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.