Browsing: Mainstream Jazz

In the Swing Era, big bands reigned supreme, but in the post-World War II years, many would disband, succumbing to changing popular tastes. Some lamented their disappearance, equating their fate to that of dinosaurs, but in fact, they never completely vanished. Forced out of dance halls, jazz orchestras would find new homes in music schools introducing jazz study programs into their curricula. Nowadays a resurgence of interest in them can be seen by the increasing number of live performances and new recordings of big bands: here are three discs issued since the New Year. Michael Formanek Kolossus Ensemble Distance ECM…

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Whatever the season, there is always live music to catch somewhere, but the sap really starts flowing come spring. The New Trumpet Festival and the Effendi Jazz en Rafale event in March are the first wakeup calls, and by the looks of it the next two months have plenty in store for music fans of all stripes. For those who like their music with an edge, Monday, April 4, is a good start: The highly touted tenor saxophonist and flutist Anna Webber returns from her New York home base to the city with pianist Matt Mitchell and new Montreal resident,…

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Author : (Marc Chénard)

  Left to right: Matt Herskowitz, Oliver Esmonde-White, and John Roney. Photo Lorraine Desjardins The Piano Caméléons project first came together in 2013. Its instigator, Oliver Esmonde-White (see sidebar) recalls, “I invited five pianists to play in duo combinations over five nights at the House of Jazz on Aylmer Street: Oliver Jones, Lorraine Desmarais, Marianne Trudel, John Roney, and Matt Herskowitz. I’ve known Matt for about 20 years, shortly after he arrived in town. He came one evening to my old studio for a musical evening I’d put together. I was taken by him as a virtuoso classical pianist, but…

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A year ago last March, the Effendi Jazz en Rafale series concluded with the onstage premiere of guitarist Michel Cusson’s appropriately-titled Solo project. The recording recently hit the market, its launch preceding a return performance, to be held at the Lion d’Or on the 11th of February. Its concept stems from a series of pictures that a woman had cast away on a beach the musician had been strolling on, and he picked them up and stashed them away at home in a suitcase for years. His imagination was triggered upon rediscovering them. What comes out of it is a…

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She is known mainly as a jazz composer and bandleader but she walked away with the Grammy in the category “Best Contemporary Classical Composition.” Her name is Maria Schneider and she hails from Minnesota. And she is not to be confused with the actress of the same name who was Marlon Brando’s love interest in “Last Tango in Paris.”Is Maria Schneider a “classical” composer? Perhaps the genre titles don’t mean much. There is good music and there is bad music. Maria Schneider has spent most of her life in jazz and in jazz ensembles but she composes music that is…

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Latvian pianist Vestard Shimkushttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nH9pU7z1NVkLatvian pianist Vestard Shimkus is making his Canadian debut on Wednesday evening at the Glenn Gould Studio, together with his wife, soprano Elina Shimkus. Here is Shimkus playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, a very stylish rendition. The first half of the concert will open with Vestard Shimkus’ own transcription of ‘Liebestod’ from Tristan und Isolde, and Liszt’s transcription for ‘Spinnerlied’ from Der fliegende Hollander. This will be followed by Latvian composer Janis Medins’ ‘Dainas’ and Peteris Vasks’ ‘White Scenery’ from The Seasons. The first half concludes with Shimkus playing his own composition, ‘Black Charleston’ (2011).Soprano Elina ShimkusIn…

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Photo: Jean-Pierre DubéFrank Lozano in conversation on his recent recorded collaborationsJazz is particularly fond of heroes. Often larger than life, they are both objects of praise and scrutiny, both on stage and on record. Yet, for each one of those, there are legions of workmanlike players who also deserve a place in the sun. In Montreal, for instance, saxophonist Frank Lozano qualifies as a true musician’s musician. Since his arrival from Toronto some 20 years ago, this multi-instrumentalist (who plays both tenor and soprano as well as bass clarinet and flute) is one of the city’s most dependable jazz journeymen.…

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