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.