The Thing Is...

One of the perks of being Artistic Director for Toronto Downtown Jazz has been getting to know better the outstanding musicians who make up Toronto's local jazz scene. And with the TDJ Special Projects initiative, I get to find out about (and attend) some of the most interesting music being created by those local musicians. The first of three TDJ Special Projects was the April 4/5 presentation of Andrew Downing and John Southworth's Easterween; the next is coming up this Sunday, April 22, when Tova Kardonne's The Thing Is celebrates the release of its debut full-length recording.

Formed in 2006 by composer and vocalist Tova Kardonne, 8-piece ensemble The Thing Is demonstrates Tova's unique fusion of jazz with the Balkan and South African influences of her childhood. Tova’s 4-octave range, predilection for odd time signatures and hard-grooving arrangements are certainly highlights, but this is a true ensemble: featuring some of the most exciting emerging jazz musicians in Toronto - many of whom have made a name for themselves playing with the top musicians and ensembles across Canada - together they master challenging repertoire, carefully balancing out intricate horn writing with the vocal lead.

The Thing Is defies categorization in the best of ways. In the three tracks I've heard from the album (to be officially released on Sunday), I can clearly hear elements of Tova's training in classical music and jazz, but also her experience with African, South Indian, Brazilian, Eastern European folk, Klezmer and improvised music. I look forward to hearing the full album - it is sure to take us on a fascinating musical adventure.

The April 22nd event will be a party: it's a CD release, true, but it will also be a celebration of the ensemble's work over the past six years. There will be two sets of music, a reception, and a display of the posters Tova has created for the band since its first performance. The evening gets started at 7:30 pm with the poster exhibit; the music starts at 8 pm. It all happens at the 918 Bathurst Centre for Culture, Arts, Media & Education (918 Bathurst, a couple of blocks north of Bloor). Tickets are $15 in advance, and $20 at the door, and are available online.

Tova's created a great Facebook event page for Sunday's festivities - check it out for more details about the show, links to press coverage, photos from the recording session and more. For more information you can also visit The Thing Is' page on the TDJ website.

I look forward to Sunday's show and hope you will join me there.


P.S. - The final concert in this round of TDJ Special Projects features the professional debut of Mike Downes' In The Current ensemble, May 9 at Gallery 345. For complete information visit our TDJ Special Projects page.

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