It's Special Projects time!

We're about to enter an exciting flurry of activity, with four Special Projects presentations and the Israeli Jazz Showcase all coming up before the end of April. I look forward to the Special Projects each year; since creating the initiative in 2010 we've supported 13 fantastic performances by local artists.

Back in 2012, the panel selected Sarah Jerrom's Yeats Project as one of the three 2013 Special Projects. There were a few submissions that year I was rooting for in particular; Sarah's was one of them. Since I don't get a vote on the panel I was pleased when the scores were tallied and the Yeats Project was selected. The show was March 16, 2013 at The Music Gallery and was the debut full-length performance of the Yeats Project.

As part of the Special Projects perks, each project is supposed to get a variety of marketing support from TDJ - including a personalized blog post from me. Well, when it came to Sarah's project, I goofed. I didn't get the blog post done. I apologized for the oversight, Sarah was very gracious, and I offered to help at some point in the future should the Yeats Project have another Toronto performance.

So - I'm pleased to report that the Yeats Project is in fact coming back to Toronto next week. They'll be performing March 11 at Array Space, 155 Walnut Avenue. The show kicks off at 8 pm; admission is $15. And - there is an extra feature to next week's performance: it will be recorded - as was their recent show in St. Catherines - for future release.

Sarah describes the Yeats Projects as "a contemporary chamber jazz group that features the poetry of William Butler Yeats." The music is a mixture of Sarah's originals and arrangements which "reflect upon themes such as spirituality, life as an artist, death, defeat and love." It was the arranging which struck me when I first heard the music back in 2012; the poems lend themselves to beautiful, lush treatments, and Sarah uses the ensemble's nine instruments to great effect. The result is contemporary sounding but still tuneful, an interesting mix of chamber music and improvisation; Sarah's impressive vocals soar over top.

Joining Sarah on stage are Ernesto Cervini (drums), Andrew Downing (cello), Aleksandar Gajic (viola), Johnny Griffith (bass clarinet), Tara Kannangara (flugelhorn), Rob McBride (double bass), Carissa Neufeld (piano/vibes), Tom Richards (conductor) and Linnea Thacker (violin) - some of the city's top established and emerging musicians.

For more information on the Yeats Project including audio and video samples, visit Sarah's website. For more information on this year's Special Projects, visit - I'll start writing about them in the next two weeks.

Spring is bringing warmer weather (which is coming, right? Right?) to warm your extremities, and some great music to warm your soul.


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