Tuesday, October 21, 2014

National Dance Theatre of Jamaica (NDTC) in Toronto - November 4 2014

From a release:

National Dance Theatre of Jamaica (NDTC)
at the Sony Centre For The Performing Arts, Toronto
 – one performance only – November 4, 2014, 7:30PM

Buy tickets


The National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC) of Jamaica proves that emancipation is the genesis of creativity. This creative force, birthed in 1962-the year Jamaica gained independence from Great Britain-will grace Toronto with one performance only on November 4th at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

NDTC's "Tribute to Rex" is an ode to its co-founder, Ralston Milton "Rex" Nettleford, Rhodes Scholar, OM, FIJ, OCC, who died in 2010. Nettleford was a Jamaican scholar, activist, dance aficionado, Professor and Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies. NDTC has been lauded for its ability to fuse "The lore, music and dance traditions of Jamaica, Africa and the American South, with both modern and classical ballet."

Under the legendary and seasoned leadership of artistic director Barry Moncrieffe, NDTC has taken its belief that "dance, music and song," are of themselves tools to deepen and stretch the cultural imagination to new levels. With a well-honed international reputation, the company has moved audiences from Sydney to Kiev, New York to London and is poised to do the same for its long-awaited return to Toronto's diverse audiences.

The company's legendary co-founder Nettleford said, "The power to ­create and innovate remains the greatest guarantee of respect and recognition." Nettleford's vision carried NDTC to the vanguard, and the November 4 soiree is a fitting end to its 52nd season that will summon the greatness of Nettleford's signature, seminal choreography with works like "Dialogue for Three" and Kumina.

Supported by the NDTC singers and a group of musicians the company will deliver a show stopping performance on November 4th.

Tickets are available at Ticketmaster and the Sony Centre Box Office. For more information, please call Jones & Jones Productions at 905.452.1911.

imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival October 22 - 26, 2014 in Toronto

From a media release:

imagineNATIVE
Film + Media Arts Festival
Presenting Sponsor: Bell Media
October 22 - 26, 2014

TORONTO
- The 15th Annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival begins in days, running October 22-26, 2014 with the most compelling and distinctive Indigenous works from around the globe. Festival highlights include: 130 films and videos; nine Radio Works; seven multi-platform New Media works; four art exhibitions featuring 19 media artists; 11 industry panels and public workshops; and 17 commissions. This year, imagineNATIVE will feature 175 artists representing more than 70 distinct Indigenous nations from 12 countries, including a special International Spotlight.

Kicking off the 15th anniversary Festival, on Wednesday, October 22, will be the Opening Night Gala film, What We Do In The Shadows presented by NBC Universal at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. Immediately following the Opening Night Gala will be the Opening Night Party at the Everleigh, presented by RBC Royal Bank.

This year’s International Spotlight, supported by the Canada Media Fund, shines the light on the diverse, inspiring and remarkable work of Indigenous artists from across Australia. imagineNATIVE is absolutely delighted to work with three highly esteemed guest programmers–Rachel Perkins, Pauline Clague and Jenny Fraser–who will each will present a selection of short works representative of different sectors of the Indigenous Australian media arts industry.

As imagineNATIVE celebrates 15 years, they will also honour the 10th anniversary of Wapikoni with the special program, Wapikoni 10 Ans/Years, curated by Caroline Monnet, presented entirely in French on Thursday, October 23. Wapikoni is the world’s largest producer of short films made by francophone Indigenous artists, most of whom are youth. imagineNATIVE has a long history with Wapikoni who has contributed a significant body of work to international Indigenous cinema.

On Friday, October 24, imagineNATIVE and its co-founder, Vtape, will present indigiTALKS: Following that Moment, a critical discussion and presentation of a series of short works from the 1990s by curator Lisa Myers. indigiTALKS began in 2013 as an opportunity for imagineNATIVE to present curatorial theses on Indigenous media arts from members of the community. Later that day, imagineNATIVE’s annual Art Crawl of exhibitions and co-presentations, taking place throughout the 401 Richmond building, will feature contemporary Indigenous new media art, commissions, retrospectives and talks by leading curators and artists.

imagineNATIVE is proud to present the premiere of Storytellers Screening, presented by RBC Royal Bank, a cinema-meets-storytelling experience, on Saturday, October 25 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Storytellers Screening combines a new screen-based video work and a live reading. For this inaugural year, CanLit star Joseph Boyden will present a new work with master of animation Terril Calder. Together artists–each from a Métis or mixed culture–combine their craft, transcend traditional media and explore new territory to tell a story unlike any other. Saturday night is jam-packed with the 2014 Awards Show, presented by APTN, followed by an evening of entertainment at imagineNATIVE’s 15th Birthday Party, supported by Super Channel.

Commissioned in celebration of imagineNATIVE’s 15th anniversary, the Festival’s Closing Night Gala, presented by Global Toronto, is the world premiere of The Embargo Collective II, five short films created by five distinguished artists, presented by Global Toronto on Sunday, October 26. Executive produced by former Artistic Director of imagineNATIVE, Danis Goulet, these shorts push the creative boundaries of the participant filmmakers and invite viewers into new Indigenous cinematic landscapes.

The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is the world’s largest Indigenous festival showcasing innovation in film, video, radio and new media. The Festival presents the most compelling and distinctive works from Canada and around the globe, reflecting the diversity of the world’s Indigenous nations and illustrating the vitality and excellence of Native art and culture in contemporary media.

Download the 2014 imagineNATIVE brochure for complete listings: www.imaginenative.org/home/sites/default/files/catalogs/2014_catalog_pages.pdf

The 14th Annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival
October 22 – 26, 2014

Single Tickets and Festival Packages On Sale Now
Tickets can be purchased by phone or in person at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
In-person: 10am to 10pm daily • 350 King Street West
By Phone: 10am – 7pm daily • 416.599.TIFF (8433)
Online: www.imagineNATIVE.org

For more information please call 416.585.2333 or visit www.imagineNATIVE.org
facebook/imagineNATIVE / @imagineNATIVE / #iN15th


Out Today: CD Release - Tomás Doncker Band - Big Apple Blues (True Groove Records - Oct 21, 2014)

CD Release: Tomás Doncker Band - Big Apple Blues
(True Groove Records - Oct 21, 2014)
Songs by Yusef Komunyakaa & Tomás Doncker


Tomás Doncker-Lead Vocals,Guitars; David Barnes-Harmonica, vocals; Nick Rolfe-Keyboards,Vocals; Josh David-Bass,vocals; James Dellatacoma-Guitar; Mike Faulkner-Drums; Mac Gollehon-Horns; Alan Grubner-Strings

Websites:
Official: TomasDoncker.net
Twitter: @tomasdoncker  @truegroove1
FB: https://www.facebook.com/TomasDonckerMusic
https://www.facebook.com/TrueGrooveGlobalSoulMusic

Buy the CD


Hot on the heels of Moanin' at Midnight, his acclaimed Howlin' Wolf tribute just released in July of this year, Big Apple Blues is a collaborative effort between blues stalwart Tomás Doncker and Pulitzer Prize winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa. The pair will officially introduce Big Apple Blues during the Dodge Poetry Festival (October 23-26), the largest poetry event in North America, sponsored by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

Along with the accolades, Moanin' at Midnight: The Howlin’ Wolf Project album was recognized by Howlin' Wolf's own official website, who posted the album. Developed during a critically acclaimed run at NYC SummerStage during the summer of 2013 (and directed by award winning director Alfred Preisser), the project is now being shaped into a multimedia performance concert.

That this latest album was put together in the two and a half months or so since Moanin' is remarkable enough. The release shows no signs of that speed, either in the songs themselves or the production. That's what you get when you put a couple of legends together. This is their second collaboration and the synergies of their art flow together naturally.

I got those Big Apple blues
With Basquiat for company
We're off to LaMama
Slipping into infamy
So many choices
At least a thousand ups and downs...

Tomás' voice is deep and rasps its way through several layers of meaning in this album that is a meditation on New York City as it is and was - the real metropolis and not the glamourous version of films and other media. The mood gets down and dirty on Can't Say No, part of a realistic look at big city life with all its warts.

Naturally the lyrics add a poetic vision, insight and delicacy of language and to the relentless musical drive of the blues, brought to you in a classic blues instrumentation the includes a thick organ sound and harmonica. But, while Doncker is a veteran bluesman, the sound is contemporary and the production clean and modern/

On The New Day the lyrics and musical mood turn contemplative in an ode to those who work with their hands.



Yusef Komunyakaa was born in Louisiana in 1947 and raised during the nascent Civil Right movement. Currently the Distinguished Senior Poet in New York University’s graduate creative writing program, his poems have long been noted for their jazzy rhythms. The collaboration with a musician like Doncker is a natural.

A war veteran himself, he delves into history on the track Hellfighters of Harlem, a song about the notorious WWI company made up of African Americans.

Going to fight for someone else's freedom
Fighting Jim Crow over here
To fight a war over there
Times like these
Thinking about my brothers fighting over seas


It includes a spoken word section that tells their story. The album strikes the right balance between musical integrity and lyrical interest - neither detracts from the other.

Coney Island is an upbeat, swingy track that evokes the carefree childhood pleasures of summer. The pair aren't afraid to take on the darker politics of even recent history, however, as on the strident Ground Zero with its singing guitar line and pounding refrain,

There's no hero
At Ground Zero


The album ends with Fun City - once the moniker of NYC in the broke but heady days of the 1960s and 1970s. The song has a funky groove reminiscent of the time and lyrics that lament the bad old Times Square lost to its current gloss. The city itself emerges as a mercurial muse.

As collaborations go, they don't get much more seamless than this one; Doncker's expressive voice and tight-loose band are the perfect vehicle for Yusef Komunyakaa's insightful poetry.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

CD Release: Michael Cullen - True Believer (Independent - 1st October 2014)

CD Release:
Michael Cullen - True Believer
(Independent - 1st October 2014)
Features: Michael Cullen plus timEbandit Powles (Tim Powles
of The Church)

Website: www.michalecullen.info
Facebook Page

Buy the album & download Cha Cha Cha D'Amour Free


I asked Leonard Cohen, how lonely does it get?

Now that's lonely... With his distinctive baritone and dark indie rock sound, Michael Cullen is often compared to Nick Cave and Tom Waits but it's Leonard Cohen he evokes on the first track of his new release, True Believer. The song is called Black Dog and features his typically literate take on life and love.

In my own way, stylish in the face of my disruption...

he sings while a girl chorus sweetly contrasts his gravelly baritone. It's romance in a gothy mode - Michael's mood of choice.

True Believer is the second solo release from Australia's Michael Cullen with his favourite collaborator Tim Powles (the Divinyls, the Venetians, The Church) and comes as a highly anticipated follow up to his first solo album, Love Transmitter. First released in 2002, the album got little promotion and Michael's career was sidelined by health issues. However, the release established his languid, melancholic sound, anchored by his expressive baritone and its reputation grew by word of mouth. In 2011, Tomatrax (an Aussie music blog) named it in the top twenty Australian albums of all time and a re-mastered version of Love Transmitter was re-issued in 2012 to critical accolades.



Michael has a long history in Australia's indie rock scene starting in the post-punk 1980's, including The Hardheads, a band he formed with his brother Jon. He met Tim Powles along the way and they've been collaborating for two decades now. They worked together on Love Transmitter as a new direction in indie pop, characterized by feedback drenched guitar, Michael's resonant baritone and analogue keyboards with Tim on the drums.

You can hear a retro rock tone to Michael's songs, much of them featuring the rhythmic simplicity reminiscent of groovy 1960/70's pop/surfer rock. Nothing Special invokes the Doors at times with a churchy organ in the mix while the tempo slows down to a crawl for Damaged, a moody, synthy meditation on being in love with a wrecked psyche.

Your love was a fairytale, because you're bitter...

It's a kind of ultra slow rhyming rap. There's a dark side to his work even on tracks like Cha Cha Cha D'Amour with its upbeat invitation to love - albeit with a Halloween kind of flair. Every song has something different to offer, including I Never Knew, with his vocals deliverd in a spoken word mode. The album ends with a bit of a surprise in Broken Horses. Here the vocals are smoother, more pop-ish, delivered with a layer of harmony.

All in all, a raspy, sexy ode to the gloomier side of life.

Tracklisting:
1. Black Dog
2. Believer
3. Nothing Special
4. Black Coffee and Cigarettes
5. Damaged
6. Cha Cha Cha d'Amour
7. I Walk Alone
8. I Never Knew
9. Broken Horses


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Documentary Film: The NFB Returns to IDFA November 19 to 30 2014

From a media release:

Documentary film: 
NFB returns to IDFA with international premiere of Patricio Henríquez’s new film, acclaimed interactive productions in official selection

October 10, 2014 - Toronto, Ontario National Film Board Canada -
A world leader in film and interactive documentary, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is back at the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), taking place from November 19 to 30, with four major new projects in the official selection.

Acclaimed Chilean-born filmmaker Patricio Henríquez debuts his Macumba Media/NFB documentary Uyghurs: Prisoners of the Absurd. Making its international premiere in the feature-length competition at IDFA, the film exposes the human drama of a group of men from China’s persecuted Uyghur minority of Turkic-speaking Muslims, sold to the United States, then detained in Guantánamo as terrorists.

IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Documentary Storytelling hosts the launch of In Limbo (NFB/ARTE/Providences). This philosophical and poetic essay questions what becomes of our individual and collective memory in the digital era, from the point-of-view of the data that will outlive us all. Launching online in January 2015, In Limbo immerses us in a world without forgetting, fed by all the machines, data centres and connected individuals that gather all our memories.

Primal (NFB/Encuentro) is a collaborative web experience that looks at how we express our strongest feelings. It challenges participants to let go by screaming, channelling their most intense emotions to create a participatory work of art: a collective online scream. Launching on the web on October 29, Primal is the first collaboration between the NFB’s Digital Studio and Encuentro, the Ministry of Education of Argentina’s television channel.

Also featured in the DocLab Competition is the hit interactive documentary Seven Digital Deadly Sins (NFB/The Guardian), which invites us to take a momentary break from our endless stream of tweets, shares, views and comments to examine who we are as moral creatures in the 21st century. Seven Digital Deadly Sins launched this past June at NFB.ca and theguardian.com, quickly becoming the NFB’s most popular interactive work of 2014―and one of the NFB’s top webdocs of all time.

Quick FactsOfficial Selection – Competition for Feature-Length Documentary – International premiere
Uyghurs: Prisoners of the Absurd (99 min.)

- The incredible odyssey of a group of men from China’s persecuted Uyghur minority, detained in Guantánamo as terrorists. Exposing the cold logic of post-September 11 geopolitics, this documentary is part human drama, part political thriller, and equally thought-provoking and moving.
- Produced by Macumba Media (Patricio Henríquez and Michelle Shephard), in co-production with the NFB (Colette Loumède).
- Uyghurs: Prisoners of the Absurd has its world premiere in Montreal on October 10, at the Festival du nouveau cinéma.
- Henríquez is a past winner of a Special Jury Award at IDFA, for his 2010 film You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantánamo, co-directed with Luc Côté.

Official Selection – DocLab Competition for Digital Documentary Storytelling
In Limbo

- At the beginning of In Limbo, users are invited to connect all the accounts linked to their digital identity, integrating their own data (texts, pictures, sounds, locations) into the global data stream in the film. At several points, the user can pause the story and explore this world on his or her own, sifting through the memories of this vast global brain.
- The project features insights from such key figures as pioneering computer engineer Gordon Bell, and author, computer scientist, futurist and Google director of engineering Ray Kurzweil, along with a wide range of everyday users, who together explore the limbo that is this gigantic pyramid of memory.
- Directed by Antoine Viviani and produced by Marianne Levy-Leblond and Alexander Knetig (ARTE); Antoine Viviani and Emilie Arlet (Providences); and Hugues Sweeney and Louis-Richard Tremblay (NFB).

Primal
- Beginning in our childhood years, we express some of our most powerful emotions through screaming. This primal form of expression transcends language, expressing joy, anger, fear or astonishment. We scream with passion and hatred, to let off steam, to call for help. Screaming is a raw, primitive means of venting our most intense feelings, allowing us to channel our energy in extraordinary ways.
- The project also allows users to explore the realities of young Argentinean and Canadian participants in depth, through video portraits.
- Created by Montreal-based digital studio Folklore, Caroline Hayeur, Manuel Archain and Bruno Stagnaro.

Seven Digital Deadly Sins
-  Pride, lust, greed, gluttony, envy, wrath and sloth: human behaviour has been seen in the context of the seven deadly sins for many hundreds of years. Today’s digital world brings with it a whole new set of moral dilemmas.
-  This project explores the shifting grey area of morality in the digital age through a series of seven candid short films featuring well-known artists and media figures, as well as 21 first-person stories from a wide range of contributors, including a secret Twitter star, a hacker and a couple whose wedding invite went viral. Users also have the chance to absolve and condemn the behaviour of others.
- The project features artists Bill Bailey, Billy Bragg, Ophira Eisenberg, Josie Long, Gary Shteyngart, Jon Ronson and Mary Walsh.
- Produced by Alicia Smith (NFB). Executive producers are Loc Dao (NFB), Francesca Panetta and Lindsay Poulton (The Guardian). Co-created by Jeremy Mendes (NFB), with Pablo Vio (Jam3) as creative director. 

Ben Vereen Directs Singer Nita Whitaker October 20 2014 at Joe's Pub New York City

From a media release:

Nita is today’s Lena Horne. Our classy songstress. And it is wonderful working with her. I am honored to be working with her." Ben Vereen, Tony Award Winner

Please join me in welcoming NITA WHITAKER
To Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater
in New York City on Monday, October 20, 2014 at 7:30 pm

I invite you to witness the presence, power, and vocal prowess of Nita. directed by BEN VEREEN.

Tickets
$25 General Admission
$20 Students with code "Nita"

To purchase tickets:
Online: Click here
By Phone: Call 212.967.7555
In Person: Visit The Public Theater Box Office, 425 Lafayette Street, NYC

NEW YORK CITY - Talent the thing. If that were all there was, then Nita Whitaker would be singing for the kings and queens because her talent defies description. Richly trained with essences of soul, sprinkled with pop, jazz and gospel flavoring it is difficult to put Nita into one category. Having performed on stage as well as big and small screen, her expansive talent and humor continues to find new avenues to be expressed. Adding producer to her list of credits, Nita recently produced a short run of the play Dog sees God along with having co produced three independent CD's.

This former Miss Louisiana and Hall of Fame Star Search Grand Champion Winner is comfortable singing in any setting from an intimate club, to the arena stages as well as stage, television, and movies. She has been the guest performer at The Freedom Awards honoring Oprah Winfrey, President Bill Clinton and actress Ruby Dee, sang duets with Andrea Bocelli and Michael Bolton. Additionally, she has sung with Patti Austin, Broadway legend Ben Vereen, and has performed with Josh Groban, Michael Bublé and Chris Botti.

Having David Foster as one of her mentors, she has shared the stage with countless celebrities including Barbara Streisand, Faith Hill, Celine Dion, Richard Marx, Stevie Wonder and Yolanda Adams. A work still unwritten, Nita continues to hone her skills as well as other creative ventures. She recently penned her first award winning memoir titled, "Finding My Voice: My Journey through Grief to Grace." She has found hers. The best is yet to come.

Free Concert: The New American Quartet October 19 2014 at the Riverside Church New York City

From a release:

FREE CONCERT
CHRIST CHAPEL CHAMBER SERIES
The New American Quartet
Featured music: works by composer-pianist Mitchell Schechter

Free - October 19, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. in Christ Chapel at the Church, 91 Claremont Ave. (bet. 120th & 122nd Sts.), Morningside Heights.

• For more information, the public can call 212-870-6722 or email music@theriversidechurchny.org.


NEW YORK CITY - As part of its popular Christ Chapel Chamber Series, The Riverside Church will feature The New American Quartet for “Mystic Autumn,” a program of jazz inspired by the Kabbalah, Judaism’s book of mysticism on Sunday, October 19, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. in Christ Chapel at the Church, 91 Claremont Ave. (bet. 120th & 122nd Sts.), Morningside Heights.

The concert is free to attend and features the contemplative music of composer-pianist Mitchell Schechter.  Borrowing familiar tunes from Jewish liturgical music, the quartet offers a fresh take on the sounds of an ancient tradition. 

ABOUT THE NEW AMERICAN QUARTET
Formed in 2006 by composer-pianist Mitchell Schechter, saxophonist Greg Wall, bassist Takashi Otsuka, and drummer Jonathon Peretz, The New American Quartet has cultivated a hybrid musical language all their own, by blending Jewish devotional music with modern jazz. The quartet has appeared at Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, and on WNYC Radio, as well as at several other distinguished venues domestically and abroad.

WHAT:  THE NEW AMERICAN QUARTET, “MYSTIC AUTUMN”
MITCHELL SCHECHTER, PIANO; GREG WALL, SAXOPHONES; TAKASHI OTSUKA, ACOUSTIC BASS; JONATHON PERETZ, DRUMS 
WHEN: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2014 - 3:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
WHERE: THE RIVERSIDE CHURCH, CHRIST CHAPEL
91 CLAREMONT AVE. (BET. 120TH & 122ND STS.) MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS
COST: FREE
INFORMATION: RIVERSIDE MUSIC DEPARTMENT AT 212-870-6722; OR EMAIL MUSIC@THERIVERSIDECHURCHNY.ORG

Directions: To get to The Riverside Church by subway take the 1 to 116th St. and walk to 91 Claremont Ave. (bet. 120th & 122nd Sts.) one block west of Broadway.