Whitehorse, Yukon, is not the first place you think as a jazz mecca. But vocalist Fawn Fritzen doubts she would have ever starting singing jazz if it hadn't been for Whitehorse's supportive and nurturing arts scene.
"I really believe that if I hadn't moved to Whitehorse I wouldn't have pursued [singing] professionally."
And successfully enough that Fritzen has just released her second album, Pairings, featuring many high-profile Canadian jazz musicians. After two packed shows in Whitehorse, she's now in southern Canada for a series of CD release shows, including in Ottawa.
This CD has Fritzen singing in duos (voice/bass, voice/drums, voice/piano, and even voice/saxophones) with musicians including Steve Amirault, Dave Restivo, Reg Schwager, George Koller, Kurt Schwonik, Kelly Jefferson, Richard Underhill, and Shirantha Beddage. It combines popular jazz standards (Cole Porter) and some which should be better-known (Francesca Blumenthal) – and even includes a rare tune by The Guess Who. Fritzen also contributes four of her own originals, one of them inspired by CBC Tonic host Tim Tamashiro's ideas about "drinky" jazz.
At her Ottawa concert on Wednesday, May 11, she'll perform with two of the musicians on the CD: pianist Dave Restivo and bassist George Koller.
Fritzen was in Ottawa earlier this week. OttawaJazzScene.ca editor Alayne McGregor got together with her to learn about the unexpected path that led her into jazz and to this new album.
In particular, Fritzen explained how she chose the different material on the CD, and how excited she was to have found lesser-known gems to record on it.
"The goal for anybody who's doing jazz standards is to find a fresh way to do it. I tried to find some unique way to approach every standard that we do on the album."
Fawn Fritzen's Pairings CD release tour dates:
- April 30, 2016 - Old Fire Hall, Whitehorse, Yukon
- May 8, 2016 - The Jazz Bistro, Toronto
- May 9, 2016 - Mahtay Cafe, St. Catharines
- May 10, 2016 - The Jazz Room, Waterloo
- May 11, 2016 - The Steinway Piano Gallery (1481A Innes Road, near Cyrville Road), Ottawa
- May 12, 2016 - Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill, Montreal
More information and tickets to each show are available on Fritzen's website.