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Jane Ira Bloom and Julian Priester join the Halifax Jazz Festival's 20th edition of the Creative Music Workshop

The 20th edition of the Halifax Jazz Festival's Creative Music Workshop takes place July 2-12 at the Nova Scotia Community College Waterfront Campus. Special guest faculty members for the music education program, which brings together world class artists, include Jane Ira Bloom and Julian Priester.

pub_profile_11-09_Priester_1_by_DSheehan.gifJaneIraBloom300dpi copy (450x450).jpg"Both Priester and Bloom have joined the program in the past and made a huge impact on the students, " states Jerry Granelli, faculty head and CMW program founder. "The fact that CMW has been alive and well for 20 years says a lot - we were the first festival to run such a program and it has become a model across the country.”

CMW has provided inspiration, education and exciting opportunities for creative individuals of all ages. The benefits that this program has had on students and the broader arts community have been profound. CMW alumni have gone on to become professional artists, educators and creative individuals worldwide. Granelli was a pioneer in developing this distinctive approach to education which is now integrated into renowned arts institutions throughout North America.

CMW gathers renowned musicians and educators from across North America who possess exceptional skills as educators and improvising musicians. New York saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom is a pioneer in the use of live electronics and movement in jazz. She is a seven-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Award for Soprano Saxophone, winner of the Downbeat International Critics Poll for soprano sax, and a recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. Seattle trombonist Julien Priester's career has spanned over six decades. He has performed with  artists such as Muddy Waters, Dinah Washington,  Duke Ellington, Max Roach, John Coltrane, Art Blakey and Charles Mingus and more.

Along with Priester and Bloom, 2015 CMW faculty includes Halifax artists drummer Jerry Granelli, pianist Tim Crofts and dancer Susanne Chui, and visiting artists such as saxophonist Dani Oore (Toronto), bassist Simon Fisk (Calgary), electric bassist J. Anthony Granelli (New York City), and  guitarist Christian Kögel (Berlin). Clinicians will be announced with the 2015 TD Halifax Jazz Festival lineup.

10068261.jpgThe Halifax Jazz Festival is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Nova Scotia Community College. The special anniversary edition of CMW will take place at Nova Scotia Community College Waterfront Campus, 80 Mawiomi Pl, Dartmouth, NS.  Students can select from two program streams: Core Program and Creative Process.  Students of the CMW Core Program receive a free All Events pass, and Creative Process students receive discounts on tickets to the 2015 TD Halifax Jazz Festival.  Tuition for the Core Program is $450; register by February 28 and receive $100 off. Tuition for the Creative Process program is $179. For more information, including program information and registration visit our Creative Music Workshop section.

Sydney Smith's visual take on the TD Halifax Jazz Festival

new-blue-red-and-yellow-piano-on-light-background.jpgWhen the TD Halifax Jazz Festival comes to town, a transformation overcomes its community. Halifax is alive. There is joy, energy and warmth. There is a connectedness ─ a rhythm, heartbeat and pulse ─ that is shared between friends and family.

For the 2015 TD Halifax Jazz Festival, HJF staff assigned artist and illustrator Sydney Smith to create an image that conveys this. His image of birds emerging from the piano's lid couldn't be more fitting.

Syndey Smith grew up in rural Nova Scotia and now lives in Toronto, ON. He's an award winning illustrator who has worked with musicians, writers and more.

In March 2015 Sidewalk Flowers, a wordless children's book will be released in several countries. “Written” by award-winning poet JonArno Lawson and brought to life by illustrator Sydney Smith, Sidewalk Flowers is an ode to the importance of small things, small people and small gestures.

HJF has featured Sydney Smith on its blog in the past. Check it out here and here.

2015 TD Halifax Jazz Festival changes to 5 jam-packed days of music

The 2015 TD Halifax Jazz Festival, July 8-12, will be a jam-packed five day event featuring jazz, world, blues, funk, Latin, R&B, and more. Traditionally, the Halifax Jazz Festival has spanned nine days. The format of the 29th edition of the event will offer an even richer festival experience for audiences of all ages.

"This model will help audiences and musicians alike to enjoy a more vibrant festival experience," states Laura Healy, Halifax Jazz Festival's Artistic Director. "An expanded program will include more indoor theatres and new outdoor stages in the community. This will allow us to bring in more high profile artists and showcase even more local talent”. 

The Halifax waterfront will continue to host the festival's main stage which will offer free and ticketed performances. Free programming will also take place in smaller venues, libraries, public spaces and parks such as the Halifax Public Gardens.  Alderney Landing Theatre and Rebecca Cohn Auditorium have been added to the roster of indoor venues for the festival.

"It makes sense for us to re-evaluate our model," states Heather Gibson, Halifax Jazz Festival Executive Director. "Since our move to the waterfront the festival has grown significantly. Changing the format of the event helps us to address this growth and allows us to reach new audiences."

Festival passes are on sale to the public starting Monday, January 12.  Fusion Passes are $160, and Standard Passes are $95. A full festival announcement including schedule and artists will take place April 30.

Halifax Jazz Festival presents Ms. Lisa Fischer, Rolling Stones mainstay and star in Oscar-winning film 20 FEET FROM STARDOM

LisaFischer-DjenebaAduayom2014 (450x450)_0.jpgThis spring the Halifax Jazz Festival presents critically acclaimed New York vocalist Ms. Lisa Fischer with her band Grand Baton.

"Fischer's name may be new to Haligonians but she has a familiar voice," states Laura 'Lulu' Healy, Halifax Jazz Festival Artistic Director. "She is an absolutely stunning vocalist and performer with an impressive resume, touring extensively as a backup singer with the Rolling Stones, Sting, Chris Botti and Nine Inch Nails."

She has also worked with Tina Turner, Chaka Khan, Beyonce, Dionne Warwick, Dolly Parton, Bobby McFerrin, Alicia Keyes, Lou Reed, Louie Vega, Aretha Franklin, John Scofield, George Benson, Laurie Anderson, Lee Ritenour, Jackie Evancho and many others. In 1992 Fischer won a Grammy for Best Female R&B Performance for her hit single "How Can I Ease  the Pain". More recently she was featured of the 2014 Oscar-winning film 20 FEET FROM STARDOM.

Reeny Smith (450x450).jpgMs. Fischer will be joined by her band Grand Baton. Opening the night is Reeny Smith, winner of the 2013 Galaxie Rising Star Award at the Halifax Jazz Festival. Originally from North Preston, Smith released her debut album I Am Reeny in the fall of 2014.

Ms. Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton | Reeny Smith takes place 8 PM Thursday, April 2, 2015, at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, Dalhousie. Tickets for range from $24.50 - $57.50, and are on sale online at artscentre.dal.ca, at the Box Office located in the lobby of the Dalhousie Arts Centre, or by telephone at (902) 494-3820 or 1-800-874-1669.

2014 Volunteer Honour Roll

The TD Halifax Jazz Festival is a huge success thanks to our volunteers. As 2014 winds down we would like to acknowledge the volunteer milestones of the following individuals:

5 Years
Esi Aidoo
Hansel Cook
Jan Evans
Leo Feinstein
Christine Hanham
Jessie Harlow
Angela Kinder
Gary Langille
Miriam MacDonald
Barry MacDougall
Steve McKinnon
Karime Meza
Emily Muise
Laura Patrick
Lisa Rawding
Michael Sharp
Bruce Smith
Mimi Breslow

15 Years
Linda Goldwater
Lynn Simms
Daniel Verchery
Paul Chui

10 Years
Floria Aghdamimehr
John Comeau
Mary Ann Daye
Elizabeth DeLorey
Dave Jellicoe
Michael Sherar
Heather Thomas
Karen Turner
Brian Johnson
Gaidheal McIntyre

20 Years
Dennis Brown
George Foote
Joy Matthews
Mary Rose McIntyre
Erin O'Prey
Sarah Wakely

Thank you for your time, energy and enthusiasm. Your support and commitment helps us bring live music to our community each summer.






















If you’d like  to volunteer at the 2015 TD Halifax Jazz Festival visit halifaxjazzfestival.ca/volunteer. Applications will open May 15, 2015.





Artist Profile: Jerry Granelli (Take II)

2012-08 JGranelli Artwork 053 v1 (450x450).jpgLast year we chatted with legendary Halifax drummer and musician Jerry Granelli. He spoke extensively with us about his background as an artist, working with the Vince Guaraldi Trio and the making of the music for A Charlie Brown Christmas. You can find that blog post here.

We caught up with him again to talk about Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas, the Halifax Jazz Festival's 11th annual fundraiser to support its music education programs. Here's what he had to say.

Halifax Jazz Festival: Why are you doing Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas again this year?
Jerry Granelli: People wanted it and last year was pretty magical. It was great and it helped the Halifax Jazz Festival. In my heart I knew Vince Guaraldi always wanted to write a standard and he did end up writing one, "Christmastime Is Here" (four million records later and recorded by everybody in the world). Maybe I would just like to see Charlie Brown as a Nutcracker alternative, or at least something people bring their kids and grandkids to every year.

HJF: You're taking the concert on the road this. Where else are you presenting it?
 We're doing it again it Ottawa, and new places like Calgary and Edmonton.

HJF: What's it like to work with children's choirs?
Doing it with the kids was always part of the piece. Getting to know the kids is really fun. I usually fly in, rehearse with the kids, have pizza and hang out with them. There was one little girl last year, she just grabbed my leg whenever I came to rehearsal. It's hilarious. I become their crazy uncle. Their choir directors are so sweet and wonderful, and I try to be their crazy uncle and keep them relaxed for when they go on stage. It's a big concert, they've got a trio, they've got me, and the poor choir director can't be on stage.

HJF: What will be different at this year's concert DSC_8117 (300x450).jpgcompared to last year?
There may be a couple new pieces of music, and the story will probably be a little different. I think we'll have a little drummer boy in the choir. It is an improvisation and anytime we do it, there's a slight difference. The music has these sentimental moments that you get to hear, along with kids in their excitement. The fun between the choir and the trio is great.

HJF: Why is this concert so special to you?
Vince Guaraldi was an uncompromising artist and he fought against all odds. Cast Your Fate to the Wind was hit record because he threw a fit to get it on the back of the record companies. Charlie Brown got on the air against CBS. It feels like now (working with Vince) planted a seed in me that said, 'If you really do what you do and don't give up, something good happens.' And that's true.

Photo credit: Jerry Granelli at 2013 Tales of A Charlie Brown Christimas by Ed Boutler Photography.

There will be two presentations of Halifax Jazz Festival's Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas, 2 PM and 8 PM Sunday, December 7 at the Spatz Theatre. All tickets are $40 and available at online here.

Artist Profile: Chris Gestrin

Chris_kid (203x203).jpgcg3.jpgPianist Chris Gestrin is one third of the Jerry Granelli Trio. The group is coming together to perform at Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas, the Halifax Jazz Festival's 11th annual fundraiser to support its music education programs. We caught up with Chris to talk about music, creating and A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Your background is in film scoring. Are you still working in this field or has your musical practice shifted to live performance, recording and composing?
Chris Gestrin:
I've always been involved in a lot of different areas of music making. I did get a degree in Film Scoring at Berklee College of Music and I've always been interested in music for film, but all along the way I would say I've been equally interested and involved in live performance, recording and composing. In fact the focus in the past many years has been mostly in performing and recording. Recently I think I am shifting more towards creating in the studio and possibly performing less often. Perhaps mostly because I just don't have enough time to do it all!

HJF: What are you currently creating?
CG: I just finished a couple of feature film projects. A comedy called Songs She Wrote about People She Knows and a horror film titled BIND. I'm also producing a bunch of different albums in the studio. A new Pugs and Crows release (our last production received a JUNO in 2012), a great album of co-written original material with vocalist Christie Grace that I'm very excited about, and a drum and vocal/guitar duo group called CAST which is going to be fantastic. Also just about to be released is a duo ambient music recording with Seattle bassist Keith Lowe titled The Thoughtfulness of Distance. I'm just putting the final touches on it now. (I often take a LONG time doing this). It will be released on my label Phonometrograph sometime in the next couple of months.

HJF: What's on your iPod/8 track these days?
CG: Charlie Brown of course! Ha. The best way to learn the music is to hear it over and over and over, by osmosis. We do have an 8-track machine in my younger daughter's bedroom. I believe the only 8-track we have is called 'Polka Party'. I find myself listening to nothing a lot actually. I do so much intense listening in the studio that quite often outside of that time, like in my car driving, I prefer to have silence. To finally get to your question though - a shortlist of some random stuff on my iTunes is Chet Atkins, Simple Minds, Brian Eno, Peter Erskine, Stephen Layton's Polyphony, my children's Christmas albums, Petra Haden, Keith Jarrett, Me, Edgar Froese, Hindemith, Gary Peacock, Eckhart Tolle and various rough mixes of projects I'm working on. I often also listen to vinyl, CDs and cassettes.

HJF: How did you become a part of the Jerry Granelli Trio?
I originally started working with Jerry as a part of Simon Fisk's trio. (Which happens to be the same trio, just performing different music). That was back around 2007 I believe. We instantly had a great rapport together both musically and personally and have always had a great time together.

HJF: What's your connection to A Charlie Brown Christmas?
I think similar to most people, I grew up watching A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV every Christmas. It was a special event. It's much different now of course now that you can have it on DVD, or stream it and basically watch it anytime of the year you want. That's a great convenience that we have these days but it's a very different experience when you can ONLY watch it that one or two times a year when they aired it at Christmas time. With today's technology and easy access to everything, I don't know if it would be possible to create that type of magical limited experience again. We would be so excited at Christmas to be able to see A Charlie Brown Christmas, the classic Rudolph animation, and Frosty the snowman. At Halloween, The Great Pumpkin! That was it! You'd have to wait the entire year to see it again! Years later my brother and I would often listen to the trio soundtrack and it would always bring up that magical feeling.

HJF: What makes this concert special for you?
I love playing music with both Simon and Jerry in any context. They are amazing musicians. Having the chance to perform the Charlie Brown Christmas music is special for the reasons I mentioned above. Hearing and enjoying this music growing up so much and then years later being able to perform it with someone who was actually ON that original recording is really amazing. I'm really honoured that Jerry has chosen me to join him for these concerts.

HJF: What can we expect for this year's performance?
I think like last year, it will be a very special experience for all. Seeing the images from the cartoon, the trio performances of the music and Jerry's stories about his time with Vince's trio and the making of A Charlie Brown Christmas all combine to bring up those magical feelings we all have in common from growing up with the show. We're adding a bit more material this year as well, so the show will be a bit longer.

There will be two presentations Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas, 2 PM and 8 PM Sunday, December 7. All tickets are $40 and available at online here.

Vivace Children's Choir

Vivace Children's Choir and conductor Krista Vincent welcomed the Halifax Jazz Festival into one of their rehearsals for their upcoming appearance at Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas. We found out how preparations were going and how the kids felt about their upcoming appearance in the concert. 

Thanks for having us Vivace! We cannot wait to see you perform live at the Spatz Theatre.

logo-1.gifTales of A Charlie Brown Christmas is the Halifax Jazz Festival's 11th annual fundraiser to support its music education programs such as the annual Creative Music Workshop. There will be two presentations, 2 PM and 8 PM Sunday, December 7. All tickets are $40 and available at online here.

Vivace Children's Choir is just one of many choirs supported by HRSB's All-City Music program. The program provides outstanding music education opportunities to students from grades four through twelve in Halifax City.


Artist Profile: Elizabeth Shepherd

Elizabeth Shepherd The Signal 1 (400x383) (348x348).jpgThree-time JUNO nominee Elizabeth Shepherd is back in Halifax next week releasing her fifth album The Signal. We caught up with the Montreal based pianist and vocalist before she heads east for Contact East this weekend in Pictou, Nova Scotia. Here's what we chatted about.

Halifax Jazz Festival: What got you started in music?
Elizabeth Shepherd:
I have an older brother (five years older) who started piano lessons when I was an infant. I can remember wanting to learn music from that moment on. I asked my parents if I could learn piano when I was about four, and was told I had to wait until I was six - the age my brother was when he started lessons (it's only fair). My parents (who were both Salvation Army ministers) were also musical, so I think music was just always part of me. I learned a brass instrument at church, sang in choirs, and on top of that I took piano lessons at the conservatory. Basically for as long as I can remember, I was making music every day.

HJF: What is your song writing process?
I love ideas. I read philosophy for fun ... so I am always jotting things down - ideas, observations, notes - that then work their way into song lyrics (after a lengthy and difficult process - lyrics don't come easily to me). Simultaneously, I'm always writing musical ideas (composition comes much more naturally). Eventually, I pair them together later, when I feel either is ready. They are really separate processes.

HJF: What can we expect that is different for Signal than your previous albums?
This is the first album where I really felt free of any constraint. For some reason before, I always felt this subtle pressure - to be good enough, to be "jazz" enough, to prove myself. Maybe it's having a child that has shifted my priorities and has made me more grounded. Regardless of the reasons, I don't feel that same need to prove myself. So I think the sound is more - complex? nuanced? Certainly it's less categorically jazz (or anything for that matter). I think that's also partly a result of having grown up in cities like Montreal, Toronto and Paris - surrounded by so many different types of music that invariably make their way into what I do. These are incredibly multicultural places, so that cross-pollination of genres is inevitable (and this is a good thing, I think!). This album has more guests - steel pan player Mark Mosca, guitar genius Lionel Loueke, upcoming vocalist Alex Samaras (to name a few). Also, the themes on this album are a little more dense and political (though I hesitate to use that word, because it implies some kind of agenda, which is not the case). Another difference with this album is that I really tried to optimize my time in the studio. There is an art to making an album, that lies in the choices of how to utilize all of the resources at ones disposal in the studio setting. There are seemingly infinite choices - what mic to use, where to place it, what effects to use, where to place the instruments in spatial relation to each other, what instruments to use, what treatment to give each voice/instrument ... and the art lies in how you make the decisions given all these options. And finally, this project was a complete vision, not just a collection of songs. I had a vision for the artwork, the album as a whole (that it play from start to finish with interruption), for the staging of the show.

HJF: How has making music changed since motherhood?
In becoming a mother, life has changed in ways that I can't begin to list. The biggest shift I would say, is away from myself. Someone else has become my priority and her life, my responsibility. That's big. I began to think more about the kind of world she will grown up in, what life will be like for her, what kind of world I will pass down, how do I help her navigate this crazy new technology-driven era that is still so new and untested, in many ways. These were all questions that I attempted to deal with in "The Signal". It's a way of working some of these things out, of raising some questions, some awareness. And of offering something to my daughter (and others).

HJF: How old is your daughter now?
She will be 3 in 2 weeks.

HJF: Wow! That's a busy age. How do you manage to keep a work life balance?
I'm not sure I do. I try hard to do it all, but like most working mothers, I'm often burnt out, feeling spread thin, like I'm doing a poor job on all fronts. This is where it is tremendously helpful to have a husband step in, help me recalibrate, and tell me that I'm doing just fine.

HJF: Jazz is at the heart of Halifax Jazz Festival programming. How has jazz and jazz musicians influenced your work?
To me, music is freedom. Jazz was something I came to a little later (in my early 20s), at a time when I was beginning to really explore that relationship between music and freedom. In discovering jazz, I felt this incredible relief and opening, as though I were coming to a new language that had infinitely more words than the language I previously knew. Jazz has informed everything I've done since; I also strive to make music accessible, to communicate with people, but at the same time, I bring the language of jazz to what I do. It is a sophisticated form that is demanding, and at times runs the risk of being esoteric and exclusive. I try to maintain a balance between remaining accessible and interesting.

HJF: What's on your 8 track/walkman/Ipod these days?
Tiken Jah Fakoly - "Human Thing"
Tanya Tagaq - "Umingmak"
Eric Bibb - "Have a Heart"
Paul McCartney - "Temporary Secretary"
Joshua Redman - "East of the Sun"
Organized Konfusion - "Maintain"
Saint-Saëns - "The Carnival of the Animals" (always on hand for my daughter)
Thomas Mapfumo - "Kwaedza Mu Zimbabwe"
HJF: Thank you for sharing Elizabeth!

The Halifax Jazz Festival and Scotia Festival of Music presents Elizabeth Shepherd 7 PM Thursday, October 2 at the Peggy Corkum Music Room. She will be joined by an all-star quartet of Canadian jazz musicians including trumpeter Kevin Turcotte. Tickets are $25/ $20 (students, seniors and Halifax Jazz Festival members) and can be purchased advance online or at the door.

Three-time JUNO nominee Elizabeth Shepherd at the Music Room

Montreal pianist and vocalist Elizabeth Shepherd is back in Halifax releasing her fifth album The Signal at the Peggy Corkum Music Room 7 PM Thursday, October 2. Co-presented by Scotia Festival of Music and the Halifax Jazz Festival, this three-time JUNO nominee will be joined by an all-star quartet of Canadian jazz musicians including trumpeter Kevin Turcotte.

Elizabeth Shepherd The Signal 1_0.jpgPianist and vocalist Elizabeth Shepherd arrived on the international scene in 2006 when her debut album Start To Move was voted one of the Top 3 jazz albums of the year by the listeners of the Gilles Peterson Show on BBC Radio Worldwide. Since then, the Montreal-based souljazz innovator has released three widely acclaimed records and toured extensively in North America, Europe, Japan and Latin America. The three-time JUNO nominee has sold out legendary clubs from Tokyo to Detroit, played festivals like Montreal and North Sea Jazz Festivals, shared the stage with greats like Victor Wooten and Branford Marsalis and opened for Jamie Cullum at The Hollywood Bowl.

Join Shepherd as she presents music from her latest album The Signal. The subject matter for the songs covers topics as wide-ranging as Monsanto and motherhood, witchcraft and war.

Tickets for Elizabeth Shepherd are $25 ($20 for students, seniors and Halifax Jazz Festival members). The Peggy Corkum Music Room is located at 6181 Lady Hammond Road. Doors open at 6 PM and all ages are welcome. For more information and to purchase tickets please visit the event page or call the Scotia Festival of Music at 902-429-9467.