And we're back...

I was fortunate to spend last weekend in New York City on a trip booked to coincide with the annual APAP (Association of Performing Arts Presenters) conference. Though this year I wasn't a badge-carrying conference attendee, I still spent three days and three nights checking out great music and meeting with colleagues from North America and Europe. One of the highlights again this year was the Winter Jazzfest: two nights, six venues per night, over 75 bands in total - more music than one could possibly hear in the time available. Between January 11th and 14th I heard:

Maria Neckam
Dr. Lonnie Smith
The Revive Big Band
The Julian Lage/Nels Cline Duo
Nasheet Waits Equality
Eldar Djangirov
Pedrito Martinez
Ari Hoenig
Tony Malaby's Tuba Trio
James Carter's Organ Trio
Jason Lindner's Breeding Ground
The Fred Hersch/Julian Lage Duo
Idan Raichel
Macy Gray with the David Murray Big Band

I also had the chance to catch up with a jazz festival colleague or two, a fellow musician, a former classmate and a brother. It was an excellent few days and a nice change of scenery. As usual, I noticed many differences between New York City and Toronto, but I feel as though I've laid them out in previous blog posts, so won't repeat them here. That said, it's hard to ignore the quantity of outstanding music being presented on any given night in New York. However, based on some of the fantastic music being presented these days in Toronto, I'm convinced more than ever that the difference between the two cities is population, not talent.

For example: in the week before I went to New York, The Kirk MacDonald Jazz Orchestra played for three nights at The Rex Hotel. This is notable for a few reasons: first, how many three-night gigs exist anymore? And for big bands? Second, the big band is a relatively new project for Kirk, and an exciting departure from his small ensemble stuff - exciting to see an outstanding player in a somewhat new setting, and exciting to see a veteran player on the scene continuing to experiment and produce new projects. I unfortunately wasn't able to make it down, but was mightily impressed when I saw the band at Humber College about 18 months ago.

And here's another example: tonight and tomorrow night at The Rex you can find the Dave Young/Terry Promane Octet celebrating the release of their debut CD. The band's been around for a few years, so it's nice to finally have a record of their great sound. I plan to be there; I've heard the album and it's everything you'd expect from some of Canada's best jazz players and arrangers.

And finally: we've just announced the three submissions selected for support in the third annual TDJ Special Projects initiative. I feel confident saying that the three upcoming concerts will make excellent, original contributions to the local scene: Jaron Freeman-Fox and the Opposite of Everything launch a new CD February 10 at Lula Lounge; Sarah Jerrom's Yeats Project plays The Music Gallery on March 16; and Shannon Graham and the Storytellers release a CD on April 17 at Gallery 345. Complete information is available here.

So - my New York visit was invigourating, inspiring and recharging. But I'm just as excited by some of the great music on stage in this city in the next little while. I hope you are too, and that I'll see you in the audience soon.


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