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Archive for December, 2012

Seasonal Saxophones and an All-Star New Year’s Bash

December 19, 2012 Comments off

New Years 2012 smallMonik Nordine writes to say that the Barracuda! Saxophone Quartet “is back at it, and this time we’re playing seasonal music for anyone who would like to come down to the Moka House (Hillside) and enjoy a warm beverage and some saxophone music. There will be plenty of warmth and good cheer and not only that, lots of saxophones.” By donation. A box for food bank donations will be provided. Nordine, along with Tom Ackerman, Chris Watt and Rainier Roth fire up the saxes on Sunday, December 23rd from 11am -12pm. Hillside at Shellbourne.

And Kelby MacNayr is reprising his highly popular early evening New Year’s bash(dinner and music) at Hermann’s on Monday, December 31st from 5 – 8 pm with Ian McDougall, Louise Rose, Roy Styffe, and Ken Lister. $35.00/ $30 (U-Jam, VJS, advance). Seating is limited and the event sold out last year and so reservations are recommended  (250) 388-9166.

Thinking About Dave Brubeck

December 12, 2012 Comments off

A talented young pianist I admire once complained about all the adulation heaped on Dave Brubeck, noting that on at least one recording he messed up the 5/4 time of Take Five. He was quite outraged that a guy who couldn’t keep time – or more accurately was always messing around with it – should be considered one of the great jazz pianists.

What I wanted to say but didn’t is that you had to be there. You had to be there in the 60s (and even earlier in the 50s) when Brubeck’s music took North America by storm. You had to be there when Paul Desmond’s Take Five was played on every radio station. You had to be there when, like so many others, you first heard those funky time signatures and sweet melodies and fell in love with jazz.

Brubeck and Stan Getz, turned me on to jazz when I was only 14 or 15 years old. By the time I was 17 or 18 I was listening to guys like John Handy (backed by Don Thompson and Terry Clarke) and other deeper more outside stuff but it was Brubeck who first hooked me and Getz whose Brazilian experiments sunk the hook in further.

I remember buying my first jazz album at a shop on Robson St. in Vancouver. It was Brubeck’s greatest hits album that included wonderful tunes like It’s A Raggy Waltz and Blue Rondo a la Turk from Time Out and Time Further Out. I played that thing over and over again as I did a Getz/Gilberto album I acquired a little later.

Without those guys I might never have found this great music. So hats off to Dave Brubeck. He deserves our adulation and respect.

Melinda Whitaker and Phil Dwyer Produce a Winner with Lucky So and So

December 12, 2012 Comments off

CD Launch @ Cory Weeds Vacouver#1There’s lots of smoke but no mirrors in Melinda Whitaker’s Lucky So and So, a smouldering new vocal album of seven standards and two Stevie Wonder tunes produced and arranged by the great Phil Dwyer.

Whitaker, supported by an A-list of west coast players, delivers the real thing with her signature dark, husky voice that seems made for jazz.

And while that voice thins now and then under the load of these demanding tunes and arrangements, Whitaker makes up for any tonal challenges with sensitive phrasing that respects the lyrics and knows when there should be sound and and when there should be silence.

Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry is a fine example with the gorgeous interplay between her muted trumpet voice and Dwyer’s sweet, supple sax. You’ll also hear it in My Foolish Heart as she plays off rich horn lines and Dwyer’s spare piano work.

Fact is, all the songs on this album are delivered with style, not the least of which are the Stevie Wonder tunes Overjoyed and Creepin’, well-chosen contemporary contrasts to the standards that are at the core of the album.

Speaking of Phil Dwyer, is there a better musical mind anywhere in the country? He, along with the other masterful players he’s recruited, including Brad Turner on trumpet and flugelhorn, Ian McDougall on trombone and Ken Lister on bass, has given Whitaker an expansive musical sandbox in which to play.

Just listen to the percussive fun and excitement on the opening The Song is You and you’ll know you’re in for a treat. This album is a winner vocally and instrumentally.

Note: Sadly the CD arrived too late for me to review it in time for Whitaker’s Victoria show this past weekend, but you can catch her tonight (Wednesday) at The Cellar in Vancouver at 8 pm. And the album is now available on disk or digital download through Whitaker’s website.  It would make a great Christmas gift.

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