Thursday, November 29, 2007

House of the people

Next week, Casa del Popolo has a three-night run of fantastic, creative jazz-inspired music.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007 - Indigone Trio + Strings (featuring your humble host)
Thursday December 6, 2007 - Thirteenth Assembly (Taylor Ho Bynum, Mary Halvorson, Jessica Pavone & Tomas Fujiwara)
Friday, December 7, 2007 - The Engines (Dave Rempis, Jeb Bishop, Nate McBride & Tim Daisy)

I suppose this could also be called "Invasion of the Bloggers!" week. No matter.
All shows start at 9 pm. Cover varies - check with Casa.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tropicalia - my first YouTube blog!

Thanks to Kerry Politzer schooling me on the subject in Banff, I've been on a Brazilian music kick for the past couple of years, especially the whole tropicalia and MPB movements. Hearing Os Mutantes' "Bat Macumba" during dinner last night rekindled the interest, and I decided to do some YouTube digging.

Gilberto Gil e Os Mutantes:

Gilberto Gil, 1979:

Rare Jorge Ben, 1972:

And finally, some new school. Curumin - "Guerreiro" ao vivo!:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Public Service Announcements

If anyone's wondered where I've been, the answer is - in preparation for the following:

- TONIGHT (November 14, 2007), Dennis Lee's strange brainchild Kids Eat Crayons launches our debut CD, Kids Eat Crayons is for Lovers. We're celebrating at Divan Orange (4234 St. Laurent) with our friends, jazz-rock power trio Sharcut. Doors at 8 pm, $5 entry, CDs and fair-trade T-shirts available as well.

KEC is: Jean-Philippe Major - vox; Steve Reid - alto saxophone; Ben Henriques - tenor/soprano saxophones; Craig Sauvé - guitar; DRR - keyboards; Scott Kingsley - bass; Dennis W. Lee - drums/vocals/compositions/treachery. With special guests!

- TOMORROW NIGHT (November 15, 2007), CKUT celebrates "20 years between your ears" with a birthday blowout at La Sala Rossa (4848 St. Laurent). The evening starts at 9 pm, featuring DJ Tashish, Andy Williams, the WeFunk crew, and turntable scientists Microtone Kitchen. Trumpeter/co-host Sean Winters and I were charged with forming the PHAZZ EUJORIUM Birthday Big Band, featuring Erik Hove, Gary Schwartz, and Jim Doxas, among others.

- WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5 marks the return of Indigone Trio + Strings at Casa del Popolo (4873 St. Laurent). There will be some new faces and new music, and more announcements involving this group are coming shortly.

- I'm honoured to have a very smart musician ask me to be in even more esteemed company on an IAJE panel regarding jazz and blogs. I've also booked a gig to coincide with it at Trane Studio (964 Bathurst, north of Bloor) on Saturday, January 12, with my "Toronto trio" of Michael Herring - bass; and Nick Fraser - drums.

Nice work if you can get it

The Quartier des Spectacles here in Montreal, known more commonly as Jazz Fest central, has received $120M in funding from the city, province and federal government. While I'm impressed that our leaders have been nudged awake into realizing how important arts and culture is to the identity - and tourism revenue - of Montreal, I can't help but feel that it's too little, too late. The new plan is eerily similar to the old plan of Bernard Landry that, for whatever reason, was forgotten by Jean Charest and swept under the rug, thus contributing to the buy-out and demolition of Spectrum into a big box store and office complex. The empty gravel pit above Jeanne-Mance and Ste-Catherine (officially known as Balmoral Island) will house "Place du Quartier des Spectacles," a building again derived, if not entirely jacked, from the Landry plan that will house a Spectrum-like club. Under the Landry plan it would have also been the new home of the OSM, in a concept similar to Lincoln Center. The other empty lots on Ste-Catherine near Clark will be revamped with cultural exhibition spaces.

It is imperative to the history and character of this city that a room like Spectrum be replaced - not only was it the hub of both Jazz Fest and Francofolies, but it hosted various different artists throughout the year and was easily the best sounding room in the city. Sure, Salles de Gesu on Bleury sounds fantastic as well, but it's tiny compared to Spectrum and it cannot properly deal with electrified instruments. Its central location downtown was accessible to tourists - the only comparable venues in size are out in the Gay Village (Theatre National) or on the northeastern corner of Parc Lafontaine (Cabaret La Tulipe), certainly off the beaten path of most festival-goers.

At the latter venue, I saw Sharon Jones & her Dap-Kings on Sunday evening. Having seen her before on the outdoor mainstage of Jazz Fest and a sweaty, tiny basement club on St. Laurent, I know her vibe and enjoy every retro-soul-revue second of it. As Mwanji commented on her Belgian appearance, Jones is no pretender. She has always been a legitimate heir to the soul throne, and while retro, her sound isn't a nostalgia trip or whimsical props to the masters. The sound is delivered with conviction and strength and therefore rendered current. The theatrical production Mwanji referenced took place here, with the added bonus of some of the dancers Jones brought up on stage being local Montreal b-boys (and b-girl). Sharon was thoroughly impressed and even relinquished the spotlight briefly to showcase these dancers. I have to say though, that sound was an issue all night, with Jones forced to work monitor instructions into her stage banter, and the opening tenor sax solos were all but inaudible. How do you forget to put the horns - in a SOUL BAND - through the PA?