Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Jazz at SummerStage 2016: McCoy Tyner Quartet / Ron Carter / Roy Haynes June 4 - FREE

From a media release:

The Legends Honor McCoy:
McCoy Tyner Quartet / Ron Carter / Roy Haynes
In Association with Blue Note Jazz Festival

Saturday, June 4, 2016
Doors 5pm / Show 6pm
SummerStage @ Central Park, New York City
Free Show

• Get a free Spotify playlist of Summerstage 2016 artists 

The SummerStage season kicks off with a bang and a free concert from jazz luminaries to set the summer off in style. On June 4, you'll be able to take in one of the foremost names in the jazz world in sunny Central Park.

McCoy Tyner Quartet
McCoy Tyner's blues-based piano style, replete with sophisticated chords and an explosively percussive left hand has transcended conventional styles to become one of the most identifiable sounds in improvised music. His harmonic contributions and dramatic rhythmic devices form the vocabulary of a majority of jazz pianists. At 17 he began a career-changing relationship with Miles Davis' sideman saxophonist John Coltrane. Tyner joined Coltrane for the classic album My Favorite Things (1960), and remained at the core of what became one of the most seminal groups in jazz history, The John Coltrane Quartet. Tyner's name was propelled to international renown, as he developed a new vocabulary that transcended the piano styles of the time, providing a unique harmonic underpinning and rhythmic charge essential to the group's sound. After over five years with Coltrane's quartet, Tyner left the group to explore his destiny as a composer and bandleader. His 1972 Grammy-award nominated album Sahara, broke new ground by the sounds and rhythms of Africa. He has since released nearly 80 albums, been awarded Jazz Master from the National Endowment for the Arts, and has earned four Grammys.

Ron Carter
Ron Carter is among the most original, prolific, and influential bassists in jazz. With more than 2,000 albums to his credit, he has recorded with many of music's greats: Tommy Flanagan, Gil Evans, Lena Horne, Bill Evans, B.B. King, the Kronos Quartet, Dexter Gordon, Wes Montgomery, and Bobby Timmons. After touring in the early 1960s, he became a member of the classic and acclaimed Miles Davis Quintet. Currently, after 18 years on the faculty of the Music Department of The City College of New York, he is now a Distinguished Professor Emeritus. In addition to teaching, arranging music, lecturing, conducting, and writing two books, Carter remains as active as ever as a performer. Carter is a two-time Grammy winner and has been named Outstanding Bassist of the Decade by the Detroit News, Jazz Bassist of the Year by DownBeat, and Most Valuable Player by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Other distinctions include two honorary doctorates from the New England Conservatory of Music and the Manhattan School of Music, France's Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters medallion and title, and he was named the 2002 recipient of the prestigious Hutchison Award from the Eastman School at the University of Rochester.

Roy Haynes
Roy Haynes is the pulse of legendary jazz. For over 50 years Roy Haynes has influenced and innovated, shaping some of the greatest recordings in jazz while his joyous drumming with the legends of the genre altered the very fabric and direction of jazz improvisation. Louis Armstrong. Lester Young. Charlie Parker. Thelonious Monk. Sarah Vaughan. Miles Davis. John Coltrane. Dizzy Gillespie. Bud Powell. Ella Fitzgerald. Stan Getz. Chick Corea. Pat Metheny. The list goes on and on as does Roy's unflagging energy and marvelous invention. With his latest group of 20-something cohorts, Roy sends his "Hard Swing" to a timeless place. Haynes elevates the performances of his FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH BAND matching fire stroke for fire stroke, thrill for thrill, a tremendous give and take between the generations fueled by masterful musicianship and youthful abandon.

Free SummerStage
June Shows at Central Park Featuring:

Monday, April 25, 2016

Celebrated chefs Chuck Hughes and Anthony Rose added to stellar line-up for Taste of Toronto, June 23 – 26 2016

From a media release:

Celebrated chefs Chuck Hughes
and Anthony Rose added to stellar line-up
for Taste of Toronto, June 23 – 26, 2016

Buy Tickets

TORONTO, ON – Taste of Toronto today announced celebrity chef Chuck Hughes and Toronto restaurateur Anthony Rose are set to participate in the city’s hottest food festival, taking place in Garrison Common at Fort York, June 23 to 26.
Taste of Toronto 2015
Known for his television shows, cook books and Montreal restaurants Garde Manger and Le Bremner, Hughes joins the festivities on opening night, Thursday, June 23. Throughout the evening, festival-goers will have the opportunity to learn from the accomplished chef. Hughes will host a live demonstration on the Taste Theatre stage, sharing his best cooking tips and secrets with the audience, and leading an interactive Metro Master Class, where eager foodies will work their own cooking stations to master one of his flavourful dishes. Hughes will also help to choose the Best in Taste 2016 winner, sampling dishes from each participating restaurant and meeting with each chef on-site to learn more about the dish.
Chuck Hughes, photo credit: Dominique Lafond
Joining the line-up of some of Toronto’s best restaurants for four delicious days, comfort food king Rose will showcase Middle Eastern and European Jewish eatery Fat Pasha, famous for its whole-roasted cauliflower, house-made pickles and signature hummus. Rose owns several acclaimed restaurants in Toronto, including Rose & Sons Queen West, Big Crow, Schmaltz Appetizing and, the most recently opened, Bar Begonia.
Anthony Rose, photo credit: Ryan Thompson

Hughes and Rose join some of Toronto’s food leaders at Taste of Toronto, which includes Barque, Little Sister, Kinka Izakaya, Kinton Ramen, Kintori Yakitori, Piano Piano, Carver and Daily Special restaurants, The Bar at Alo, Antler Kitchen & Bar and Kanpai Snack Bar. The premier food festival will once again keep food lovers busy with hands-on master classes, live demonstrations, a marketplace, and of course, the finest flavours and cuisine that Toronto has to offer.

Tickets for Taste of Toronto are now on sale, with early bird tickets available at $14 while quantities last. General tickets start at $19, youth under 12 are free and youth 12 to 17 are $10. VIP and AMEX ticket packages are also available. With an exciting festival ahead, more talented chefs and restaurants, plus new and exciting programming, will be announced soon.

Taste of Toronto is made possible by the following sponsors: American Express, Metro, Etihad Airways, All-Clad, Nespresso, Pilsner Urquell, and True North Salmon.

Facebook: TasteofToronto
Twitter: @TasteofToronto
Instagram: @TasteofToronto
Hashtag: #TasteofToronto

Billie Holiday, Vocal Sampling and more; Hungarian Noir A Tribute to the Gloomy Sunday (Piranha Records - May 13 2016)

From a media release:

Billie Holiday, Vocal Sampling and more; 
Hungarian Noir A Tribute to the Gloomy Sunday
(Piranha Records - May 13, 2016)

Pre-order/Download or Play

1 Song : 12 Artists
It is the world’s deadliest song, a musical composition so lethal that merely to hear it hummed may induce suicidal tendencies. It is “Gloomy Sunday”, public menace of such potentially epidemic proportions the BBC was compelled to ban it for decades. Indeed, if contemporary news reports and eyewitness accounts are to be believed, no other song comes close to it for sheer morbidity.

“Helter Skelter”? The Manson murders were horrific, to be sure, but the role of the Beatles’ song in those tragic deaths was incidental at best, and in the end, seven lives were claimed; the number of fragile souls, meanwhile, to have succumbed to the unrelenting lugubriousness of “Gloomy Sunday” may number in the hundreds if not the thousands.

“Better By You, Better Than Me”? When played backwards, a US lawsuit alleged, this 1990 Judas Priest song prompts listeners to “do it” and commit suicide. But how deadly can a song be which must be listened to backwards? “Gloomy Sunday’s” impact is direct and instantaneous. One need only recall the story of the Roman shop boy who, hearing a beggar hum it, handed the man his money and jumped from the nearest bridge. Hungarian pianist and composer Reszo Seress wrote the original music and lyrics for Szomorú Vasárnap – Gloomy Sunday – in 1933, while heartbroken over the break-up of a romance. Though local publishers initially rejected the song as too despairing, a new version with less forlorn lyrics by poet Laszlo Javor became an instant hit – and began claiming innocent lives almost immediately.

The song’s first victim, it is said, was the woman for whom it was penned. In the wake of its initial success, Seress’ ex-lover poisoned herself, leaving a suicide note of just two words: “Gloomy Sunday.” Hers was but the beginning of a wave of “Gloomy Sunday” suicides that ravaged Budapest in the 1930s. According to a US newspaper report from the time, “Budapest police have branded the song ‘Gloomy Sunday’ public menace No. 1 and have asked all musicians and orchestras to cooperate in suppressing it, dispatches said Today.”

No one was immune, the article claimed. “Men, women and children are among the victims. Two people shot themselves while gypsies played the melancholy notes on violins. Some killed themselves while listening to it on gramophone records in their homes. Two housemaids cut their employers’ linens and paintings and then killed themselves after hearing the song drifting up into the servant‘s hall from dinner parties.”

Seress was never prosecuted for the havoc his song unleashed (though fate may have caught up with him in 1968, when he leapt to his own death), but he and Javor alone can hardly be held responsible for “Gloomy Sunday’s” death toll. Like a plague, the song has spread, passed along by some of the most reckless and reprobate “artists” of our times.

Chango Spasiuk
Paul Robeson introduced the English version in 1935. Billie Holiday immortalized it in 1941. Björk, Ray Charles, Marianne Faithfull, Serge Gainsbourg, Diamanda Galas, Pyotr Leshchenko, Kronos Quartett – this list of infamy goes on and on. And now we can add to it the ultimate act of music industry callousness and irresponsibility – the release by Piranha Records of a collection of 10 new versions of “Gloomy Sunday” from around the world, plus the Billie Holiday masterpiece and the very Hungarian original for your digitally remastered listening pleasure.

Go ahead, listen to it if you must. But don’t say you weren’t warned. And should you be one of the fortunate ones to survive this ordeal, have the decency and good sense not to recommend it to others. Piranha Records must not be rewarded for their cynicism and betrayal of the public trust. Above all else, they must be discouraged from releasing “Gloomy Sunday vol. II”, which our sources say is already in the works.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Art & Environment: Gladstone Grow Op 2016 to April 24 in Toronto - Opening Party Tonight

An Exhibition on Urbanism, Landscape & Contemporary Art
#GROWOP2016 | @gladstonehotel
April 21-24th, 2016
Opening Reception: April 22, 7-10pm - Tix $10

Check the Link for talks, events & parties

Toronto Flower Market Local Growers & Designers
I'd hit the Gladstone Hotel this weekend to check out Grow Op 2016, an art exhibition that is currently inhabiting the second floor of the venerable arts institution.

The Gladstone hosts a number of arts shows and events through the year and I've always found them well worth attending - fun, interesting and highlighting the work of the city's best and brightest. This year's Grow Op is no exception, a show that invites you to touch, hear, and in one case at least, confess, along with offering a lot for your eyes to take in. Curators Christine Leu, Graham Teeple and Alan Webb have put together a cool collection of some 30 pieces that are bursting with life; here are some of my favourites.

Terrara by [R]ed[U]x Lab - three artfully sloped and arranged patches of grass, dramatically lit.

Djuna Day's stunning wall assemblage, Everything Seems Alright #10. Djuna doubles as a furniture maker and told me about the peculiarities of douglas fir, which absorbs more silica than other types of wood. It results in the shimmery texture that changes with the grain of each piece, a property Djuna exploits in the beautifully crafted piece.
Djuna Day - Everything Seems Alright #10
Micah Donovan's growing experimental sculpture project is appealing and organic. His living sculptures produce veggies and herbs at the YMCA's Family Development Centre childcare space.
Micah Donovan
The Loop, by Design Build Grow Studio, is a charming hydroponic that uses a closed loop system to recycle nutrient-rich water. It sprawls along the wall in a wash of green.

Altered: The Evolution of Toronto's Church Landscape by Jasmine Frolick and Robynne Redgrave takes up a room with a installation that evokes sacred spaces.

You can groove to organic audio - like the bird songs of Chad Clifford trilling in The Flower Station and Becoming Sensor in an Oak Savannah by Natasha Myers and Ayelen Liberona - they're also doing multi-sensory tours of the black oak savannah in High Park (High Park Gates, April 23 & 24 - 2-4pm)
Timber by David Perrett
Timber - the wobbly cast trees - in lovely fine detail - of David Perrett. It's a playful piece that emphasizes the beauty of the trees.

Petroleum Distillates - an exhibit about paints and the chemical assault on the natural world by Kelly Norman of Dopamine Collective. Confess to your petroleum addiction and you can get a free tote bag. It's bright, visually striking and delivers the message effectively.
My Chemical Garden by Michaela Macleod
My Chemical Garden by Michaela Macleod - bobbing drops from the ceiling filled with manganese chloride that grows a pink 'garden' inside. The effect is as pretty and luminous as it is rather unsettling.
My Chemical Garden by Michaela Macleod

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Riad Sapphire Hotel and Spa Marrakech - 30% OFF Promotion to May 31 2016

From a release:

Riad Sapphire Hotel and Spa - Marrakech 
30% OFF Promotion

Here are a couple of great deals for a small boutique hotel in storied Marrakech. The details:

• Riad Sapphire and Spa - Marrakech 30% OFF Promotion to May 31st, 2016 - Book Now!
• From 91 euros per night  
• Includes freshly-prepared breakfast, all local taxes, VAT, in-room safe, WiFi. 
• Welcome Moroccan mint tea and pastries.

You can also take advantage of a fabulous discounted Spa Package, from 475.50 euros for 3 nights, includes accommodation, two three-course meals, two hammams and two one-hour massages.

If you're traveling with a group of family or friends, why not rent the whole riad (8 suites) to yourself?
Riad Sapphire Spa
Riad Sapphire Hotel & Spa
The best way to experience Marrakech is to stay in a riad (a traditional Moroccan house with an interior courtyard) in the heart of the Medina, the old city of Marrakech. RIAD SAPPHIRE AND SPA aims to give guests a real Marrekech experience while they enjoy affordable luxury in a stylish property.

The design of the Riad Sapphire and Spa features understated 1920’s colonial chic with a modern twist – the confluence of the best of Moroccan architecture and the space and light of modern architecture. The Riad Sapphire comprises only eight suites, each light and airy and individually decorated in a modern minimalist style.

Riad Sapphire Marrakech - Sapphire Suite
The exterior is elegant whitewash, with two courtyards to enjoy, each featuring its own fountain. There is a pool in the grand courtyard and a huge roof terrace with a great view towards the Atlas mountains and space with sunbeds for relaxing.

RIAD SAPPHIRE AND SPA has its own private hammam (or Turkish bath, as it is often known abroad,) and relaxation room along with a massage room for massages and beauty treatments. Among the welcome amenities are home-cooked meals in your choice of Moroccan or European style.

A little bit about Marrakech, the "Red City" for your viewing pleasure:

Ragajazz recently released - Arohi Ensemble: Ahimsa - Love is the weapon of the brave (Innova Recordings)

From a media release:

Ragajazz recently released:
Arohi Ensemble: Ahimsa - Love is the weapon of the brave
(Innova Recordings - January 29, 2016)

Buy the CD

Weaving the classical ragas & intricate rhythmic architectures of India with the counterpoint of chamber music and gamelan in a synthesis of global musical traditions, ‘Ahimsa, Love is the Weapon of the Brave’ is a new release featuring the music of Arohi Ensemble. A collaboration of leading creative artists from India, Venezuela & Los Angeles, Arohi includes three disciples of the legendary ‘godfather of world music,’ Pandit Ravi Shankar.

Ahimsa highlights the music of composer/sitarist/activist Paul Livingstone in a cohesive and compelling blend of and sitar, sarod, bansuri (bamboo flute), cello, tabla, ghatum (clay pot) and drums with a sprinkling of vocal chants. Featured on multiple Grammy winning records, these artists bring the classical forms of eastern and western traditions into s contemporary format of ragajazz chamber music.

Arohi Ensemble
Arohi means ‘ascending melody’ and Ahimsa is the Sanskrit word for ‘nonviolence’. The release is dedicated to the courageous form of conflict resolution which faces a violent aggressor with nothing but soul force. The music journeys from meditative ragas to dynamic polyrhythms and improvisations expressed in the free spirit of jazz; move through this music with us in the spirit of ahimsa.

Composers: Paul Livingstone
Performers: Paul Livingstone, Pedro Eustache, Abhijit Banerjee, Peter Jacobson, Dave Lewis, Pandit Rajeev Taranath, Somnath Ro

CD Release: León Larregui - Voluma (Universal - March 24, 2016)

With material from a release:

CD Release:
León Larregui - Voluma
(Universal - March 24, 2016)

Buy the CD

Mexican singer and composer León Larregui released his second solo album, Voluma, recently and it's a great collection of polished and imaginative pop lit up by his unmistakeable voice. Voluma debuted in the #1 position of the U.S. Latin Alternative & Rock chart in  iTunes and as #2 on the general chart of Mexico.

León Larregui is best known as the lead singer and guitarist for Grammy Award-winning Mexican alternative rock veterans Zoé. The emphasis in Voluma is on his dreamy, expressive vocals, naturally, but there's a lot of energy in the music. Guitars work their way into the usual electronic dance mix on some of the tracks, adding to the sonic layers.

My quibble with pop/dance music is that it can be unimaginative, especially when it comes to the arrangements, but here León wrings a whole range of emotion out of the genre. Tiraste a Matar is an anthemic dance pop track that spotlights León's expressive voice. He has a flexible range that adds depth to the genre.

Luna LLena is another highlight, with a sexy Latin rhythm and languid vocals. His voice has a lazy, liquid quality that is emphasized on tracks like Visiones, an appropriately dreamy track. As the song progresses, the dream becomes more and more unhinged, with edgy guitars layering over the synth pattern.

Visitantes has a Beatlesque sense of melody in a lush arrangement (or maybe it was just the one synth line that reminded me of Eleanor Rigby!) There's a lot of sixties pop influence with some satisfying retro echoes. Locos is another fun track with its spooky guitars. Zombies is progressive musically yet always danceable.

He's lined up an international tour beginning with a recent appearance at the Pa'l Norte Fest in Monterrey, Mexico and he'll be at Vive Latino Fest on April 23.


07 - San Luis Potosí - Mexico
14 - Puebla - Mexico
20 - Toluca - Mexico
21 - León - Mexico
27 - Guadalajara, Mexico
28 - Morelia, Mexico

03 - Jalapa, Mexico
08 - Houston, TX
09 - Dallas, TX
10 - Austin, TX
11 - San Antonio, TX
16 - Riverside, CA
17 - Los Angeles, CA
18 - Sacramento, CA
19 - San Francisco, CA
24 - Mexicali, BC
25 - Tijuana, BC

08 - New York, NY
09 - Chicago. IL