JazzEast partners with IDOW to bring Tanya Tagaq

tagaq.jpgJazzEast is excited to partner with In The Dead Of Winter festival (IDOW) to bring Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq to Halifax. Tanya Tagaq: Nanook of the North takes place on Friday, January 24 at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium.

In the Dead of Winter is an acoustic-based festival that is held annually the last weekend of January in Halifax. It aims to show the diversity of acoustic music and give opportunities to up-and-coming musicians from Halifax, Canada and the USA. The 2014 edition runs January 23-25.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for IDOW and JazzEast audiences to come together and have their collective minds blown,” states Laura “Lulu” Healy, Artistic Director of JazzEast. “Tanya is out of this world, and this particular project is stunning to say the least."

Originally from Nunavut, Tagaq has made her mark on the Canadian music scene, as well as internationally, pairing with talent such as Iceland’s Bjork, among others. Tagaq also studied visual art at the NSCAD University. The concert Tanya Tagaq: Nanook of the North creates a live soundtrack for the classic 1922 silent film Nanook of the North. Tagaq’s haunting throat singing and improvisation bring new light to this infamous film.

Opening the night will be local jazz aficionado Sageev Oore. Known also for combining music and silent film, Sageev will bring his own flavour of improvisation to the stage.

This concert is open to all ages. Doors open at 7:30 PM, show starts at 8:00 PM. Tickets are available now at the Rebecca Cohn box office or online.


Thank you

DSC_8192.jpgOur winter fundraiser Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas was a huge success thanks to the participation of the artists (Jerry Granelli, Simon Fisk and Chris Gestrin), many volunteers, and the many businesses and individuals who made donations to the silent auction, including Alliance Française, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Artie Irwin, Capoeira Halifax / Ross Burns, Clare Bridge Jewelry, Danielle Bezaire / Hydrostone Osteopathy, Dartmouth Sportsplex, Emco Sumner Plumbing, Fireworks Gallery, Forward Music Group, Fred Fiander, Halifax Cycle Gallery, Harold McGee, In the Dead of Winter, Jani-King, Porter Airlines, KEW, Lang Optometry, Liquid Gold, Maritime Beauty, Megan Leslie, MP, Michael Joudrey, Nancy Stevens, Neptune Theatre, Nova Tile & Marble, Old Orchard Inn, OneLight Theatre, Ottawa Jazz Festival, Peak Audio, Scotia Fuels, Scotia Festival of Music, Shaune Warren, Shirley Levene, Stephen Osler, Symphony Nova Scotia, TC Transcontinental, The Lord Nelson Hotel, Venus Envy and White Point Beach Resort.

Support for Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas was provided by Dr. Piano, Global Convention Services, Spatz Theatre Society, and  Dustin and Jorin LindenSmith. JazzEast also acknowledges the ongoing support of Canadian Heritage and the province of Nova Scotia.

All proceeds from the annual fundraiser support JazzEast's ongoing music education programs, such as Halifax JazzLabs, Creating Creative Listeners and the annual summer intensive music camp, the Creative Music Workshop.

Festival Passes now on sale!

Today at Tales of a Charlie Brown Christmas we revealed that early bird passes to the 2014 TD Halifax Jazz Festival, July 4-12, are now on sale!

Since it's the season of giving we are delighted to announce we are offering them at a special price, as follows:

Festival Tent Pass- Special price $100
The heart of this festival is all yours with this pass. Attend all 9 concerts and see all the acts in the festival tent.

All Events Pass- Special price $200
You are the festival elite with unlimited access to all shows. Attend over 30 events and see over 90 great acts.

We are also pleased to offer a $75 member price for the Festival Pass to JazzEast members! Make sure to have your code ready when purchasing. 

Limited supply on sale now! Purchase yours today at

2013 Winter Fundraiser Auction

auction gift basket.JPGEvery December for the last 10 years, JazzEast's end-of-year winter fundraiser event has been accompanied by a silent auction. Local artists, shops, restaurants, hotels, as well as individuals have kindly donated items. This year is no different, and we are so excited to share with you some of the awesome items available to be won this Sunday at Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas

Here is a sample of some of the items that will be at the auction:

  • One night stay for two at The Lord Nelson Hotel (valid until December 2014, not valid on December 31, 2013) - Donated by The Lord Nelson Hotel
  • $50.00 Ski Wentworth gift certificate - Donated by Ski Wentworth
  • Wine Basket, over 10 different bottles picked by JazzEast's Board of Directors - Donated by members of JazzEast's Board of Directors

The auction opens right after the first concert at 3:30 PM and will close following the second performance, around 9:30 PM. Ticket holders from the afternoon show are welcome to come back during the evening to attend the auction portion. 


A Charlie Brown Christmas Contest (Update)

TCBC Charlie Brown Tree (450x450)_1.jpgHere are some entries we have recieved thus far for our Charlie Brown Christmas Contest!

"My favorite memory relates to hanging out reading & watching TV with my Grandpa as a kid. He liked to 'mute' TV ads, but also had a tendency to fall asleep with the remote. I watched this classic (& many others)on mute for many years, It was only 5 years ago that I got to finally hear this classic in full!"

"Growing up in rural Manitoba in the late '60s meant a lot of planning as we only had one channel and A Charlie Brown Christmas only came on once a season! I can still remember how magical it seemed, even the first few years on the black and white tv... there were all these children just like us trying to make the most of the season with what would become our own traditions. Each of us hoping our tree would never shed like Charlie Brown's did. But we all had compassion when Charlie just made the best of his little tree and I think even to this day, I am somehow humbled by it. Definitely remains a classic in my home."

"As a child, the Christmas season never really started until A Charlie Brown Christmas appeared on the TV. My family called me "Lucy" growing up and always had a love for Peanuts (although my family, I am sure, did not have a love for my fussiness and bossiness). This fondness has lasted over 40 years and now my own children share in the same delight. In fact, my 10 year old recently exclaimed that A Charlie Brown Christmas was on December 2nd and she would set the DVR to ensure we would not miss it. There are a lot of specials on now but this is one of the few that makes our list. So, come December 2nd, the hot chocolate will be on and we will be snuggled on the sofa to once again kick off the Christmas season. Plus, who doesn't love those cool Peanut's dance moves? We are looking forward to the show December 8th."

"I am a music fan who may be a bit older than your average audience. I remember growing up in a small town, Niagara Falls, and going to visit relatives in even smaller towns, often for Christmas, either Timmins, North Bay, or a town outside of Ottawa, that I am sure is part of Ottawa now. To the chagrin of my father, I started listening to what he considered was weird music in the mid sixties, oh the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and in the late sixties I acquired a copy of the soundtrack  from Hair and played in daily.

One Christmas in the later part of the 60s we went to visit my "progressive aunt and uncle" and we sat down one evening and watched the special, parents included. I really enjoyed it, especially relating to the music. Out of the corner of one eye, I saw my father, who, I thought only enjoyed polka and country music and hated everything else, smile and tapped his fingers on his armchair. It occurred to me then, that maybe music was a bridge that was able to span generations, and that just maybe my father was becoming a little bit more like my progressive aunt and uncle. My father was a dour man, and very serious, so this smile was something I remember, and thanks to The Charlie Brown Christmas special for this fond memory."

Please keep sharing the memories for your chance to win an All Access Pass to the 2014 TD Halifax Jazz Festival!

Artist Profile: Jerry Granelli

Jerry_chair.jpgJazzEast caught up with Jerry Granelli at a local coffeeshop to discuss the upcoming show Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas, working with Vince Guaraldi, music, teaching and more.

JazzEast: How old are you?
Jerry Granelli: I'll be 73. For the last 68 years I've been immersed in music. You'd think I'd be better at it.

JE: Why are you presenting Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas now?
JG: I am going to tell the story during the performance so I don't want to give it away. For 50 years I just wouldn't do it. I think part of it was my own arrogance in the sense I did that, and I went on and made a whole body of work. It's kind of like I just couldn't imagine doing it. And Vince Guaraldi never did it.

I think it was just a matter of time. Part of it was doing the documentary for the CBC with Colin MacKenzie two years ago and actually going back to where we recorded it and talking to Lee Mendelson, who was the producer. Seeing what a social phenomenon it turned into, with no intent, is a miraculous part of the story. It's like somehow there's faith in the story, that people could still do things out of genuine motive. Today there is so much manipulation to every art project, or things are done for the fame. This was just done because it was fun.

JE: They didn't even want the jazz music, correct?
JG: The jazz music was not considered an asset. That music's too weird they said. See we did music early on for another progam about Charlie Brown. It didn't sell. I think it came out as a CD or record later but the music was no advantage. They didn't want that on prime time television. They didn't want that kind of animation─ it's too slow. Boy, were they wrong!

JE: But you made the music for A Charlie Brown Christmas anyhow.
JG: We did it. Vince did it. Lee Mendelson sold it to them. And Charlie Schultz and the animator, they did it in about five days. Nobody even thought it was going to happen. It was just done.

JE: So now seems like the right time to revisit A Charlie Brown Christmas?
JG: That's the simple answer. I feel like I am back to the motivation. I feel like doing it which was the motivation in the first place. We just wanted to do it.

JE: What can we expect for December 8?
JG: There are basically three parts to the show. There is an opening with the wonderful Vivace Children's Choir, a young person will give Linus' speech, and we're going to talk about the story. Then we're going to do the music. Charles Schultz's foundation was kind enough to give us three video clips which we will use. It will close with the kids and maybe even some group dancing. I don't know... it will be the prototype.

JE: Why did you choose to work with Chris Gestrin and Simon Fisk?
JG:  Chris Gestrin and Simon Fisk both love this music. They grew up with this music. I chose them to play it because I want the music to play back to them.

JE: What was Vince Guaraldi like?
JG:  I was 24 years old when I joined the Vince Guaraldi Trio. It was like really a good steady jazz gig. Vince was a task master─ he was tough to work for but he made a professional jazz musician out of me. Which meant every night at 9 o'clock you were playing. He didn't care if you were dying, you played. And he taught me that for two years until the trio broke up. Vince believed in himself against all odds. Cast Your Fate to the Wind was a hit because he threw a fit to get it out of the sink. Same thing as Charlie Brown.

JE: How did you get into music? Did you grow up in a house with music?
I grew up in a house with drummers and in Italian culture very similar to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, culture. We would make any excuse for a kitchen party─ any excuse to roll back the rugs, bring out the accordions, dance, sing, eat food and have 'er great time.

JE: Where did you grow up?
JG: San Francisco, which was an amazing time during that period. In the 40s and 50s there was a lot of great jazz coming out of San Francisco. It had a very busy after hours scene in the African music communities and all over town. My dad loved Dixieland music, and my uncle loved Duke Ellington and Count Basie and Louis Jordan. So I got to grow up on rhythm, blues and Italian.

JE: When did you know you wanted to pursue music?
JG: I always wanted to be a drummer. I loved the drums. I studied violin when I was four, and I remember I could read music before I could read words. At around four or five my dad had his own drum kit so I probably didn't get my own drum kit until I was seven or eight.

JE: What brought you to Halifax?
JG: It was my Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa, my young daughter Anna, and I didn't want to live in the United States. Halifax just felt right, it felt like home. Russell who ran the Musicstop got me a job so I could get landed, and good friends like Donnie Palmer, Skip Beckwood and Susan Hunter also made it possible. The job as a professor at the Jazz Institute of Berlin also helped.

JE: It seems like you collaborate with a lot of emerging musicians.
JG: I guess I do. Music is probably one of the most social forms of the arts. Somehow it feels even more social than theatre or dance. I don't know why but it feels that way to me. I think a lot of musicians end up being musicians because of the social quality, the band quality─ there ain't nothing like being in a band. Being in a great band is like family on a very deep level. It's a group of people you climb on the stage with and get naked with every night.

I have been taught by my teachers that your students should surpass you, not that they are always below you. I love it when one of my students makes a record. The highest compliment I can give them is, "I wish I had made that, not you."

There is a point when you're working with them and then you want to play with them. A whole other relationship develops. It flips around where they challenge you and provide opportunities of discomfort for you. There's a vitality to it that's really fun. Playing with Tim Crofts and Andrew MacKelvie is a situation that's growing into a real collaboration. It starts out with me being "Argh!" and then that changes. That's what you want to have, that's how the music moves forward.

I hope through JazzEast and CMW young people are nurtured. It's great to go away for a while, but come home. My job is to provide something to do for when they come home, and if it takes putting together a band we'll make one.

JE: What are you listing to these days?
JG: I  listened to a lot of alternative music and now I am not. I have been listening to Carmen McRae and the great drummer Joey Baron. Joey's been here with Bill Frisell. Bill worked with Carmen, and I worked with Carmen a long time ago. We'd send each other YouTube stuff.  "Check this out," I'd say to him, and he's like, "Check this out." The other night I was up listening to the singers ─ to a bunch of Nina Simone on YouTube which made me cry, and Carmen. I love Charles Spearin, and I love Feist. I was riding around with a Joel Plaskett album but the truth is the the CD player is broken in my car and that's where I listen to the most music.

JE: What are you working on currently?
JG:  I just did a new duo record with a great pianist Jamie Saft from New York which will be out December 15. It's really pretty. I met Jamie though my son. He was part of that whole group of young people in New York, the new Lower East Side guys. Several of them I taught and I go back to play with them and Badlands, this band I had for a while.

JE: How often do you go to New York?
Once or twice a year. My grandkids are down there so I go as much as possible. You can't work in New York any more. There's no real work, everything is a door gig. Those days are over. Those days are over everywhere. You got to find a village you can work in, a place you can be. Halifax is good as anywhere else. At 1313 we have a series that runs in the winter and we get 30, 40 or 50 people out for a concert of weird music. You might not get that in New York.

Halifax feels like home. It is home. In the winter I dread it, but it is home.

Thanks for meeting with us Jerry. We're really looking forward hearing the music live December 8! Tickets can be found at

A Charlie Brown Christmas Contest


Win a pass to the
2014 TD Halifax Jazz Festival!

We want to hear from you as we gear up for our 10th annual winter fundraiser Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Email info [at] jazzeast [dot] com (subject: A%20Charlie%20Brown%20Christmas%20Contest) with your memory of the holiday classic and (250 words or less). Stories will be shared leading up to the event and all entries received by Friday, December 13 will be entered to win a prize of one All-Access Festival Pass (value $250) to the 2014 TD Halifax Jazz Festival!

Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas takes place 2 PM and 8 PM Sunday, December 8, at the Spatz Theatre, and features local jazz legend Jerry Granelli with Simon Fisk (Calgary) and Chris Gestrin (Vancouver), and HRM’s Vivace Children’s Choir conducted by Jacqueline Crowell. Granelli is the only surviving member of the Vince Guaraldi Trio, the masterminds behind the iconic holiday soundtrack. David Myles will emcee the concert. Tickets are $40 and available at

All proceeds from the annual fundraiser support JazzEast's ongoing music education programs, such as Halifax JazzLabs, Creating Creative Listeners and the annual summer intensive music camp, the Creative Music Workshop. Support for Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas is provided by Dr. Piano and Global Convention Services. JazzEast also acknowledges the ongoing support of Canadian Heritage and the province of Nova Scotia.


Artist Profile: The New Bridge

IMG_2273 (450x450).jpgThis week we caught up with Ross Burns of The New Bridge. They'll be playing next Wednesday, November 20 at The New Standard.

JazzEast: Why The New Bridge?
Ross Burns:
The band name has a Halifax connotation and a musical connotation that we like, and for us this trio is a way to do some new things together.

JE: In your bio it says you came together because of music, eating and bike rides. In terms of music, was it your connection through Gypsophilia that brought you together?
RB: Yes it was. But it was largely sustained by common loves, both musical and beyond (hence the food and bikes). We are now fast friends but we all come from different musical places. Playing together in Gypsophilia has been in some ways an exercise in reconciling and melding those influences. In the process I think all of us have taken stuff from each other and broadened our musical palettes.

JE: We're also curious how eating and biking brought you together. We love food at JazzEast (Jane's Next Door and Alter Egos really benefits from this), and occasionally we've been known to hop on a bike.  What edible item brought you closer?
What edible item didn't? Coffee might be a big one though.

JE: And what's the best bike route in Halifax?
The best route to get you somewhere is the new Windsor Street bike lane. The best route to get you no where is Purcell's Cove Road/Hebridean Drive to Sambro.

JE: As a group you state you explore string-band jazz music with equal measures of adventure and swing.  How does exploring music with one section of instruments sharpen your interpretation skills?
In this setting we can't rely so much on just varying the textures/instrumentation to generate interest as we could in a bigger band so we have to look elsewhere. In a way the palette in a small string band is much more restrained, so I guess that it would be like working with just different hues and shades of orange rather than several different colours. It is a fun challenge.

JE: What's on each of your 8 track/walkman/Ipod these days?
A quick survey: Youth Lagoon, Tom Waits, George Jones, Charles Mingus, Bill Withers, Al Tuck, Beach House, D'Angelo, Steel Pulse, Destroyer, David Byrne & St Vincent, Vince Guaraldi Trio, Mr. Bungle.

What can we expect for the show November 20?
RB: We can't wait for the show. We'll be having fun and trying some new things. We have some new compositions to premiere, new approaches to try out and maybe even some singing. You'll have to come to the Company House next week to see for yourself!

Thanks Ross! We'll be there, along with The Heavy Blinkers. Doors for The New Standard open at 8 PM, show starts at 8:30 PM. For all the details (and to get your tickets) visit here.



Artist Profile: The Heavy Blinkers

me44019_10153168506135702_767444668_o (700x700).jpgAnother edition of The New Standard is coming up, featuring The New Bridge and The Heavy Blinkers. The Heavy Blinkers have been getting a lot of attention since the release of their much anticipated album HEALTH. JazzEast caught up with band member Jason Michael MacIsaac to hear more about the band and what to expect November 20.

JazzEast: What is the vision of The Heavy Blinkers?
Jason Michael MacIsaac: I think that The Heavy Blinkers’ vision is one of a type of orchestral pop music that is both sturdy and lush and one that is hopefully perceived as beautiful. ‘Beautiful’ music might be a hard sell these days, but is what we strive to make nevertheless.

JE: The Heavy Blinkers have been together for a long time. You are the only remaining founding member. How do you stay true to the vision of the Heavy Blinkers with changes in its line-up?
In a way, The Heavy Blinkers are reinvented with every album release. Recently, I read an article written by T. Bone Burnett who said quite rightfully that, “it is incumbent upon artists to do something that the audience doesn't want – yet.” Likewise, I never worry too much if the band sounds different from album to album, in fact, that’s what keeps it personally interesting. Having said that, the current personnel that make up The Heavy Blinkers are the people with whom I want to make all subsequent Blinkers albums. The other members of the Blinkers (Dave Christensen, Melanie Stone, Ellen Gibling, Stewart Legere, Adam Fine and honourary lifetime member Jenn Grant) are some of the most creative, talented, musical and generous people I’ve ever met. Someone once told me that the key to being in an amazing band is to make sure that you surround yourself with players who are better than you, and God knows I’ve done that. I get most of the press because I write the songs and talk on stage, but I cannot overstate how much of The Heavy Blinkers sound comes from the collective.  

JE: At JazzEast jazz is at the heart of our programming. Do any jazz musicians influence your work? What music influences your practice?
JMM: Vocal jazz music is at the heart of what we do. Sinatra, Jobim, Cole Porter, The Gershwin Brothers, Blossom Dearie pretty much make up the totality of The Heavy Blinkers. Moreover, I look to jazz music for the chords that make up my compositions. Band members David Christensen and Adam Fine are, of course, well respected jazz musicians in the city and they bring with them many innovative approaches to composition and arrangement.

I have an abiding love of the bossanova,  tropicalia and the jazz movement that came out of Brazil in the 60s and 70s, and while it can’t be said the Heavy Blinkers is necessarily overtly making that type of music, I derive great inspiration from the chord structures, production, arrangement and aesthetic of the Brazilian music from that epoch.

JE: You just released a much anticipated album. What has the response been?
JMM: The response has been overwhelmingly positive from both audience and critics. As I write this, the album is the Globe & Mail’s Album Of The Week and we’ve received equally glowing reviews pretty much across the board. We’ve been really lucky. It seems like HEALTH was released at exactly the right time and got in the hands of exactly the right people who would appreciate it.

JE: How would you describe the sound of The Heavy Blinkers?
JMM: If I had to do an elevator pitch to someone, I’d probably go with: “piano based, harmony driven, cinematic pop, played on orchestral instruments.” However, when I read that sentence back, I want to punch myself in the face because it sounds so pretentious. Lyrically,  we want to tell unique stories and musically, we want to use a vocabulary that doesn’t often get heard much these days in the world of pop.

JE: What are you hoping audiences will take away from your music?
JMM: I hope they take away a t-shirt, pins and two copies of the album. I kid, I kid. I hope that they are entertained and that they felt uplifted. When people come up to me and say that our music helped them out during a hard time in their lives, well then that’s about the best feedback one could ever hope to receive.

JE: What's on your 8 track/walkman/Ipod these days?
JMM: This week I’ve been listening to a ton of dub music, Kanye West’s Yeezus, Low’s Things We Lost In The Fire (one of my all time favourites), Toumani Diabate’s catalogue, and as much stand-up comedy as I can get my hands on. I’m not sure what next week will hold, but generally I try to listen to music as far removed from what I do as is possible. I feel it makes for a more well-rounded musical education and I’m genuinely just super into all types of music.

JE: What can we expect for the show November 20?
JMM: Well, Stewart Legere, our other principal vocalist will be in Australia, so all vocal duties will be handled by Melanie, meaning that we will be doing some material that we seldom do live, which is pretty exciting for us. Of course, the lion share of the set will be culled from our new album HEALTH, but there WILL be some Heavy Blinkers songs that were written in the 20th century. That’s right folks, music spanning one hundred years in just over an hour.

Thanks Jason for your generous responses. We can't wait to see The Heavy Blinkers live at the Company House stage. Next week we'll be hearing from The New Bridge.

A Fresh Take on a Holiday Classic

Charlie brown Jazz-page-001.jpgWe're gearing up with promotions for Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas, and wanted to share with you the artwork illustrator Sydney Smith created for the event's poster. We love his fresh take on the timeless holiday television classic.

Sydney is no stranger to JazzEast. He's the guy behind the creative for the TD Halifax Jazz Festival. He's also produced some roaring lions for our winter jazz festival Out Like a Lion.

Sydney, who holds a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, spends his time in Halifax and Toronto. Known for his top-notch illustration he has worked with numerous children's authors including Sheree Fitch (Mabel Murple, There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen, Toes in My Nose), Kate Inglis (The Dread Crew) and Joyce Barkhouse (Pit Pony: The Picture Book). He has contributed illustration to journals such as Buddhadarma and Nature Medicine. Also a fan of music, Sydney has worked with musicians such as Old Man Luedecke, Hey Rosetta!, Gypsophilia, and Sheesham, Lotus and Son to produce designs that reflect the nature of their music.

To view current projects by Syndey check out his online sketchbook.

Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas with the Jerry Granelli Trio (featuring an original member of the Vince Guaraldi Trio) and the Vivace Children's Choir takes place 2 PM and 8 PM Sunday, December 8. Tickets are $40 and available here.