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.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Jazz guitarist/oud virtuoso Amos Hoffman & world-class pianist/composer Noam Lemish release Pardes...pure magic!

Internationally renowned jazz guitarist and oud virtuoso Amos Hoffman and world-class pianist/composer Noam Lemish have teamed up to release Pardes, an enchanting album offering an inspired blend of jazz, North African and Latin rhythms as well as melodies that come from various Jewish communities across the Middle-East and Eastern Europe.  

Amos Hoffman

For years, Hoffman and Lemish have been collecting Jewish melodies from different parts of the world including Kurdish, Yemenite, Moroccan, Russian, Central Asian, and Israeli songs. In Pardes they team up with a stellar Toronto-based rhythm section featuring Justin Gray on bass and Derek Gray on drums & percussion to present vibrant re-imaginings of these beloved melodies.

Hoffman and Lemish, both of whom have roots in Israel but have spent much of their adult life in North America, began collaborating in January 2016. Lemish is deeply rooted in jazz and classical music and Hoffman is equally well-versed in jazz, Arab classical music, and North African vernaculars. Together they create a refreshing and compelling sound, filled with vibrant sonorities, unique instrument combinations and compelling arrangements.

Noam Lemish

Their work together started when Lemish, who grew up admiring Hoffman’s pioneering blend of jazz & middle-eastern influences invited Hoffman for a series of performances in Canada. The two musicians clicked on their initial tour and decided to launch the Pardes project. The pairing of their unique talents and backgrounds brings about this truly exciting project. In their first year of performances of the Pardes repertoire Hoffman and Lemish have played to sold out houses in New York City, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Buffalo, San Diego (CA) and Columbia (SC). 

The meaning of the word Pardes in Hebrew is “orchard” or “fruit garden”. The word also carries with it many layers of meaning in Jewish philosophy. Pardes is etymologically rooted in Farsi and is the origin of the word “paradise”. The songs in this album are both geographically diverse in origin and cover a wide-range of emotional terrain and sonic landscapes. The renditions are simultaneously faithful to the songs’ origins and rooted in the African-American and Afro-Caribbean musical traditions. The result is a joyous, uplifting celebration, texturally rich music, filled with groove, lyrical melodies and outstanding solos. In Pardes, Hoffman and Lemish breathe new life into gorgeous melodies that had been forgotten and create music that is appealing both to listeners completely unfamiliar with the melodies in their original context and to those who recognize these songs.  

official website:

Marty's review: With its combination of traditional and world music instruments, this album works like a dream. The talents of these two virtuosos unite and they display their instrumental mastery on each and every composition. The beautiful sound of the oud adds another dimension by conjuring up images of African and European locales that take you on your own journey of musical discovery. An outstanding production and just pure magic!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Jazz bassist-composer Solon McDade debut release "Murals"..essence of modern jazz

Murals” the debut release by Juno Award winning bassist-composer Solon McDade features nine original modern jazz pieces infused with a love and respect for tradition as well as a passion for modernity and progress.

Solon McDade grew up on stage performing with his family and has developed into a versatile performer equally able to unleash his "complex and literate bass playing" (Dirty Linen Magazine) in jazz clubs, blues bars, and at folk and bluegrass festivals. He has been a part of numerous tours in North America, Europe and China and his distinctive melodic and powerful bass playing provides the foundation on which the sound of many recordings are built. His group The McDades won a Juno Award for their album “Bloom”.

official website:

Marty's review: Solon McDade's debut release is an exercise in the essence of modern jazz. Pure, flowing lines from Solon and his well-chosen group of musicians makes this album outstanding in many ways. Compositions that are well crafted and executed and integrating each instrument exactly where they should be without sounding contrived or using a jazz formula. Totally original and a delight to listen to with many repeats.