Monday, April 7, 2014

CD Release: Acclaimed vibraphonist Tyler Blanton channels the grit and energy of New York into Gotham (April 22 2014 on Ottimo Music)

From a media release:

CD Release:
Acclaimed vibraphonist Tyler Blanton channels the grit and energy of New York into Gotham, his new groove-inflected album featuring saxophonist Donny McCaslin, drummer Nate Wood and bassist Matt Clohesy
To Be Released April 22 on Ottimo Music

Buy the CD

NEW YORK CITY -
For a young jazz musician willing to put down roots in the metropolis, New York City can be as unforgiving in its daily tribulations as it is nourishing to the adventurous artistic spirit. On his new album, Gotham (released April 22 on Ottimo Music) vibraphonist Tyler Blanton molds reflections of his now seven-year residence in New York into a mesmerizing musical portrait that is as captivating, aggressive and challenging as the city itself.

With indispensible support from tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin, drummer Nate Wood and Matt Clohesy on acoustic and electric bass, Blanton invests Gotham with potent influences from the worlds of rock, fusion, techno and new jazz. Those who know Blanton primarily as a swinging in-the-tradition jazz virtuoso are in for an ear-opening, thoroughly invigorating, surprise. Blanton's extraordinary command of his instrument and his acumen as a composer are as pronounced as ever; what has changed is the expansive nature of his musical vision.
Attentive listeners most familiar with Blanton's work from his critically acclaimed 2010 debut album Botanic will now find that the expert, swing-informed instrumentalist of that period has since expanded his vistas considerably. Others who have enjoyed Blanton's more recent live performances with his own ensembles or as a prized sideman will recognize how this risk-taking musician has rapidly moved beyond the boundaries of conventional post-bop jazz, incorporating the innovative rhythmic ploys and sonic experimentation that are the calling cards of Blanton's audacious peers in the New York alternative jazz scene.

With the leader encouraging (and matching) the slamming energy of his cohorts - while also making imaginative use of the Malletkat, an electronic vibes-like instrument that triggers a Midi for a wide swath of sonic colors - Gotham bursts with a grab-you-by-the-collar attitude that owes much to the assertive texture of New York City itself. "This album is specifically more eclectic than my earlier work," Blanton says. "It's edgier, more hard hitting, assertive and rhythmic. You can hear echoes of groove music and rock, even heavy metal! It's an intense album, in the way that just living day-to-day in New York can be intense."



The year-plus period before the recording of Gotham - which found Blanton cementing both the compositions and the group sound - can be easily detected in the quartet's ease with the often fiendishly challenging arrangements as well as the creative give-and-take that highlights each track. Gotham's opening salvo - "Never Sleeps," "Freaky Dream," "Gotham" and "Cogs" - is a burst of jubilant energy with equal displays of musical muscle, pinpoint ensemble accuracy and improvisational discernment. The extended "Tunnels," with its enthralling rhythmic vigor and riveting solos, is a prime example of the (in Blanton's words) "epic quality" that he strove to capture when he was first conceptualizing the textural architecture of Gotham. Blanton chose his ensemble with the specific skills of each member in mind: the invaluable contributions of the seemingly tireless McCaslin, the ever-supportive Clohesy and the relentlessly inventive and phenomenally skillful drummer Nate Wood are especially evident throughout.

The concluding track, "Breaking through the Clouds," is a stunning ballad that acts as a declaration of ultimate hope and affirmation, stating in sound that while New York can often threaten to break you, its vitality can, in fact, offer an artist uncommon inspiration. Which in Blanton's case, it emphatically has: "I wanted Gotham to announce that my aesthetic had changed, that here was something different and worth checking out. Whether you like it or not, this album is an authentic statement of where my music is now at."

Tyler Blanton grew up outside Los Angeles, California, where he switched from drums to vibraphone at the age of eighteen. After graduating from Sonoma State University with a degree in jazz studies, Blanton moved to New York where he has worked with such significant jazz instrumentalists as the saxophonists Joel Frahm, Seamus Blake and Donny McCaslin, and the drummers Matt Wilson, Ari Hoenig and Richie Barshay, among many others.  Blanton has performed and conducted workshops throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia.


Thought For Food Theatre Toronto Presents a New Translation of Václav Havel’s The Memo April 23 to May 10 2014


From a media release:

Thought For Food presents the CANADIAN PREMIERE of Paul Wilson's new translation of Václav Havel’s masterpiece, THE MEMO
April 23 - May 10, 2014, at Unit 102 Theatre

• Tickets are available via Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006

TORONTO - When Andrew Gross receives a company memo written in ‘Ptydepe’, a new artificial language adopted by his organization to streamline communications, Andrew sets off on an epic quest to find someone to translate.  A satire about administrative bumbling in business, THE MEMO is a smart comedy for anyone who has ever worked in an office or battled bureaucracy.

With Fringe veteran director Tyler Seguin (Cousins of Corsica, The Aleatory Project, Thought for Food) managing this clerical hell, the cubicle dwellers include Thought For Food’s Artistic Director Helen Juvonen (Purgatory in Ingleton, Storm & Stress/Summerworks; Beauty and the Beast, Sudbury Theatre Centre), Paul Rivers (Dial M for Murder, Theatre Aquarius; The Universal Wolf,  Thought For Food) as Andrew Gross, Annie Briggs (Lobby Hero, Reach Ensemble Theatre N.Y.; The Loyalists, Single Thread Theatre), Joella Crichton (The Session, Things Fallin’ Apart; Brixton Stories, AfriCan Theatre Ensemble), Thomas Gough (Bullet for Adolf, Hart House Theatre; Romeo and Juliet, Theatre By The Bay), Cara Pantalone (The Greatest Story Never Told, Smile Theatre; God of Carnage, Stephenville Theatre Festival), Michael Rinaldi (Studies in Motion, Electric Company; My Turquoise Years, Granville Isle Stage), James R. Woods (Voices in the Valley, Words in Motion/Evergreen Brickworks; Oleanna, Jaybird Productions), and Norman Yeung (The Kite Runner, Theatre Calgary; Settlers, Rhubarb Festival).

Set Design by performer-designer Paul Rivers (Theatre Aquarius). Sound Design by Urjo Kareda Residency winner Alex Eddington (Destination Ink Productions). Lighting Design by John Thomson (Tarragon Theatre). Costume Design by Miranda VanLogerenberg (Ryerson Theatre).

THE MEMO is dissident playwright Václav Havel’s masterpiece of absurdism. Banned from theatre under communist rule, he went on to become the last president of Czechoslovakia and first president of the newly democratic Czech Republic. This fresh new Canadian edition is written by Havel’s friend and Governor General’s Award-winning translator, Paul Wilson. Thought For Food’s production explores the shockingly universal and comical parallels between Communist Czechoslovakia and modern-day Canada as one employee searches for dignity, humanity and a hot lunch in a world riddled with arbitrary rules and office politics. The end result is a communist comedy that is weirdly at home in Canada.

Since its inception 20 years ago, Toronto’s Thought For Food has remained dedicated to showcasing the talents of emerging artists in productions that explore and celebrate the unique qualities inherent in live theatre. Thought For Food takes social responsibility seriously - since 1997 they have collected donations for local food banks. They are pleased to be partnering with a Parkdale area food bank during the run of THE MEMO and encourage audience members to bring non-perishable food donations to the show. www.thought4food.ca

Show information for THE MEMO
Venue:     Unit 102 Theatre, 376 Dufferin Street, Toronto
Dates:     April 23 - May 10, 2014 (Previews April 23 & 24, Opens April 25)
Thursday – Sunday @ 7:30pm **Note early curtain time
Tickets: $25 each (Preview $12.50)
Via Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-30061-800-838-3006 or  thememo.brownpapertickets.com

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company presents De Idas y Vueltas April 24 to 27, 2014 at Fleck Dance Theatre (Toronto)

From a media release:

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company presents
the world premiere of
De Idas y Vueltas
Choreographed by Esmeralda Enrique, El Junco and Javier Latorre
April 24 to 27, 2014 at Fleck Dance Theatre (Toronto)

Toronto -
The acclaimed Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company (EESDC) proudly presents the world premiere of De Idas y Vueltas featuring new choreography by Javier Latorre, recipient of three Spanish national dance awards, Artistic Director Esmeralda Enrique and El Junco, returning guest artist from Spain who earned a Dora nomination for Outstanding Performance for his appearance in EESDC's Portales last season.  De Idas y Vueltas is an evening of dazzling flamenco dance and music that celebrates the Latin American songs that have been integrated into flamenco. It runs April 24-27 as part of Harbourfront Centre's NextSteps dance series at Fleck Dance Theatre, a fitting wrap for Hispanic Heritage Month.

De Idas y Vueltas uses the transmigrations of Spaniards to the Americas to explore how things come and go in all of our lives; sometimes returning forever altered and other times, never returning at all.

"Our presentations seek to promote a better understanding of Spanish history, culture and ideas, while illustrating its complexities and inclusiveness," says Artistic Director Esmeralda Enrique. The Latin American songs used in flamenco speak of the nostalgia of the immigrant. 'De ida y vuelta' refers to those songs which, through migrations of people from Spain to the Americas and from the Americas back to Spain, became imbued with a flamenco accent."

The three inseparable ingredients in a flamenco performance are music, song and dance.  For De Idas y Vueltas, Enrique brings together a brilliant combination of flamencos from Spain and Canada with spectacular results.

From a 2012 performance:


The exceptional Javier Latorre (awarded Concurso Nacional de Arte Flamenco for choreography and former soloist with the National Ballet of Spain under the direction of Antonio Gades) brings his dynamic artistry in a lush and vivid choreography to open the evening.

El Junco (Juan José Jaén Arroyo) of Cádiz, who was a soloist with Compañía Christiana Hoyos, returns for his second season as a featured guest dancer and choreographer. His vibrant and virtuosic prowess highlights the earthy essence of flamenco for a scorching chemistry with the talented EESDC ensemble of dancers: Pamela Briz, Paloma Cortés, Ilse Gudiño, Noelia La Morocha and Esmeralda Enrique herself.

Óscar Lago (Cádiz) joins the company for the fifth time as lead guitarist and is music director for this production. Along with with long-time EESDC guitarist Nicolás Hernández, Lago was nominated for Dora Awards for Outstanding Sound Design/Composition for Portales (2013) and Aguas/Waters (2012). Toronto guitarist Benjamin Barrile, who has been playing with EESDC for numerous recent engagements, will be the second guitarist.

EESDC is equally honoured to again welcome singer Manuel Soto (of Jerez) who returns for his fourth season, joined this year by Matías López (of Barcelona), a fresh new Spanish vocal talent. Adding the remaining flavour to the music are returnees Chris Church (violin) and Rosendo "Chendy" León (percussion). Together, they express the depth of emotions portrayed in flamenco song with their intuitive, nuanced rhythms.

Flamenco, an art form like no other, speaks to the heart and touches the soul. EESDC's talented company of musicians, singers and commanding dancers deliver the power of this expressive art with elegance and passion; never failing to mesmerize audiences, eliciting shouts of "ole" and standing ovations at each performance.

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company presents the world premiere of
De Idas y Vueltas
part of Harbourfront Centre's NextSteps

Choreographed by: Esmeralda Enrique and special guest artists from Spain, El Junco  and Javier Latorre
Dancers: Pamela Briz, Paloma Cortés, Esmeralda Enrique, Ilse Gudiño, Noelia La Morocha, El Junco
Musicians: Music Director Óscar Lago (guitar),
Benjamin Barrile (guitar), Chris Church (violin), Rosendo "Chendy" León (percussion)
Singers: Manuel Soto, Matías López
Lighting Design: Sharon DiGenova
Video Design:  Bryan Díaz
Costumes: Mary Janeiro, Esmeralda Enrique

Thursday April 24-Sunday April 27, 2014
Thursday to Saturday at 8PM; Sunday at 3PM  (with a talkback with the artists after Fri. performance)
Harbourfront Centre's Fleck Theatre, 207 Queens Quay West, 3rd floor.
Tickets: $29-$45 ($23-30 for students, seniors, CADA, and groups)
Harbourfront Centre Box Office: 416-973-4000416-973-4000 OR online at www.flamencos.net


El Junco:

El Junco from Esmeralda Enrique on Vimeo.

Downtempo/Reggae/Jazz Release: Christos DC 'Long Road' (April 22 2014 - Honest Music)

From a media release:

Downtempo/Reggae/Jazz Release:
CHRISTOS DC ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM
LONG ROAD TO BE RELEASED ON APRIL 22, 2014 ON HONEST MUSIC

Buy the CD


The artist Christos DC aka Christopher Vrenios, was born and  raised in Washington, D.C. by parents who sang opera and taught voice professionally. He takes his name from his Greek heritage using a nickname given to him by his grandmother & also to represent his birthplace that set the tone of his musical journey. His sound is best described as a blend of Downtempo,  Reggae with overtones of  jazz.

His career began in the early 90′s producing hip hop & r&b tracks w/ indie artists from DC & New York, but it was his deep appreciation for the sounds coming out of Kingston, Jamaica that led him to record with legendary reggae artists Sly and Robbie as well as the Firehouse Crew. He was later recruited by Don Carlos of Black Uhuru and The Itals to tour. He spent several years on the road as a guitarist and backup vocalist performing  in the United States and  a few places abroad. During this time, he also produced and recorded an album entitled Offering, which featured various artists from Jamaica singing over his tracks as well as his solo debut.



The album included artists such as the Sugar Minott, Meditations and Don Carlos. The majority of the album was recorded in Jamaica with the late great Augustus Pablo and other well known session players from the island. He then went on to do session work, playing guitar, bass, and even co-writing with the world famous Thievery Corporation, as well as other groups. In 2008 he released his first full album “Time to Rise” which lead him to creating an independent record label Honest Music, that his latest recording “Under The Sun” was released on.

A brand new single w/ a video from the upcoming album “Long Road” is scheduled to be  released early 2014 . The song, entitled “Just Talk To Me” features Kenyatta Hill, (son of the Legendary Joseph Hill from the group Culture).  “Music is a gift,” Christos says. “When we share it we should consider the effect it will have on others. This is why I make honest music”.

Big Band Jazz CD Release & Party: Beverly Taft Meets the Nathan Hiltz Orchestra April 24-26 2014

From a media release:

BEVERLY TAFT MEETS THE NATHAN HILTZ ORCHESTRA
Taft, Hiltz & Co. Bring Back the Glamorous Spirit of Big Band Swing with their Standout Originals
April 24-26 2014 at the Jazz Bistro in Toronto

Buy the CD

[Toronto ON]
For three sizzlin’ nights at the Jazz Bistro this April 24-26, Beverly Taft and co-conspirator & guitarist Nathan Hiltz, celebrate their outstanding jazz and blues originals with the release of “Beverly Taft Meets the Nathan Hiltz Orchestra”.

The chemistry between Taft & Hiltz & Co. on disc ‘n’ stage is undeniable. Add in the talents of a horn section without peer – William Carn (trombone), Shawn Nykwist (tenor sax), Jake Wilkinson (trumpet) and Rich Underhill (alto sax—of Shuffle Demons fame and who btw is also running for Mayor!)  – and the dream rhythm section of Artie Roth on bass and Sly Juhas on drums. Special guests like Adrean Farrugia on piano add further shades of colour to this rich musical tapestry.

This release shows Taft to be more than a jazz singer or interpreter. She digs deeper into the language of jazz, towards grasping its very essence for a better understanding of its impact on our lives. As a result, every lyric carries the weight of this deeply-rooted relationship – each word delivered by a singer with an uncanny connection to her material. Taft’s velvety voice and meticulous phrasing proves ideally matched to the band which has coalesced around her.



The disc kicks off with “Clock Tickin,” a slow minor blues inspired by the sounds of the clock above Hiltz’ kitchen table. Juhas’ drums keep tabs on the piece’s electric pulse, under a blistering solo by Underhill.

The highly personal “Gay Repartée at the Ski Chalet” documents her parents’ meeting – both playing key roles in her love of ‘50’s style music – and the track’s slow, slinky groove provides a jumping off point for solos from Hiltz and Underhill, as you can hear the influences of both Ella and Peggy Lee in Taft’s care.

“Beautiful Listener” provides a direct conversation between artist and audience, hushed and inviting, with enough space to register the quality of Taft’s vocal as it wraps itself around each word – in praise of a memorable audience member.

From the upbeat, acoustic bass-driven “Trav’llin Along” with its fully-charged horn section and Hiltz’ muted guitar, Taft’s voice soars as if smiling, swinging with the grace and power of an old-time big band. As well, a spectacular guitar solo from Hiltz adds fuel to an already well-nourished fire.

All in all, Beverly Taft meets the Nate Hiltz Orchestra showcases the Taft-Hiltz union with a release that heralds a triumphant return to big band jazz thinking. Taft lends an element of glamour to this project, rekindling the glory days of Doris Day (the understated jazz singer as opposed to her movie star persona) and the swing era. As a result, Taft and her beautiful voice do much more than meet Nathan Hiltz and his Orchestra – she completes the link in a reverent chain, transforming all 9 players into one while they resuscitate a much-loved era of vintage jazz and better times.

Toronto Downtown Jazz presents
Beverly Taft Meets the Nathan Hiltz Orchestra

Nathan Hiltz – guitar, Adrean Farrugia -- piano, Artie Roth -- bass, Morgan Childs -- drums, William Carn on trombone, Shawn Nykwist -- tenor sax, Rich Underhill -- alto sax, Jake Wilkinson – trumpet

April 24-26, 9:00pm
Jazz Bistro (formerly The Senator),  251 Victoria St, Toronto www.jazzbistro.ca
416-363-5299416-363-5299  Reservations are highly recommended!



Urban Street Dance: Bboyizm in Music Creates Opportunity April 24 & 25 2014 at Harbourfront Toronto

From a media release:

DanceWorks presents
Ottawa's Bboyizm in Music Creates Opportunity
- forging a new frontier for urban street dance -
April 24 & 25, 2014 at Harbourfront Toronto

Tickets Here

Toronto -
DanceWorks, Toronto's longest-running contemporary dance series now in its 37th season, proudly presents Ottawa's award-winning Bboyizm in a dynamic new work by its founder and artistic director Yvon Soglo a.k.a. b-boy Crazy Smooth. One of Canada's top street dancers, Crazy Smooth is dedicated to street dance culture. His newest creation, Music Creates Opportunity, forges a new frontier for urban street dance that runs Friday April 25 to Saturday April 26 at Harbourfront Centre's Enwave Theatre.

Bboyizm delivers precise and mastered technique, explosive movement, synchronicity and individualism together - as well as a festive and communicative joyous spirit of movement, music and life. Bboyizm was founded by Crazy Smooth in 2004 with the vision of elevating and preserving the authenticity and essence of street dance and introducing it into the world of the performing arts. Drawing on his technical background in rocking and b-boying, Crazy Smooth created his first stage piece IZM in 2010 as an exploration into the very nature of artistic expression. DanceWorks presented it in 2012 where it earned a Dora nomination for Outstanding Production in the Dance Division as well as critic raves:

"Absolutely belongs on the mainstream professional stage. Bboyizm raises the bar of how hip-hop can make an artistic statement that it is more than just b-battles and dance-offsŠcarrying urban dance to the next level... Every one of the Bboyizm dancers is very talentedŠ Bboyizm is definitely going places as the dancers carve out a new frontier for urban street dance." - Paula Citron, The Globe and Mail, 2012

While IZM challenged audiences' expectations of both street dance and the stage, Music Creates Opportunity considers the intersection of rhythm, expression and community in the making of music and dance.

Smooth's previous study of traditional partnering and contact improvisation led him to conclude that street dancers express themselves in relationship to the music while "contact improv" dancers express themselves through a relationship with other moving bodies. The contrast between these two styles ignited his desire to explore the possibilities of partnering concepts and adapting it to his aesthetic. Music Creates Opportunity introduces his new concept of "Rhythmic Contact" into the vocabulary of street dance.

Music Creates Opportunity features traditional street dances including rocking, b-boying, house dancing and pantsula - a street dance from Soweto, South Africa - and showcases music as a universal language that offers a multitude of possibilities for expression. Whether the music is an external force or created by the dancers themselves, music is the critical link between dancers. Their environment becomes a theatre - sometimes harmonious, sometimes antagonistic - but always transformative. http://www.bboyizm.ca

Bboyizm are currently on tour with Music Creates Opportunity. They appeared at Charlottetown's Confederation Centre on March 15 and are currently touring Ontario: Kirkland Lake (Mar 22), Deep River (Mar 26), St. Catharines (Mar 29), Dryden (Apr 2), Sioux Lookout (Apr 5), Burlington (Apr 11), Kitchener, ON (Apr 17), Toronto (Apr 24-26), culminating June 14 at the Canada Dance Festival in Ottawa.

DanceWorks presents Ottawa's Bboyizm in Music Creates Opportunity
choreographed by Crazy Smooth
Friday April 25 - Saturday, Saturday April 26, 2014, 8pm
Part of Harbourfront Centre's NextSteps at Enwave Theatre, 231 Queens Quay West, Toronto
Tickets: $18.75 -$37.25
Harbourfront Centre Box Office: 416-973-4000416-973-4000 OR online at www.danceworks.ca


Monday, March 31, 2014

Coming Soon from Nacional Records: Santé Les Amis and Sudamericana (May 27 2014)

From my friends at Nacional Records:

After Opening For Foals & Franz Ferdinand,
Santé Les Amis Announce USA Debut - Sudamericana (Nacional Records - May 27, 2014)
Album And Performance at LAMC


Rolling Stone (Argentina) Names Santé Les Amis a ‘New Band to Watch’
“Electro rock that you can’t help but dance to, full of cowbell, infectious drumbeats, and all-around fun” Indie Shuffle
“Funky, dance-floor-igniting goodness” Remezcla


With a catchy fusion of rock and electronica, 'Sudamericana' is the debut album from acclaimed indie band Santé Les Amis, which will be released May 27th by Nacional Records.

Santé Les Amis has toured with Franz Ferdinand, Foals and Calle 13, making the band a fan favorite among indie rock fans. With tracks in English and Spanish, 'Sudamericana' has won praise from Indie Shuffle and Remezcla, who celebrated their “funky, dance-floor-igniting goodness.”

Santé Les Amis music will make their U.S. debut at the Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC) in New York this July.

Watch the Video For The First Single “Brasil”: