Big Band Blowout

Well, 2017, you're not wasting any time, are you?

After a whirl-wind Toronto-Winnipeg-Toronto-New York trip, it's already time to launch in to the first TD Discovery Series Special Project presentation, this Sunday, January 15 at Lula Lounge. And I think this one show will feature more musicians than the rest of the Special Projects shows combined.

On Sunday, Chelsea McBride and her big band, the Socialist Night School, celebrate the release of their first full-length album. Called the The Twilight Fall, the album exclusively features Chelsea's original compositions.

Chelsea is a graduate of the Humber College Bachelor of Music and has, in just a few years, made an impressive mark on the local jazz scene. She is called regularly to perform on saxophone, flute, clarinet and bass clarinet in a variety of settings; as a band leader and composer she has developed one of the most unique voices in Canada. She lists her compositional influences as Bob Brookmeyer, Maria Schneider and Darcy James Argue (among others), and I clearly hear that lineage in her writing: elements from both the jazz and classical wolds, drawing on both standard and more contemporary conventions. And while her writing is influenced by other important composers, it is still uniquely her own - a Chelsea McBride composition sounds like, well, a Chelsea McBride composition.

I've had the opportunity to work with Chelsea in a few different settings - with my band she's subbed into the saxophone section and we've played her compositions; at the jazz festival, we got to feature her on the Outdoor Stage in 2015 as the winner of the previous year's Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Jazz Artist Award. On every occasion I've been so impressed by Chelsea's passion and commitment to the craft - she demands a lot from the musicians she conducts (or other musicians performing her music, just as she should); she demands just as much from herself. The result is an exciting artist who is bound to make an outstanding long-term contribution to jazz in Canada. I can't wait to hear the music from this new album performed live.

Opening up Sunday's concert is Mason Victoria's Sonuskapos Jazz Orchestra, an 18-piece ensemble he put together in 2014. Chelsea chooses her co-conspirators carefully - there's a good reason Sonuskapos is on the bill too.

I usually tell people (from experience, nearly 20 years after having started my own) that starting a big band is a terrible idea. Sunday night, though, we'll get to see why we should be glad there are still musicians passionate about big bands. Two exciting young band leaders and composers, 36 musicians...this will definitely be special - an evening not to be missed.

Chelsea McBride's Socialist Night School, with Mason Victoria's Sonuskapos Jazz Orchestra opening up, takes to the stage this Sunday, January 15 at 7:30 pm. Complete concert details here.

Josh

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