Our “Solo Piano Double” series is an intriguing concept in that each artist will give a 45 minute set – they will not likely be sharing the piano stool and dueting, although that is possible but not requested! We are offering a wonderful incentive to pick four concerts and pay for just three. It all comes down to great playing, open minds and the spirit of discovery.
The first in the “Solo Piano Double” series pairs two very different and exceedingly talented artists – blues and soul, effervescent up and comer Jenie Thai and multi-award winning Cuban-Canadian Hilario Duran who studied at the Amadeo Roldan Music Institute in Havana and is considered an unparalleled composer/arranger of the first order.
Born in Chiang Mai Thailand, and raised outside of Edmonton, Jenie Thai is building a musical presence throughout the country through the electric energy she displays on stage and the old soul that’s conveyed through her songwriting. Her studying of music began at age five; she took private piano lessons for fifteen years. Through her classical training she spent her early school years performing difficult repertoire at various workshops, camps, and yearly round festivals receiving national accolade.
Graduating at seventeen, she continued her musical development, studying classical piano at Augustana University. In 2008, Jenie diversified her education attending Grant MacEwan Jazz and Contemporary Music Program as a performance major. Upon graduation, Jenie was offered a part-time teaching position at Grant MacEwan University and gained acceptance into Paul McCartney’s international music school based in Liverpool.
In 2011, Jenie released her EP “Lady Flower”. With the titled track she received an “honourable mention” as a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition (ISC) under the performance category (a category of 13 finalists out of 16, 000 submissions from around the globe). With the EP, she has been heard on many festival stages including both the Edmonton Folk Music Festival (2011) and the Canmore Folk Festival (2012).
Both solo and with her trio, Jenie has shared her songs across the country on festival stages, in blues bars, theatres, lounges, and living rooms. In spring of 2012, Jenie started the “Couch Concert Series”, a continuing project where she arrives on strangers steps to play a living room show in exchange for donations and a couch to sleep on.
In April 2013, Jenie Thai released “Only The Moon” which is “a beautifully crafted nine-song album of original songs showcasing a voice that has warmth and beauty…” writes David Farrell, writer for Toronto’s New Canadian Music. The organic and vibrant music has been unearthed through the stereos of CBC Radio 1, 2, and 3, CKUA, CJSR, and other various stations from coast to coast and internationally being aired in states such as Flordia and New York. With the album, Jenie was nominated for several Edmonton Music Awards (2013, 2014) for “Artist To Watch” and “Female Artist of the Year”.
Furthermore, in January 2014, Jenie Thai represented Northern Alberta as a semi-finalist in the 30th International Blues Challenge held in Memphis. Most recently, she was nominated for a 2016 Maple Blues Award for “Best New Artist of The Year”.
Vocally, she has been compared to Eva Cassidy, but soaks in the musical influences of Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt, Memphis Slim, and Nina Simone. .A performer, song-writer, singer, and instrumentalist: Jenie Thai combines her love of the traditional piano blues, sixties r&b, and great American songwriters to produce a unique charm as a roots and blues musician on the national and international scene.
Internationally recognised as a jazz pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader of the highest order, the Cuban-Canadian Durán has been based in Toronto for the past two decades, but his musical heart and soul have remained closely connected to the land of his birth.
Cuban born Hilario Durán grew up in Havana in a musical family surrounded by a variety of diverse musical influences on a daily basis. He began working as a professional musician in Cuba’s Los Papa Cun-Cun Ensemble and in a variety of musical formats. Later on, in the 70’s, Durán was Chucho Valdés’ chosen successor in Cuba’s most modern big band, Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna.
Hilario Durán toured worldwide and performed with Dizzy Gillespie and Michel Legrand, among many others, as part of Arturo Sandoval’s band where he was pianist/keyboardist, arranger and musical director for 9 years.
Chucho Valdés has acknowledged Hilario Durán as one of the greatest Cuban pianists of the 20th century, calling the Grammy-nominated and multi JUNO-award winner “an unparalleled pianist, composer and arranger of the first order”.
After making his mark in Cuba, Durán continued to hone his skills as a pianist, composer, arranger and musical director of remarkable virtuosity. Since arriving in Canada, Hilario has made a name for himself, he is a multi-Canadian Juno Award winner and nominee; an American Grammy nominee; a multi-Canadian National Jazz Award winner & nominee; and the proud recipient of the 2007 Chico O’Farrill Lifetime Achievement Award, from Latin Jazz USA, for his outstanding contributions to Afro-Cuban Jazz and Latin Jazz.
Cuban-Canadian jazz pianist Hilario Durán is a fixture on the Toronto music scene. Durán immigrated in 1998 to Canada and was named as One of the 10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians in 2009; in addition, Hilario has been named Best Artist of the Year 2013 by the Toronto Musicians’ Association and also as 2014 Best Vision Award Winner (Premio a la Trayectoria) for his work as entrepreneur as a director of his musical company, ES MI MUSICA PRODUCTIONS. He is also an educator at Toronto’s Humber College, acting as a piano teacher and ensemble director.
Hilario Durán has been based in Toronto for the past two decades, but his musical heart and soul have remained closely connected to the land of his birth. He has continued to collaborate with Cuban musicians, but he takes this to another level on Contumbao. Last November, Alma Records’ Peter Cardinali and award-winning engineer John ‘Beetle’ Bailey accompanied Durán to Havana, and the team set up shop in Cuba’s famed EGREM recording studio, the most storied such facility on the island. The cast of musical heavyweights assembled in Havana work their magic on 11 new Durán original compositions. Hilario’s mission is certainly fulfilled here, as Contumbao has an impressive dynamic range of different tempos, tones and moods.