Tuesday, March 31, 2015
   
Text Size

Guelph 2014: Ernst Reijseger plays the cello as you have not heard it before (review)

Ernst Reijseger, Harmen Fraanje, Mola Sylla blended hugely different bodies of music into a coherent and beautiful whole ©Brett Delmage, 2014

Ernst Reijseger – Harmen Fraanje – Mola Sylla
Guelph Jazz Festival
River Run Centre, Cooperators Hall
Thursday, September 4, 2014 - 8 p.m.

Ernst Reijseger solo
Macdonald Stewart Art Centre
Friday, September 5, 2014 - 5 p.m.

Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger has an enviable reputation – both for the purity and breadth of his technique and the imaginativeness of his collaborations and projects. After starting out playing early and Baroque music, he switched to the avant-garde and jazz. He's performed with top European free jazz musicians like Derek Bailey, Eric Vloeimans, Han Bennink, and Gerry Hemingway, has written and produced film scores for Werner Herzog, and has collaborated with world music artists as well as cellist Yo Yo Ma.

On stage, he's a wild man.

Both of his two concerts at the 2014 Guelph Jazz Festival featured jaw-dropping moments, as Reijseger expanded his audiences' understanding of how the cello could be played while producing lovely and unexpected music.

He turned the cello on its side and played it like a plump guitar – to audible gasps from some listeners. He hit the cello with his bow, and then ripped it savagely across the strings in an example of extreme bowing. He threaded his bow through the strings and then let the bow vibrate while plucking strings. He attached a plastic hair clip and wooden clothes pegs to the strings to dampen and mute their resonance, while still continuing to play. He let the cello swing in his hand, like a pendulum, as he played. He used the cello body as a drum, then shook it, and then moved its bottom spike in and out creating a creaking sound. He wetted his fingers to make the strings squeak. He whipped his bow through the air. He twirled around and around while playing.

Read more: Guelph 2014: Ernst Reijseger plays the cello as you have not heard it before (review)

 

Geri Childs sings about long-time friendship in More than Magic CD release (review)

Mark Ferguson has produced both of Geri Childs' CDs ©Brett Delmage, 2014

Geri Childs “More Than Magic” CD Release Concert
NAC Fourth Stage
Friday, October 31, 2014 - 7:30 p.m.

View photos of this performance

Opening with “Sentimental Journey” and closing with “Just Friends”, Geri Childs sang about love and long-time friendship in her CD release concert on Friday.

In particular, she talked about her friendship and collaboration with Mark Ferguson, her musical director for the CD and the concert, how they met in (of all places!) a hired band providing music for Joe Clark's leadership campaign, and how they worked together in picking the new standards in the CD. But “everyone here is a friend”, she said at the end of the concert, and certainly there were lots of smiles and appreciative applause throughout.

On stage were the same musicians who played on More Than Magic – Ferguson on piano, trombone, and melodica, John Geggie on double bass, Rob Graves on percussion, and Margaret Tobolowska on cello. They were joined by René Gely, on four different guitars, and Sharon Timmins on backup vocals. Gely added an extra percussive element brightening the music, and allowed Ferguson to move off the piano to trombone on some of the jazzier numbers.

Read more: Geri Childs sings about long-time friendship in More than Magic CD release (review)

 

Marianne Trudel Quintet: An exhilarating, subtle start to the 2014-15 NAC Presents jazz series (review)

Marianne Trudel and Ingrid Jensen shared a strong musical link at Saturday's concert. ©Brett Delmage, 2014

Marianne Trudel Quintet
NAC Presents
NAC Fourth Stage
Saturday, October 25, 2014 – 7:30 p.m.

View photos of this performance

Marianne Trudel appeared spent but exhilarated at the end of her quintet's concert at the NAC Fourth Stage Saturday night. The Montreal pianist had just released a new album, La Vie Commence Ici, and this was the last stop on a week-long tour to promote it.

With notable improvisers like Ingrid Jensen and Trudel herself on stage, the show was far more than just a reenactment of the recording. The quintet – the same musicians as on the CD – expanded upon the music, adding new interpretations and texture, in an energetic yet subtle concert.

If the star power in the quintet was provided by Jensen on trumpet, the other four musicians (who played together on Trudel's 2007 live recording) created equally interesting musical moments. It was very much a joint endeavour, with sax and trumpet frequently playing in unison, with several trumpet-piano duets, and with creative bass and drums working together to propel the music forward.

Read more: Marianne Trudel Quintet: An exhilarating, subtle start to the 2014-15 NAC Presents jazz series (review)

 

Evoking the soul of Hank Mobley (review)

Richard Page enjoys some playing by Alex Moxon, who organized the project ©Brett Delmage, 2014

Soul Station Tribute Concert
The Manx Pub
Monday, October 6, 2014

View photos of this performance

I can't remember where I first heard about Hank Mobley, but I suspect it may have been because one of the musicians in this tribute concert was raving about him.

Mobley was a jazz musicians' musician – especially if you're into hard bop and bebop. A tenor saxophonist, he played with Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, and Art Blakey – and even for a brief period with Miles Davis.

Between 1955 and 1970, he recorded many albums for Blue Note Records – and Soul Station (1960) is generally considered one of his best. The Penguin Guide to Jazz describes it as the “one Mobley album that should be in every collection”, and praises his rhythmic subtlety, “accenting unexpected beats and planting emphases in places that take his phrasing out of the realms of cliché”.

Read more: Evoking the soul of Hank Mobley (review)

 

Lara Solnicki chose jazz, but added a classical twist

When Lara Solnicki abandoned opera and chose jazz, she went all out – and succeeded.

The Toronto vocalist, who will make her first Ottawa appearance on Saturday at GigSpace with guitarist Roddy Ellias, is a classically-trained singer with a four-octave range. She originally intended a career in opera, but in 2008, radically changed her direction – to jazz and creative music.

“I totally changed my technique and my voice. If you do it properly you're not supposed to be on the fence about it.”

She's now reached the point where Radio-Canada's primary jazz radio host, Stanley Péan, offered to write the liner notes for her just-released second CD. He praised Solnicki's “striking sense of nuance that characterizes her style as an interpreter, a lyricist and a composer,” and said that the new album reaffirmed “without doubt, her sure position in Canadian contemporary jazz.”

At the time she changed direction, Solnicki had been listening to jazz (for example, Dianne Reeves and Cassandra Wilson) for years, and had taken some jazz vocal lessons a decade before in New York City. “When I came back to Toronto, I didn't stay with jazz for some reason”, and instead took a degree in classical voice from the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music. “I listened to jazz all through my classical degree, too, but I never thought of singing it at that point.”

However, she realized she wanted more opportunities to compose, to combine her poetry with music, to be more creative, which she couldn't get with classical voice. “I started writing poetry when I finished my degree. I decided that it would be interesting to get into new music and do some collaborative stuff, and then I really did make a conscious decision, that if I wanted to be more of a creator type, that it would be better for me to move into jazz and creative music.”

“I wasn't at that point really that glued to singing Italian opera any more. So I gave it about a solid year, or year and a half, when I started trying out jazz and taking a few lessons, to make a decision whether or not I was going to go all the way with it.”

And the jazz choice worked: she started singing jazz regularly in restaurants around Toronto; she collaborated with well-known jazz musicians like guitarist Ted Quinlan and bassist George Koller; she released a well-reviewed album of jazz standards in 2010.

Read more: Lara Solnicki chose jazz, but added a classical twist

 

Merrickville's Jazz Fest Day 3: polished vocals and joyful instrumentals

Merrickville's Jazz Fest closed on Sunday, October 19, with a celebration of polished jazz vocals, complementing the afternoon's instrumental concerts from Brian Browne and Peter Woods, and Norman Marshall Villeneuve's Jazz Message.

A Tribute to Blossom Dearie

Marcie Campbell would have done Dearie proud with her dead-on rendition of “Bruce” ©Brett Delmage, 2014

The main evening event was a tribute to Blossom Dearie, in a revival of the show featuring three local vocalists – Karen Oxorn, Caroline Gibson, and Marcie Campbell – which debuted in 2010 at the National Arts Centre. All three were in good voice and again easily conveyed their love of the iconic American vocalist/pianist and her repertoire. It was a fresh performance that was a little shorter and had a smaller band than the original.

Blossom Dearie knew how to deliver a lyric so that it made people laugh, or even get a bit uncomfortable. In between more conventional standards, she interspersed witty songs by Dave Frishberg and Bob Dorough and herself, which ended up being the pieces she was best remembered for.

And Marcie Campbell would have done Dearie proud with her dead-on rendition of “Bruce”. Her helpful advice to a female impersonator without dress sense had the entire audience chortling. She also scored with Dearie's signature tune, “I'm Hip”, delivered with a bop feel in the music and gentle satire in the lyrics.

Dearie's own “Blossom's Blues” is bluesy in form, and quite blue in content. Caroline Gibson, assisted by Mark Ferguson on trombone and Brian Browne on piano, had lots of fun playing with the risqué lyrics, and got the audience laughing at them, too. Browne also cracked a few smiles, as he underlined lines like “My nightly occupation is stealing other women's men” with strong blues chords, and Gibson paid credit to him by changing “Ray” to “Brian” in “Ray Brown told me that I was built for speed.”

Read more: Merrickville's Jazz Fest Day 3: polished vocals and joyful instrumentals

 

Merrickville's Jazz Fest Day 2: crowded with music

Vocalist Denielle Bassels with clarinetist/saxophonist Jacob Gorzhaltsan, played a high-energy and swinging show Saturday evening, bringing a ballroom full of listeners to their feet for a standing ovation. ©2014, Brett Delmage

Denielle Bassels Quintet

Probably the biggest surprise at this year's Merrickville's Jazz Fest was Toronto vocalist Denielle Bassels. She was an unknown quantity when she walked onto the stage of the Baldachin Ballroom on Saturday, October 18, but her charisma and her quintet's swinging music quickly grabbed the audience's attention.

Playing to a packed room, the quintet combined swing, jazz, gypsy jazz, and a touch of funk. They took jazz standards, songs made popular by Nina Simone and Edith Piaf, a movie theme, and a pop song, and then added originals by Bassels and guitarist Andy Mac. The jazzified result got several audience members dancing, and then everyone on their feet for a standing ovation, followed by an encore.

They opened with “Gypsy Summer”, the title track of their recently-released EP. You could immediately see this was going to be a high energy show, with Bassels' scatting soaring over Mac's fast Django Reinhardt-influenced guitar, and Jacob Gorzhaltsan's bright clarinet solos curlicuing over and under.

The first jazz singer Bassels heard and loved was Nina Simone. She included several Simone numbers in the show, including some lesser-known ones. “Forbidden Fruit”, the story of Eve and the apple, was introduced with a slinky groove on Gorzhaltsan's tenor sax and Mac's guitar. Bassels sung it in a call-and-response gospel style, clearly dramatizing the story, accented by growls on tenor. The result was very catchy, and the audience responded with strong applause.

Read more: Merrickville's Jazz Fest Day 2: crowded with music

 

Marianne Trudel: the joy of being surprised, in the moment, by music

Montreal pianist Marianne Trudel's new jazz CD – which she releases October 19, and debuts in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre on October 25 – is about paying attention to life, about being in the moment.

Marianne Trudel and Ingrid Jensen  (Photo by Andre Chevrier)Entitled La Vie Commence Ici (Life Begins Here), it's her reaction to a life in which “we're constantly stimulated by so many things. We're often doing two, three things at the same time, talking on the phone, checking email, doing this and that. It's hard to get a feeling of full presence and attention to one thing and attend at the same time, to be fully present in the moment and at peace.”

Looking at the people around her on Montreal's Metro, “everybody's on their iPhone doing stuff. Nobody looks at each other. Nobody is even aware of what's going on around them, and it frightens me. I don't like it , and I'm guilty of it, too.”

“So La Vie Commence Ici means in this specific moment, right now, there is La Vie happening. Life is there and we need to be aware and thankful and respectful.”

For Trudel, music is her way to “be present, open, in real relation with my band.” It's how she's related to music – a full immersion – since she was six years old and first put her hands on the keys of a piano.

So it's not surprising that the music on her new CD is rich, multi-threaded, and melodic, with intricate compositions leavened by improvisation. It's not music you only give half your attention to.

Read more: Marianne Trudel: the joy of being surprised, in the moment, by music

 

Merrickville's Jazz Fest Day 1: full houses and happy listeners and dancers

OttawaJazzScene.ca's first day at Merrickville's Jazz Fest ended on a high note. In fact a very high note, part of a rousing trumpet line, It was followed by clapping, cheering, and hooting.

The Sun Crescent Barbecue Stompers got the crowd on its feet Friday night at Merrickville's Jazz Fest. ©2014, Brett Delmage

The final act of that Friday, Marc Decho's Sun Crescent Barbecue Stompers, had just played a 100-minute, sold-out show celebrating the music of New Orleans. They were an immediate hit: audience members danced to the music and clapped along to the mixture of old-time gospel and blues, all delivered through a jazz and Dixieland lens.

And very powerfully: the front line of Ed Lister on trumpet and Richard Page on clarinet and baritone sax could really punch out the melodies and swing, strongly supported by Lucas Haneman on guitar, Decho on double bass, and Mike Essoudry on drums. Despite it being an all-acoustic set-up, the music was clear and well-balanced and worked well in the Goose and Gridiron Pub with its low ceilings and snug space.

They'd only played a few bars of their first number, "Just a Closer Walk with Thee", before the floor started to shake as both the audience and the band stomped along with the bluesy trumpet and clarinet lines, and the bright accents on mandolin from Haneman.

Highlights of their set included an extended version of "Jesus on the Mainline", which opened with Decho getting the audience to clap in rhythm, and then featured an intense baritone solo from Page, fast trumpet from Lister and syncopated guitar from Haneman, and an echoing drum solo from Essoudry – all adding to energy that got several listeners up dancing. In "St. James Infirmary", Lister deployed his trumpet mutes to good effect, using them to add to the tragic mood and to give a Dixieland sound. In "Basin Street Blues", Lister and Page seemed to be pushing each other to higher and wilder heights, ending up laughing at their own energy.

The most unusual number was "People Get Ready" by 70s soul/R&B/funk icon Curtis Mayfield – I had initially pegged it as a traditional hymn. It featured an evocative trumpet line over inflected mandolin and bass.

Read more: Merrickville's Jazz Fest Day 1: full houses and happy listeners and dancers

 

Norman Marshall Villeneuve brings his Message to Merrickville

In a fifty-year career, Norman Marshall Villeneuve has brought the message of bebop to Canada.

The 76-year-old drummer, who brings his Jazz Message to Merrickville this Sunday afternoon, has been across the border many times, including playing for months in the United States with his cousin, pianist Oliver Jones. And he almost got to go on tour with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Norman Marshall Villeneuve at the Pilot in Toronto (photo by Miguel Mata; provided by the artist)

But, although he tells young jazz musicians to go south to build their careers, Villeneuve has built his just fine staying in Montreal and Toronto, playing with almost every major jazz musician in their scenes, and many international touring stars.

As he reminiscences, the names and stories just pile up: Jackie McLean, Ray Draper, Julius Watkins, Charlie Rouse. Blossom Dearie, Lorenzo Conyers of the Ink Spots, Paul Gonsalves, Cat Anderson. Peter Leitch, Sadiq Hakim, Barry Harris. He was called in to play three nights at the Chicken Deli in Toronto with saxophonist Sonny Stitt when “nothing was happening” with the first night's drummer – and “we just hit it off like good friends right away”.

And the Canadian musicians who built the jazz scenes in Montreal and Ottawa: pianist Oliver Jones, bassist Charlie Biddle, guitarist Nelson Symonds, saxophonist Vernon Isaac.

In Merrickville, listeners will hear the results of that experience – and how it's taught him to keep the music understandable and what “people want to hear.”

"Art Blakey is my hero"

Villeneuve's role model – right from the beginning – has been drummer Art Blakey and his band the Jazz Messengers. “He's my hero, my mentor.”

Read more: Norman Marshall Villeneuve brings his Message to Merrickville

 

Adam Daudrich Trio at MJF: melodic and propulsive with a solid bass

Adam Daudrich is excited to be performing with renowned bass player Ron Seguin for his piano trio show Saturday afternoon at Merrickville's Jazz Fest.

In June, Daudrich started playing with Seguin: “He's a joy to work with. He has a very different beat. He articulates the bass differently, his sustain is longer, his intonation is more modern.”

Adam Daudrich ©2011 Brett DelmageAnd he and Daudrich have something in common: they're both originally from Ottawa, and have spent years playing jazz in Montreal. “I knew that he was a legend. He's very well-respected here and in Ottawa. So when I played the gig with him, I really liked his beat, so I said I'm going to hire him, to see what he brings to the mix.”

Seguin's credits include working with many well-known American musicians including Steve Grossman, Dave Liebman, Tony Scott, Dewey Redman, Ben Monder, and Greg Burk, as well as Canadians Peter Leitch, Pat LaBarbera, Phil Dwyer, Kirk McDonald, and Ben Charest. He recorded two albums with the legendary Montreal guitarist Sonny Greenwich. After many years in the Montreal scene, he moved to Italy in the mid-1990s but has recently returned to Montreal and has been playing there regularly.

Ottawa guitarist Roddy Ellias, who brought Seguin to Ottawa for a show in 2010, described him then as “one of my favourite bass players and musicians. He's a joy and inspiration to play with.”

Read more: Adam Daudrich Trio at MJF: melodic and propulsive with a solid bass

 

Page 5 of 42

<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>