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Seven Reasons to Support the Ross Taggart Kickstarter Campaign

February 17, 2014 Comments off

As I write 155 people from the west coast jazz community and beyond have pledged their support for the project on Kickstarter that will see ten Ross Taggart compositions arranged and recorded by the Jill Townsend Big Band in Vancouver. With 8 days to go they are doing well, having reached nearly 75% of their goal.

It would be a shame if they fell short now.

For those who haven’t pledged – fans and musicians alike – here are seven reasons to consider doing so.

1. It’s a good cause. Ross Taggart was a beloved member of the west coast jazz community and this project will honour his name.

2. Under the Kickstarter crowd-funding model, the campaign must be 100% funded to succeed. Otherwise the project will receive nothing.

3. This is the first major Kickstarter Canadian west coast jazz campaign that I’m aware of. If it succeeds it could set a precedent for future campaigns that would see other local musicians receive funding for their special projects.

4. It won’t cost you much; you can pledge as little as a dollar (although I would hope you would pledge a little more than that :-).

5. Our provincial and federal governments do little for the arts (particularly jazz) compared to European countries like Norway; this is a way for you to support directly an art form that is starved of funding.

6. For musicians: it may seem odd or inappropriate to pledge money to your colleagues when you work so hard yourself to be part of this community and to raise funds for your own projects. But consider this: by adding your name to the list, you help create a groundswell that will see this and other jazz projects succeed under the crowd-funding model. (The list of contributors can be viewed on the Kickstarter site and your name will carry a lot of weight.)

7. For fans: if you pledge at least ten dollars, you’ll receive a wonderful recording of some great tunes and help keep not only jazz but big band jazz alive on the Canadian west coast. What better way to spend the equivalent of two fancy coffees at Starbucks?

I wish them success. You can pledge here.

Note: if you have concerns about the security of the Kickstarter site, read the security notice they issued following the news that they had been hacked recently. It may reassure you.

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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