Archive for jazz

Lindsey Webster

Thursday, April 2, 2020 | 8:30PM

Lindsey Webster
Advance $25 / Door $30 *

The earthy, charismatic and beautiful Lindsey Webster is a surprising and welcomed anomaly in the contemporary jazz world. The sultry and soulful young singer/composer, who has scored two Billboard #1’s on the Contemporary Jazz Chart, making her the first vocalist in the format to garner a #1 since the iconic Sade, is still amazed by her own success. “It is unbelievable that it is really happening” says Webster. “But now that it has, I feel like my world and career have opened up and that it is only the beginning!” Blessed with a honey-toned voice and enviable range, Webster’s uniquely identifiable sound is fueled by potent messages of love that are timely for today’s climate. Webster is holding her own in a largely male dominated genre comprised of artists who are much older than her and she is quickly becoming a favorite on the charts and international touring circuit. Her sophomore Shanachie recording, Love Inside, is about realizing the power that each of us possess as individuals.  “So frequently, we are looking outside of ourselves for the answers, when most of the time, we need to address what is within, first” states Webster. “I thought it to be an appropriate title for this album with all of the negativity and animosity that runs rampant in today’s world.” Through a tapestry of twelve evocative originals that fuse the best elements of R&B, jazz, pop and soul, Webster, along with her pianist and husband Keith Slattery, explore the world of love and loss in relationships as well as the love needed to unite and honor one another’s humanity.

Love Inside opens with the album’s title track and catchy first single. Webster sings and reminds us to “Take a moment to count your blessings…” The singer knows a thing or two about taking stock of all of the good that life has to offer. “The new songs are uplifting and positive which is just how I feel!” exclaims the singer. The pulsating “A Love Before” chronicles the trials and tribulations of finding true love. Webster confesses it is one of her favorite songs on the recording. “Bad Grammar (Me & You”) finds Lindsey pleading for another chance at love as she sings, “think about it for a minute more, before you walk out the door. Take a second just think it through, is this the end of me and you?” Slattery’s elegant and pirouetting solo adds a beautiful touch to this heart tugging last appeal for love.

The funk-fueled “Free To Be Me” touches on a topic that Lindsey Webster is passionate about. “This song is an anthem for anyone who is facing injustice in this world today,” states the singer/songwriter. “It was inspired by the subject of immigration that has been an issue at the forefront of our country, but the lyrics kind of morphed the song into something more. It states three things: the problem (people judging each other), how we all unwittingly can be a part of the problem (ignorance), and then offers what I believe will be a solution (our strength as a human race).

Another gem on Love Inside is the wistful bluesy ballad “Dream,” inspired by Dr. King’s infamous 1963 speech delivered at the Lincoln Memorial.   “I, too, share Dr. King’s dream,” states Lindsey. “This song is about how I will try to live my own life today in order to make this dream a reality tomorrow.”

Love Inside also features “Don’t Give Up On Me,” which speaks to the fear of losing someone you love when you are at your weakest point, while the Latin-tinged “One Last Time” is about two people in love who must part ways in order to honor commitments in their lives. The interlude “Even If He Lied” shows what some people will put up with in order to be in a relationship and the blues ballad “Walk Away” is somewhat of an answer to “Even If He Lied,” offering a different alternative. We have all heard someone say “It’s Not You, It’s Me” but Webster in her typical clever fashion puts a new spin on the saying on her song of the same title. “Typically, a person says this to another during a breakup as a kind of consolation, not wanting the other person to think it is their own fault,” she shares. “In this song, the person who is being left is saying, ‘I know I’ve been acting crazy and I don’t blame you for leaving.’”

A highlight on Love Inside is the insatiable groove and positivity on “Opportunity” as Lindsey sings, “I feel things about to turn around for me cause I’ve been working for a long time ….Just when you think you had enough and you feel you’re gonna give up, that’s when life will turn around and you’ll see, in the problem is the opportunity.” The album closes with “By My Side,” which shines light on the strength gained by having the right person by your side.

“You know you are extra lucky when you find your true love and are then able to share not only your lives with one another, but your passion as well.” Lindsey and Keith married in 2016. “Keith is a blessing for me,” beams Lindsey. “We are always striving to become stronger and better songwriters, and as a team, I really think we have crafted some powerful and beautiful music.”

Webster concludes, “I hope our fans can hear the passion and hard work that went into writing these songs.  Although the times are changing and albums are becoming less popular than buying a single, we still like to think of the music we write as a collection. We arranged the songs in a specific order, as to tell a story and bring the listener on a journey.”

Growing up in an artist community, the daughter of loving hippie parents, in Woodstock NY, the allure of music was never far from Lindsey Webster. The singer grew up listening to her parent’s Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and Elvis Costello LPs and later the Supremes and Aretha Franklin. Influenced by everyone from Mariah Carey and Gwen Stefani to Steely Dan and Earth Wind and Fire, Webster once pursued medical school before finally settling on music. Webster made history in 2016 with her original “Fool Me Once”, which was the first vocally driven song to top the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charts since Sade’s Soldier of Love in 2010, beating Sade’s three-week run at #1 with a four-week stay at the top of the chart with “Fool Me Once”. November 2016, Webster made her Shanachie debut with Back To Your Heart, which spawned three songs to make the Top 3 on Billboard (Back To Your Heart, Next To Me, and Where Do You Want To Go), with “Where Do You Want To Go” reaching #1, her second #1 in a year.

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Dan Hill

Saturday, March 28, 2020 | 8:30PM

Dan Hill
Advance $40 / Door $45 *

Nominated for a Grammy for Best Male Vocal, winner of a Grammy (as co-producer of “Seduces Me” on Celine Dion’s 30 plus million-selling “Falling Into You” album), winner of five Juno Awards and the Harold Moon Award (Canadian Lifetime Songwriting Achievement Award), Dan Hill has recorded and released multiple gold and platinum albums. His classic hits, such as “Sometimes When We Touch” (closing in on 5 million spins in America alone, and covered by hundreds of artists around the world), “Can’t We Try” (#1 Billboard AC Record of the Year), and “Never Thought (That I could Love)”, another #1 AC record, all remain staples of AC radio stations around the world. Dan has also enjoyed consistent success as a ‘behind the scenes’ songwriter, his compositions recorded by so many artists spanning so many musical genres that it’s, well, incredible. Pop singers Celine Dion, Britney Spears, 98 Degrees, The Backstreet Boys, Rod Stewart, Donny Osmond, Jennifer Rush and Michael Bolton, R&B singers Tina Turner, George Benson, and Jeffrey Osborne and country singers Tammy Wynette, Sammy Kershaw, Mark Wills, Reba, Alan Jackson, and Lorrie Morgan, to name a select few.

In 2009, Dan Hill published his highly acclaimed memoir, I Am My Father’s Son (HarperCollins Canada). On the heels of completing his memoir, Dan recorded his 14th album, Intimate, with producers Matthew McCauley and Fred Mollin, his first studio album of new songs in almost 15 years. Thus began a hectic period of composing and recording, touring and writing that continues to this day.

Intimate was released in March 2010. The album featured new songs such as the CD’s lead track “(Don’t Tell Me) How I Feel” and revised versions of his hit songs recorded by 98 Degrees, Backstreet Boys, Reba McEntire and Michael W. Smith. After making friends with one of the world’s greatest boxers, Manny Pacquiao, Dan and his producers joined Pacquiao at Capitol Recording Studios in Hollywood, California to record “Sometimes When We Touch”. Out of this session emerged 7 versions of the song (including a hip-hop version with Toronto based, Grammy winning producer Boi 1da), a 4 minute music video and a 26 minute documentary issued as the CD/DVD combo set, Sometimes When We Touch: Manny Pacquiao Sings featuring Dan Hill.

Dan continues to tour the Philippines where he has played sold out shows with Stephen Bishop and Yvonne Elliman at the Araneta Coliseum in Manila. He was front and centre for the Juno’s 40th anniversary celebrations in 2011 where he presented the “Pop LP of the Year” award, performed in the Juno Decades shows and was featured in the book, Music from Far and Wide: Celebrating 40 Years of the Juno Awards (Key Porter Books).

Currently, Hill divides his time between writing songs and prose. In addition to writing several feature articles for leading publications and his regular column for Diabetes Magazine, he has captured his experiences with Manny in The Globe and Mail and Maclean’s magazine In the studio. Dan has just cut and mixed six new songs for his upcoming album to be released in 2020.

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Coco Montoya and Ronnie Baker Brooks 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Coco Montoya and Ronnie Baker Brooks 
Advance $40 / Door $45 *

Doors: 6:00PM
Performance: 8:30PM

Coco Montoya
Henry “Coco” Montoya was born in Santa Monica, California, on October 2, 1951, and raised in a working class family. Growing up, Coco immersed himself in his parents’ record collection. He listened to big band jazz, salsa, doo-wop and rock ‘n’ roll. His first love was drums; he acquired a kit at age 11. He got a guitar two years later. “I’m sure the Beatles had something to do with this,” Montoya recalls. “I wanted to make notes as well as beats.” But guitar was his secondary instrument. Montoya turned his love of drumming into his profession, playing in a number of area rock bands while still in his teens and eventually becoming an in-demand drummer.

Today, with his latest solo album, Coming In Hot, Coco Montoya again turns the burners to high and cooks from start to finish. Still an indefatigable road warrior, Montoya continues to tour virtually nonstop, bringing audiences to their feet from New York to New Orleans to Chicago to San Francisco. Across the globe, he’s performed in countries including Australia, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, England, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Mexico, Ecuador, Italy, Poland, Russia, the Czech Republic and Canada. According to Living Blues, “Montoya is a show-stopper…heartfelt singing and merciless guitar with a wicked icy burn…he swings like a jazz man and stings like the Iceman, Albert Collins. He is one of the truly gifted blues artists of his generation.”

Ronnie Baker Brooks
On the first day recording Times Have Changed – the eleven-track album from Chicago bluesman Ronnie Baker Brooks that brings a sound so big it could topple a Louisiana juke joint – industry-revered album producer and drummer Steve Jordan told Brooks to put his pedalboard back in the van. For the first time in his professional life, Brooks, the son of Texas and Chicago blues legend Lonnie “Guitar Jr.” Brooks, would plug a Gibson into TKTK amp and rip it straight from there.

“Back to the basics. The pedals get in the way of your tone – your natural tone. Any distortion I had came straight out of the amp.” Brooks remembers from the Times sessions. “It was almost like going to college, or grad school. It was definitely an education.”

“My whole intention, when I started with Golddigger and up through this one, was to be authentic enough for the older generation but have something that the younger generation could latch onto,” says Brooks. “I try to be that bridge. With Take Me Witcha, I’ve got a rapper on that. On The Torch we went with Al Kapone. He’s a bridge. He’s a bridge from blues to hip-hop. With music, it all comes from the heart. It comes from the heart and from the soul. In blues, it doesn’t matter what you’re talking about, it definitely relates.

“That was my intention on this record: to build that bridge.”

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Miss Emily

Saturday, February 29, 2020 | 8:30PM

Miss Emily
Advance: $25.00 / Doors: $30.00 *

In the 1990’s a 12 year-old Emily Fennell was making her way around Southern Ontario, singing at county fairs and winning competition after competition. She was literally finding her voice. While the other young vocalists were dazzling crowds with standards like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or “I Will Always Love You,” Emily was stunning judges and audiences into silent amazement with K.D. Lang’s version of the Patsy Cline song “3 Cigarettes and an Ashtray”. That song choice and her spellbinding performance of it, says almost all you need to know about the woman who would become Miss Emily. She is never predictable and always willing to take a risk.

Her music spans genres, crosses barriers and creates bridges. Her voice soars to emotional heights and reaches down into the grittiness of the soul. Her performances are foot-stomping, heart-wrenching adventures in rhythm, blues, jazz and rock and roll. For 15 years Miss Emily has captivated listeners across Canada, the US and the United Kingdom with her unique combination of passion and talent.

That passion and talent was cultivated by an unparalleled work ethic. It began with playing night after night after night in bars and nightclubs where she learned her trade and gained a loyal following. Later, she graduated to regional theatres and starred in several Broadway-style shows. This willingness to step outside her comfort zone and learn new techniques paid off by giving her opportunities to become a regular at large outdoor venues like Ottawa Bluesfest. Then, in 2011 in front of 25,000 people outside the tiny town of Bobcaygeon she opened for The Tragically Hip and began a relationship that would change the direction of her career.

Miss Emily’s new record takes the listener on a tour of her experiences and musical influences under the guidance of The Hip’s Gord Sinclair as producer/co-writer/bass player and bandmate Rob Baker as lead guitarist/co-writer.

In Between featuring Gord Sinclair and Rob Baker is the fifth album from Miss Emily. It’s a record that beckons the listener to walk with her as she soulfully strolls the humid streets of Memphis, wanders across the jazz-cool avenues of New York City or dances through raucous and funky block parties in Motown.

One listen and you’ll be compelled to join Miss Emily, Gord Sinclair and Rob Baker on a journey that reveals the vast emotions of love, loss, joyful redemption and everything In Between.

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Jim Beard and Jon Herington of Steely Dan

Sunday, February 23, 2020 | 8:30PM

Jim Beard and Jon Herington of Steely Dan
$75 Advance / $80 Door

It’s only natural that pianist Jim Beard and guitarist Jon Herington would strike the kind of special accord heard throughout this intimate duo encounter in their latest release, Chunks and Chairknobs. They’ve shared countless hours in the studio over the years playing on each other’s albums, beginning with Beard’s 1990 debut “Song of the Sun” and continuing through to Herington’s 2016 album “Adult Entertainment”. They’ve worked together as sidemen on recordings by bassist Victor Bailey, saxophonists Bill Evans and Bob Berg, drummer Dennis Chambers and brothers Michael and Randy Brecker. And they’ve shared the bandstand on tour with Steely Dan for the past several years — 20 for Herington, 11 for Beard. “There are many, many records and gigs and times of our lives,” said Herington, reflecting back on their musical partnership. “Not only that, we’ve been sharing a studio ever since we got to New York, which is probably since 1987.”

At the time of this latest recording, Beard and Herington had just come off a three week residency with Steely Dan at the Venetian in Las Vegas, so their Dan chops were polished to a bright sheen. But they were also basking in the after-glow of having recently recorded this superb duet album. And though guitar and piano are not generally regarded as ideal mates in a duo setting, the two kindred spirits found a way to seamlessly blend in the studio, divvying up duties on eight tunes, easily alternating roles, comping for each other while delivering melodic gems and brilliant solos along the way.

“Not all of that happened right away spontaneously,” Beard pointed out. “We did have to think about who could do what where, because it’s not the most natural duo instrumentation. It’s so much different than if it were piano and bass or guitar and bass, piano and saxophone or guitar and saxophone. Because the two instruments are so similar in the way they function and behave in a group, particularly the chordal aspect of it. So it did take a little bit of think-time to figure out what would be best.”

“It’s two instruments that do not necessarily cooperate too well,” added Herington. “And because the role of each instrument is similar, it kind of presents a real problem — Who’s going to play the bass part? Who’s going to keep time? So we had to hunt for different tunes and figure out what we could do to them to make them work. And it took quite a while.”

In the dead of winter at Hugh’s Room Live, Jim Beard and Jon Herington of Steely Dan presents an eclectic evening of instrumental music performed on guitar and piano in celebration of their latest release, Chunks and Chairknobs. Join us for the magic. Tickets available right now.

website: http://www.jonherington.com/
youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euklbIfq414

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Alfie Zappacosta

Saturday, February 15, 2020 | 8:30pm

Alfie Zappacosta
Advance $50.00 / Door $55.00

Alfie Zappacosta is undeniably one of Canada’s premier songwriters and performers with chart topping hits and a recording and acting career that has spanned 40 years. He continues to evolve as an artist by “doing it his way”, an effort that has been rewarded with an impressive song catalogue and a discerning loyal fan base.

Alfie Zappacosta decided on a music career in his teens and set his sights upon being a guitarist. When his vocal dexterity and song writing proficiency were uncovered by a publisher while writing for his first original band “Surrender”, events would be put in motion to champion Zappacosta (dropping his first name) as a solo artist and bring him to the world’s attention. “Start Again”, “Passion”, “When I Fall in Love Again” and “Nothing Can Stand In Your Way” became staples on Canadian adult contemporary radio and Zappacosta became a personified Rock Star.

In 1987, Walt Disney’s Danger Bay would bring Zappacosta an episode written specifically for him titled “Rock Star”. In the same year, he penned and sang “Overload” exclusively for the multi-platinum soundtrack “Dirty Dancing” and Loverboy would record Zappacosta’s “That’s Where The Money Goes” for their Wildside album. In 1988, he was awarded JUNOs for “Album of The Year’ and “Most Promising Artist”, an American Music Award for “Most Popular Album of The Year” and named the Canadian Publishers Music Association’s “Best Rock Star”.

Zappacosta’s distinctive baritone voice did not go unnoticed by artistic directors and in 1990, he was called to deliver his greatest challenge of his career – singing Andrew Lloyd Webber. Alfie’s portrayals of Christ in Jesus Christ Superstar and Che Guevara in Evita would bring a new audience and support his efforts to delineate his pop/rock image – a moniker that never reflected his authentic personality. The release of “Innocence Ballet” in 1996 would introduce Alfie Zappacosta (taking back his first name) and give center stage to his true rich vocals, his mastery at romance, his astute take on relationships and his advanced knowledge of music. Alfie is rewarded for his efforts with numerous award nominations in the Smooth Jazz genre and a performance with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra in 2005.

Zappacosta has polished his live concert performances exposing his sophisticated, intimate and intense personality. His performances deliver a blend of acoustic, jazz and pop music prompting the listener to engage soulfully.

And the hits that originally brought Zappacosta to the world’s attention? – Alfie hasn’t turned his back on any of these songs. You will hear them in his program performed the way they were originally written and meant to be heard.

website: https://zappacosta.ca/
youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWL-xpYRATM

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Russell Malone

Friday, February 7, 2020 | 8:00pm

Russell Malone
$65 Advance / $70 Door *

Obviously, we are in the capable hands of a master. Absolutely fluid touch and beautiful integration between moving lines and harmonic cadences. The sound of the instrument is well balanced throughout the entire register. The relaxed quality of everything that’s being played gives it such a warm feeling. To play that stuff is extremely hard. This is an absolute master, the best of the best.” – Kurt Rosenwinkel, responding to Russell Malone’s solo performance of “Remind Me”

Russell Malone is one of the signature guitar players of his generation. The leader of ten albums since 1992, Malone is as well-known on the international circuit for helming a world-class quartet and trio as he is for his long-standing participation in Ron Carter’s Golden Striker Trio, and his recent consequential contribution to the musical production of the likes of Sonny Rollins, Diana Krall and Dianne Reeves, who recruited Malone for his singular tone, refined listening skills, limitless chops, and efflorescent imagination.

In all these circumstances, Malone addresses the tradition on its own terms, refracting the vocabularies and syntax of such heroes as Charlie Christian, Chet Atkins, George Van Eps, Johnny Smith, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, Pat Martino, and George Benson into an argot entirely his own. A master of all tempos, a relentless swinger, he spins his stories — in idioms ranging from the urban and downhome blues, country, gospel, various corners of the American Songbook, and hardcore jazz—with a soulful, instantly recognizable instrumental voice, and seasons them with sophisticated harmonies that are never “too hip for the room.”

“I take pride in being open enough to play with anybody,” says Malone, citing encounters with such diverse artists as B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Andy Williams, James “Blood” Ulmer, and Ornette Coleman. “I love to swing, but I don’t look down my nose at other styles of music, or other musicians. I’ll play with anybody, if the music is good.”

Born in 1963 in Albany, Georgia, where he was raised, Malone received his first guitar a green plastic four-string—at 4. He began playing in church at 6, and discovered jazz at 12, when he heard Benson perform on a PBS special with Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson, Red Norvo, Milt Hinton, and Jo Jones. In short order, he purchased Benson’s Cookbook and Benson Burner, and Montgomery’s Smokin’ at the Half Note and Boss Guitar. “Those four records set me on a path that I have not deviated from,” Malone says.

After high school, Malone left Albany for an extended engagement in Houston with organist Al Rylander, who had employed the talented youngster for almost a year in a local club. In 1985, he moved to Atlanta, where he built a reputation sidemanning with, among others, saxophonist-blues singer Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Little Anthony, Peabo Bryson, O.C. Smith and Freddy Cole, and leading units at Walter Mitty’s, a local club where touring musicians jammed after gigs. Two of them, Branford Marsalis and the legendary pianist John Hicks, encouraged Malone to come to New York City. He first visited the Apple in 1985, and began to network with generational peers, sitting in on various bandstands, jamming late nights at the Blue Note, and attending Barry Harris’ Jazz Cultural Theater.

From 1988 to 1990, Malone worked with Hammond B-3 icon Jimmy Smith, who “told me that he didn’t want me to play like my idols, gave me permission to speak with my own voice.” He garnered more visibility during a 1990-94 tenure with Harry Connick, who made it his practice to feature Malone’s singing and guitar playing at the start of his shows. In 1992, he signed with Connick’s label, Columbia, which released Russell Malone and Black Butterfly, on which Malone addressed the mix of genres-old-school and contemporary pop, original jazz, spirituals, and, of course, the blues—that continue to characterize his mature tonal personality.

During a 1994-98 stint with Diana Krall, he performed on three of Krall’s CDs, appeared in the Robert Altman film Kansas City, participated in Roy Hargrove’s Latin Grammy-winning Crisol band, and recorded Wholly Cats (Larry Willis, piano; Rodney Whitaker, bass; Yoron Israel, drums) for Japan’s Venus label. In 1998 he led the first of three recordings for Verve, including a personal favorite, Heartstrings, on which string arrangements by Johnny Mandel, Dori Caymmi, and Alan Broadbent and an all-star rhythm section—pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Jeff Watts—enfold a succession of blue flame guitar solos.

Malone made five recordings with pianist Benny Green—three of them trios with McBride between 1997 and 2004. All the aforementioned were close to bass legend Ray Brown, who first recorded with Malone in 2000 on Some of My Best Friends Are… Guitarists, and employed him in a crackling trio with Monty Alexander until his death in 2002, a few weeks after they made Brown’s final, eponymously titled recording. In 2003, Brown’s heir to the bass throne, Ron Carter, who had known Malone since both performed in Kansas City, recruited him for The Golden Striker, a bass-guitar-piano date with the late pianist Mulgrew Miller. Malone continues to play on Carter’s projects, and recently has spent consequential time in Dianne Reeves’ two-guitar unit with Romero Lubambo.

In 2004, Malone launched a still-ongoing relationship with MaxJazz with Playground, followed by Live at the Jazz Standard, Volumes 1 and 2, and the 2010 trio recital, Triple Play, with bassist David Wong and drummer Montez Coleman. Reviewing the latter, jazz journalist Doug Ramsey noted Malone’s “warmth, conversational phrasing and lack of hurry,” adding that, “in the absence of another chording instrument to collaborate or contend with, Malone is free to make harmonic choices without concern for clash or collision.”

“There was a period where I wanted validation, felt I needed to do certain things in order to get people’s approval,” Malone says. “I lacked the confidence to speak with the voice that was in me. But at some point, you have to accept who you are. No one will ever out-do me at being Russell Malone.” 
Malone’s latest recording is “All About Melody” on High Note Records.

 

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Sonia Johnson

Sunday, February 2, 2020 | 8:30PM

Sonia Johnson
Advance $25 / Door $30 *

Multitalented singer songwriter Sonia Johnson gained recognition with albums such as Le Carré de nos amours (Juno Winner, Vocal Jazz Album of the Year 2012), Triades – with singers Annie Poulain and Charles Biddle Jr. (ADISQ Nomination 2013 and Junos 2014), Le cœur à l’endroit, her previous solo project co-created with pianist and arranger Marianne Trudel. Graduated from the University of Montreal with a Master’s degree in jazz interpretation and composition, she has had successful collaborations as a composer or singer with artists such as Laila Biali, Félix Stüssi & Les Malcommodes, Steven Taetz, Vincent Réhel, Rodrigo Simoes and Orchestre National de Jazz de Montréal.

After carrying out a pilgrimage of free experimentation between jazz and pop music, Sonia is revealing herself between shadow and light with Chrysalis, her first album in English launched last november is acclaimed by the critics around the world. From the slumber of the caterpillar to the flight of the butterfly, she’s deploying multi-colored wings on this audacious musical road trip. Poetic and soulful, definitely slowly woven with long silk yarn!

website: https://soniajohnson.com/en/
youtube: https://youtu.be/0Y16mJBWS5w
youtube: https://youtu.be/YmfHUPJ7yrE

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Sammy Miller and The Congregation

Monday, January 13, 2020 | 8:30PM

Sammy Miller and The Congregation
Advance $20.00 / Door $25.00 *

Sammy Miller and The Congregation are on a mission, crisscrossing the country like a vaudevillian revival show with evangelic fervor for music. The seven-piece band is pulling people out of their solitary lives and putting them in the moment with a bracing dose of joyful jazz performed with infectious theatricality. The New York City-based, familial collective has captured its frenetic energy and unflinchingly optimistic songwriting on its debut album, Leaving Egypt.

“We want to get people back in a room together,” Sammy Miller says. “I love the idea of being unhinged, sincere, vulnerable, and breaking down walls through humor. Music is an uplifting gift, and I want to be generous in sharing it with people.”

Sammy Miller and The Congregation has been described as a mashup of the sensibilities of Ben Folds and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The band freely mixes vocal and instrumental tracks live and on record, asking the audience to go along for the ride with the lead melody being carried by vocalists half the time, and instruments the other half.

The seven-piece group is a community of adventurous and charismatic superstar musicians who are conservatory-trained but who have not lost their childlike wonder and awe for playing music. The band lineup is Sammy Miller, drums and vocals; Sam Crittenden, trombone; Ben Flocks, tenor sax; Sammy’s sister Molly Miller on guitar; Alphonso Horne, trumpet; Corbin Jones, bass and tuba; and David Linard, piano. Independently, the band members have performed and recorded with notable artists including Wynton Marsalis, Lady Gaga, Jason Mraz, and Beyoncé.

Sammy convened the band in 2014, and 2015, he earned a Grammy Award nomination for his work as a drummer with Joey Alexander. Since the band’s inception, the Congregation has played nonstop around the world. Select highlights include performances at Umbria Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Jazz At Lincoln Center, The White House, The Kennedy Center, Prokofiev Concert Hall in Russia, and at the Newport Jazz Festival where the group received a standing ovation. The seven-piece band has also garnered prime critical acclaim from such venerated outlets as Los Angeles Times, Wall Street JournalSF WeeklyVanity Fair and Jazz Journal, among other publications.

In addition to these accolades and accomplishments, the award-winning theatre incubator Ars Nova selected The Congregation for the “Makers Lab” to develop their genre-bending show, Great Awakening. Sammy Miller and the Congregation have also done an exuberant TEDx video illustrating their philosophy on jazz and showcasing their irresistible theatricality and musicality.

Sammy started playing drums at age five in a group with his five siblings. “After school we would teach ourselves rock songs, disco songs, and country songs — ”everything was fair game” he recalls. When he got a little older, he discovered an all-consuming love of comedy and jazz. As a kid, he’d go to the library and check out 30 CDs a time, alphabetically exploring the jazz section from Ahmad Jamal to Zoot Sims. He also became obsessed with comedians such as Chris Rock, Lenny Bruce, and Bobby Slayton. “I’ve always loved the risktakers in entertainment — the people who would rather get it real than right,” Sammy shares.

Starting his career at an improbably young age, Sammy was cast on Mad TV at 11 years of age. At 18, Sammy moved from LA to New York City; at 21 he started studying for his master’s in jazz at Juilliard. “When I was at Juilliard, I realized jazz couldn’t just live in a conservatory vacuum. It needed to provide its initial function of being an expansive creative outlet where the rules are there for you to break and improvisation went beyond notes and into an experience,” Sammy says.

He soon found a cadre of jazz students who felt similarly — outliers who were fiercely individual on their instruments, but also craved a manner of expression beyond the solo. “We all went to Juilliard and have these credentials, but we didn’t like the insular feeling of the jazz scene. We were seeking warmth and connection,” Sammy says. These misfit creatives descended on venues around NYC where the genre was not played. “I wanted to find a new audience,” Sammy says. “We played in dive bars where people were scared of jazz.”

Their live show grew to be something of a mix between a comedy troupe and a dazzling rock band that played a vigorously reimagined strain of jazz. “We let ourselves be free on the bandstand and we took the audience with us,” Sammy says. The band’s boundless energy, inclusive ideals, catchy songwriting, and revue style presentation made them a word-of-mouth buzz band. The septet expanded its reach through adopting the rock band philosophy of touring endlessly in a van to build a fanbase.

The Congregation’s 9-song debut album, Leaving Egypt, opens with the lone drum figure of “Searching For Ragtime.” Here, the music is stripped down to its essentials, its heartbeat. The journey from there spans rollicking gospel-tinged jazz, rowdy and funky New Orleans second-line music, smoky back alley blues-jazz, and stately balladry. The album concludes bookended with a tender solo piano track “When I’m Gone”.

Select album standouts include the singles “Shine,” “Date A Jew,” “Bluebird,” and “It Gets Better.” The track “Shine” boasts Sammy’s ingratiating vocals, undeniably uplifting lyrics, playful piano hooks, and an imaginative arrangement with dynamic horn and backup vocal-driven crescendos. Sammy sweetly tucks in some purposeful messaging in “Date A Jew.” This is a simmering narrative track that showcases the Congregation’s groove pocket and its subtle musical interplay. The balmy “Bluebird” exudes a Paul Simon-imbued folk elegance. “It Gets Better” bursts forth with a loping groove, and cleverly unfolds with moody passages that veer into the sunny side of the street.

Leaving Egypt was cut in four 16-hour days at the legendary United Studios where the many famed Count Basie sides were tracked. The band enlisted drummer extraordinaire Jay Bellerose (Alison Krauss, Ray LaMontagne, Robert Plant, B.B. King) to supervise and produce the proceedings.

The debut represents a milestone for Sammy Miller and the Congregation’s creative continuum. It captures the group’s vulnerability, communal nature, charming and warm wit, and playfully virtuosic musicality. “This is us,” Sammy says of the album. “I’m proud of it, and I’m eager to embark on our mission to bring joy to people’s lives through music.”

website: http://www.sammymillercongregation.com/

youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOtXFbstD3A

* Advertised pricing excludes taxes and ticketing fees

Wintergarten Orchestra

Monday, December 30, 2019 | 8:30pm

Wintergarten Orchestra
$30 Advance / $35 Door *

Wintergarten Orchestra is known and loved for delivering popular songs from the USA, Berlin and Paris during the roaring 1920’s and 1930’s. Their influences include Cab Calloway, Paul Whiteman, Pasadena Roof Orchestra, Palast Orchestra. Needless to say, you’ll love this band if you’re a fan of movies like The Great Gatsby, Some Like it Hot Television series: Downton Abbey, Jeeves and Wooster or Boardwalk Empire.

This big collection of seasoned Toronto musicians are coming back to celebrate 2020 New Year’s Eve… somewhere in the world. We invite everyone to skip the madness of New Year’s Eve on the usual night, and join us for a night of spectacular music to ring it in ahead of the crowd. Brash horns, crooning vocals and soaring violins will take us back nearly a hundred years to the dawn of The Jazz Age!

website: https://wintergartenorchestra.com
youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxAPBiF7Qmo&feature=youtu.be

* Advertised pricing excludes taxes and ticketing fees.

* Ticket price includes a glass of bubbly for an early new year’s toast