Thursday, March 31, 2011

Last night at the Rex

IMG_0837.jpgDon't miss your opportunity - you can still go tonight at 9:30 to catch the Danjam Orchestra and buy your debut CD - "Sudden Appearance"!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Best Blogs for Jazz Students...

Ahem, other than this little effort of yours truly, that is...

Thanks to Emma Taylor of to be something missing - can't quite put my finger on it....

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fern Lindzon at Four Seasons Centre

From the Canadian Opera Company's free concert series this week: 

This will be a great usual with Fern...

Forgotten Melodies Tuesday, March 29, 12 - 1 p.m.
 Pianist/singer/songwriter Fern Lindzonand the members of her stellar quartet (Mike Murley, saxophone; George Koller, bass; Nick Fraser, drums) present selections from their recent and upcoming CDs, featuring Lindzon’s own arrangements of Yiddish/Klezmer and Eastern European music.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Juno Jazz winners

Woo hoo - very excited to hear that John MacLeod's Rex Hotel Orchestra won for Best Traditional Jazz Album  for "Our First Set" - not bad for a first effort...:) I am also proud that my brother Colin was part of this effort...that bass trombone is crucial don't you know...

The energetic Kellylee Evans won for best Vocal Jazz Album for " Nina" and the Jensen sisters - Christine and her sister Ingrid who is featured on the recording -  for best Contemporary Jazz Album "Treelines".

Congratulations all!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Girls in the Band

"They wiggled, they jiggled, they wore low cut gowns and short-shorts they kow-towed to the club owners and smiled at the customers. They did it all, just to play the music they loved".

That's a little introduction to the subject matter - an area that has been sadly neglected..and how do you fit in? Well, I am sitting in the "trombone" section but you can be a roadie, a band manager, even a record producer - those are the donation levels, folks.

Here's the opportunity for you to step up and contribute to getting this incredible and very necessary documentary by Judy Chalkin  made - it's shocking how many of these fine musicians are lost to the mists of history - playing not only in "all girl" big bands of the 1930s thru 1950s - but holding their own with their male counterparts - without the credit. Some of the featured musicians include Marian McPartland, Diana Krall, Esperanza Spalding, Mary Lou Williams and our own fine Jensen sisters - Ingrid and Christine!

Can't wait to see it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Russ Little Live to Air at Jazz FM

A great time was had by all -  but you aren't surprised are you? It is Russ Little after all and with a great band including Brian Barlow, Tom Szczesniak, Rob Piltch, Scott Alexander and Michael Stuart.

The album itself - which I'm listening to now...yes, I had to get one has a very retro vibe - I might even say it's "groovy"....and features such instrumentation as a Wurlitzer - a Wurlitzer - how often do you hear that these days...also featured on the CD are Robi Botos and Dave Restivo...not too shabby.

I am a big fan of Russ' - well, largely because he's a trombone player and a great one - he's also a swell guy - always upbeat and positive - making everyone he comes into contact with feel wonderful - something we all could learn from.

I got to listen in the booth as we weren't sure how many people would actually that was a novel experience for me - sharing the space with Dani Elwell and of course, between chats Ross Porter.

The chat went in interesting directions - Ross pointing out that so many trombonists are great arrangers - Russ explained this may be for a few reasons - trombonists don't get to solo very often, they sit in the middle of big bands and hear all the colours around them...or, add your trombone joke here - are often unemployed...

Russ also talked about what a valuable experience it was for him to play in the bands of Woody Herman and Count Basie - experience that can't be taught.

 And the music? From the funky "My Mama Told Me So" to the lovely "Here's that Rainy Day" to the self described "slow burn" of "Tutu" it was a delight from start to for peeks into Russ' life - interesting to know that he keeps a trombone in the house, car and his place down south...Yamaha if you must know... the man who wrote the theme to SCTV, among his many credits  is one class act

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Humber Vocal Ensemble

IMG_7169.jpgAs  I was en route to the Rex last night - I spied Heather and Mark Segger through the window of a Japanese restaurant a block away from the club. They were just grabbing a bite - they have both recently returned from a western tour to promote Mark's CD - the sushi looked yummy...mental note: check place out - if I can remember which one it was...

Great sounds from the kids in the Humber program, original tunes and covers of "Fragile" and James Taylor's "Mexico" to name but two...Trish Colter was pacing nervously throughout the club - but she had no need to fret - they did her proud. By the way that is Danny Fong - third from the left with hip looking glasses.

A few potential germs seem to be vying for space in my body and I'm doing my darndest to try and fight them off...a nap may be in order...I was in calling "lapsed" donors for Jazz FM this morning - remember 1 -800-811-2400 or  and you too can get in on some fabulous prizes and incentives pre campaign PLUS during the campaign...the more funds we get now...the shorter the campaign!

I got a lovely note from Myron who manages content for - who says it is "not often one comes across a site that is so well written and creatively expressed as yours"... aw, shucks - okay, I am buttered up, thank you, I blush! So here is the attached is the article -  20 Essential Blogs for the NYC Bookworm and though I live in Toronto - you know I do love books!

P.S. An anonymous reader says no reservations left tonight for Russ Little's gig at Quotes - SRO!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fired up for a "Slow Burn"

I feel like a big change is I'm on the verge of some amazing changes in the best possible way..maybe it's spring fever, or my stars are aligning - Uranus into my home sign Aries..whatever it is, in true Aries fashion I can't wait.

Pictured below is a Persian spring soup - got the recipe from the Toronto Star last week - and veganized it - it used chicken broth - there are noodles, spinach, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, parsley, turmeric, garlic, onions, "sour cream", pepper etc. Recipe was courtesy of the couple who own Pomegranate on College.

Tomorrow Russ Little that beacon of sartorial splendour (not to mention a damn fine trombonist) and wonderful warm guy launches his CD at Quotes from 7 - 9 p.m. - doors open at 6:15 - cover is only $15...he will have Brian Barlow, Michael Stuart, Tom Szczesniak, Scott Alexander and Rob Piltch..for those lucky invitees there will also be a live to air with Mr. Little on Thursday March 24th from 7 - 8 p.m. Call 416 979 7717 if you are planning to reserve a table to nosh beforehand...otherwise it's first come, first served.

Speaking of the station - interesting to note that it was being played at my local nail salon this morning - Beauty Line on King.

Tonight after Hatha at Core - going to mosey over to the Rex to catch some Humber vocals - Danny Fong will be there...

I have a tough decision tomorrow night - Film Noir or Russ..I'm thinking Russ will win out.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


 Coming up in April it's Veggielicious a veg take on the Troonto set menu restaurant events "Winterlicious" and "Summerlicious...check out the website for interactive maps, menus and participating restaurants PLUS an opportunity to win prizes throughout the GTA - - thanks to Sherry B and Lisa P for all their hard work in putting this together - the results will be delicious.

Speaking of...visited Kindfood in Burlington yesterday for lunch - if I lived near there I would be there wayyy too often - we sampled the macro bowl - which features tempeh, brown rice, sauteed greens, sauerkraut and the raw collard wrap - hummous, pesto, beets, veggies and um for dessert couldn't resist the Dulce de Leche cupcake! The only complaint/observation on that...a bit too much icing for my liking. The place is definitely a going concern...baked goods (GLUTEN FREE!), juices, sandwiches, bowls, soups and vegan groceries, a steady stream of it's bright, colourful and welcoming - very Californian as per one of  its' owners - Kelly - the very picture of health, California girl extraordinaire...

I have to tell you it was too hard to decide on what to eat as everything looked so tempting - I even regretted not having the Reuben..or maybe OMG grilled cheese (Daiya) or the chili or, or, or...

Since they are located right downtown - 399 Brant Street, when the weather warms up you can either sit outside or even take your delectables to nearby Lake Ontario for an impromptu picnic...I understand cooking classes are also coming up on the agenda. or call 905 637-2700...they also do catering...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The "Sudden Appearance" of Daniel Jamieson and the Danjam Orchestra

That could describe my first encounter with this talented young man whom I first met at a P.J. Perry gig at the Rex a few years ago and through our mutual admiration of the Edmonton based altoist  we got to talking – naturally,  I have followed his career path very closely. Now New York based, Dan’s new CD is  entitled “Sudden Appearance”  and features numerous talented New York cohorts giving voice to Dan’s arrangements and compositions.  A few of those musicians will travel to Toronto and the Rex at the end of March – the rest of the big band will be very capably filled by our own stellar talent – including Alex Dean and David Restivo .
The Toronto born and raised saxophonist, composer and arranger is a graduate of the Humber Community Music School, Earl Haig Secondary’s storied arts program and U of T. It was in high school that he came under the spell of the big band – both performing in his high school band and by listening to the legendary Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass.

It was while at U of T he got the idea of arranging for a tentet as his 3rd year recital which featured such names as Colleen Allen and Jason Logue.  He also found mentors in Alex Dean and Tim Ries who encouraged his writing and arranging…Tim in particular connected him with an idol of his Jim McNeely and with a phone call Mr. Jamieson was on his way to New York to audition and study with Jim at the Manhattan School of Music. Interestingly, Jim had heard an arrangement of Dan’s at the IAJE – “Easy Living” and was naturally, impressed and so Dan studied for 2 years with Jim – not surprisingly Jim also acted as producer on the recording.

Dan is busy these days teaching, writing, arranging, being in the pit orchestra for a couple of musicals and of course getting all the ducks in a row for the upcoming CD release – slated officially for May – but lucky Torontonians will have an opportunity to snap it up at the Rex soon.  I’m pleased to say that local musicians Heather Segger, Justin Gray and Mike Ruby are also featured on the album. 

The idea for the album came about as he neared the completion of his Master’s program and MSM – and realized he definitely had more than enough material to choose from to fill said disc.

The recording process is an education in itself, he says.  Online fundraising netted $8,000 and then the band had 2 days in studio, in spite of the tight time frame managed to get ahead of schedule in recording – 5 tunes the first day and 3 the next which allowed for more time to “gild the lily” and doing a bit of tweaking, since Dan points out he was already very excited about the product. As the band was in a drummer transition, it was particular coup to be able to enlist the services of John Riley – best known for his work with the Vanguard Orchestra and as Dan enthuses, possibly the best big band drummer anywhere and admits he was a little bit intimidated about giving direction – but no worries.  He also enlisted Caitlin Smith to act as manager of the band during the session.  After the 2 day recording period he then spent 9 months on mixing.

I was very thrilled to preview the CD – released on the Origin Arts, OA2 label out of Seattle, which features many fine soloists – the arrangements are very mature and sophisticated, from the title track featuring Andrew Gould on sax , Eric Miller on trombone and Matt Holman on flugelhorn to the solid bopping “Chance Encounter” to the textured, Hugh Fraser like “Calming” with Jihye Kim’s vocals soaring above, the swinging “Crunchy Peanut Butter” – featuring Sam Dillon on baritone and Phillip Dizack on trumpet and the lovely “Song for Anna” – with its’ washes of sound and Asian influences…flute solo by Anna Webber.

I asked what it is about the big band format that he finds appealing - what he likes about the big band experience is being a small part of a bigger picture and the importance of the overall shape of the music – although arranging for smaller groups is fun, you get to work with more colour in a larger ensemble.
The arrangements haven’t been performed live in a year so he is looking forward to that aspect – Tara Davidson will be featured on a new piece debuting at the Rex and Jihye will be on hand for “Song for Anna”. His arrangement of “Alone Together” will also be performed live for the first time.

And what’s in store for the future? Well, finding a way to move the band around i.e. tour across the country and hopefully to Europe – no mean feat for a 19 piece group but I have no doubt the enterprising Mr. Jamieson will find a way.

The Danjam Orchestra will be at the Rex Hotel March 30th and 31st at 9:30 and if you happen to be in the New York area on May 15th at Miles CafĂ©, 212 E 52nd Street, 3rd floor from 10:00 – 11:30.
For more info about Dan and to purchase your own CD – please visit and for futher info on the Toronto segment:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kellylee Evans - electric Nina tribute

 A post on the Jazz FM blog is upcoming in the meantime - check out Kellylee Evan's "Nina" - Juno nominated this year for Best Jazz Vocal Album...she is a firecracker - gave a highly energetic show at the Old Mill last night. I have had the privilege of meeting Kellylee, her husband and adorable young family at Jazz FM.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thinking of our Japanese friends...

It seems odd to notice that my last post was a video of Halie Loren in Japan - she was recently there on a tour and in light of what's been going on there with the devastating earthquake and tsunami - it's eerie..I hope you join with me and prayers and donations of help to many worthwhile aid and rescue operations to help that nation of gracious people and jazz lovers....

This photo courtesy of

Visit the appropriately named - which encompasses Save the Children Canada, Canada,Oxfam Quebec and CARE Canada or call 1-800-464-9154

On a happier note - great set at the Rex on Friday night with Barry Elmes Quintet for his new CD release and of course a full for "Red Shift".

I bumped in Russ Little on my way home from Jazz FM on Thursday  - he also has an upcoming CD release at Quotes on March 22nd - doors open at 6:15 and show from 7 - 9 p.m. The new release is called "Slow Burn" - joining him will be Tom Szczesniak, Rob Piltch, Michael Stuart, Scott Alexander and Brian Barlow - $15 at the 416 979 7717 to reserve..otherwise it's first come, first served...

Happy birthday to Yvette Tollar - I'm going to sign up for the Women in Jazz Workshop she is presenting with Sheila Jordan the weekend of April 2 and 3rd...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Halie in Japan...

Danny Fong

Here's a fun video from one of our recent guests - Saskatoon's own Danny Fong. The song is by a Finnish group called Rajaton with Danny and his friend Rob filling in the lower parts and one of the female voices.

Coming up - a review of Dan Jamieson's new release...working on getting around to listening to it....

Jose James

Many thanks to our Jazzology guest this week Michael Su for this, I love it when I hear someone new and incredible...his baritone is whisper soft evoking a tenor least on this tune. He apparently appeared on the scene in 2008 and has won lots of critical acclaim - with his voice being compared to the great Gil Scott Heron...

According to his website, the Brooklyn based singer was born and raised in Minneapolis, on a diet of Prince and hip hop with lots of John Coltrane for extra nutrition...he was a member of an avante garde jazz and poetry ensemble called Ancestor Energy. He moved to NYC to attend the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music where he was mentored by Chico Hamilton and Junior Mance. 
"The Dreamer" is his debut album and he has since released two more in addition to performing worldwide at such spots as the North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Ronnie Scott's in  London and the Cotton Club in Tokyo to name a few.

His latest projects include a tribute to Billy Strayhorn with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Centre Orchestra and a tour with McCoy Tyner and the music of Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane...can't wait to hear him at a venue near me..

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Return to Spice Safar

I haven't thought about this place among my neighbourhood cafes for a while and I thought it was high time I revisit...needless to say I will be back. The inviting warmth is something I had forgotten -  how cozy the seating was here - an entire wall of padded benches and liberal sprinkling of cushions - welcome to the lots of natural light - for those of use who like to read, or even those who bring their laptops along...

They have a nice selection of drinks, meals and treats - including healthy fruit and decadent croissants - bonus - they bring your order to your table - which includes a glass of citrus infused water and a little something to nibble on - in this case a brownie.

Their unisex washroom is cool too - very modern with Middle Eastern inspired cutouts in the bottom of the sinks...visit - they open most days at 8 a.m. - 9 on Saturdays and 10:30 on Sundays.

Laissez les bon temps roulez - Mardi Gras y'all - bring out the pancakes or gumbo - or perhaps both. Bill King and Rockit 88 are at Southern Accent up on Markham tonight from 8 p.m. Dan and the boys have an unusual Tuesday night gig at Azure - sitting in are Pat Collins on bass and birthday boy David Restivo.

The Heavyweights are sure to get you in the mood tonight at 9 p.m. at the Painted Lady on Ossington...

Melissa Lauren is at the Reservoir on Thursday at 7 and the Barry Elmes Quintet has a CD release "Redshift" at the Rex, Thursday and Friday nights - with special guest Kelly Jefferson. The usual suspects - Mike Murley, Kevin Turcotte, Steve Wallace and Reg Schwager.

I would be remiss in my goddess duties if I didn't point out today is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day - so do something good for all the goddesses in your life! Or all the goddesses worldwide...

I am very tickled that Halie Loren enjoyed my post about our interview...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Halie Loren - interview

How fun to chat with one of my favourite up and coming singers..on the horn from Eugene, Oregon. Note to self - figure out Skype. Halie (that's is pronounced hay lee - as I quickly figured out) just recently returned from a successful eight day stint in Japan - performing at the Blue Note in Nagoya and the Cotton Club in Tokyo. Japanese fans are serious about their jazz and its' performers - she felt like a rock star or dare we say it jazz star as fans had her autographing everything from CDs to leather jackets...

Photo courtesy of

It was her third trip there and she advised me (when I finally get there) to take the bullet train - a first for her on this round - it gives you a great view of the country whizzing past.

The effervescent Miss Loren is readying herself for a whirlwind of activity - she will be performing in New York at the Metropolitan Room in April with her pianist Matt Treder and bassist Mary Ann McSweeney and then in L.A, at the ASCAP conference - in May she will be out and about in Washington state - including Seattle and Port Angeles.

Born in Alaska, she moved to Oregon as a teen and extolls the virtues of her state -  - the lush forests, being an hour away from the Cascade mountains and the ocean, yet being surrounded by arts and culture. Portland is only a 2 hour drive away. Halie confesses her love of water and I joke that perhaps that's the theme for a future album..."How Deep is the Ocean", I offer.....she has already recorded "River", "Beyond the Sea" and "The Waters of March".

She can't remember a time when she wasn't singing  - her debut public performance was as a 10 year old at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp with a jazz trio - the camp was a mecca for arts inclined kids from around the Northwest and possibly up into Canada. That camp is still going strong - and she was recently invited back to perform as an alumnus.

The busy velvet voiced Loren is already working out material for her next recording with more of her own original tunes. Her latest, "After Dark" was completed last August and release in the fall of 2010. We chatted about how one goes about choosing what songs to do and agreed that although there are many familiar tunes there are always new discoveries or I would say rediscoveries. Two tunes from "After Dark" stand out as unique "Ode to Billie Joe" and "Give Me One Reason" - those were very popular in live performance so they decided to try it on a recording.  She loves other languages and particularly singing in them - with Spanish in her repertoire she would like to add French, Italian, Portuguese and Japanese - I think she did a bit of that while in the land of the rising sun.

Although she doesn't have any formal training - it seems she has enough piano to get by with songwriting. Most of her education is by ear and listening citing such influences as the great Nat King Cole, Etta James, Joni Mitchell, Annie Lennox, Sarah McLachlan and of course Diana Krall - Diana because Halie was thrilled that Ms. Krall sung in her range - saying she had a low voice "for a kid". Oh, and let's not forget Patsy Cline - who we agree was far more than just a country singer.

Who would she like to collaborate with? Well natch, Mr. Nat King Cole - I assured her that was certainly possible - but for a livelier partnership - that British firecracker Jamie Cullum. I did tell her to check out Denzal Sinclaire though...who definitely has Nat's caramel tones....

As inspired as she is to live in the eden of Eugene - there will be lots of travelling in her near future, close to home in Oregon and father afield prestigious engagements - some big developments which I am not a liberty to divulge at the moment...I am still hoping one of those destinations is Canada and indeed Toronto - she's been to Vancouver but not east of there....high time.

To keep up with Halie please visit her Facebook page -

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dave Holland

Hot off the presses or the screen as it were...thanks to Marsha Duggan, my liasion at Humber College, I am told the incomparable Dave Holland will be artist in residence this March - complete with a concert on March 16th...
Mr. Holland always provides for a memorable musical you have been told! Tickets are available at the door, a very reasonable $25, $12 for students and seniors. For more info please call 416 675 6622 ext. 3427.

He will be performing with the Dave Holland Project under the direction of Andy Ballantyne and the Humber Studio Jazz Ensemble led by Denny Christianson.  Check out Dave's latest release "Hands" with guitartist Pepe Habichuela - at

Humber is located at 3199 Lakeshore Boulevard, just FYI and the concert is in the Lakeshore auditorium.
Lucky, lucky students.....Mr. Holland is not only a phenomenal bassist but a true gentleman.

Coming up - thanks to a suggestion from Nancy - a series on musings about their relevance and importance and a little background...and my somewhat biased subjective opinion....

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What some "Jazzology" guest are up to....

Justin-Solo @ Trane mar 2011 (1).jpgSo this is Justin Gray's event coming up on March 10th - should be fun - Todd Pentney and Adam Teixeira are former guests as well - and Justin's younger brother Derek is a guest this season....I'm sure they will share all the musical riches they have gathered from their sojourns in India....Jonathan Kay and Andrew Kay are still there.
Visit or www.

Here is a You Tube link or two...

This Sunday March 6 at 9:30 chez le Rex, Mark Segger (drummer) and U of T Masters grad,  has a CD release, entitled "The Beginning" featuring:

Jim Lewis - trumpet
Chris Willes - tenor / clarinet
Heather Segger - trombone
Tania Gill - piano / melodica
Andrew Downing - bass

Hoping also to check out the Ron Westray CD release tomorrow or Thursday night - that's the 9:30 show and I do have a particular fondness for trombone players...

Visited Ritual spa in my 'hood today - nice mani/pedi courtesy of Natalia - plus a complimentary cappucino...

I am feeling  a little winter blah these days - finding it hard to get motivated or know where life is going certainly is lovely to have more light in the slightly longer days and being woken to the sounds of the cardinal's calls - he is thinking spring that's for sure...

I am looking forward to seeing Sandra Shamus' show tomorrow - that's a definite bright spot. Possibly a cleanse is in order - buckle down and do the raw foods things for 21 days - I do have Kris Carr's "Crazy Sexy Diet" - so spring cleaning internally and mentally could be a good project...maybe a kickstart...