Archive for Toronto 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.

* Advertised pricing excludes taxes, ticketing and sustainability fees

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.

* Advertised pricing excludes taxes, ticketing and sustainability fees

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

* Advertised pricing excludes taxes and fees.

Tom Allen

Wednesday, February 19, 2020 | 8:30PM

Tom Allen
$30 Advance / $35 Door

“Beautifully punctuated… brought the songs to vivid life.” – Now Magazine

What happens when a poet, an author, a composer, his lover, and a book-loving stripper all move into the same house in quiet, wartime Brooklyn? Arguments, indulgence, infestation, questionable relationships of every description, a murder mystery, plenty of reasons for the neighbours to bang on the walls and, just possibly, some truly wonderful art. Join singers Patricia O’Callaghan and Bryce Kulak, harpist Lori Gemmell and storyteller Tom Allen for an evening in the house that once held WH Auden, Benjamin Britten, Carson McCullers and Gypsy Rose Lee – a potent mix of cabaret, social history, very juicy gossip, glorious music and all parts fun.

Tom Allen – narration & trombone
Lori Gemmell – harp
Bryce Kulak – piano & voice
Patricia O’Callaghan – voice

website: https://www.tomtomallen.com/welcome.html
youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G00FSNNM2jM

* Advertised pricing excludes taxes and fees.

Trumpet Rhapsody: Luca Seccafieno and Fabrizio Viti

Wednesday, February 5, 2020 | 8:30PM

Trumpet Rhapsody: Luca Seccafieno and Fabrizio Viti Present An Evening of Stellar Chamber Music 
Advance $25 / Door $30 *

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

Luca Seccafieno and Fabrizio Viti present a program focused on rhapsodic style. The first part is dedicated to Arutiunian’s Armenia and the elegance of Charlier. The second part is a tribute to the city of New York, the energy of West Side Story, and the magic of Rhapsody in Blue.

This performance will feature the B-flat, C, and E-flat trumpets as well as the flugelhorn and piano.

Luca Seccafieno, 1st trumpet of the Venice Chamber Orchestra from 2004 to 2011, has produced several recordings for Sony and Universal and has worked with numerous film productions. Seccafieno is signed with an international literary agency as a writer and screenwriter: this year, a new novel is expected to be released as well as a movie inspired by the same book of which he is author and screenwriter. He has published several methods for trumpet exported throughout Europe, United States, Asia and Oceania with publishing companies Albatros and Raitrade. Luca Seccafieno is a brand ambassador for Paul Picot.

Luca is an endorser of Schilke and trumpet teacher at the communal music school in Viterbo. He holds masterclasses regularly in the prestigious conservatories of Venice, Padua, Riva Del Garda, Trento, l’Aquila, Cagliari, Bari, Benevento, Avellino, Alexandria as well as the Miranda de Ebro University of Burgos in Spain. His experience as a musician led him to collaborate with prestigious institutions such as Parco della Musica of Rome, Carnegie Hall in new York, Sydney Opera House, CBSO Center in Birmingham, St John’s Smith Square in London, Konzerthaus Berlin, Konzerthalle Freiburg, Liederhalle Stuttgart, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Musikhalle Hamburg, Konzerthalle Klagenfurt, Thailand Cultural Centre in Bangkok.

Fabrizio Viti was born in Viterbo in 1971. At a very young age, he began an intense performing activity, playing both as a soloist and in chamber formations. Viti has played for several music institutions such as Associazione Filarmonica Umbra, Festival Barocco in Viterbo and A.GI.MUS (Youth Association Music) of Rome; he has also performed in important music halls such as La Fenice (Venice), St. Cecilia Conservatory and Auditorium della Conciliazione in Rome. Viti has collaborated with world-famous musicians such as baritone Giuseppe Taddei, with whom he reinterpreted Falstaff by G. Verdi, and Franco Petracchi, under whose direction he played The Emperor, Beethoven’s 5th Concert for piano and orchestra. For many years, Fabrizio Viti has collaborated as piano accompanist at the vocal chamber music masterclass held by tenor Degl’Innocenti at Teatro dell’Unione (Viterbo). He has also studied Lied literature in German, French, Italian, Russian and English. Currently he works with soprano Lucia Napoli, tenor Baltazar Zúñiga and violinist Gianluca Saggini. Viti has won many piano competitions thanks to his technique and attention to sound details. At a very young age he won a national competition qualifying for the position of piano professor. Fabrizio Viti is the youngest Piano Principal Professor at national level; currently he teaches at Conservatory “G. Pergolesi” in Fermo.

He graduated at the F. Morlacchi Conservatory in Perugia with full marks and honours. At the International Music Academy in Novara, he attended masterclasses held by Lazar Berman and Sergio Perticaroli, who selected Viti to attend the Mozarteum University in Salzburg and the “Josè Iturbi” piano masterclass in Valencia. He also received a diploma after having attended a three-year masterclass at the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome, a class reserved to a shortlist of 12 pianists from all over the world. He has attended several masterclasses held by world-renowned pianists such as F. J. Thiollier, J. Demus, B. Petrushansky, A. Lonquich, R. Vlad, P. Camicia and R. Laganà.

* Advertised pricing excludes taxes, ticketing and sustainability fees

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