Monday, June 17, 2019

Trumpeter Jacques Kuba Séguin album release Migrations..a delicate soundscape

Just released is the new album from Montreal-based trumpeter Jacques Kuba Séguin, entitled Migrations.

Migrations is a collection of compositions based on interviews with people from various cultural communities in Quebec, Canada. Séguin’s music is cinematic, direct, and dynamic. It encourages an openness to others, something that is built into the history of the artistic medium Séquin loves best: jazz music. 

This new project is born of a desire to return to a more classic form of jazz. Séguin has gathered a group of experienced, like-minded musicians, each with a strong voice to add to the musical dialogue. Migrations represents a form of jazz that will sound familiar to listeners, but also brings with it a renewed, free, personal, and uniquely emotional approach to the storied genre. 

A winner of the 2012-13 Radio-Canada Revelations prize, Séguin is more and more present on the Quebec stage. In 2015, he was nominated for two ADISQ awards: best arranger and jazz album of the year for L'élévation du point de chute and, in 2016, for Litania Projekt with the Quatuor Bozzini in the same two categories. In 2015, he was nominated for a Prix Opus for jazz album of the year and for jazz and world music concert of the year for his 2014 Montreal International Jazz Festival show. 

An engaging showman, Séguin is widely recognized as one of the most brilliant Canadian trumpeters of his generation. Migrations is sure to solidify his sterling musical reputation. 

Jacques Kuba Séguin - Trumpet
Yannick Rieu - Tenor Saxophone
Olivier Salazar - Vibraphone
Jean-Michel Pilc - Piano
Adrian Vedady - Bass

Kevin Warren - Drums

official website:

Marty's review: Migrations is what I would term a delicate soundscape. The free form style of the compositions allows the musicians to weave their sounds intricately with a subtle and playful texture that easily blends with the exquisite trumpet of Jacques Kuba Séguin. The result is a unified and exhilarating ride that is sublime and poignant, yet at the same time very invigorating to the ear.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Flutist Bill McBirnie and singer-songwriter Bruce Jones release Grain of Sand....fresh and effortless

Fifteen years after the release of their first collaboration, Desvio, Bill McBirnie and Bruce Jones team up once again to produce Grain of Sand, a fresh, new incarnation of “Extreme Flute” featuring, once again, Bill in his singular capacity as “flautist extraordinaire” and Bruce in his multiple capacities as composer, vocalist, performer, arranger and engineer.  The results (which consist entirely of originals) are alternately joyful and plaintive, hypnotic and dreamy—yet consistently incantatory. Grain of Sand will resonate with listeners whose tastes range from samba to ambient, from urban to jazz.  

Grain of Sand is available at CDBaby
CD's and MP3s:


Marty's review: this release has been out for some time but I have only recently had the opportunity to listen to it and indulge in its brilliance. The collaboration between these two exceptional artists is seamless and the resulting production on this release is nothing short of breathtaking and sophisticated. Bill McBirnie's flute "licks" are fresh and effortless and blend in beautifully with Bruce Jones' playful and poetic vocals and compositions. A joint effort that is well deserving of continuous spins.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Vancouver-based jazz composer/conductor Jaelem Bhate releases On The Edge..transporting and thunderous

Recently released is the debut album from Vancouver-based multi-faceted composer, conductor, and band leader Jaelem Bhate, entitled On The Edge

After years of writing commissions and charts for his own 45th Avenue Jazz Band, it was time for Bhate to compile an album of his best work to date. For this project, he assembled a group of some of Canada’s most exciting and talented jazz instrumentalists, including Steve Kaldestad, Duran Ritz, Daniel Hersog, Brent Mah, and Sharman King, among others. 

With On The Edge, Bhate reflects on his upbringing in his native British Columbia. With the multi-movement Pacific Suite, Bhate and company depict various elements of the province, and of life in the city of Vancouver: Straits and Narrows speaks to the hustle of the metro area; Uninhabitation is a meditation on the isolation Bhate felt during his many adventures into the province’s far north. 

One can feel on the edge of many things— success, failure, love, or heartbreak. Each one of us has felt these edges, even when they are difficult to define. In this vein, this album can mean many different things to each person who hears it. On The Edge is a compelling album of straight ahead jazz filled with hidden twists and turns waiting to be discovered.

official website:

Marty's review: On the Edge is a focused and conceptual album that Jaelem has created with the aid of a stellar cast of musicians. It comes together in a type of jazz symphony that evolves and expands as it takes you on a musical journey that resonates with each unfolding piece. The compositions are sensitive and at times sombre yet equally exhilarating, and the skill and sophistication of each player under the visionary leadership of Jaelem is a cohesive force that is transporting and thunderous.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Debut album from Toronto vocalist Kalya Ramu "Living In A Dream"...nostalgia for a past era

Living in a Dream, the debut album from Toronto vocalist Kalya Ramu, features four of Ramu’s original compositions and a selection of songs written from the 1920’s to 40’s. This recording captures the essence of the golden age of swing, and transports it to the modern day. 

Ramu’s original compositions combine a classic Tin Pan Alley writing style with contemporary lyrical content, helping to modernize the music while still preserving its core stylistic elements. Her arrangements of rarely recorded jazz standards hold true to the spirit of the music, bringing new life to neglected repertoire. 

Ramu’s dynamic singing evokes nostalgia for a past era. Her vocal stylings have been compared to those of Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and Sarah Vaughan, three giants of jazz whose influence Ramu has been soaking up since she began performing at the tender age of twelve. Now 25, Ramu is thrilled to add her voice to the list of singers who have interpreted this incredible music. 

Ramu is very active in the Toronto music scene, leading, writing for and performing with multiple groups, including her blues-rock band Angora, The Bettys, her own band Kal’s Hot Four, along with a number of others. 

Kalya Ramu - Vocals
Jacob Gorzhaltsan - Tenor Saxophone & Clarinet
Ewen Farncombe - Piano
Connor Walsh - Upright Bass
Ian Wright - Drums
and Special Guests:
William Lamoureux - Strings
Andrew McAnsh - Trumpet
Nathan Ford - Vocals
Nathan Martin & Jackson Welchner -

Background Vocals

official website:

Marty's review: Kalya Ramu's very impressive debut release takes the listener on a nostalgic journey with renditions of jazz classics like "Just You, Just Me", "Am I Blue", "Tea for Two" and "You Go To My Head" plus four original compositions penned by Kalya herself. The combination of Kalya's sweet, playful and swinging vocals with a contemporary jazz sound works well and the album not only swings, it rocks! Backed by a stellar cast of musicians that sound like they are really enjoying themselves, this is certainly a refreshing alternative to those jazz standards albums that are being churned out by some popular artists.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

A Crash Course in Jazz Appreciation...excerpt

This is an excerpt from an excellent post about the history of jazz music and its origins originally posted on the web page .


It’s the music that many men say they like, but don’t actually know anything about. Which is a shame for a whole host of reasons. For starters, jazz has had a major influence on most popular music genres in the 20th century — rock, hip-hop, Latin…the list goes on and on. Having an understanding of jazz will give a music connoisseur a deeper appreciation of whatever their favorite genre happens to be.

Second, jazz music perfectly encapsulates the American ideal of collaboration mixed with individuality, and its history is really the history of the country. Born from the music of African-American slaves, it intertwines with so many different facets of modern American life – movies, dance, art, literature, and of course, race. Thus, an understanding of jazz will provide the student of history a fascinating window into 20th century America.

Third, I think it goes unnoticed by lots of folks, but there’s definitely a masculine ethos that underlies jazz. Its emphasis on the solo and improvisation requires a performer to embrace risk, and adds an element of palatable bravado to the music. What’s more, while jazz is certainly collaborative, it’s imbued with a competitive spirit as well. Jazz musicians of the past often tried to one-up each other in virtuosity and in moving the music in brand new directions. Piano players in 1920’s New York would often muster for rousing back-and-forth “battles,” each man trotting out his best stuff during late night cutting sessions. These kinds of competitions in musical mastery continue today, even taking the popular form of the piano bar that has become so trendy in the last few years.

Finally, jazz music is simply good music. There’s a genre of jazz for every man out there. 

Read the full article here:

Monday, April 29, 2019

Composer and performer Friendly Rich re-imagining of Frank Sinatra's "Only the Lonely"

Canadian composer and performer Friendly Rich is delighted to release a unique re-imagining of Frank Sinatra's classic 1958 recording, Only the Lonely

Says Rich: "I love Only the Lonely. It's my favourite Frank record, by far. I think it has something to do with the fact that Sinatra and arranger Nelson Riddle were both dealing with some personal darkness in 1958 when the record was made, and how that shaped this beautiful music. For years, I have wanted to collaborate with arranger David French and everybody in this band, all hand-picked for their unique musical voices and understanding, both of my work, and of Frank's. I also had a strong desire to curb my usually frenetic energy as a challenge to myself to try a different creative path. What comes out is a haunting interpretation of the original album

This recording is a celebration of Riddle’s original arrangements, through the lens of David French and his carefully considered small band interpretations.Working with longtime producer Greg Dawson, this recording (like most of my recorded output) is not for everybody. But those it resonates with will appreciate the experience. Frank fans will ask WHY, and Friendly fans will ask the same. That's the point - to evolve, take supposed wrong turns, and have fun along the way. As the famous Hungo-Italian philosopher C. Smalloochi (1742) once said, one can either produce, or become produce."

official website:

Marty's review: This is one of those albums that at first you think "hmmm, what am I listening to here?" However, by about the third or fourth track you are somewhat hooked on to what Friendly Rich is doing with his own interpretation of a classic album. Sure it's out of left field a bit, but the arrangements, instrumentation and Rich's low key, growly vocals all come together in a cohesive way that is prevalent throughout the entire album. It's dark, subtle and has a slight beat generation vibe to it. Something you might experience in a smoky bar, late on a Friday night...I dare you have a listen to it!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Vancouver-based vocalist Karin Plato new release This Could Be The enjoyable delight

Just released is the newest album from Vancouver-based vocalist Karin Plato, entitled This Could Be The One. The album is a result of a decade of Plato composing and arranging music specifically for her Vancouver-based Quintet

Certainly, much can occur in someone’s life within the span of ten years and during this time Karin experienced some of life’s greatest joys while also facing profound life altering losses. These experiences are reflected in much of the music on this recording. Plato describes the songs and themes as “characters” many of us meet on life’s journey. Some are related to a feeling, or an experience, reflecting life’s joys and sorrows.

This Could Be The One was recorded in the famed Warehouse Studio in Vancouver (Bryan Adam's studio) with recording Engineer Sheldon Zaharko who was able to capture a spacious, warm, and natural "live off the floor" sound. Special guests include blues star Jim Byrnes and Rebecca Shoichet who each sing a duet with Plato, and trombonist Rod Murray who is the featured guest on two other songs.

Plato’s stellar band is Chris Gestrin (piano) James Danderfer (clarinets) Laurence Mollerup (bass) and Joe Poole (drums).

"This Could Be The One” is her eighth recording of jazz standards and originals. The recording is an audiophile delight, with all the ambiance and exquisite detail captured in a “live off the floor” session. The interplay of each instrument perfectly complements Karin’s voice as she weaves her tales of love, joy and sadness.

official website:

Marty's review: Karin Plato and her quintet have created an album that is fresh in its approach and profoundly refined in its production. Karin's heartfelt songwriting combined with her seductive vocals create a unique adventure in contemporary jazz that is bold and breathtaking. The equally talented quintet do not miss a beat and provide solid and skillful backing that is rich and sensitive. Eight original numbers plus versions of Lennon/McCartney's "I've Just Seen A Face", Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and Carmichael/Loesser's "Heart and Soul" make this release an enjoyable delight from start to finish.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Vibraphonist Michael Davidson and double bassist Dan Fortin new album Clock and brilliance

Recently released is the incredibly beautiful and creative new album from Canadian duo Michael Davidson on vibes and Dan Fortin on bass entitled Clock Radio

Vibraphonist Michael Davidson (Hobson’s Choice, Otterville) and double bassist Dan Fortin (Myriad3, Bernice) are two of Toronto’s most in demand musicians. They have been playing together for over a decade: in the experimental jazz-rock band Stop Time; on Fortin's 2015 album Brinks; and in groups lead by the likes of Tara Davidson and Allison Au. Having been hired so often as a team, it made perfect sense for the two to focus on the unique musical aesthetic they've cultivated over the years. Hence, the birth of a new duo and a new album: Clock Radio.

There is no musical setting more intimate than the duo. Each musical gesture is exposed, and without empathic listening on the part of both musicians, it cannot succeed. In the summer of 2017, Davidson traveled to Berlin to study with renowned mallet percussionist David Friedman. In the course of his two month trip, Davidson experimented with a variety of new compositional techniques, and returned to Canada with a new book of songs that he felt best suited the flexibility of the duo setting. These pieces blur the line between composition and improvisation, and draw equally from jazz, free music, and classical composition.

Clock Radio is an album, through and through: it can be listened to as one long piece, rather than as a collection of disparate songs. Melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic thematic materials recur throughout the entire narrative. The duo creates musical material to engage with feelings of nostalgia: they explore the way a narrative is influenced by gestures in the present moment. Each piece is inextricably linked with memories of past thoughts and feelings. This album is an intimate and vibrant portrait of a duo at the height of its expressive powers. The pair seamlessly weave through time and space, flowing through a lush soundscape of moods and textures. It is as if time is transformed for this brief but uplifting sojourn into a carefully crafted yet spontaneously elastic world of sound. 

official website:

Marty's review: the subtleness and surrealism of this release cannot be fully appreciated until one has played it through a few times. The sublime sounds of the vibraphone and the playful notes on the double bass weave and blend as one in a very textured, yet cohesive way that is as mesmerizing as it is seductive. Michael and Dan combine their masterful creativeness to channel energy and brilliance in a skillful and seemingly effortless production that is unique and definitive.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Debut album from trumpeter Jonathan Bauer and Quintet "Walk, Don't Run"...a plane of bliss and emotion

Upcoming release is the exciting debut album from Canadian-born, New Orleans resident, trumpeter Jonathan Bauer entitled Walk, Don't Run.  

Multi-talented trumpeter and composer Jonathan Bauer, most notably of the Grammy award-winning New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, bursts onto the scene with his highly anticipated debut album, Walk Don’t Run. An internationally recognized and touring artist, Jonathan is widely acclaimed for his dark and dynamic sound. While earning his Master’s at the University of New Orleans, Jonathan quickly became a rising talent in one of the world’s most important musical communities, earning him the opportunity to study and perform with living legends Nicholas Payton, Robert Glasper, Jeremy Davenport, Adonis Rose and Ashlin Parker among others. A versatile musician, Jonathan regularly crosses genres performing with R&B titans, such as Sheila E., Ledisi, and Eric Benét.

Walk Don’t Run celebrates the past while looking to the future; showcasing the range of musical influences, from Art Blakey to Roy Hargrove, that have shaped Jonathan’s world view. It fulfills a desire for the satisfyingly familiar, while keeping the listener enthralled by its fresh perspective. Inspired to create by the vibrant community in New Orleans, Jonathan’s compositions are about learning to slow down on life’s journey, striving to be more grateful, and paying dues to those who came before him.  

The Jonathan Bauer Project comprised of saxophonist Alexander Geddes, pianist Ryan Hanseler, bassist Alex Dyring, and drummer Gerald Watkins, Jr., showcases some of New Orleans’ hungriest young lions. Individually, the artists all stand on their own merit, with credits ranging from Ellis Marsalis to Slum Village. As a collective, the quintet builds on Jonathan’s compositions, using them as a vehicle for expression and creation in its purest form.

Born and raised in Northern Alberta, Canada, Jonathan is proud to be an ambassador for Divitt Trumpets.  

Walk, Don't Run will be officially released worldwide on Friday, April 5th, 2019. The album is available from Slammin Media and distributed worldwide by Believe Distribution.

official website: 

Marty's review: This impressive debut sees the accomplished trumpeter Jonathan Bauer and his very talented quintet come together on an album that is stylishly rich in composition and skillful in its delivery and presentation. The melodies seep into your brain and the assured and cohesive musicianship will transport the listener to a plane of bliss and emotion. From start to finish this is sheer joy and more than worthy of repeated plays.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Modern jazz trio Scolari/Cavalca/Scolar release third album Natural Impulse..focused, clever and bold


Natural Impulse is the third album release by the modern jazz trio Scolari/Cavalca/Scolari. The project comes back with a new musical journey where experimentation finds no limits in a unique blend of acoustic and electronic sounds.

Claudio Scolari: drum set 1, percussion, synth programming
Daniele Cavalca: live synths, rhodes, piano, vibraphone, bass,
drum set 2 (on Unknown Destination, Chasing Inspiration, Uptown Night Trip, Insomnia)
Simone Scolari: trumpet


official website:


Marty's review: Natural Impulse is an adventurous and unique production in that in combines contemporary jazz themes with electronic programming to create a soundscape that is instantly recognizable as modern jazz yet it takes the listener further into a realm of discovery. The multiple talents of all players involved build structures of music that may sound complex at first but actually ebb and flow together in a cohesiveness that is focused, clever and bold. It's an album that one could "get lost in" and indulge in its richness and dynamism.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Acclaimed flutist Bill McBirnie with pianist Bernie Senensky album release The Silent Wish..well crafted and creative

Bill McBirnie's latest Extreme Flute release, The Silent Wish, features the acclaimed flutist along with his superb accompanist, pianist Bernie Senensky, delivering a diverse repertoire that is integrated by a consistently charming “minor theme”, brimming with pristine, acoustic clarity.

Bill McBirnie is a jazz and Latin flute specialist based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has studied with renowned American flutist, Samuel Baron, distinguished Canadian flutist and composer, Robert Aitken, as well as Cuban charanga legend, Richard Egues. Bill’s extraordinary level of skill as a flutist led to a personal solicitation from no less than Sir James Galway to serve as his resident Jazz Flute Specialist at Sir James' official website.

Although Bill is known for his outstanding technique, he is also recognized as an exceptional improviser (notably in the bebop, swing and Latin idioms) as demonstrated by his numerous recordings as a sideman with the likes of Junior Mance, Irakere, Memo Acevedo and Emilie-Claire Barlow. Needless to say, Bill has performed and recorded extensively with Toronto's finest musicians, including being a charter member of Bernie Senensky's, Moe Koffman Tribute Band.

Marty's review: With the skillful and sculptural flute mastery of Bill McBirnie and the seductive and solid keyboard wizardry of Bernie Senensky, The Silent Wish is exhilarating and sophisticated contemporary jazz that is listenable and accessible to not only jazz enthusiasts but to anyone who appreciates well crafted and creative music. The talents of both musicians are a sheer joy to listen to and there is not an "average" moment on the whole album. The collaboration works well and the choice of material suits their playing style and is delivered with polish and style.

...and on a side note, which is correct flutist or flautist?

The Oxford English Dictionary states that the word flutist (1603) is a much older established word than flautist (1860). Since the English term flute is related to the modern French flûte, it follows therefore that the player of that instrument would be a flutist.

Here are some reactions to Bill McBirnie and Bernie Senensky’s work to date:

SIR JAMES GALWAY—"I want to tell you how much I enjoyed your latest, and greatest, CD.  I’ve listened to it several times and it’s a really terrific record.  You are my favourite jazz flutist…This album is a real knock-out!…"

DOWNBEAT—"…Toronto’s deep pool of local talent was on display at dozens of events…Opening for Eliane Elias, flutist Bill McBirnie proved a passionate and eloquent improviser with sure-footed support from pianist Bernie Senensky. Their set included...a show-stopping finale penned by Senensky...inspired by Hermeto Pascoal and Charlie Parker.” (Allen Morrison)

JAZZTIMES—"Best Opening Act [at the TD Jazz Festival] – Eliane Elias delivered a solid, opening-weekend show at the Old Mill Inn, focusing squarely on selections from her recent Chet Baker tribute, I Thought About You. But it was the dynamic opening duo of pianist and composer, Bernie Senensky, and flutist, Bill McBirnie, that...truly set the expansive dining room aflame and, ironically, provided far more satisfying dips into the Brazilian songbook...For the uninitiated, check out their 2005 pairing on Paco Paco.” (Christopher Loudon)

JAZZIZ—"...An effervescent, joyous quality pervades The Bill McBirnie Trio's Find Your Place [which] showcases a wide range of grooves, from bop and bossa to gospel and swing…Those new to McBirnie will be amazed at his imagination and originality on this engaging album." (Mark Holston)

Friday, March 8, 2019

Jazz bassist Dave Young new album release Lotus Blossom (featuring Renee Rosnes)...sheer brilliance

Recently released is the incredibly swinging new album from Canadian jazz legend and member of the Order of Canada, bassist Dave Young, entitled Lotus Blossom

Fresh off the heels of his 2018 JUNO-nominated album, “One Way Up” (Modica Music), Dr. Dave Young, C.M. returns with a collection of diverse jazz tunes, with an all-star selection of Canadian musicians. Recorded in Toronto on the second day of the 2016 “One Way Up” sessions at the suggestion of producer, Roberto Occhipinti, a majority of the songs on “Lotus Blossom” were selected in passing during recording breaks. 

The title track was a joint favourite of Rosnes and Young and the first to be laid down. An on-the-spot arrangement for Modinha was put together in-between takes, and that marked the first time that long-time friends Rosnes and Schwager recorded together. Both Red Cross and Fried Bananas are tunes you can often hear Dave perform live in his tributes to Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon, but this is the first time these songs have been recorded with his long-time collaborators. Cedar Walton’s Bolivia welcomes the addition of Bernie Senensky on piano and that leads to the trio of Young, Senensky, and Clarke laying down a swinging version of Jimmy Van Heusen’s classic, I Thought About You. “Lotus Blossom” ends with the unmistakable tones of Kevin Turcotte and Perry White on another jazz classic, Softly As In A Morning Sunrise

Dave Young - Acoustic Bass
Renee Rosnes - Piano
Reg Schwager - Guitar
Terry Clarke - Drums
Bernie Senensky - Piano
Kevin Turcotte - Trumpet

Perry White - Tenor Saxophone

Order of Canada recipient, Dr. Dave Young, is one of Canada’s most celebrated and valued bassists, composers, arrangers, and educators. Originally from Winnipeg, Dave has made his name known on both the Canadian and international stages in both jazz and classical music for the last five decades, and along the way has worked with some of the world’s top artists in various fields. Known for his elegant tone, impeccable time, and immense knowledge of musical history, Dave has been a first-call bassist for the likes of Oscar Peterson, Lenny Breau, Oliver Jones, Cedar Walton, and countless others.

official website:

Marty's review: Dave Young's "Lotus Blossom" is classic jazz played with finesse and the expertise you would expect from someone with his caliber. Surrounding himself with musicians of equal style and proficiency, Dave has produced an album that is rich in emotions and subtle in its complexity, yet also a work of tranquility that encourages the listener to enjoy the experience by simply allowing the melodies to seep into the brain and float around with ease. The choice of compositions blend together with fluidity and each musician delivers their talents with brilliance and sophistication.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Vancouver-based vocalist Angela Verbrugge release The Night We Couldn't Say Good Night

Recently released is the witty and joyful debut album from Vancouver-based vocalist Angela Verbrugge entitled The Night We Coudn't Say Good Night. Verbrugge’s sound finds its home somewhere between vocal jazz, traditional pop and American Songbook/Broadway/Cabaret. 

Some real-life stories are so remarkable, they take on a cinematic quality. In the case of  Verbrugge, her personal journey is filled with not one, not two, but three near-death experiences that have shaped her path, and have provided the fuel for her burgeoning music career:  “I was in a head-on collision, almost drowned, and then, when I had three kids under five, I got a very serious kind of cancer that had spread. I decided that if I could get through the treatments and survive it, and get my life back together, I would pursue my dream.” 

That dream is music.  Pursuit of this dream took her to the Vermont Jazz Centre to work with legendary jazz vocalist, Sheila Jordan.  It was there that she met Jordan's long-time bassist Cameron Brown, and when she was invited to go to New York to record with him, she jumped at the chance.  

Highlights abound on the album: on ‘I’m Running Late’, Verbrugge’s super-fast-paced vocals match the rushed theme of her witty’s a delightfully smart track with modern references listeners can instantly relate to.  ‘Speak Softly Love’ is elegant...a reverent re-imagining of the beloved ‘Godfather’ melody. The original ‘You’re Almost Perfect’ is another centrepiece, where intelligence and humour come together, with clever lyrics such as “you’re almost perfect, I want to change you!” 

In addition to the standout songwriting, Verbrugge at times incorporates her background as an actress into her vocal performances, elevating the songs and bringing her characters to life.

official website:

Marty's review:  This very impressive debut album from vocalist Angela Verbugge is a real treat for fans of jazz/pop standards and Broadway/cabaret style vocal. Angela's vocal delivery is naturally suited to the style and she infuses passion and emotion with each beautiful note. The trio of Ray Gallon on piano, Cameron Brown on bass and Anthony Pinciotti on drums provide the fluid and sculptural jazz instrumentation that blends in perfectly and add a layered and cohesive style of contemporary jazz.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Jim Brenan 11 release 50/50....a unique and inclusive collective of soul and energy

Spending half his life in Edmonton and half in Calgary, Jim Brenan knows well the wealth of talent harbored within their city limits. The Jim Brenan 11 is a union of the most versatile and talented Alberta-based jazz musicians you can find.

Brenan was raised in Edmonton and now lives and works in Calgary. Playing regularly in both cities, he wanted to capture the talent and creativity of the musicians from both communities. As the eleventh member of the group, Brenan serves as the composer, arranger, tenor saxophonist and peace-keeper between Oilers and Flames fans.

The creation of this music began with Brenan’s desire to unify two communities but also to express an identity focused on inclusivity. “I had a desire to create a large, acoustic band that brought a powerful, groove based sound - just rhythm section and horns. While thinking of the instrumentation, I knew that I wanted to showcase a wide variety of musical minds. It’s the guys in the band that collectively come together to make up the unique sound”. Jim Brenan’s sound is infused with a soul and energy that bursts through the seams of its songs. Tiger’s Milk is a tribute to the Tied and Tickled trio’s blend of jazz and world music; an uncompromising power-to-the-people anthem that changes gears mid-way through it’s loping melody. Jocasta plays like a cop show car chase while Empress and Hiding Place, impossible to define by genre, ease into the more soulful side of the band.

Featuring Chris Andrew was a “no brainer” for this project. Chris, originally from BC has come to represent the best-of-the-best in his adopted province - quite simply every project is better with Chris. Having worked together for many decades, Brenan knew this collaboration was a natural fit and one that paid off spectacularly. Check out Chris on any of the tracks, but especially his space time warp on Fant-O-Max, reminiscent of the greatest explorations of Bitches Brew.

The soloistic firepower is evident, with the likes of Craig Brenan, Sean Craig, Mike Gardner, Sergio Rodriguez, Jamie Cooper and Rubim de Toledo featured throughout. The gritty loose funk is an undeniably catchy blend that punches above its small ensemble weight. The results of blending 11 of Alberta’s finest musicians creates a true 50/50 collaboration of talent and skill, proving we can come together to focus on what’s important; the music.

web page:

Marty's review: The diverse talents of saxophonist Jim Brenan together with his collective of 10 unique and eclectic jazz musicians have collaborated on this release to produce and instantly accessible and highly-listenable album of contemporary jazz that features funky grooves, tight rhythms, bold brass licks and a cohesiveness that makes everything weave and ebb in a unified form. Each track allows the individuals to shine on their respective instruments and deliver Jim Brenan's compositions and arrangements with skill and passion that makes the album a sheer delight to soak in and enjoy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Toronto-based saxophonist Allison Au and her quartet release "Wander Wonder"..stylish and sophisticated

Recently released is the new album from JUNO Award-winning, Toronto-based saxophonist Allison Au and her quartet, entitled Wander Wonder. It's the much anticipated follow-up to her 2016 JUNO Award-winning album Forest Grove.

The culmination of an incredibly busy 2017 that saw the ensemble scoop up both the 2017 TD Grand Prix de Jazz (Festival International de Jazz de Montréal) and the 2017 Sting Ray Rising Star Award (Halifax Jazz Festival), Wander Wonder highlights Au’s maturation as a composer while continuing to showcase the strengths of her long time musical collaborators.

Wander Wonder opens with ‘The Valley,’ a lush sonic amuse-bouche that features keyboardist Todd Pentney front and center on the Prophet Rev2 while the other band mates attentively weave in and out of the background. The following track, ‘Future Self,’ begins with a hypnotic vamp that eventually blossoms into Au’s angular melodic statements on the saxophone. ‘The Rest Is Up To You’ is an amalgamation of influences; a sort of Wayne Shorter-esque composition that also draws much inspiration from Brazilian pop music of the ‘70s. ‘Looking Up’ showcases some of Au’s strongest penmanship as a composer as it highlights the ensemble’s ability to transition seamlessly between rich contrasting sections. The pensive ballad, ‘Morning,’ establishes an atmosphere of repose and calm as the instruments are slowly, yet thoughtfully layered in. The album continues with ‘The Lie That Saves Us All’, a contemporary swing tune of changing meter and harmonic textures. ‘Red Herring’ emerges as an exploration of asymmetric melodies and equally jagged counter parts deftly executed by the rhythm section. ‘Grounds’ serves as an eloquent interlude to the robust exposition ‘Force Majeure’ that showcases Ragnelli’s apt drumming sensibility in a concluding solo. ‘A Trick of the Moonlight’ is a fitting finale; a introspective ballad that draws inspiration from a novel by British author Zadie Smith.   

Juno-award winning Jazz Saxophonist, Composer and Arranger, Allison Au refuses to be defined. Born to a Chinese father and Jewish mother, and raised in the multicultural metropolis of Toronto, Allison found music as a young child. Exposed to a wide array of musical styles, she was captivated by the unhinged freedom of Jazz. Jazz became Allison’s lab for self-expression, exploration, and musical experimentation. Her work weaves a mosaic of influences into a seamless and soulful sound, a concoction steeped in the tradition of Jazz but skillfully laced with elements of Classical, Pop, R&B/hip hop, Latin, and world music. 

Au’s music transports you to a place where instrumentals ring bold and emotions run free. Melodies cascade and collide, highlighting Au’s gift for layering voices and rhythms. Her writing showcases the color and character of each instrument, while providing ample room for her band mates to push her compositions to new heights.  

Allison Au Alto Saxophone
Todd Pentney Piano, Prophet Rev2
Jon Maharaj Bass, Electric Bass
Fabio Ragnelli Drums

Produced by Todd Pentney

official website:

Marty's review:  "Wander Wonder" as an apt title for this latest release by Allison Au. Listening to the tender yet textured compositions that make up the album you let your mind "Wander" where the music may take you and "Wonder" at the musicianship of each member of this quartet as they meander and merge with Allison Au's ethereal saxophone that is exceptional and refined. Atmospheres abound with elements of jazz, world and classical embedded in the mix that makes this a stylish and sophisticated release.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Benjamin Deschamps Quartet release No Codes...a collective with power, energy and originality

Made up of Benjamin Deschamps (alto sax), highly acclaimed Canadian veteran Frank Lozano (tenor sax), Sébastien Pellerin (bass) and Louis-Vincent Hamel (drums) No Codes is the product of a collective work of research and a desire to explore and to push the boundaries of music. After presenting the Quintet all around Canada and France and being nominated for the Halifax Jazz Festival TD Rising Star award and the Montreal International Jazz Festival TD Grand Award, Benjamin Deschamps has released this new project as his third record as a leader.

Borrowing from the rhythms and the colours from the Andes, Motown or even Free Jazz, No Codes offers a musical research inspired from the Jazz tradition without actually copying it in its form. The band, without any instrumental or harmonic support, bets on its interaction, its listening and its spontaneity. 

official websites: 

Marty's review: this very talented and exceptional collective have produced an album that has ample doses of power, energy and total originality. With each respective musician showcasing their ebullience and dynamism for their instrument, the combination works extremely well to create pieces that weave and exhilarate with each note. The terms "free jazz" and "progressive" apply in some cases but elements of other genres are also in the mix making this a highly entertaining and unified release.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Toronto based jazz duo Blue Standard debut release “A Good Thing”..stylish and accomplished

A Good Thing” is the debut release from new Toronto based jazz duo Blue Standard, featuring singer/actor Raoul Bhaneja on vocals and Jesse Whiteley from the first family of Canadian roots music on piano. Drawn together by a love of some familiar and not so familiar standards, they recorded songs inspired by takes from vocalists they admire such as Joe Williams, Nat King Cole, Chet Baker and Jimmy Scott to name a few. An intimate, unadorned and raw take on the classics.

The album was recorded live off the floor with no overdubs at Canterbury Music Company in Toronto, Canada. Engineered, mixed and mastered by James Paul, assistant engineer Jeremy Darby. Produced by Blue Standard and James Paul.

Marty's review:  Blue Standard's selection and delivery of 12 standard and timeless vocal classics is nothing short of sophisticated, polished and highly entertaining. The emotionally-rich voice of Raoul Bhaneja combined with the masterful piano licks of Jesse Whitely come across as tender yet effervescent and more than do justice to these tunes that will be familiar to most jazz vocal aficionados. A stylish and accomplished collaboration that is solid and finely-calibrated.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Modern jazz release from The Johnny Griffith Quintet, featuring Jeremy Pelt - The Lion, Camel and Child

Recently released is the modern jazz album from Toronto saxophonist Johnny Griffith and his quintet, entitled The Lion, Camel and Child.  It's the second release from  Griffith’s all-star quintet - a band made up of of four of Toronto’s leading jazz lights, along with the legendary New York trumpeter Jeremy Pelt

For this release, Griffith drew inspiration from the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche - specifically his book Three Metamorphoses. As Griffith explains, “Metamorphoses is concerned with what propels each new phase of human growth, so it seemed fitting to frame this as a suite – each track individual unto itself, yet when listened to as a whole representing the arc of the personal struggle to know more and be more.” 

Central to the album is the suite that illustrates these phases and the qualities that define them: The Lion, virtuous and rebellious; The Camel, courageous and dutiful; and The Child, playful and free of spirit. 

Johnny Griffith is a multi-Juno Award nominated saxophonist, composer and producer who has played and recorded with numerous artists including Don Thompson, Hawksley Workman, Jeremy Pelt, Charlie Hunter, The Wailers, Alex Dean, Laila Biali, Al Henderson Quintet, Brandi Disterheft and Terra Hazelton to name a few, and is a member of the popular Canadian funk/hip hop group, the Pocket Dwellers. He has toured extensively across Canada, the United States, and Europe performing at all the major Canadian music festivals as well as several international venues including the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.  

official website:

Marty's review: this highly original and conceptual production is unique and visionary with each player bringing their musical talents to the fore. Johnny Griffith's saxophone licks are top-flight and soaring as they weave in with the exceptional quintet of Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Adrean Farrugia (piano), Jon Maharaj (Bass) and Ethan Ardelli (drums). Each track is an individual, exhilarating composition blending in with the album as a whole by creating a progressive and symphonic style of modern jazz that is intoxicating and invigorating. An accomplished effort that will delight the listener and expand the visions within. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Holiday album release from Toronto vocalist Sam Broverman "A Jewish Boy's Christmas" and witty

For almost ten years now, Winnipeg born, Toronto based singer Sam Broverman has been presenting his cabaret show A Jewish Boy’s Christmas every holiday season. Initially inspired by the fact that many of the best known Christmas songs were written by Jewish songwriters, the show has evolved into a well loved holiday revue driven by Sam’s love for comedy and novelty song. After almost ten years - and countless requests - it was time to record an album.

For A Jewish Boy’s Christmas - his fourth full length album - Sam enlisted the help of several of Toronto’s best musicians, including his working band with Peter Hill and Jordan O’Connor.  Featured as a guest soloist is Broverman’s regular special guest, Whitney Ross-Barris, the Toronto jazz and theatre scene stalwart whose wit is widely known. Ken Whitely - the multiple award-winning Canadian music legend- was invited on board to produce the whole affair after his involvement in the inaugural show. 

Having celebrated the work of great songwriters like Johnny Mercer and Jimmy Van Heusen on his previous recordings, it was time for Sam to return to one of his first loves: parody songwriting.  In addition to working as a singer, Sam is also a professor of actuarial mathematics at the University of Toronto - he put himself through school singing, and has delivered his book of math based parody songs at academic conferences for years.  A Jewish Boy’s Christmas is a hilarious and irreverent take on the holiday season.

Sam Broverman is a Winnipeg-born, Toronto based jazz singer and songwriter. He has performed in venues across Canada, the US, Europe  and Asia. He began his professional singing career in Winnipeg as a teenager, appearing in theatre and cabaret productions and also on the nationally televised shows "Hymn Sing" and "The Doug Crosley Show". Sam regularly performs in the Summer Entertainment Series at Winnipeg’s Lyric Theatre.

official web page:

Marty's review: whether you celebrate Christmas or not, and, depending on your own perception of it (love it or grinch!) this alternative Christmas album by Sam Broverman is not only fun to listen to but is cleverly written and performed. Looking at the season from a Jewish perspective is what Sam Boverman does here and no, it doesn't have to be Christmas time to enjoy the album as it will put a smile on your face any time of the year. With titles such as "Hanukkah in Santa Monica" and "What's A Jew to Do on Christmas", you can't go wrong. Excellent vocal performances by Sam and guest vocalist Whitney Ross-Barris.