Marika Galea's blog

The Becca Stevens Band: A Review and Interview - June 30th, 2012 at The Horseshoe Tavern

The Becca Stevens Band (sans accordionist Liam Robinson) played an intimate show at The Horseshoe Tavern Saturday night that pleased seasoned fans and new listeners alike.

The set included original songs from her two records, Tea Bye Sea and Weightless, as well as some covers and new material. Her cover of Canadian songwriter Joni Mitchell’s "Help Me" was a crowd-pleaser on the eve of Canada Day.

Kneebody: A Review - June 29th at Rivoli

NY-based quintet Kneebody hit the stage at Rivoli Friday night, marking their first performance in Canada. The set featured music from a number of albums – fruits of their 12-year collaboration.

The musicians remained relaxed as they pulled off metrically complex songs. The various tempo changes, signalled by musical cues, were seamless.

Myriad Preview: An Interview With Chris Donnelly

Myriad is a local trio consisting of University of Toronto alumni Chris Donnelly (piano), Dan Fortin (bass) and Ernesto Cervini (drums). They performed Friday night at the Cherry St. Restaurant. I had the opportunity to speak to Chris about the group’s recent Alberta/B.C. tour, the upcoming album, and what makes Myriad unique.

Q: Most groups only rehearse when they’ve got a series of dates coming up, but I’ve read that Myriad rehearses regularly. What is the significance of rehearsing regularly for this group?

Review: Bill Frisell Plays Lennon

"Frisell Plays Lennon" (featuring Bill Frisell, Greg Leisz, Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollesen) hit the Enwave Theatre Tuesday night, giving both Bill Frisell and John Lennon lovers a delightful night out.

The instrumentation for the performance (guitar, steel guitar, bass, drums) consisted of all instruments that have a natural sound decay (meaning that once you strike a note, it can only get softer). This created a built-in texture of dynamic swells manipulated at times by the wealth of pedals onstage.

Mario Castro Quintet: A Preview and Interview

Puerto Rican tenor saxophonist and recent Berklee graduate Mario Castro will be bringing his quintet to The Rex Hotel on Wednesday, June 27th at 5:00P.M. The set will feature music from his debut album, Primavera, as well as some newer compositions. The line-up is as follows:

Mario Castro – Tenor Sax
Josh Shpak – Trumpet (subbing for David Neves)
KyuMin Shim – Piano
Tamir Shmerling – Bass
Jonathan Pinson – Drums

Shannon Graham’s Storytellers at The Central – June 25th, 2012

Shannon Graham’s Storytellers hit the stage at The Central Monday night with an array of highly arranged and narrative original music.

Graham’s group signals the return of the "song". She passes on the lengthy solo sections we have come to expect in the jazz idiom, instead featuring a multitude of arranged melodic sections throughout each composition.

Review - Hiromi: The Trio Project / The Bad Plus ft. Joshua Redman, June 24th, 2012 at The Toronto Star Stage

Let’s get one thing out of the way: The technical prowess with which Hiromi Uehara performed Sunday night was astounding. Her opening set confused many patrons who thought she was headlining.

Her compositions, largely taken from her most recent trio album Voice, were characterized by the constant interaction of melody and countermelody. Riff-based vamps in her left hand and melodies in her right were often doubled by bassist Anthony Jackson, giving her compositions a chorale-like quality of two interacting lines.

Bettye LaVette & The Big Sound at the Toronto Star Stage - June 23rd, 2012

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. That’s what came to mind as Bettye LaVette, age 66, danced across the Toronto Star Stage and belted out stories of her trials and tribulations on her way to (rock) stardom.

Songs included covers of George Jones, Dolly Parton, George Harrison and Diana Ross. One of the highlights of the night was her rendition of Paul McCartney’s "Blackbird", “sung by the black bird herself,” she joked. The song was re-harmonized into a simpler, soulful ballad, accompanied by soft synthesizer and guitar arpeggios.

Snarky Puppy at The Rex Hotel: A Preview & Interview with Leader Michael League

The Brooklyn-based band known as Snarky Puppy will be hitting The Rex Hotel (194 Queen St. W) with the following line-up, drawn from their 25+ rotating members on June 26th and 27th at 11:00P.M.

Mike Maher – Trumpet
Chris Bullock – Saxophone
Bob Lanzetti - Guitar
Cory Henry - Organ
Justin Stanton – Keyboards
Michael League – Bass
Nate Werth - Percussion
Robert “Sput” Searight – Drums

Jim Galloway on the History of the TD Jazz Festival, the Inside Track Interview Series, and Who To Watch in 2012

I had the fortune of checking in with former artistic director Jim Galloway for anecdotes about his time with the festival (1986 – 2008) and the scoop on the performers he is interviewing for the Ken Page Memorial Trust Inside Track series this year.

Q: What is the strangest thing that has happened to you while working on the festival?

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