 2013, their lead member Tom Thorp making it to the grand finals of the Taichung International Sax Competition. Developing their sound to incorporate elements of electronica, psychedelia, classical and indie, they have been slowly reshaping jazz for a 21st Century audience, and now have a brand new album in the pipeline titled Sea Speak.

Listeners wanting a taster of the band’s upcoming album can listener to this demo version of title track ‘Sea Speak’, a progressive and smoky piece that builds and ebbs like the ocean itself.

Stream demo of title track ‘Sea Speak’ here:


On top of their new album, Mercury have recently completed a UK tour that took them to venues such as Capstone Theatre in Liverpool and Band on the Wall in Manchester. A second half of the tour will also be taking place early next year. 



“A whirling sound that sits somewhere in the space between Jazz and Popular music”
-  Steve Mead, Director of Manchester Jazz Festival
“Mercury always engage. Energetic grooves mixed with warmth and lyricism – a perfect combination”

Watch album teaser for Sea Speak here on Youtube: