Friday, October 28, 2016

#TravelJapan: Off the beaten path and into Japan's traditions and history in Matsusaka, Mie

From a media release:

Off the beaten path and into Japan's traditions and history
Matsusaka, Mie

Matsusaka, in Mie, is located on Ise Bay, east of Tokyo in the central part of Japan. Close to Kyoto and Osaka, Matsusaka is often overlooked by the tourist trade, and in fact many tourist guides to Japan will omit the small city in the Mie Prefecture entirely. But, it's a gem of Japanese traditional culture, with history, traditional textiles, and quite possibly the world's best beef, on offer.
Onigawara gargoyle, Matsusaka, Mie Prefecture
Edo Period gem
It was the trade in indigo-dyed cotton in a striped pattern that actually originates in Vietnam that fueled Matsusaka's most prosperous era during the Edo Period (1600-1868). Local merchants grew rich off the proceeds, including Mitsui Takatoshi – founder of the Mitsui group. Matsusaka’s historic Izawa district is a showcase for Edo era architecture, including the Takegawa merchant estate and its exquisite tea house; contact the Matsusaka Tourism Assocation ( to make arrangements.
Keisho Temple, Matsusaka, Mie

Shopping tip: In addition to the enchanting historic architecture, Matsusaka is home to a plethora of traditional Japanese sweet shops. It's not indulgence – you're appreciating Japanese culture.

On the approach to the castle is the old merchant area of the city with many traditional, wooden shops still selling indigo cotton goods. The former residence of Sheizawemon Odzu has been preserved as the Memorial Museum of Matsusaka Merchant (Tel: 0598 21 4331; admission 200 yen). The two-storey house has splendid tatami rooms, peaceful pocket-sized gardens, two thick-walled storehouses and a beautiful step- (kaidan) tansu under the stairs. The well, money-boxes, kitchen and toilets are still in place and the museum really evokes the atmosphere of an Edo-era business.
Matsusaka Castle walls
Matsusaka-jō (Matsusaka Castle) dates from 1588, and was constructed by daimyo Ujisato Gamo -- a noted man of culture who later converted to Christianity. Originally the castle's keep (donjon) had three storeys and a separate armory. Today, all that remains are crumbling stone walls and a uniquely beautiful atmosphere.

There is a park and garden to enjoy among the scenic ruins that overlook the city, which includes the foundation along with ruined stairways and stone walls. In the spring, the garden is a lovely enclave filled with cherry blossoms and wisteria. Below the castle walls is the Gojoban-Yashiki Residence (Castle Guards' Houses; Tel: 0598 26 5174) where the samurai guards of the castle and their extended families used to live. The impressive rows of 19 wooden houses are still inhabited today; six of them are occupied by direct descendants of the original soldiers.
Matsusaka Gojoban_Yashiki built 1863 by Tawashi2006
Poetry lovers alert: This is where you'll find the Motoori Norinaga Memorial Museum (Tel: 0598 21 0312; admission 300 yen) and the Suzunoya (House of Bells) - a restoration of the poet's house and study and called after Motoori Norinaga's epistolary name. Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801) became the leading scholar of his generation and the museum houses the 44 volume "Kojiki den" - a manual of Japan's oldest history book that took Motoori 35 years to complete. Browse the diaries, hand-drawn maps, medical paraphernalia and artworks of prolific scholar Motoori Norinaga at the museum dedicated to his life (
Matsusaka Museum of History & Folklore
Just next door, the Museum of History & Folklore (Tel: 0598 23 2381; admission 100 yen) has a quirky collection of early stereos, radios and electrical appliances as well as indigo cotton looms - indigo cotton production has been a major industry of the area for centuries.

In the same area, the Hasegawa estate is the former home of a rich cotton merchant of the Edo era. The estate features historic architecture such as wooden lattices, five stores houses, and a roof supported by a distinctive udatsu beam—one of only three remaining in Mie Prefecture. The estate centres around a pond and lush greenery.
Matsusaka Park Gardens
Matsusaka Cotton / Matsusaka Momen
Matsusaka, in Mie Prefecture, is famous for “Matsusaka Momen”, an Indigo-dyed cotton with a distinctive striped pattern. Records of cotton-weaving in Matsusaka go back as far as the 5th century and the area is famous for the high quality of its fabric. To this day, Kabuki actors still wear Kimono made of Matsusaka Momen and the manufacturing process is regarded as a national treasure. You ca buy bags, scarves, kimonos and more and try your hand at weaving the cotton at the Matsusaka Cotton Weaving Center (Tel: 0598 26 6355).
Traditional indigo dyed Matsusaka cotton fabric
Matsusake Beef
Along with Kobe beef and Ōmi beef or Yonezawa beef, Matsusaka beef is considered the finest in Japan. Also known as Kuroge Washu or "Japanese Black" beef, the cattle are raised in the bucolic countryside that lies between the Miyagawa and Kumozu Rivers. Only the female cows are raised in this way, fed grains and fodder, and if they lack appetite, they're fed beer. The cows also get regular massages. If you're a concerned carnivore, it seems like a decent choice.

Japanese film buff alert: On the other side of town from the castle and merchant area is the interesting Ozu Yasujiro Seishunkan Museum (Tel: 0598 22 2660) dedicated to the famous film director, who spent his youth here in rural Mie Prefecture. Ozu Yasujiro, is best known for his classic film Tokyo Story (1953). His major themes of family life portray ordinary people in ordinary situations struggling to adapt to the changes of post-war Japan. Ozu's films such as Early Spring, The End Of Summer and Early Summer are both mysterious and poignant. Ozu (1903-1963) was born in Tokyo but moved to his father's home town of Matsusaka aged 10 and lived in the town until 1923 when he returned to Tokyo to begin work as a cameraman at the Shochiku Film Company.

Matsusaka does have public transit system and abundant taxis, but you can walk all over this city of about 165,000 by foot without breaking any marathon records.
  • Matsusaka, in Mie Prefecture on the east coast of the Kii Peninsula is just over an hour by express train from Nagoya and about 90 minutes from Osaka. 
  • Train: Access to Matsusaka from Nagoya Station to Matsusaka Station on the Kintetsu or JR Line. Journey time is 1 hour, 10 minutes. Trains from Kintetsu Namba Station in Osaka take 90 minutes. From Matsusaka to Tsu is less than 20 minutes by train.
  • There are irregular buses to the historic zone from the station or you can take one of the plentiful taxis. (Kintetsu Taxi: 0598 21 5543).
  • There is a high-speed ferry from Matsusaka Port to Chubu International Airport across Ise Bay. There are 8 boats a day and the fare is 2100 yen one-way for the 45 minute journey.
  • The Suzunoya loop bus circles the downtown area and is 100 yen per ride.
  • The Tourist Information Office (Tel: 0598 23 7771) is on your right as you exit the station.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Jazz in Miniature: Super Petite by The Claudia Quintet

From a media release:

For Your Consideration the 2016 Album
a Miniature Masterpiece of 10 Concise Tunes performed by
along with the Instrumental Composition "PETERBOROUGH" from the same Album
Composed by JOHN HOLLENBECK - Cuneiform Records

Buy the CD

Short doesn’t necessarily mean simple. Drummer-composer John Hollenbeck acrobatically explores the dichotomy between brevity and complexity on Super Petite, the eighth release by the critically-acclaimed, proudly eccentric Claudia Quintet. The oxymoronic title of the new album, captures the essence of its ten new compositions, which pack all of the wit and virtuosity that listeners have come to expect from the Claudia Quintet into a shorter time-frame.

The Claudia Quintet has walked a unique path in contemporary jazz since their founding in the late 1990s. Unlike most jazz ensembles where the particular musicians may come and go, drummer, composer and leader John Hollenbeck always wanted Claudia to be a ‘band’ with a sound not only determined by the compositions and the instrumentation, but with the actual players who perform the music. This concept is why Claudia has had an immediately identifiable sound since its inception. In that sound, the exceptional artistry and individuality of each musician is skillfully revealed throughout Hollenbeck’s original compositions.

Hollenbeck’s uncategorizable music – which bridges the worlds of modern jazz and new music in surprising and inventive ways - is realized by Claudia’s longstanding line-up. Over the course of 19 years and 8 albums, the band has forged an astounding chemistry and become expert at juggling mind-boggling dexterity with inviting emotion and spirit.

The concept of shorter works was both a personal challenge for Hollenbeck as a composer always dealing with a wealth of ideas, but also a reaction to a tendency in modern music toward the epic. “I’m feeling things in the opposite direction,” the composer explains. “When tunes are longer, there tend to be moments when not a whole lot is happening. If you have a really short tune, the whole thing has to be compelling.”

Equally compelling, the release comes with a fat, 20 page color booklet, designed by KarlssonWilker, who have done all of the artwork for Claudia's releases, which is filled with unusual and attractive art.

Claudia Quintet by Signe Mahler
The Claudia Quintet
Formed by composer / drummer / arranger John Hollenbeck in 1997, this NYC ensemble’s sound explores the edge without alienating the mainstream, proving that genre-defying music can be for everyone. Over the past decade, the group has released CDs that are critically acclaimed world wide and whose appeal extends well beyond, as well as including traditional jazz audiences. The Claudia Quintet has amazed audiences from Alabama to the Amazon. Their unique sound has inspired dancing hippie girls at a New Mexico noise festival, the avant-garde cognoscenti in the concert halls of Vienna and Sao Paolo, and a generation of young musicians worldwide. In the course of the thousands of miles they have traveled together and hundreds of concerts they’ve played, the Claudia Quintet has evolved and grown, developing a dynamic live sound based on trust and spontaneity. They bring this powerful energy into the studio, where they record the old-fashioned way, live, playing as a band.

P.S. Dear Voting NARAS Members,

The Claudia Quintet’s album Super Petite on Cuneiform Records is on the ballot for GRAMMY consideration in the category: "the bestest post-jazz album with accordion and vibes” or something like that!...along with the instrumental composition "Peterborough" from the same album, composed by John Hollenbeck. Remember to vote by November 4!

David Drebin's Photo Sculptures make Canadian debut at Art Toronto October 28 to 31 2016

From a media release:

David Drebin's Photo Sculptures make Canadian debut at Art Toronto
Part of Art Toronto - October 28 to 31, 2016

Internationally-acclaimed photographer and multi-disciplinary artist brings his muses to life with 3D-imaging technology

TORONTO, ON – Canadian-born, New York City-based and internationally-renowned artist and master photographer David Drebin will debut his revolutionary Photo Sculptures for the first time ever in Canada at Art Toronto, an exhibition and fair of modern and contemporary art running from Friday, October 28 to Sunday, October 31.
“Lips and Love” Etching on Starfire Crystal Glass by David Drebin
In recent years, Drebin has evolved into a multi-disciplinary artist to complement and expand on his photographic art prodigy. Drebin’s one-of-a-kind Photo Sculptures bring his muses and femme fatales to life through a unique process and the power of 3D-imaging, allowing onlookers to explore all angles of his cinematic scenes.

Three of Drebin’s limited edition Photo Sculptures, alongside a selection of his signature, landscape and cityscape photography will be showcased at booth #A22 (Galerie De Bellefeuille) and #A41 (Sandra Ainsley Gallery) at Art Toronto.
“Below the Surface” Photo Sculpture by David Drebin
“I was inspired by the transformative technology of 3D-imaging and how I was able to express my vision through a brand new medium,” said Drebin. “I am thrilled to share my photo sculptures with art lovers at Art Toronto and subsequently at Art Miami at Art Basel this season.”
“Below the Surface” Photo Sculpture by David Drebin
Renowned for creating spectacular artworks, from dynamic storytelling photography to vibrant lightboxes and neon light installations, Drebin’s pieces are collected internationally, having been shown at prestigious art fairs, galleries and exhibitions worldwide.

In September 2016, Drebin released his fifth coffee table book Dreamscapes by teNeues Publishing Group, featuring a curated collection of breathtaking city and landscapes such as Manhattan’s impressive cityscapes, the stunning beaches of the Amalfi Coast, the bustling energy of downtown San Francisco and the charming boulevards of Paris.

Dreamscapes is available online for $84 CAD.

“Teardrop” Photo Sculpture by David Drebin

About David Drebin
Toronto-born, New York City-based and internationally-acclaimed contemporary artist and photographer, David Drebin is renowned for creating spectacular shots of dazzling subjects. In recent years, Drebin has evolved into a multi-disciplinary artist with works that include his iconic photographs, lightboxes, neon sign installations, glass wall art and 3D photo sculptures. In a unique manner, he combines voyeuristic and psychological perspectives offering the viewer a dramatic insight into their own emotions and experiences. His work has often been described as epic, dreamy, imaginative, smart, sexy, elegant and sometimes even funny.

Instagram:  @daviddrebinofficial
Facebook:  daviddrebinofficial

Thursday, October 20, 2016

1828 Smart Hotel: Cutting-edge luxury in Buenos Aires most hip neighbourhood

From a media release:

1828 Smart Hotel
Cutting-edge luxury in Buenos Aires’ most hip neighbourhood

BUENOS AIRES - Open the curtains from your bed. Boost the air conditioning before you even enter the room. Check the weather ahead of a day out. At state-of-the-art 1828 Smart Hotel, everything is designed to make your stay in Buenos Aires completely effortless.
  • Urban garden with feature pool and trendy cabanas
  • Personal smartphone or tablet for making reservations, checking the forecast and even setting your room temperature
  • Candlelit Piano Lounge serving breakfast, lunch and dinner in elegant surrounds

The small, luxury spa is tailor-made for city breaks, with a sauna and menu of massages to soothe you after a day spent exploring. Before a night on the town, order a delicious dinner and drinks in the glitzy Piano Lounge. Or retreat to a cool garden cabana, watching the pool lights change to the rhythm of the music. When you return, a fresh, contemporary bedroom awaits.

1828 Smart Hotel puts you right in the heart of Palermo, arguably Buenos Aires’ trendiest district. By day its trendy cafés and boutiques are buzzing. But by night it really comes alive. See if you can find one of the area’s ‘secret’ bars, such as Frank’s that you enter via a phone booth using a secret code. Or seek out a milonga after midnight to watch the locals practice sultry tango. Nearby metro stations put you a subway ride away from the city’s best-known sites too, from Recoleta Cemetery to San Telmo’s Sunday market.

The Rooms
Welcome to a cool, crisp monochrome haven. Everything about the 1828 Smart Hotel rooms is designed to envelop you in luxury after a day of sightseeing – or late night out. Expect marble bathrooms, in-room espresso machines and almost-all-white décor. Airy suites even come with a Jacuzzi on a private terrace.

Food & Drink
If you’ve a sweet tooth, you’ll be at home in Buenos Aires – and at 1828 Smart Hotel. It celebrates the city’s best-loved treats, with medialunas and Argentinian favourite dulce de leche gracing tables. Breakfast is served until mid-morning, if you need a relaxed start to the day. Gourmet lunches and dinners can be wherever you choose – in the Piano Lounge, beside the cascading pool or in your room.

Cuisine type: International
Meals served: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Enjoy a unique buffet breakfast and a gastronomic service in an intimate and elegant atmosphere. In this space you can enjoy the music of the white grand piano and the beautiful view of the Pool Corner, with its 8 metre water cascade.

Amenities include a gym and a garden with an indoor pool and sunloungers, plus a ritzy piano lounge with elegant silver-trimmed furnishings. There's also a spa with a sauna and a massage room.

Address: Fray Justo Sta. Maria de Oro 1828, 1414 Buenos Aires, Argentina
Phone: +54 11 2060-9011 / 800-916-4339

Arts Day: 160 delegates descend on Ottawa October 25 2016

From a media release:

Arts Day: 160 delegates descend on Ottawa to celebrate a promise ten years in the making
October 25, 2016

Ottawa, October 20th, 2016 – More than 160 members of the arts sector will be coming to Ottawa from across Canada on October 25th to discuss the key role of the arts with decision makers.
Delegates will be celebrating the commitment made in Budget 2016 to double the funding of the Canada Council for the Arts – a promise that has been ten years in the making.
The government of Paul Martin had committed to doubling funding for the Canada Council in 2005, a promise that evaporated when the Liberals lost the 2006 election.

“For the last ten years we’ve been continuing to tell government that the arts sector delivers huge economic and social impact for the cost,” said Kate Cornell, co-chair of the Canadian Arts Coalition. “To see all that work finally pay off is exciting.”
Calgary, public art

A perfect example of the impact of the government’s support is the story of Indigenous singer/songwriter Christa Couture. Christa’s second album came out of the heartache she dealt with after the death of her first son. While touring, Christa spoke openly about her loss and realized her music was consoling others who had also lost someone dear to them. She began receiving regular letters or emails from people explaining how her music has touched them. “That kind of exchange has become one of the most important parts of my work and I've continued to create work about loss for almost ten years now for that reason.”
Winnipeg, mural

Christa concedes, however, that she would not be able to produce or share her music without public funding. “I can and will always write songs - and foremost, as an artist, the work I create is for me. But it is without exaggeration to say that the work evolves from there; the work that has found its place within the cultural fabric of Canada, has only reached ears and hearts through the financial support of our arts councils and foundations”

About the Canadian Arts Coalition
The Canadian Arts Coalition is a collaborative non-partisan movement spearheaded by a group of national arts service and membership organizations.  They are united in the belief that the future of our citizens, their towns and cities and the nation itself depends on a rich, vibrant and diverse arts and heritage community. Since its inception, the CAC has successfully lobbied for increased support for the arts through the Canada Council for the Arts and the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

80s Rock Revisited: Jim Peterik - The Songs

CD Review
Jim Peterik: The Songs
(World Stage International Records - May 16, 2016)

Buy the CD

Issuing a retrospective collection can be an ego-stroking exercise, or a creative take on an artist's existing catalogue. For Jim Peterik, to say the catalogue is extensive is to make a gross understatement.

You may not know the name, but you've surely heard the music of  James Michael - Jim - Peterik, co-writer of that perennial anthem, Eye of the Tiger. He's also co-written songs for a range of artists that include 38 Special, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackhawk, Cheap Trick, Sammy Hagar, Cathy Richardson, Van Zant, Brian Wilson, REO Speedwagon, and the Beach Boys.

Producer Fred Mollin (Jimmy Webb, America, Kris Kristofferson) helped to choose eleven of the biggest tunes to rework and re-imagine. It's something that could, in lesser hands, have become something of a gimmick. Here, it's a second look at well known songs to find their emotional heart, and it's an approach that works.

Vehicle - the Ides of March smash hit from the 1970s that Jim sang and wrote - is stripped down to electric piano, lead guitar and voice, striking at the impassioned plea that drives the song. The vocals and phrasing are spot on, and under the spotlight in acoustic arrangements that leave Jim's voice front and centre. Is This Love? is slowed down to an ballad with acoustic and slide guitar. Eye Of The Tiger - that arena rock hit that is still a fave at sports events - is nearly unrecognizable in a bluegrass version with fiddles and mandolin, complete with a swell of voices on the chorus.

Caught Up In You, featuring an interesting treatment with a George Martin-esque orchestral string arrangement, is a real highlight, turning the definitely 80's pop/rock Top 40 hit into a timeless track. Heavy Metal as an acoustic blues song with a gutsy harmonica track and raspy vocals is another stand out.

Other tracks include L.A. Goodbye as a piano ballad, Hold On Loosely in a slightly twangy acoustic country mode, and two new tracks penned by Peterik, Miracle At Ground Zero and The Same Muse. He's used some of Nashville's top session musicians to flesh out the album - all cut live.

A long career in the music business is enviable, but it's also something of a challenge. The more popular your songs become, the more you have to play them...over and over. A re-creation as imaginative as this adds new life and longevity to long familiar tunes.

On top of the "The Songs" album, Jim has just released "We All Bleed Red", a track inspired by 2016 Orlando Nightclub shooting. After the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Jim Peterik was inspired to write and release “We All Bleed Red,” released exclusively on iTunes. It's a return to Jim's rocky roots.

Buy it here

Avant Garde Jazz: Legendary Composer and Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith Releases 'National Parks' (Cuneiform Records - October 14 2016)

From a media release:

Legendary composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith creates a new masterwork inspired by the country's most stunning landscapes
National Parks (Cuneiform Records - October 14, 2016)

Buy the 2CD Set
Buy it in HD 96k​/​24b

"New Orleans: The National Culture Park USA 1718" is the opening track of visionary composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith's latest epic collection, the new two-CD America's National Parks out October 14 on Cuneiform Records. Inspired by the country's most stunning landscapes, America's National Parks features Smith's newly expanded Golden Quintet featuring pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg and drummer Pheeroan akLaff and cellist Ashley Walters.
Wadada Leo Smith by Scott Groller
The second piece, "Eileen Jackson Southern, 1920-2002: A Literary National Park," takes an even broader view, suggesting that the African-American musicologist, author and founder of the journal The Black Perspective in Music, to which Smith has contributed, should be honored for her efforts to document a musical common ground shared by all Americans. Another piece represents the "Deep and Dark Dreams" of the Mississippi River, which Smith calls "a memorial site which was used as a dumping place for black bodies by hostile forces in Mississippi. I use the word 'dark' to show that these things are buried or hidden, but the body itself doesn't stay hidden; it floats up."

The other three pieces are based on more conventionally recognized national parks: Yellowstone, which became the first place in the world so designated in 1872; Sequoia & Kings Canyon, whose trees Smith marvels at as some of the largest and oldest living things on the planet; and Yosemite, which contains striking glaciers and some of the deepest lakes in the world.

Smith crafts six extended works that explore, confront and question the preserved natural resources that are considered the most hallowed ground in the U.S. - and some that should be. "New Orleans: The National Culture Park" argues that the entire Crescent City deserves to be recognized for its influential contributions to American history and culture.

His 28-page score for America's National Parks was penned for his Golden Quintet, a fresh reconfiguration of the quartet that's been a keystone of his expression for the last 16 years. Pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg and drummer Pheeroan akLaff are joined by cellist Ashley Walters, affording the composer and bandleader new melodic and coloristic possibilities. "The cello as a lead voice with the trumpet is magnificent," Smith says, "but when you look at the possibilities for melodic formation with the trumpet, the cello, the piano and the bass, that's paradise for a composer and for a performer. My intent was to prolong or enhance the vitality of the ensemble to live longer."
Wadada Leo Smith
While these preserved landscapes offer the inspiration of powerful natural beauty, Smith's always open-minded view of the world leads him to find that same inspiration wherever he is. "Every concrete house is from nature," he says. "Every plastic airplane that flies 300 people across the ocean comes out of nature. Every air conditioner conditions a natural piece of air. I think that the human being is constantly enfolded in organic nature and constructed nature, so I'm constantly inspired, inside the house or outside the house."

America's National Parks will be released shortly before Smith's 75th birthday in December. It arrives, coincidentally, in the midst of celebrations for the centennial of the National Park Service, which was created by an act of Congress on August 25, 1916.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Roast 'N' Reggae with Jay Douglas & Chris Butcher - Every Sunday Night in Toronto Starting October 30 2016

From a media release:

w/ Jay Douglas & Chris Butcher
1279 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON
Every Sunday starting October 30, 2016
Dinner 5:30 / Music 6:30 – 9:30 pm

TORONTO – Two of Toronto’s finest musicians reggae star Jay Douglas and trombonist extraordinaire Christopher Butcher (of the Heavyweights Brass Band), team up for a real reggae feast every Sunday starting October 30th with a dinner at 5:30 pm and music starting at 6:30 pm for three sets.
Jay Douglas
Jamaican-born and Toronto-based reggae star Jay Douglas has been in the entertainment business for more than 45 years performing a wide-ranging repertoire of American blues, West Indian rhythms, and jazz standards.

Since the early '60s, through to the late '70s, Jay combined his fancy footwork and incredible on-stage charisma while fronting the R&B group "The Cougars." They lit up the city of Montreal as well as Toronto's Yonge Street nightclubs, with soul, funk and reggae.

Over the past 10 years, Jay has performed around the world, and at annual Toronto events such as the Beaches Jazz Festival, Jerk Fest, Canadian National Exhibition, Yonge and Dundas Square, and a Taste of Lawrence.

Jay was proclaimed winner of NOW Magazine's Toronto's Best R&B Act in 2006, and Male Reggae Vocalist of the Year at the Annual Toronto Reggae Awards in 2007. Jay was nominated for Reggae Recording of the Year at the 2012 JUNO Awards and was the recipient of the G98.7 FM Entertainment Award at the Harry Jarome awards that same year.
Chris Butcher
Winnipeg-raised and now Toronto-based trombonist Chris Butcher is a musician firmly established as a representative of the global music village, transcending genre and cultural predisposition, and pleasing audiences across the world. As leader of the Heavyweights Brass Band Christopher has been behind one of the brightest lights to emerge on the Canadian music scene. Combine that with his extensive experience as a sideman – playing with some of the country's most prestigious artists, including Jane Bunnett, Hilario Duran, Archie Alleyne, Jay Douglas, and QuiQue Escamilla – his work as a radio host/producer, role as an educator/community builder, Christopher Butcher illustrates a promising portrait of an influential career in music.

On special occasions Christopher has recorded or played with some of the finest international artists like Quincy Jones, The Treme Brass Band, Delfeayo Marsalis & The Uptown Jazz Orchestra, David Clayton-Thomas, Ernest Ranglin, and Giovanni Hidalgo. In 2015 Christopher was awarded Emerging Artist of the Year at the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and continues to run Street Brass with Uma Nota Culture, a community based ensemble that teaches and performs brass band music of the Americas.
Emerson Restaurant (Toronto)

The Emerson, 1279 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON | (416) 532-1717
WHEN: Sunday, October 30 & every Sunday night – Dinner 5:30 pm / Music 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
TICKETS: No Cover! Reserve Now

For more info please visit: FACEBOOK EVENT 

Chris and Jay playing together as part of Rhythm Express at the Brantford Jazz Festival, 2013

Exclusive - Khalid "Location" Oren Yoel Remix

From a media release:

Khalid "Location"  Oren Yoel Remix

Exclusive !!!  A guitar driven remix of Khalid's breakthrough hit "Location". Fresh new remix from producer OrenYoel, giving us something to vibe out and knock our heads to!

Fresh out the oven, Oren Yoel puts his spin on Khalid's breakthrough hit "Location" with a guitar-driven sound guaranteed to get you moving. With  hard-hitting  drums, distorted bass, and a guitar riff like "Woah", Oren changes up his sound from previous work with Miley Cyrus, Tori Kelly, and Eliza Doolittle etc. Be sure to check out it on his soundcloud page.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Celtic funk fusion: Matthew Olwell - CyberTrad (Independent - June 29, 2016)

From a release:

Celtic funk fusion:
Matthew Olwell - CyberTrad
(Independent - June 29, 2016)

Buy it/Check it out

CyberTrad is an experimental music project that combines traditional & original Irish wooden flute with vocals, bass & Human Beatbox.

This album comes out of Louisiana. It's a tour-de-force of breath and voice. Beatboxing mixes seamlessly with the Irish wooden flute. The album also features lovely ballads like "Pretty Saro" and "The Bonny Irish Boy". Flutist Matthew Olwell conceived of this innovative fusion of voice and wind, drawing from his love of traditional Irish and Breton music. The album also features bassist Simon Lepage of the Québécois band Matapat.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Travel News: Toronto-Berlin - four flights weekly starting June 2017 via Air Canada Rouge

From a media release:

Four weekly flights Toronto-Berlin starting June 2017
New next year, non-stop flights to Berlin via Air Canada Rouge

Toronto, 06 October 2016 – Canadians love to visit Berlin, and starting 1 June 2017, Air Canada will make their trips to Germany’s capital a lot faster. As announced last week by Air Canada, four weekly non-stop seasonal services will connect Toronto and Berlin directly next year.
Berlin - Brandenburg Gate lit by night
Berlin ranks first among Canadians visiting German cities. In 2015, they spent more than 150,000 overnights in hotels and pensions with more than 10 beds, not counting nights spent with family or friends. The newly announced non-stop air connection to Berlin next year will allow more than 1,100 passengers per week to reach Berlin directly, the flights leaving Toronto at 10:30 pm and arriving in Berlin at 12:35 pm the following day – no need to change airplanes or switch to trains or cars to get there from other German or European hubs.
Berlin Cathedral & TV tower
Says Antje Splettstoesser, the German National Tourist Office’s Director Marketing & Sales for Canada, “We are very excited about this new seasonal service starting in June next year. Feedback from our Canadian visitors returning from Berlin has been overwhelmingly positive. Especially our younger visitors have been raving about Berlin’s vibe and vitality,” says Splettstoesser, adding, “Using the new 8-hour non-stop, overnight service to Berlin Tegel airport will allow them to get straight into the centre of our capital’s pulse.”
Berlin Central Station at night
Also, flying into Berlin makes for quick access to Germany’s Baltic coast and places in the eastern parts of Germany. The art treasures of Dresden, for example, and the revitalized core of Leipzig both will turn into easy day trips from Berlin by train, as does UNESCO World Heritage Site Sanssouci Castle in nearby Potsdam, including the Babelsberg film studios there, the peaceful lake district north of Berlin, where in Rheinsberg’s palace, the later King Frederick The Great spent much of his youth, not to forget the Spreewald area south of Berlin, famous for its canals and pickles.
Berlin - bridge over the River Spee
The Air Canada Rouge flights will depart Toronto on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, returning from Berlin on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Premium Rouge and Economy tickets can be booked starting immediately.

For general travel information on Germany and Berlin, please visit

New EP: Seun Kuti - Struggle Sounds (Sep 30, 2016 ℗ 2016 Sony Music) feat. 'Gimme My Vote Back (C.P.C.D.)'

From a release:

New EP:
Seun Kuti - Struggle Sounds
(Sep 30, 2016 ℗ 2016 Sony Music Entertainment)
feat. 'Gimme My Vote Back (C.P.C.D.)'

Buy on iTunes
Stream on Spotify

Seun Kuti releases his new 3-song EP Struggle Sounds via Sony Music Masterworks. Co-produced by Robert Glasper, the EP features the single “Gimme My Vote Back (C.P.C.D.)” where C.P.C.D. stands for Corporate Public Control Department.

The son of the late Nigerian Afrobeat legend, Fela Kuti, Seun recorded the EP with Egypt 80, his father’s original band. Written by Seun, the three songs on the album “Stuggle Sounds,” “Gimme My Vote Back (C.P.C.D.),” and “African Dreams” have strong social and political messages – a theme that Seun weaves into all of this music.

“More than even we are convinced of our mission and the purpose of our music,” says Seun. “The Struggle Sounds EP is a true reflection of my social and political beliefs. I give honor to my parents and every revolutionary who made this possible even before I was born.”

This November Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 will open on tour for Lauryn Hill. He will headline his own tour – details forthcoming.

A video posted by Seun  Kuti (@shotsdboss) on