My favourite Vancouver-based jazz vocalist and trumpter Anita Eccleston is back with a new CD, “More Trumpet” available December 18, 2016. This is a collection of traditional jazz standards that let her vocals shine and excellently showcases her lyrical trumpet playing.Continue Reading
The Vancouver Cantata Singers, under the direction of Paula Kremer, have recently released a new CD of the music of Vancouver composer and VCS composer-in-residence Kristopher Fulton titled, “Kristopher Fulton | The Twilight Cities”.Continue Reading
When Roarshaq‘s pianist Joel Visentin approached me about possibly writing an article on Self Titled, I quickly replied with a resounding yes! This album was such a treat and honour to listen to, knowing that I had been asked to get an advanced ‘sneak-peek’ at the group’s genius and craftsmanship!
It was in March of 2013 that I got to meet the guys of Roarshaq at the Banff Centre for the Arts, and their love and passion for jazz sparked something in me! I was mesmerized by their collaborative finesse and the ease at which they communicated with one another, but what really got me excited was their pieces they performed. I remember hearing them perform for the first time and telling my friends how amazing it was to be able to hear such ambiguity and fluidity come from a four-piece ensemble! I know, I’m a geek and a nerd, but put impressive harmonies/voice-leading with ambiguous meter and you have me excited! I love music that challenges me, and Roarshaq did that while presenting something stunningly beautiful! But less about me and more about Roarshaq and this album!
Roarshaq is a jazz ensemble consisting of saxophonist Jeff LaRochelle, pianist Joel Visentin, bassist Mark Godfrey, and drummer Derek Gray. They reside in Toronto and are all capable musicians AND composers, performing each other’s works on a regular basis. Outside of Roarshaq, the members also collaborative with and in other ensembles, and I had the amazing opportunity to hear Mark Godfrey perform with the Pram Trio on the island last year (and I got a CD!!!)
Self-Titled is Roarshaq’s first full-length album. It contains 8 of the most wonderful tracks of jazz-making love (yes, the switch-around was intended) and is full of surprises, quirks, and laughs. Here’s what I caught myself playing on repeat:
01 Badleaf – You know how you sometimes have that one track that you just can’t stop listening to on an album? Well, this one’s it for me! I love the energy, the build-ups, and the quiet times. The ostinato patterns in the piano were addictive, so be careful! And if you couldn’t feel it upon listening, there’s compound meter involved in this one. Yes, that got me excited
07 Rewind – I can’t really explain why I like this one, but it got my head bobbing and shaking and then suddenly my body swaying. Well… maybe I can explain it. It reminded me of a rondo form (ABACABA) or, more probable, a ritornello form (you know, return, rewind, yeah). I don’t know! I liked it!
08 Three Ravens – Mmmm so this one struck me. I don’t usually just sit and listen to music, but this track made me physically shut up and just listen. It takes something mighty special to do that to me.
So there you have it; my uneducated-on-jazz-music take on an amazing album! Please find out more about these amazing guys that make up Roarshaq; follow them, like them, subscribe, all them things! And please look for their album when it drops on the webspaces on January 06, 2015! You will NOT be disappointed!
I have always loved the Victoria music scene. The community is full of talent and boasts innovative and creative groups. Ajna is no exception. While the group includes several great musicians, the players on this album include Jonnie Bridgeman (saxophones), Tim Croft (double bass), Russell Tenning (guitars) and Geoff Mason (drums). This particular quartet first got together in April 2014 and because they had played together before, quickly took the opportunity to rehearse and start recording.
After listening through their album, I quickly realized Slow Cookin’ was my favorite – I suppose this is due to my weakness for slow jazz. The only thing I could think about when I listened to this piece was red wine. It was like drinking a glass of fantastic red wine where warmth spreads to the entire body. It was easy to get lost in this song and I loved the funk / blues influence.
The next piece I want to point out is Full Disclosure. A contrast to Slow Cookin’, Full Disclosure is much more lively. Though I could still hear a bit of that funk rhythm, the fusion in this song leans more towards rock – and I love it! Within moments my feet were tapping and I was humming in an attempt to follow the melody. The high energy pace of this song definitely made me want to get up and dance around the room.
Overall, I found this album to be wonderfully balanced in many ways. Although the saxophone is the main melody instrument, I felt the other instruments were also well represented. It’s easy to hear that the members of Ajna have played together before as there is an ease to the music. The lines work well with each other to create and album that combines jazz with elements of funk, rock and latin music, but still maintaining a sound that is all their own. While Ajna has covered some lesser known jazz songs in the past, this album contains original compositions penned by Jonnie Bridgeman. A great CD for listening in the car or a night in.
I would definitely recommend getting a copy or better yet, if you’d like to see them live, they are having a CD release party at Hermann’s jazz club in Victoria, BC! on August 23rd! Details can be found on Facebook. You can also listen to the CD online here, and even book them for an event. Great sounding group and I’m you’ll love them!
These guys are incredible – I absolutely love them. I was first introduced to The Piano Guys through some random link on YouTube and it was love at first sound. Piano and cell duets – be still my musical heart!
The most popular, and probably most well-known song on this album is Over the Rainbow / Simple Gifts. A viral video on YouTube, it has had over 13 million hits and has been getting rave reviews from all who hear it. I have to admit, I love it – so much, that it’s my ringtone. Both songs – Over the Rainbow and Simple Gifts have easy, recognizable melodies, but Jon Schmidt (pianist & songwriter) and Steven Nelson (cellist & songwriter) put their own twist on these melodies to create something that is unforgettable. Yet these “oldie” songs aren’t their own inspiration. Schmidt and Nelson borrow from all walks of music.
When you look through the tracks of this CD, you can see that these two men are not partial to just one particular genre. There are classical songs, contemporary songs, show tunes and original compositions. My favorite by far is actually not the most popular, but rather, Peponi, a cover of Coldplay’s Paradise with special vocalist Alex Boyé. Giving the song an African theme, Schmidt and Nelson worked together to arrange this piece to something unique. But this is what they do – they combine different elements of old and new to create what I’d like to call “Contemporary Classical”. A great example of this is their mash-up of David Guetta’s Titanium and Gabriel Fauré’s Pavane.
Listeners can clearly hear the melody of Titanium, but it is evident there is something else to it. It’s not just the pop song, but there is an added layer that makes this stand out. Even more impressive is Michael Meets Mozart, a tribute to pop idol Michael Jackson and classical composer Mozart. Again it is clear they are using music from both men, but everything weaves together seamlessly. This is not to say The Piano Guys only combine pieces – they also do straight covers that seem to sound even better than the originals. Included in this album are Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Adele’s Rolling In the Deep and One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful; all with their own added special touch.
What I truly love about this pair is that all their pieces are solely made by themselves and their instruments. Schmidt and Nelson have taken their amazing gifts and shared it with the world, and I have to say thank you. Definitely listen to this CD because I promise you will love it. If nothing else, check out their YouTube page – all their videos actually include them moving a piano to the different sites before shooting, and many of them are breathtaking.
So I haven’t done one of these in a very long time, but I’m definitely happy to be sharing with all of you the music that I’ve been listening to lately! There’s a theme; musicals! Why? Well I’ll tell you why sometime in the near future but for now, my CD reviews will be dominated by musical soundtracks.
For those of you who aren’t musical junkies, here’s a little blurb about Godspell. Godspell is a musical written by Stephen Schwartz and a book written by John-Michael Tebelak. The structure of the musical is that of a series of parables, mostly from the Gospel of Matthew (three of the parables are found in the Gospel of Luke).
Anita Eccleston is a jazz vocalist and trumpeter who presently calls Vancouver home. She completed her degree in Jazz Performance at McGill University in 2004, returned to the Interior of BC in 2006, and settled in Vancouver in 2011. “So It Goes” is her newest album, and it’s been 3 years in the making. With that much time going into it, you know that this has been a true labour of love, and the love shows in the tracks.