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. 

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.