Monday, May 30, 2016

Gypsy Jazz for the 21st Century: Rhythm Future Quartet at the Rochester International Jazz Festival June 24 2016

From a media release:

The Rhythm Future Quartet Performs Friday, June 24, 2016 
At the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival
Celebrating New Album Travels

Acclaimed Group Brings Gypsy Jazz into the 21st Century

Buy the CD

The Rhythm Future Quartet brings its unique brand of 21st century Gypsy jazz to the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival on Friday, June 24 in celebration of its new CD Travels. The quartet features chief soloists Jason Anick on violin and Olli Soikkeli on guitar, along with second guitarist Max O’Rourke and bassist Greg Loughman.

• Shows take place at 6 and 10 p.m. at Montage Music Hall
• For more information on the Rochester International Jazz Festival line-up click on the link
Image by Andy Cambria
Comprised of forward thinking and prodigiously gifted players, the Rhythm Future Quartet continues its deeply felt mission to situate Gypsy jazz firmly in the here and now. On Travels, scintillating original compositions, dazzling improvisation and one-mind ensemble playing convert the swinging string driven sounds of the past into a viable and vital style that speaks directly to jazz lovers of the present.   The album was released February 26, 2016 on Magic Fiddle Music.

As DownBeat publisher Frank Alkyer writes: “The future of Gypsy jazz is in good hands with the Rhythm Future Quartet.... Anick is a fluid violinist and Soikkeli flat-out blisters on guitar... The musicianship throughout this 13-song set is breathtaking.... Rhythm Future, indeed.  I look forward to listening to this group for a long, long time.”

Rhythm Future Quartet (named after the Django Reinhardt composition “Rhythm Futur”) has itself evolved since its self-titled 2014 debut recording. Where that critically acclaimed release drew on standards as its core repertoire, Travels is largely devoted to group originals, compositions that touch on the tenants of the Gypsy jazz style yet thoroughly reflect the contemporary mindset of the makers. These ten new pieces are interwoven with shrewd reinterpretations of Bireli Lagrene’s “Made In France,” Paul Durand’s “Je Sui Seul Ce Soir” and, in a slinky arrangement that signals the band’s willingness to expand the scope of the Gypsy jazz idiom, Lennon and McCartney’s “Come Together.” Each of these thirteen performances display the awing virtuosity and sublime lyricism of the featured instrumentalists as well as the enviable cohesion of a musical unit that breathes as a collective entity.

As its title infers, Travels reflects the nomadic nature of the band and its individual members. “Over the past two and a half years, the group has done extensive traveling all over the world,” Anick says, “We used this time to work together to compose and co-arrange all the material that culminated into this new record.” With over 50 different countries between the four members throughout their careers, traveling has certainly been a big part of both their group and individual development, expanding their musical and cultural horizons and ultimately inspiring new compositions that tie all of these experiences together. Besides the literal sense of the word, Anick states, “This album also travels in the musical sense, traversing various musical landscapes from around the world, which opened up new rhythmic and melodic possibilities and allowed the group to take its Gypsy jazz influenced music into the future.” The international influences are easily heard in such Anick pieces as “Vesella” which incorporates Balkan music rhythms within the mix, and “Amsterdam” and “The Keeper” which are inflected with Latin rhythms and textures.

If rousing performances including “Bushwick Stomp” (which celebrates Finnish guitarist Soikkeli’s move to his present Brooklyn home) and “Don’t Tell Me” and “Made In France” are within the traditional Gypsy jazz vein, such pieces as “Travels,” “Still Winter” and “Round Hill” speak of RF’s new musical expression, a vision that makes effective use of more atmospheric textures and reflective moods. “We want to bring it all to the table,” Anick says, “Variety is valuable for our listeners and for us as players.”

Clearly this is not the Gypsy jazz for purists. “Instead of putting our own stamp on beloved material we are trying to bring new material to the forefront,” Anick states. “We’re trying to bridge a gap. We aim to draw in listeners that respond to the best of the tradition–the energy, the rhythm, the exciting virtuosity, the deep emotion­–and then take a leap of faith and open their ears up to new soundscapes. We as a group are trying to prove that a music normally associated with older players can now provide personal expression for younger players of today.”

One of the youngest instructors at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Jason Anick, now 30, is rapidly making a name for himself in the world of jazz violin and mandolin. In addition to leading his own contemporary jazz ensemble and performing with the Rhythm Future Quartet, Anick has been touring and recording with Grammy award-winning Nashville guitar virtuoso John Jorgenson since 2008 when he was recruited while still a senior at Hartt Conservatory. In addition to his work with the Rhythm Future Quartet, Anick has released two highly acclaimed albums as a leader, Tipping Point (2014) and Sleepless (2010). A versatile and sought after side-man, Anick has also shared the stage with an array of artists like Stevie Wonder, John Sebastian, The Jim Kweskin Jug Band, Tommy Emmanuel, and Delta Rae.

Olli Soikkeli was born in 1991 in Nurmes, Finland. He started playing guitar at the age of 12 and, once he heard the music of Django Reinhardt, he was hooked.  He’s been performing Gypsy jazz ever since and has performed in jazz clubs and festivals in Finland and beyond. He currently lives in NYC and has performed with Bucky Pizzarelli, Cyrille Aimee, Tommy Emmanuel, Anat Cohen and many more, garnering him the title, ‘the Finish Boy Wonder’.  He’s released two albums under his own name in addition to albums with Rhythm Future Quartet.  The Wall Street Journal heralded him as “a riveting Finnish guitarist who combines astonishing dexterity and speed with pure soul.”

Vermont native Max O’Rourke is quickly earning a reputation as one of the top young Gypsy jazz guitarists of his day.  The 19-year-old was the winner of the 2015 Saga Award from DjangoFest Northwest and is currently a student at Berklee College of Music.  In addition to performing with the Rhythm Future Quartet, he has shared the stage with the Gonzalo Bergara Quartet and the Grammy winning John Jorgenson Quartet.

Greg Loughman is an “emphatically lyrical” (JazzTimes), versatile and sensitive bassist who’s performed with numerous jazz greats including George Garzone, Curtis Fuller, Jerry Bergonzi, Joanne Brackeen, Mark Murphy, Sheila Jordan and many others. He currently leads his own indie rock group Lowman and performs with the John Funkhouser Trio, Klezwoods, and many others.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Fashion photographer Hamza Mejri launches design collection BRONZE June 10 2016 in Montreal

From a media release:

Fashion photographer Hamza Mejri launches his first design collection
Friday, June 10, 2016

Abstract Fashion cocktail and photo exhibit- 7pm followed by
BRONZE Fashion Show - 8pm


MONTREAL May, 2016 – The prestigious fashion show for the luxurious new Canadian clothing brand BRONZE, from photographer and fashion designer Hamza Mejri (The Dress and Men’s Fashion Festival), will be held on June 10, at the beautiful Salle Polyvalente. Mejris’ latest photo exhibit, Abstract Fashion, will precede the show. The launch, featuring 40 models, promises to attract many celebrity guests including Yan England, Camille DG, Les Ballets de Jazz de Montréal dancers and many others.
Hamza Mejri

A high-end collection
For his first ready-to-wear collection, Hamza Mejri has selected quality materials to illustrate the different cultural and temporal origins and elements that inspired him for his successful limited edition photo exhibit, The Dress. His brand builds on the universal elegance of materials by perfectly blending classic and modern designs with carefully selected fabrics. “I love creating high-quality day and evening clothing, elegant and adapted to the everyday lives of women and men who want to feel good about themselves,” states Mejri.

Each piece of this alluring collection is unique, and its character is reflected in every detail of the creation. From the sewing to the buttons, every detail and every piece of cloth is thought through to make special and harmonious apparel.

Dazzling BRONZE
Bronze is a universal material. Known for its nobility, it is found in all civilizations and cultures. The fashion line BRONZE strives for elegance and refinement through the inspirations of different countries and various eras while adapting to a contemporary milieu.

To create BRONZE, fashion designer and photographer Hamza Mejri was inspired by renowned designer Karl Lagerfeld’s collections and photography. Mejri continued with his passion for photography while creating his own fashion collection. “The birth of an outfit starts with my love of raw materials. When I see and touch a piece of fabric, I already imagine the clothing that comes out of it. Lace, leather and silk often play leading roles, imposing their beauty while capturing reflections of light, resulting in a beautiful symbiosis of the elements", declares Mr. Mejri.

To celebrate this synergy of textures and art, the BRONZE fashion show will be preceded by an exhibit of Mejri’s stunning photography and designs, Abstract Fashion, featuring many Quebec celebrities such as Camille DG, Yan England and Les Ballets de Jazz de Montréal dancers.

Our motto: Be seen without causing a scene - dazzle without shocking
Discover Mejri’s approach to fashion during this striking fashion show. On the agenda: 40 models with 40 outfits and several Quebec celebrities.

Launch of the new fashion line, BRONZE, by Hamza Mejri

Abstract Fashion cocktail and photo exhibit
Friday, June 10, 7pm followed by
BRONZE Fashion Show - Friday, June 10, 8pm

Salle Polyvalente (UQAM)
200 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest

Tickets: $25 online

*For information:

Hamza Mejri’s The Dress is in New York this summer:

Art Party Extraordinaire: Less Than One Week Till Power Ball XVIII: Pleasure Principle June 2 2016 in Toronto

From a media release:

Art Party:
Less Than One Week Left to Purchase Tickets
for Power Ball XVIII: Pleasure Principle
presented by Max Mara

Don’t miss Power Ball XVIII, Toronto’s famed art party in support of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, happening next Thursday, June 2, 2016

Buy Tickets

TORONTO - Presented by Max Mara for the second consecutive year, this year’s event theme, Pleasure Principle, calls on guests to explore their desires within the gallery’s art-filled spaces, each featuring a different artist project and a different party atmosphere.

VIP ticket holders start the evening at 7 p.m. with modernist cocktails prepared by BarChef, and a special production by New York-based artist Ryan McNamara. Remaining spaces open at 9 p.m., showcasing work by several Canadian artists including an opium den installation by Karen Tam and an exploration of (over)stimulation and sensuality by Laura Kikauka, among many other works.

Chicago house music pioneer DJ Mark Farina and two of Toronto’s most talked about DJs, Teo Nio and CRSB, will provide musical entertainment throughout the evening. Max Mara will also have an on-site presence throughout the event with visual installations that represent the brand’s heritage, as well as performances by contemporary ballet dancer and choreographer Javon Jones, winner of the Max Mara Young Visionary Award for the National Young Arts Foundation.

Funds raised through Power Ball are vital in supporting The Power Plant, Toronto’s leading public gallery dedicated exclusively to contemporary visual art.

Thursday, June 2, 2016
VIP Party: 7 – 9 p.m. 
Main Event: 9 p.m. – late 

The Power Plant
231 Queens Quay West
Toronto, ON. M5J 2G8

Twitter: @ThePowerPlantTO
Facebook: ThePowerPlantTO
Instagram: @ThePowerPlantTO
Hashtag: #PowerBallTO

Every year, Power Ball is unique, but to give you a taste, here's a look at the 2012 version:

Recently Released: ZMEI3 'Rough Romanian Soul' (Six Degrees Records - April 22 2016)

From a media release:


Buy the CD

Zmei3 (pronounced zmay-tray) is made up of Romanian immigrants whose beautiful and heartfelt music rises from the harsh realities and struggles of a post-Communist rule.  Their debut album Rough Romanian Soul (out now on Six Degrees Records) is produced by GRAMMY® award-winner, Ian Brennan, best known for his work with Tinariwen, Zomba Prison Project, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and the Malawi Mouse Boys.  Zmei3 being huge fans of Brennan’s work, successfully raised funds via Kickstarter to cover recording costs, travel, and more.  They flew Brennan to Romania and began recording the album in August 2015 live without overdubs in the Transylvanian mountains, just a stone’s throw away from Dracula’s Castle.

The band is fueled by powerhouse vocalist, Paula Turcas, a trained, soprano opera singer who gave up classical music in the pursuit of a more truthful artistry grounded in the struggles of everyday life.  When she was three years old – the daughter of the village priest – began to sing the traditional Romanian folk songs. She would sing with such despair that when people passed by, her father would lift her up on the table and people would stop and listen with tears in their eyes.  Her voice remains so visceral that Berlin’s Der Tagesspiegel newspaper stated, “When Zmei3 are playing, it’s not rare that tears are falling in the audience.” Their sound is made all the more unique by featuring vibraphone virtuoso, Oli Bott, for their lead instrument.Mihai Victor Iliescu leads the talented group on guitars and lyrics, with Arnulf Ballhorn on double bass.  The band’s name is inspired by an ancient Romanian anti-hero, misfit dragon – a rebellious figure, who rarely prevails, but remains committed to his ideals.

The name of the album, Rough Romanian Soul is an ode to Romanian music entrenched with a deep history of regional blues and soul, as well as the inherent spirituality of their work.  Turcas adds, “The land is rough and the people strong, and our legacy is one of survival.”  Music from Transylvania is not commonly associated with aggressive styles mashing up blues and soul with influences of jazz, avant-garde, and folk with such introspective topics and emotive soundscapes.  But that is exactly what Zmei3 succeeds in doing on their fifteen-track debut.  Bott explains, “We had more than three albums worth of material and many of our most famous songs live were left off the album, in exchange for newer and more challenging material.”

Across the fifteen songs, Zmei3 cover topics of resistance, immigration, oppression, love, death, pride, loneliness, and strength.  “2 Mai” / 2nd of May is story of 2 Mai, a village at the Black Sea, close to the border with Bulgaria, which was a haven for hippies who wanted to escape the constraints of the communist regime.  “Poveste Din Tara Mea” / Story From My Country is about the feelings of an immigrant who left behind everything that he loved. A father is telling his little girl that she should never forget that there’s a country, a lost paradise, and that one day they will seek revenge on those who destroyed it.  “Shhh!!! … Tot Ce Nu Se Spunea Atunci” / Shhh!!! … All The Forbidden Speech is an improvised song, created around all the things, ideas and thoughts that were forbidden during the 45-year repressive regime in Romania.

“Marie, Marie” / Mary, Mary is an essential love ballad from southern Romania. A kind of southern blues.  “Pana Cand Nu Te Lubeam” / Since I’ve Been Loving You according to the band says, “It’s a strange coincidence that there is a Led Zeppelin song with the same title – but maybe it’s no coincidence since it’s exactly about the same feelings. ‘I’m about to lose…my worried mind’ – only that this song is urban folklore from Bucharest, dating from around 1850.”  “Intr-o Zi” / One day is the band’s slow blues song which was inspired by Bob Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country Fair.”  Other standouts include “Imn” / Hymn composed without lyrics and dedicated to the human experience, while “Vis” / Dream is dedicated to the memory of the Resistance fighters from the 50’s – and to those very few who always choose to fight and resist, even when it’s clear they have no chance.

Much of the songwriting was done via “instant composition,” where the producer Ian Brennan pushed the band to create songs and record simultaneously.  All while being inspired by the environment of the Transylvania mountains that were in view.  Brennan expresses, “music should breath, music should live, and come from inside a person. Equipment is secondary. Simply a means to an end.  The ability to be high amidst the mountains, to see them, and be there together, lends a sacredness to this project.”  Brennan is known for capturing the environment in which he records.  For example Brennan’s latest release on Six Degrees Records, Zomba Prison Project was recorded in Malawi, and documented the music of prisoners at the maximum security prison in Zomba.  The album was nominated for a “World Music” GRAMMY® which garnered critical praise on the cover of the New York Times, as well as features in CNN, Newsweek, Al Jazeera, NPR, Associated Press, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, and more.

Brennan concludes, “Eastern Europe in general has been neglected by the rest of the world in terms of interest and exploration of music and culture. It has literally and deliberately been treated as a bloc. There is a great ignorance amongst many as to what Eastern Europe even is after World War II, so to have vibrant and modern music from Romania is a very valuable thing.”

Social Media:

Images by Marilena Delli

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Toronto's Turbo Street Funk - New Album 'Momentum' (July 6 2016) & CD Release Party

From a media release:


Buy their CDs

CD Release Party with opening act Kunlé
The Horseshoe Tavern, 370 Queen St W, Toronto, ON | (416)-598-4226
Wednesday, July 6 - Doors @ 8:30 pm / Opening act: 9-9:45 pm / Turbo – 10-11:15 pm
TICKETS: $10 – Purchase advance tickets here 

TORONTO – Toronto’s own high-energy, horn-band sensation TURBO STREET FUNK accelerate their forward motion with their new, sophomore album, MOMENTUM. Known for their explosive, infectious live performances, that have consistently drawn huge crowds – from their beginnings busking on the streets of The Six, to intimate club dates, and massive festival stages – the band will bring their hyper-engaging live show to The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern as they release the new album on Wednesday, July 6th.

• The doors open at 8:30 pm, opening act Kunlé starts at 9:00 pm, and Turbo Street Funk hits the stage at 10:00 pm. 

Momentum is a very apt name for the new Turbo Street Funk album: most of the self-penned songs encourage forward motion through our lives, and the recording captures the epic thrust and drive of their live show. Most of the players in the band are music school graduates and they’re all skillful, talented musicians, but it never gets in the way of their musical fun – or ours. If this album doesn’t make you want to smile, laugh, or dance, you might wanna check your vital signs. This is lease-breaking music at its best.

The title track "Momentum,” with its climactic chorus and stadium-friendly refrain, is an inspirational, feel-good anthem that lives up to the band’s turbo-charged name.

“If I Think Twice” finds ska and klezmer mixing it up in the alley with gypsy rock, with a surprisingly funky tuba, fun backing vocals and a crazy-ass guitar solo.

Although one of the songs is called “Never Been To New Orleans,” judging by the performance on this song, it sure sounds like they have. It showcases double-time tempo for the featured bluesy harmonica and sax solos, as well as the party finish, replete with growling horns and cheering crowd.

"Seven" – an instrumental mashup of The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army," The Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)," and Grieg's "In The Hall of the Mountain King" – employs a ska rhythm to get to the funky soul of these classic, and classic-rock gems. It takes great verve and imagination to pull this inventive medley off, but Turbo Street Funk does.

Their cover of the Ghostbusters’ theme – perfectly timed to coincide with the blockbuster reboot movie of the summer of 2016 – rides an ultra-rhythmic beat and a wailing sax solo to end the album on a high.

All of the songs on Momentum were produced by Chris Birkett and engineered by James Finnerty at Revolution Recording in Toronto, except track four “Whoever You Are,” which was produced and engineered by Ross Hayes Citrullo at Media One Creative in Toronto.

Musicians on the Album:
Casey Van: Vocals, Guitar & Harmonica / Juan Manuel Arce: Alto Saxophone / Joel Eric Szabo: French Horn / Camilo Gallon: Drums / Ian Feenstra: Sousaphone

Upcoming Tour Dates
May 27 – Mississauga, ON – Failte Irish Pub
June 3 – Orangeville, ON – Orangeville Blues & Jazz Festival
June 4 – Toronto, ON – Riverside Eats & Beats Festival
June 4 – Streetsville, ON – Streetsville Bread & Honey Festival
June 11 – Midland, ON – Butter Tart Festival
June 18 – Burlington, ON – Sound of Music Festival
June 19 – Toronto, ON – Princess Margaret Journey to Conquer Cancer
June 24 – Ajax, ON – Pickering Village JAMFest
June 25 – Ajax, ON – Pickering Village JAMFest
June 26 – Toronto, ON – Royal Conservatory of Music’s Wide Open House
July 1 – Toronto, ON – Canada Day At Mel Lastman Square
July 2 – Gravenhurst, ON – FunkFest
July 6 – Toronto, ON – CD RELEASE at Horseshoe Tavern
July 8 – Kincardine, ON – Lighthouse Blues Festival
July 13 & 14 – Mont Tremblant, QC – Tremblant International Blues Festival
July 16 – Sackets Harbor, NY, USA – CAN AM International Festival
July 23 – Orillia, ON – Downtown Orillia’s Summer Block Party
July 29 - 31 – Clarendon, ON – Blue Skies Music Festival
Aug 6 – Ottawa, ON – Upper Ottawa River Race and Paddle Festival
Aug 13 – Owen Sound, ON – Avalon Jazz Lounge
Aug 14 – Owen Sound, ON – Harbour Nights

Get Social: 

TURBO STREET FUNK perform "TO THE STREET" in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at the Beaches Jazz Festival "Street Fest" on July 23, 2015.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Travel the Eastern Townships, Quebec L'Été des chefs Balnea / Balnea Summer of Chefs July 3 to September 11 2016

With material from a media release:

Travel the Eastern Townships, Quebec
L'Été des chefs Balnea / Balnea Summer of Chefs 

July 3 to September 11, 2016
at Balnea Spa
319 chemin du Lac Gale
Bromont, Quebec J2L2S5
450-534-0604 / 1-866-734-2110

• Check out hotel options and deals that combine Balnea Spa packages with accommodations and more nearby

BROMONT, QC - 10 chefs. 10 plats. 1 destination. Un concours gastronomique rassemblant 10 des plus grands chefs du Québec. Des plats originaux et inspirés de la réserve thermale, servis à tous les dimanches au Club de plage et tout l’été dans les restaurants des chefs participants (Soubois, Bottega Pizzeria, Monsieur & Miss Prêt à Manger, Meson, Jatoba, L’impérial, H4C, Thursday’s, O’Chevreuil, Orange rouge) pendant la saison estivale.

10 chefs. 10 dishes. 1 destination. A gourmet food competition that brings together 10 of Quebec’s best chefs. Original dishes inspired by the thermal reserve, served every Sunday at the spa’s Beach Club and in the 10 participating restaurants - Soubois, Bottega Pizzeria, Monsieur & Miss Prêt à Manger, Meson, Jatoba, L’impérial, H4C, Thursday’s, O’Chevreuil, Orange rouge - all summer long starting July 3rd.

When you dine, be sure to enter the contest to see if you can win a luxury trip. Last year's prize was an all expense paid trip to an exclusive Mexico resort worth $5,600.
Eastern Townships
The Eastern Townships region of Quebec is known for its upscale skiing resorts in the winter. In the summer, the hills and forests are green and the emphasis is on the outdoors with a very human touch.

As a tourist region, expect the bar to be set high for cuisine. Chefs emphasize local ingredients and agricultural food products, which are abundant in the still largely agricultural region.

Balnea is housed in a stunning contemporary building within a 400-acre private nature reserve with a thermal spa and offers a variety of experiences, including - of course! - dining.

Here's the list:
Panoramic Finnish saunas, Turkish bath, outdoor hot tubs with salt water, heated terraces, cold chute, lake with endless dock, sweat-lodge, 22km of hiking trails, a forest basin, thermal waterfall, solarium offering splendid views of the Appalachians, rest areas with huge fireplaces, coffee, Slow Food, cinema-lounge and beach club.

Spa Treatments
Traditional or classic massages, exceptional beauty treatments, mythical rituals, cures, couples massages, personalized treatments.

3 Dining Options
At the LUMAMI restaurant, on the Terrace or at the Bar Orange, discover an ever changing, refined seasonal cuisine.

Last year's event

South African Grooves Recently Released: Lorraine Klaasen - Nouvelle Journée (Justin Time Records - Mar 11 2016)

From a media release:

Recently Released:
Lorraine Klaasen - Nouvelle Journée
(℗ 2016 Justin Time Records - Mar 11, 2016)

Available now on iTunes 
• For more information please visit /

TORONTO – Canada’s South African queen and JUNO award-winning artist Lorraine Klaasen has a new album out called Nouvelle Journée, or New Day, (Justin Time Records). It’s a stunning collection of songs sung in Tsonga, Sotho, IsiZulu and Xhosa, as well as English and French, that have a slight political tone, infused with hip-shaking, toe-tapping rhythms.

On seeing singer Lorraine Klaasen coming at him with open arms, radiant in her multi-coloured stage outfit, Nelson Mandela, (then on an official visit to Canada), hugged her warmly and said, with a broad smile, “You really are the spitting image of your mother! But can you sing like her?”

Based in Montreal for more than 35 years, Klaasen still has the bearing of a queen. Through her mother, the legendary South African singing star Thandie Klaasen, she decoded the authentic grooves of her country’s Townships. After raising a family in Montreal, she embarked on a brilliant solo career, during which she has delighted music lovers with her irresistible mix of South African sounds, strongly spiced with West Indian flavors.

The award-winning Klaasen has already garnered a JUNO for World Music Album of the Year in 2013, for her Tribute to Miriam Makeba, and the Hagood Hardy SOCAN Award as chosen by her peers, the following year.

Now upon her return to the concert stage, Klaasen presents Nouvelle Journée which translates as “New Day,” and which represents a new beginning!

Nouvelle Journée is an optimistic, danceable record but also a lucid, sincere and engaging work. Not holding back, Lorraine sings in Tsonga, Sotho, IsiZulu and Xhosa – tribal languages of her home country – as well as in English, and all with her charming Soweto accent. The title track even features her singing in French for the first time!

Lorraine Klaasen pays tribute to her mother by covering “Izani Nonke,” a song that stridently criticizes those elected to govern us. “Never trust a politician,” she sings, and goes on to deplore the lack of ethics displayed by these untouchable, high-placed figures, described as “dishonest puppets” who profess to love the people but instead abuse them.

“Where to Now?,” is a poignant, soul-charged ballad that Klaasen wrote nearly 30 years ago, imploring people to have compassion and to condemn greed. “There are a lot of homeless and destitute people and my heart is heavy,” she admits, evoking the migrant crisis currently affecting European countries. She adds, “We can’t ignore what’s been happening in the world today.”

Produced by Washington DC-based Mongezi Ntaka – the incomparable guitarist and producer, with whom Klaasen had already worked in the past, on the album Africa Calling (2008) – the album boasts some top notch musicians. Others on board for the project are the brilliant Congolese drummer Noel Mpiaza and Haitian musician Medad Ernest, who contributes his jazz and gospel groove on the accordion and keyboards. Local musicians completing the roster are Assane Seck, the most in-demand Senegalese artist in town, brothers André and Ross Whitman (of the famed West Indian Soca band Jab Jab), as well as Quebec’s double-bassist extraordinaire Cédric Dind-Lavoie, who has become a fixture on the local world music scene.

And just to add a little extra dynamite to the mix, an irrepressible trio of young backing vocalists (Anne Metellus, Melissa Gresseau, Cynthia Binette), enhance Klaasen’s eclectic repertoire.

Lorraine Klaasen, a born stage performer if there ever was one, is definitely back on the scene and we can look forward to getting our groove on, starting with songs like “Township Memories,” “Polokwane” or “Babalazi,” which brings to mind the South African mega hit Pata Pata.

Twitter: @JustinTimeRec

A Weekend in Paris...Ontario at the historic Arlington Hotel

With material fron a release:

A Weekend in Paris...Ontario
at the historic Arlington Hotel

106 Grand River St N, Paris, ON N3L 2M5, Canada
Phone:+1 226-227-1767

Tucked on the banks of the Grand River in southwestern Ontario, Paris offers an escape from the ordinary. The Arlington Hotel was established in 1851 in the chateau style of architecture that evokes the grandeur of European capitals of the time.
Arlington Hotel by Misty De Meo (

Paris, Ontario is a pretty town west Hamilton and near Brantford. It began its life as a milltown in 1929 and was officially established in 1856. Nowadays it forms part of the surrounding Brant County.
Bridge over Grand River by Perry Quan from Oakville, Canada

The town actually gets its name from the gypsum deposits that are mined and make plaster of paris - not for the French capital.

Paris sits on the green banks of the Grand River with a downtown that has kept a lot of its ornate Victorian charm along with the addition of many newer residential areas. The Arlington Hotel is part of that iconic streetscape, a landmark that sits directly across from the River.

Paris public library (1902) by Misty De Meo

There are 23 rooms, each with unique design and decorating details. The Arlington gets rave reviews on Tripadvisor and Expedia. While the hotel is historic, the rooms are fully outfitted with the usual amenities, including free WiFi and upscale furnishings.

Paris, Ontario may not boast a nightlife scene to rival its French counterpart, but all the ingredients are present for a relaxing escape from the everyday, including a spa and other amenities.

Executive Chef Matt Kershaw features imaginative menus and there is an emphasis on craft cocktails with flair, using local wine and spirits.

There are three options that include elegant fine dining at Woolf & Wilde, featuring a farm to table menu and a lovely vine-covered terrace. The casual yet stylish vibe of the Library Bar offers an innovative bar menu and delicious small plates for nibbling. The 1851 Public House features a speakeasy theme. It's located in the cellar and features wood framing and exposed rock formations.
1851 Public House

What's Close By
Treks in the Wild - an outdoor adventure service for canoe and kayak rentals and more a few minutes' walk away
• The Paris Grand Golf & Country Club - about 2.5 km away

A wedding in Paris

Friday, May 13, 2016

CD Release: Chris Wirsig - The 13 Crystal Skulls (no:carrier music - May 13 2016)

CD Release: 
Chris Wirsig - The 13 Crystal Skulls
(no:carrier music - May 13, 2016)

Get it from the album page

The 13 Crystal Skulls is a concept album that works, an evocative take on a legend and the brainchild of composer Chris Wirsig.

Los Angeles based these days, Chris is a classsically trained musician on the piano and saxophone, having studied audio engineering in Munich. He brings 15 years' experience in music production and recording to this latest project that takes its inspiration from the legend that drove Indiana Jones into the jungle - the magical 13 crystal skulls.

According to the legend, the skulls date from pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and were crafted by the Aztecs from clear quartz. The 13 carved skulls were said to have paranormal powers and are supposedly scattered around the world.

Chris has used the various elements of the electronic music palette with a view to the music and the overall effect - this is electronica in service of a musical purpose. It often sounds like some of the best of prog rock, using a variety of sounds both electronic and orchestral to create layers of texture that build and mesmerize. Each track offers something different.

The release begins with a spooky and atmoshpheric Overture that is still grounded in melody. Wordless voices add a bright layer to Crystal Skull 2 - the Ghosts of the Aztecs. It's a track a grandeur of vision that reads like a soundtrack. Crystal Skull (CS) 4 - Ceremony in Tenochtitlan - appropriately enough - has a techno feel with an Asian inspired melody and harmonic structure.

Some tracks, like Crystal Skull 5 - Carved Legend - mystery, like Trent Reznor/NIN and CS 10 - Excavation veer farther away from melody and harnonic structure, wallowing in spacey machine sounds.

CS 6 - Watching Eyes takes the spacey sound and adds a throbbing beat and a spooky piano line for a sort of  dysfunctional galactic dance music. CS 8 - Refraction and 9 - On The Hills continue the same kind of weirdly danceable beat.

It's an interesting and very listenable meditation on a legend that continues to fascinate through the ages.

Other recent news: His soundtrack for "20 Matches" is now playing in film festivals around the country while the iPad Top Ten game "Alien Tribe 2" also features a soundtrack by Chris.

Retail Therapy & Fine Art: Simon's and Brendan Tang's Raincity Robot

Retail Therapy & Fine Art
Simon's and Brendan Tang's Raincity Robot
at Square One, Mississauga

Simons is a fashion retailer with an incredible 175-year history. Based in Quebec City, the venerable business opened its first story in Ontario - its 12th store and third outside Quebec - in Mississauga at Square One earlier this year.

Raincity Robot by Brendan Lee Satish Tang
But this isn't a story about fashion - it's about art, something the Quebecois retailer believes in supporting. In particular, the company makes a point of supporting Canadian talent.

As such, they commissioned ceramic artist Brendan Lee Satish Tang for a piece to display in the new store. Raincity Robot is the result, a 10 1/2 foot tall fibreglass sculpture that sits at the top of the escalator.

Brendan is quoted in Canadian Interiors describing his piece.

"My artistic practice embodies the influencers, tensions and contradictions that define the postmodern world. I hope that my piece will not only be a source of pride and engagement for Simons’ customers and employees, but will add a new voice to the public art dialogue of Mississauga."

From a company statement:

Juggling futuristic and traditional ideas, Raincity Robot brings to light the tensions and contradictions that characterize contemporary culture. The Chinese vase recalls the four sisters smokestacks of the old Lakeview Generating Station, while robotic limbs inspired by barnacles make up the base, a nod to Mississauga’s high-tech industry and the city’s lakeside location.

Brendan LS Tang is a Canadian artist born in Dublin to Trinidadian parents. His reconfiguration of traditional art and use of mixed media explore the notions of tradition, cultural appropriation, and hybridity. Internationally recognized, Tang's work is found in the permanent collections of many top museums.

Raincity Robot is the latest in Brendan's Manga Ormolu series, that combines elements of the traditional 17th century ormulo, or gilded vessel, and modern Japanese manga.

Toronto Travel Tips: What's New at Pearson? The UP Train is Awesome and the Doctor is In

Toronto Travel Tips
What's New at Pearson?

If you're traveling in and out of Pearson this summer, there's been some changes you'll want to check out.

UP Train
Getting to and from the airport isn't usually on anyone's list of fun things to do. It's an ordeal rather than one of the things you look forward to when you're taking a trip.

The people at UP are looking to change your mind with a sleek, stylish train and upscale amenities that can will set your trip off on a high note. It's clean, ultra modern and efficient; there are lots of reasons to love UP.

  • The trains run every 15 minutes between Uniotn Station and Pearson from 5:30am to 1:00am every day
  • The trip only takes 25 minutes
  • The one-way fare is only $9 with Presto, $12 without, $6 for seniors and free for kids 12 and under

Hot Tip
While you're waiting, check out the CIBC lounge - just follow the signs and arrows to the upper level lounge, an oasis of casual yet stylish dining and imbibing. It's a chic and relaxing way to begin your trip.

Pharmacy & Doctor In The House
Skyhealth at Pearson
Medical clinic hours: 8am-10pm daily
Pharmacy hours: 6am-10pm daily

Nobody likes to think about getting ill while you're on vacation or on the road, but anything can happen and it usually does.

Skyhealth is located at Pearson Terminal 1, open 7 days a week to offer medical clinic and pharmacy services to travelers and frequent flyers, including prescription transfers and refills.
You'll find a state of the art clinic with high tech amenities and a European style full service pharmacy. You can get travel vaccinations and see a doctor without an appointment.

In addition, Skyhealth kiosks are located throughout the airport terminals to offer basic pharmacy products like aspirin and bandaids.

I can remember taking a trip with the fam in the late 1990s in old Terminal 1... hotter than hell with no air conditioning and it felt like a rabbit warren. We've come a long way, baby.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Toronto Masque Theatre Presents: The Fairy Queen by Henry Purcell 27-29 May 2016

From a media release:

Toronto Masque Theatre Presents:
The Fairy Queen
by Henry Purcell (1659-1695)

Come, let us leave the Town
And in some lonely place,
Where Crowds and Noise were never known,
Resolve to spend our days.

27-29 May 2016, 8:00 pm
Special pre-show chat at 7:15 each night

The Arts & Letters Club, 14 Elm Street, Toronto
Steps from the Dundas St. subway station


TORONTO - The Great Hall of the Arts & Letters Club is the magnificent location for Toronto Masque Theatre’s new interpretation of Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen. A popular entertainment in its day, this 17th-century masterpiece is re-imagined by director and choreographer Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière who casts the themes of the work into a contemporary setting, creating a new scenario that follows the fate of a number of lost souls in search of love, happiness and meaning. Lacoursière uses the precision of baroque dance to explore the passion that informs and drives Purcell’s stunning music.
The Fairy Queen by Edward Landseer
The production will feature an all-star baroque ensemble, led from the violin by Artistic Director Larry Beckwith, a company of some of our finest singers and, from the Montreal-based Les Jardins Chorégraphiques, dancers Stéphanie Brochard and Lacoursière.

Based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Purcell wrote the music for The Fairy Queen in 1692. Although we don’t know for sure who the librettist is, it has often been speculated that it was the actor and impresario, Thomas Betterton.

Soprano Juliet Beckwith
Our new production features a seamless scenario that focuses on the brilliant musical numbers, allowing us to present the compositions Purcell created for the original and that rank among his very best, including some of his most familiar solo songs such as:
  • If love’s a sweet passion;
  • Hark, the echoing air;
  • Night;
  • Ye gentle spirits of the air,
  • Now the night is chas’d away; and
  • One charming night.
As well as fantastic ensemble numbers:
  • Come, let us leave the town;
  • the dialogue of Corydon and Mopsa; and
  • the brilliant final trio.
The first performances of The Fairy Queen were so successful that the production was brought back in 1693. After those shows, and following Purcell’s untimely death two years later, the full score was for a long time considered lost. Although efforts were made to locate the score – including, apparently, several ads in London papers in the early 1700s offering rewards for its safe return – it wasn’t until 1900 that the score was fully recovered.

After this discovery, the score was included in the Purcell Society’s editions of his complete works and, throughout the 20thcentury, it emerged as one of Purcell’s most beloved pieces. With the advent of the early music revival in the 1960s and 70s the quality of the products improved immensely and there have been many fine recordings of The Fairy Queen by leading early music companies.

Any production of The Fairy Queen has to grapple with what to do with the spoken text.  Despite coming almost a century after the original, the text featured in The Fairy Queen is somewhat more convoluted and antiquated-sounding than Shakespeare’s original.  In addition, a full production, using all the spoken text, would last as long as six hours.

With this production, Artistic Director Larry Beckwith and Artistic Associate Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière have decided to focus on the music and the splendid dances that they believe form the emotional heart of the work.

Here's a taste of the music:

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: