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Showing posts from March, 2015

21C Music Festival in Toronto: A Festival of Newly Minted Music - 8 Concerts/5 Nights/34 Premieres - May 20-24 2015

From a media release:

May 20 to 24, 2015

Kaija Saariaho, Stewart Copeland & Jon Kimura Parker, Gryphon Trio & Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, Afiara Quartet & DJ Skratch Bastid, Jennifer Koh, Don Byron, The ARC Ensemble, Soundstreams

Check it Out

After a successful launch in 2014, the 21C Music Festival returns with a new line-up of artists from May 20 to May 24, 2015. The festival will again run over five nights and consist of eight concerts, featuring music composed mostly during the 21st century, which once again crosses boundaries and genres: rock and hip hop musicians share billing with classical artists and the music of seminal electroacoustic pioneer Kaija Saariaho is celebrated.

“We are very much looking forward to the second installment of 21C, featuring close to 60 works, 34 o…

Avant-Garde Jazz: French-Japanese Quartet Kaze Releases Adventurous Third CD Uminari (Circum-Libra - May 5 2015)

From a media release:

French-Japanese Quartet Kaze Releases Adventurous Third CD
Two-trumpet ensemble unleashes storm of inventive sound on Uminari
Out May 5, 2015 from Circum-Libra

Coming May 5, 2015

"Twists and turns, noise followed by lyrical beauty; nuanced percussion followed by powerhouse drumming; and wild cacophonies that lead into introspective solo slots. Expect the unexpected." - Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

"An expansive set captivating and in some instances, mind-bending pieces, sans any limiting factors." - Glenn Astarita, Jazz Review

Uminari is a Japanese word that refers to a sound rising from the sea, a low-frequency roar that portends a coming storm or tsunami. The poetic word serves as an ideal title for the third CD, available in the US and Canada on May 5, 2015 on Circum-Libra, from the unconventional international quartet Kaze. The two-horn quartet is equally adept at the calm and the storm, with expressive subtleties giving way to overwhelmin…

Opre Roma/Rise Up Roma Toronto Festival a First for International Roma Day April 8 to 12 2015

From a media release:

Toronto festival a first for International Roma Day
April 8 to 12, 2015
Various Venues

• Click on the Poster for Full Details
The Roma Community Centre for tickets

Opre Roma/Rise Up Roma, a festival of Romani arts and culture, will be held in Toronto on Wednesday April 8 to Sunday April 12, 2015 in celebration of International Roma Day. Organized by the Roma Community Centre, this will be the first festival of its kind in Toronto. Due to its new presence on the Canadian heritage stage, Opre Roma/Rise Up Roma will make a significant contribution to multiculturalism in Toronto. The event will expand the public’s understanding of the rich cultural heritage of the Roma people and their history in Canada.

International Roma Day was designated at the first World Romani Congress in Orpington UK in 1971. At Opre Roma/Rise Up Roma, Toronto will join international cities in celebrating the artistic achievements and heritage of the Roma people. For Roma, April 8 symbo…

Classical Music: May 2015 Releases from Divine Art Recording Group - Gilbert Rowland/Handel & Peter Sheppard Skærved/Telemann

From a media release:

May 2015 Releases
May 9, 2015 - U.K.
May 12, 2015 - US

Buy/Check out a Sample MP3

George Frideric Handel: Suites for Harpsichord, Vol. 3
(Divine Art dda 21225)
Gilbert Rowland (harpsichord)

The third and last set in this series, completing the release of Handel’s Suites in a 2 CD set at mid price.

Of volume 2 (DDA 21220) the critics were fulsome:

“It is impossible to praise this new release too highly. Fabulous playing. The combination of Handel, Gilbert Rowland, Wooderson’s fine harpsichord, the recording and the recording engineer John Taylor is unbeatable providing, as it does, a collection of these wonderful suites that I will return to again and again.” – Bruce Reader (The Classical Reviewer)

“A fine instrument, with silvery, bell-like timbres in the upper register and a richly sonorous bass. Rowland’s changes of registration for repeats are judicious and tasteful, revealing fully the beauties of his instrument. A highly satisfying …

New Rock, Recently Released: Winchester Revival - Burden's Landing (King of Sticks - March 3, 2015)

Recently Released:
Winchester Revival - Burden's Landing
(King of Sticks - March 3, 2015)

Buy the EP & Name Your Price

Oakland, CA based Winchester Revival is modern rock - not afraid of electronics and not usurped by them either for a sophisticated sound all their own. These are clearly experienced musicians with a lot of musical ideas at their disposal.

Their sound combines the familiar outlines of several pop/rock music genres, including 70's era pop tunes, shoegaze and alt-rock with a refreshing rhythmic complexity, intriguing lyrics and a combination of organic and electronic instrumentation that doesn't neglect or overwhelm either.

Last Night in Tokyo
Gonna melt your metal core
Palm Springs, take me down easy
Sun rise on the desert floor

It's the first single from the EP:

From Ides of January,

I get the story in fragments as I lay in our bed 
Of an infinite highway and a grey limousine
A fan is churning the air across the prow of your head
There’s a white-knuckled dr…

Toronto Artist Jon Sasaki Wins Glenfiddich 2015 Canadian Artist in Residency Prize

Fly Away Home...
Glenfiddich 2015 Canadian Artist in Residency Prize
Jon Sasaki

On March 25, 2015 there we gathered at the Spoke Club to toast the 2015 Glenfiddich Canadian Artist in Residency recipient, Toronto-based artist Jon Sasaki.

The prize is awarded annually and grants the recipients - who hail from eight different countries worldwide - a $20,000 prize and three heavenly months to create art in Dufftown, the Valley of the Deer and legendary home to Glenfiddich scotch.

Applying for the prize was a no-brainer for this year's winner, Jon Sasaki. "I have known a lot of previous recipients," he said. "It seems a perfect and fruitful place to make art." He noted the rich history and picturesque landscape - both elements that are incorporated into his proposed project, one way or another.

His proposal? "I'm going to be building an airplane," Jon says.

Of about 100 entrants, the idea immediately appealed to curator Andy Fairgrieve (left in t…

Canadian Stage celebrates the best of South African performance art with Spotlight South Africa April 8 to 25 2015

From a media release:

Spotlight South Africa
Canadian Stage celebrates the best of South African performance art with three week festival showcasing six unique productions, including the most in North America for the first time; 
April 8 to 25, 2015

Get Tickets

Toronto, ON –
Canadian Stage presents Nongogo, The Meal, Hatched, Ubu and the Truth Commission, Dominion and Chandelier in a three-week festival of South African performance as part of Spotlight South Africa. A tribute to the extraordinary vitality and originality of artistic work produced in the country, the festival will feature a variety of dance, drama, performance art and puppetry from Apr. 8 to 25 at Canadian Stage’s two homes, the Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley St.) and the Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front St. E).

A biennial celebration in its third year, Canadian Stage’s Spotlight Festival series highlights work from the leading artists of a selected country, often giving Toronto audiences an opportunity to experience th…

Art & Basketball: Changing the Game - Closing Reception March 20 2015 The LeRoy Neiman Arts Center

With material from a media release:

Changing the Game
Closing Reception March 20, 2015
The LeRoy Neiman Arts Center

Featuring the work of Art 1, Bobby Hunter, Rod Ivey, Leroy Neiman, TAFA, Boris Diaw, Jennifer Ivey, Billi Kid, Michael Singletary & Dwayne Wade

HARLEM, NY - I happened to walk by the Leroy Neiman Arts Center for the closing reception of this interesting show that looks to change ideas about what being a professional basketball player is all about. I wasn't really dressed for the chic crowd but I stopped in to check it out.

The show features works on canvas and photography by current and former pro players, including Miami Heat sensation Dwayne Wade's vibrant abstract (pictured below).

Other artists included Antonio Spurs' player Boris Diaw, former Harlem Globetrotter Bobby Hunter, Jennifer Ivey and Rod Ivey, New York artists and parents of former NBA player Royal Ivey along with NYC based artists Art 1, Billi Kid, Michael J. Singletary and TAFA.

Naturally man…

St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet Returns to Sony Centre Toronto with Anna Karenina - April 23 to 25 2015

From a media release:

Sony Centre For The Performing Arts and
Show One Productions present
the Triumphant Return of St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet
Three Performances Only! April 23-25, 2015


First premiered in 2005, ANNA KARENINA quickly became a signature work for choreographer Boris Eifman and his groundbreaking company.  This presentation marks only the second time the famed St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet has visited Toronto.  In 2013, three performances of Rodin sold-out immediately at the Sony Centre, leaving Toronto dance audiences wanting more!

Eifman’s ANNA KARENINA, based on the novel by Tolstoy, is a psychological drama which focuses on the famous literary love triangle of Anna/Karenin/Vronsky. A work of raw emotions; passion, rejection and self-destruction, ANNA KARENINA offers both classical romance and modern technique in an ongoing pas de trois that sets the heroine between husband and lover.

A scorching Anna is brought to life in Eifman’s innovative …

Jazz Saxophonist Kyle Nasser Releases Debut Album 'Restive Soul' On March 24, 2015 - Live Dates

From a media release:

Jazz Saxophonist Kyle Nasser Releases Debut Album 'Restive Soul' On March 24, 2015
Live Dates: March 24 at Cornelia Street Café, NYC; March 25 at The Beat Hotel, Cambridge, MA;  March 28 at Wamsutta Club, New Bedford, MA

Check out his complete schedule
Buy the CD

Restive Soul spotlights the intellect and passion of Harvard and Berklee-educated composer Saxophonist Kyle Nasser was a student of Economics and Political Philosophy at Harvard University when his life was changed by an encounter with Hank Jones. The legendary pianist, then in his late 80s, visited Cambridge to teach and play a concert with the Harvard Jazz Band, making a profound impact on the young saxophonist. "Seeing him in peak form and expressing joy through music at such an advanced age was really deep," Nasser recalls. "We took him out to dinner, ended up playing a three-hour session, and then he asked us to take him home so that he could get in some practicing before bed. …

New Video from Dub Performer Michael St. George MSG

From a release:

New video from The MSG
Motivating Sounds Generator
writer ✪ recording artiste ✪ edu-tainer ✪ playwright ✪ recognized dub performance leader
a video from the latest album Fight Your Fears or Die

Buy the album

Recently returned from a very special trip to his place of birth, Michael St. George is back in town with a new video from his latest release.

MSG's conscious verse and fresh musical sound have earned him international industry awards and peer recognition. Inspired by his working class upbringing in Kingston, Jamaica, MSG's work is dedicated to justice and social equity. As a second-generation dub poet, he's continued to remain true to the ideals of the form. His message is thought provoking, positive, spiritual and seeks to incite constructive conscious change. His uncompromising, syncopated, hard-driving baselines and melodic forms are infused with reggae, ska, rhythm & blues, and jazz influences. Fight Your Fears or Die, released in 2014, is his newe…

Covers with a Difference: Fully Re-Covered, The True Groove All-Stars (March 31, 2015 - True Groove Records)

Fully Re-Covered, The True Groove All-Stars
(March 31, 2015 - True Groove Records)

Preorder/Buy the CD

This latest album by the True Groove All-Stars - house band at True Groove Records under bluesman Tomás Doncker - is chock full of pleasant surprises. Yes, they are covers but the title is apt. In "fully" re-covering these classic tracks from the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's, the True Groove All-Stars have reimagined, embellished, and invited a host of vocalists and musicians in on the fun. It's like hearing some of these very familiar songs for the first time.

Fully Re-Covered is the follow-up to their hugely successful remix debut, Funky World. The project began with a single track last November. Before recording their epic version of Brinsley Schwarz’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout ) Peace, Love And Understanding,” the members of the Tomás Doncker Band met in a conference room near the studio to discuss their feelings about the ongoing rioting in Ferguson, Missou…

New release from Mukanya - his 50th! Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited - Danger Zone (Chimurenga Music - February 17, 2015)

From a media release:

New release from Mukanya - his 50th!
Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited - Danger Zone
(Chimurenga Music - February 17, 2015)

Download individual songs
Buy the CD

Thomas Mapfumo, the preeminent singer/songwriter of Zimbabwe, has released hist fiftieth album, Danger Zone. Known to his fans as The Chimurenga Guru and The Lion of Zimbabwe, Mapfumo has been defining the issues of the day for his countrymen in transcendentally original songs since 1974. Danger Zone is the latest chapter, his first set of new studio songs since the 2010 release Exile. With a powerful band, blending veterans and newcomers, and a wide ranging set of new songs, Mapfumo reemerges with music and messages to suit a new set of circumstances. Danger Zone is a release from Chimurenga Music Company.

Since the beginning of his epic career, Mapfumo has stood for the rights and concerns of ordinary people facing oppression and poverty. The historical context has changed, but Mapfumo’s loyalties …

At the Bata Shoe Museum Toronto - Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels Opens May 8 2015

From a media release:

Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels Opens May 8, 2015

Never before have a few inches mattered so much…

Toronto ON
– The Bata Shoe Museum is excited to announce its newest upcoming exhibition, Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels, opening to the public on May 8, 2015.  As the official exhibition to launch the Museum’s 20th anniversary year, Standing Tall will challenge preconceived notions about who wears heels and why.  From privileged rulers to hyper-sexualized rock stars this provocative exhibition will explore the history of men in heels from the early 1600s to today, delving into the use and meanings of heeled footwear in men’s dress over the last four hundred years.

While today, the thought of a man in heels is met with disbelief and amazement, invoking images of indiscretion and being different, it hasn’t always been this way.  “When heels were introduced into fashion at the t…

EP Release: Delilah Sings Sarah + 1 (A Tribute to Sarah Vaughn) (January 13, 2015 - Groove United Records)

EP Release:
Delilah Sings Sarah + 1 (A Tribute to Sarah Vaughn)
(January 13, 2015 - Groove United Records)

Buy the EP

Paying tribute to a legend like Sarah Vaughn is no mean feat all by itself. The tribute itself is held to a high standard - and the bar doesn't get much higher than with Ms vaughn.

Toronto jazz singer Delilah proves she's got the voice and the chops to take on the challenge and do it with aplomb on her release Delilah Sings Sarah + 1. She has a real feel for the music and a great facility with her voice that lets her imbue it with multiple dimensions. She's got the accomplished technique of a trained singer with the flawless grasp of the music that lets her wrap around the song and make it her own.

The EP includes three Sarah Vaughn covers along with a jazzy take on Smile, the Charlie Chaplin song originally written as an instrumental track for his 1936 movie Modern Times. Just Friends is a highlight, where her voice carries the melancholy message with a tech…

Ethiopian Music: Batuki Music presents Sounds of Saba featuring Fantahun Shewankochew with Netsanet Mellesse on March 7 2015 in Toronto

From a media release:

Batuki Music presents Sounds of Saba featuring Fantahun Shewankochew with Netsanet Mellesse on March 7, 2015 at Alliance Francaise Theatre at 24 Spadina Rd.

Buy tickets

Fantahun Shewankochew is Toronto-based musician who is an acoustic krar player (five or six-string harp), vocalist, composer, arranger and instrumentalist.  He started his musical career at a young age often singing at school performances where he imitated older established singers like Muluken Melese and his idol Tilahun Gessesse.  The latter is one of the finest and most beloved singers that Ethiopia has ever produced, and whose career spans over 50 years.  A graduate of the Yared School of Music in Addis Ababa, Shewankochew is well experienced in the unique tunings of Ethiopian music.  Before moving to Toronto he worked as the music department coordinator of the Ethiopian National Theatre in Addis Ababa.   Shewankochew has toured widely in Africa, Europe, Asia, South and North America with vari…