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Bill Frisell, Julian Priester and Bettye LaVette added to TD Halifax Jazz Festival artist roster

Three more legendary artists have been added to the internationally renowned roster at the 2014 TD Halifax Jazz Festival: Bill Frisell, Julian Priester and Bettye LaVette.

Bill Frisell.jpgBettye LaVette.jpgJulien Priester.gif

"Bill Frisell and Bettye LaVette offer a sneak peek into the kind of excitement you can expect from this year's TD Halifax Jazz Festival," states Laura 'Lulu' Healy, JazzEast Artistic Director. "We’re thrilled to have such legendary artists coming to grace our main stage - and to hear Julian Priester playing Love, Love with a killer cast of musicians will be music history in the making!"

Soul, R&B and blues are at the Festival Tent with Bettye LaVette Wednesday, July 9. This chart-topping, award winning musician has been making waves since her first single "My Man - He’s a Loving Man" was released in 1962.  Just some of LaVette's career highlights include collaborations with Stevie Wonder, a stint at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, label representation from Motown, and a performance with Jon Bon Jovi for President Barack Obama. Opening the concert is the Nova Scotia Super Soul Review, a project created especially for this event, featuring Nova Scotia's finest emerging talent in soul: Erin Costelo,  Jessie Brown, Kirsten Olivia, Samm Splash, Reeny Smith and Giverny "Roxy" Mercier.

On Thursday, July 10, at the Festival Tent join one of the most influential jazz guitarists of the past forty years, Bill Frisell, as he presents his latest project GUITAR IN THE SPACE AGE! The project mines the catalog of his earliest influences from the mid-20th century: from jazz icon Charlie Christian to rock pioneer Chuck Berry to surf music legends The Ventures and The Astronauts. Legendary jazz trombonist Julian Priester sets the tone for the evening when his iconic album Love, Love, is tenderly brought to life by musician and arranger J. Anthony Granelli, drummer Jerry Granelli and an impressive cast of musicians.

JazzEast is also pleased to announce that Bill Frisell will facilitate a clinic for Creative Music Workshop students in advance of his concert. The ten day program, coinciding with the festival, offers a unique learning experience for musicians and artists who want to take their playing to the next level. For more information visit halifaxjazzfestival.ca/creativemusicworkshop.

Bettye LaVette | Nova Scotia Super Soul Review, and Bill Frisell GUITAR IN THE SPACE AGE! | Julian Priester Love, Love with Jerry Granelli tickets are each $28 regular and $25 for JazzEast members. The 28th edition of the TD Halifax Jazz Festival takes place July 4-12, 2014, at venues throughout Halifax and the Festival Tent on the city's waterfront. The full line-up will be announced Tuesday, April 22.

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Artist Profile: Jeff Torbert


Local talent and music educator Jeff Torbert, along with some friends, will be joining us for Out Like A Lion on March 28 with his latest project The E.S.T. Tribute. We asked him a few questions about what music means to him. 

JazzEast: What is your musical background?
Jeff Torbert: I grew up under and on top of the piano thanks to my mother (pianist Diana Torbert of Rhapsody Quintet), then classical guitar at Dalhousie, followed by jazz guitar with David Tronzo in Boston, and most importantly, lots of Jerry Granelli time throughout.

JE: You are a teacher as well, why is it important to you to teach music?
JT: I feel that teaching anything helps you understand it better, but more than that, I find the personal transformation and growth that occurs in a truly mutual learning environment endlessly inspiring---it's also one of the best ways I can think of to honour the amazing teachers I have been lucky enough to have in my life.

JE: This is not the first time you have put together an E.S.T. Tribute band. What is it about E.S.T. that inspires you to continue to pay tribute to them?
JT: E.S.T. expresses some intangible part of the human experience to me---profound, exhilarating, vulnerable and fresh all at the same time. And playing Esbjörn's piano parts on the guitar keeps me humble; keeps me working hard.

JE: What do you want audience to experience when listening to you?
JT: Well, instrumental music tends to allow plenty of room for different subjective experiences---I say enjoy whatever comes up---Mark and Nic and I will surely enjoy ourselves.

JE: Jazz is, obviously, at the heart of what we do here at JazzEast, how has jazz and jazz musicians influenced your work?
JT: Some of my best friends are jazz musicians---an openness to the unexpected, and in Granelli's words, the commitment to practicing "nowness" in music-making (and elsewhere).

JE: What are you working on currently?
JT: Other than the E.S.T. immersion, I'm working on some challenging classical guitar music for a show with Jason Davis and Lucy Hayes Davis (St. Cecelia Concert Series), as well as a Patrick Roux Concerto for Classical Guitar Quartet with the Acadia Symphonic Orchestra.

JE: What's on your 8 track/walkman/Ipod these days?
The new Pat Metheny record, Kin, with the always-inventive Chris Potter on sax. Also, a student of mine just recently exposed me to Hanne Hukkelberg, and her music is brilliant and beautiful.

Thanks for chatting with us Jeff! For more info and tickets visit Out Like A Lion: E.S.T. Tribute Band | The Final Chapter Of Our Lives.

Artist Profile: Magnolia


Magnolia.jpgJazzEast sat down with Leanne Hoffman and Scott MacLean of Magnolia to chat about how they got started, picking names, and what kind of music makes them feel cool.

JazzEast: What are your musical backgrounds?         
Leanne Hoffman:
I sang in my high school music program back in Exeter, Ontario, as well as played some saxophone. I moved here to study science, and didn’t think I would continue with music but I like to write and sing so I started taking lessons from Jessie Brown. She suggested the NSCC programs so I auditioned and switched over.

Scott MacLean: I always wanted to be in a band, playing guitar, so I just started playing with friend in high school back in Sydney, Cape Breton. I taught myself mostly, and then took a couple years of lessons until I came to Halifax for the NSCC music program.

JE: So you both attended the NSCC program. What was it like?
It is a lot packed into two years with everything you need to survive the industry. It is not genre based at all, and offers a very open approach to the world of music. What you put into it is what you get out of it. Essentially it provides you with a lot of opportunities and it is kind of up to you to make the most of it.

SM: It covers everything: theory, ear training, business, technology, history, even all the way to figuring out how to properly wrap cables. The whole point of it is to set you up as an entrepreneur in music so you can run your own music business.

JE: How did you form Magnolia?
: We went on tour with Pretty Archie in the summer of 2012, before we were formally Magnolia. It was the first time we played music together outside of school.

LH: While we were on tour, we chatted about those shows. We realized we had a lot of similar opinions and wants for music. We both really wanted to be writing and doing things our own way. I don’t think we expected for anything to really come out of it, certainly not what has happened.  Erin Costelo was the one who really started the ball rolling.

JE: Nice segue! Tell me about your experience of working with Erin Costelo as a producer?
SM: She worked a song of ours we had brought into a masterclass for our NSCC program. When we left that day we decided that if anyone was going to produce anything for us it should be Erin. With the smallest tweaks she makes things so much better. She actually contacted us later asking if she could help produce something.      
LH: She was my vocal teacher at NSCC and had told me she wanted to start producing things. I really didn’t think she would be such an integral part of the EP, but she had so many ideas and really pushed us. She was so much more involved than I ever could have hoped for. It was her that really started the ball rolling. She has a hand in every track in some way or another. We wrote everything but she is definitely a huge part.
SM: Everyone is really a part of this album in so many ways. It was collaborative.  We had two rehearsals with Benn Ross and Clive McNutt before we went into production, and everyone just worked together to create what ended up being the final project.

JE: What is with the name Magnolia?
We were just talking about this! We honestly do not have a good answer. We must have spent at least six months until finally we had a show, and we couldn’t do the show without a name!
SM: We were going through a dictionary and baby name books to find something.
LH: The only thing we knew was that we wanted a word that had very little connection to things already and sounded nice. We almost went with Odelia, but the meaning of the word was not for us. I think it is “praise god”.

SM: Magnolia has worked. It has grown on us for sure.

JE: You got added to Tom Power’s new music picks on Valentine’s Day. Did you feel the love?
I got texts from people I haven’t seen in years saying they saw us on TV, during the Olympics. It was wild.
SM: We didn’t believe at first that they really meant us.  There was no way that Tom Power was talking about us.
LH: We watched it and Scott just said, “He just said our name!” It was unreal.  After things like this happen though, good or bad, we check in with each other, you know to keep ourselves grounded. It is hard to focus on any one thing in a year that has been so busy. We try to live in the moment and appreciate it.
SM: There are things we are achieving and it just passes by. We like to reflect back.
LH: Scott has this great saying “Don’t let the good things go to your head, and don’t let the bad things go to your heart.” They have kind of become words to live by. Seriously.

JE: Jazz is at the heart of our programming at JazzEast. What jazz musicians influence Magnolia?
Jazz vocalists for sure-Etta James, Norah Jones, Nina Simone.
SM: Chet Baker, Lennie Breau.

JE: What is up next for Magnolia?
We are going to Ontario and back. We will hit Montreal as well, and it will end with the show here with Out Like A Lion. We haven’t playing in Ontario yet, and since I’m from there, I thought it was time.

JE: What is on your music list these days?
Paul Simon, so much Paul Simon.
LH: Nick Lowe, Beyonce.
SM: A Tribe Called Quest, The Meters, Tallest Man on Earth.                                                                                 
LH: You can’t feel any cooler that driving along with ATCQ playing.

Thank you for chatting with us Leanne and Scott. For more information on the September 27 show and how to get tickets, visit Banda Magda | Magnolia.

Robert Glasper Experiment opens TD Halifax Jazz Festival

JRobert Glasper Experiment (450x300).jpgazzEast is pleased to present The Robert Glasper Experiment opening night of the 2014 TD Halifax Jazz Festival. The concert takes place Friday, July 4, at the Marquee Ballroom.

"I've been trying to bring Glasper to the festival for a number of years and am thrilled that he’ll be setting the tone for our 28th edition,” states Laura ‘Lulu’ Healy, JazzEast Artistic Director. "His music pushes jazz to a new level, and he speaks to such a wide range of music lovers."

The four-piece ensemble is the brainchild of American jazz pianist and record producer Robert Glasper. It features Glasper on piano, along with Casey Benjamin on saxophone, Derrick Hodge on bass, and Mark Colenburg on drums. The band breaks boundaries in jazz crossing musical genres. Glasper’s past collaborators include artists such as rappers Q-Tip and Mos Def, vocalist Jill Scott and label-mate Norah Jones.

Their latest album Black Radio 2 is a follow-up to the 2012’s Black Radio which won Best R&B Album at the 2013 GRAMMY Awards. The chart topping album featured jazz standards such as the Mongo Santamaria/Oscar Brown Jr. staple “Afro Blue” along with rock classics such as Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and David Bowie’s “Letter to Hermione”. The latest offering features original collaborations led by Glasper.

Robert Glasper Experiment tickets are $23.50 regular and $20 for JazzEast members, and can be purchased here. The 28th edition of the TD Halifax Jazz Festival takes place July 4-12, 2014, at venues throughout Halifax and the Festival Tent on the city's waterfront. The full line-up will be announced Tuesday, April 22. For more information and to purchase tickets and festival passes visit halifaxjazzfestival.ca.

Since 1987 the non-profit organization JazzEast Rising has presented a diverse range of musical and educational activities including the TD Halifax Jazz Festival. For more information about JazzEast and visit jazzeast.com or follow JazzEast on Facebook and @HFXJazzFest

History of Mardi Gras

Mardi_Gras.jpgMardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Carnival--whatever you know it as, is happening at this moment!  In fact Mardi Gras events have been happening for months, and are culminating today in New Orleans with one giant city-wide celebration. 

With JazzEast hosting its own New Orleans Mardi Gras themed masquerade party at the end of this month, we thought we would bring you up to speed on the history of the event. 

Mardi Gras traditions were brought to North America in the late 17th century by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville, a French colonizer and early governor of Louisiana. The very first American Mardi Gras was celebrated in 1702 in Fort Louis de la Louisiane, now modern day Mobile, Alabama. The tradition continued but it wasn't until 1856 when several New Orleans business men came together to form the first krewe secret society that Mardi Gras was recognized with a formal parade similar to what we see today. Krewe quite simply stands for a member-based organization that puts on a parade or ball for the Carnival season. How fitting!

The celebrations continued to grow and in 1875 Louisiana declared it as a state holiday. In 1972, the parade grew so large that it had to be moved outside of New Orleans to accommodate its size. Traditionally Mardi Gras celebrations start January 6 on Epiphany in the Christian calendar, and continue until just before Ash Wednesday,  on Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras in French. MG13_Gallery_Parade_4_tcm13-32379.jpg

Mardi Gras celebrations all but take over the city of New Orleans, with the population more than doubling the weekend before the actual event. Celebrations start early on Mardi Gras with parades, costumes and music. 

Though JazzEast is not at the Mardi Gras celebrations today, we will certainly be harnessing the revelry of Mardi Gras on March 29 to close out our fifth Out Like A Lion festival. We hope that you can join us and bring your best Mardi Gras spirit and mask. Let the good times roll! 

For more information on Mardi Gras celebrations visit the official New Orleans website here.

For tickets and information about JazzEast's Mardi Gras Masquerade visit the event page.

Second Halifax Jazz Festival video featuring music by Dave Douglas

JazzEast's second video capturing the spirit of the Halifax jazz festival is now out.

Enjoy music by esteemed New York-based trumpeter, composer and educator Dave Douglas. Douglas attended the 2013 TD Halifax Jazz Festival as guest faculty at the Creative Music Workshop and wowed audiences with a breathtaking performance at Casino Nova Scotia. Read more here.

Support for the creation of the videos was provided by the Nova Scotia Tourism Experiences Marketing Program. The final video will be released in the coming weeks.

2014 Festival Artwork

Jazz-fest-2014-web (450x450).jpgJazzEast is pleased to share with you the creative for the 2014 TD Halifax Jazz Festival. This year's artwork speaks to the spirit of the festival, and Sydney Smith's practice as an illustrator of children's books.

Sydney's is no stranger to the JazzEast and we've highlighted him our blog in the past. We think his most recent interpretation of our big top on the Halifax waterfront is fresh, fun and playful.

He has a number of exciting projects set to launch this spring through the local publishing house Nimbus. Sydney's eloquent line drawings grace the pages of Kate Inglis' Flight of the Griffons which will be released in early April.

In May, don't miss Music is for Everyone by Jill Barber (who performed at the jazz festival most recently in the summer of 2011).

Nimbus writes:

"Music is for Everyone is sure to get you excited about making music! Singer-songwriter Jill Barber takes her young readers through many different kinds of music—hip hop, jazz, classical, folk—and instruments in an energetic, rhyming tour. Sydney Smith’s gleeful illustrations capture all the joy that comes from making music—in all its forms!"

Sounds like a fantastic read for lovers of music young and old!

JazzEast releases Halifax Jazz Festival video

JazzEast is pleased to present its first of three videos capturing the spirit of the Halifax jazz festival. This is the first time JazzEast has commissioned an artist to create videos about the jazz festival. Each work speaks to the spirit of the event in all its capacities.

The first video is back by music of The Extremities, a duo featuring Halifax DJ Uncle Fester, and Toronto-based producer extraordinaire Fresh Kils. The hip hop jazz fusion accompanying the film is from their 2011 chart topping album The Mint Condition.

All videos are created by award-winning Prince Edward Island filmmaker Millefiore Clarkes owner of One Thousand Flowers Productions. A graduate of University of King's College, Clarkes short doc December in Toronto was a Staff Pick on Vimeo and was shortlisted in the Lyrical Category and screened at the 2012 Vimeo Film Festival Awards in NYC. Her music videos Stealin' for Catherine MacLellan, and People I Love for English Words won 'Best Music Video' at the Music PEI Awards (2012 and 2013). She was named 'The 2013 William F. White PEI Filmmaker of the Year' and was awarded the 2013 CBC PEI 321 Award with producer Jason Arsenault. In 2011 WIFT-Atlantic Chapter awarded her the 'Salute Award' for her work in the sector. Most recently she is being recognize for her upstanding film about organic farming called Island Green produced by The National Film Board of Canada.

Support for the creation of the films was provided by the Nova Scotia Tourism Experiences Marketing Program. The second and third videos will be released in the coming weeks.

Artist Profile: Roxy and the Underground Soul Sound

Roxy and the Underground  Soul (450x450)_0.jpgFebruary is here, and that means a new edition of JazzEast's The New Standard has arrived. This month features the newly formed group Roxy and the Underground Soul Sound. JazzEast caught up with Ian Bennet and Giverny Mercier of the band to talk music, and more.

JazzEast: What is the vision of Roxy and the Underground Soul Sound?
Ian Bennet:
The vision of R&USS is to capture the feeling, energy, sounds and grooves laid down by the founding fathers of funk and soul at Stax Records, Motown and Atlantic Studios in the 60s and 70s while finding our own sound within that model. We look to generate the kind of rhythms that are impossible to not move to. This music is referred to as feel good music for a reason- it's like being injected with 100% pure positive energy.
Giverny Mercier:  I want to have a great time and make music that people enjoy. I just really enjoy performing watching people react to our music. It's a great feeling.

JE: When did the group form? What led to its creation?
The group formed last year around February with just Ian and I writing together and then getting a band together after we got some tunes down.

JE: Who's Roxy?
IB: I'll leave the who's Roxy to Roxy, for better or for worse, ha ha!
GM: I am Roxy the lead singer and writer of the band. It's a nickname that I've gone by for a while. My real name is Giverny but no one can pronounce it and it tortured me in school. Kids are mean.

JE: What do you want audiences to experience when listening to you?
I want people to be able to connect to the stories within the songs and dance and have a great time.
IB: You should expect to not sit down. Bring your dancing shoes cause you're gonna need 'em; however if you do want to sit down there's plenty to listen to as well. We've been lucky enough to assemble a nice rabble of musicians who are all very competent at their craft. 

JE: Jazz is at the heart of our programming at JazzEast. What jazz musicians influence Roxy and the Undergound Soul?
For me Sharon Jones, Etta James, Chaka Khan, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and Gladys Knight.
IB: All of us studied music in school so we've all had our favorite jazz musicians. For me it's any form of Miles Davis' classic bands and the Oscar Peterson Trio; however, soul, R'n'B and funk is really just the evolution of big band jazz in my opinion. A lot of the players who helped shape the genre came out of that world. Motown famed house bands were all jazz and blues musicians. 

What's on each of your 8 track/walkman/Ipod these days?
My music playing devices contain a lot of the stuff coming out of Daptone Records, a soul revival label based out of Brooklyn, NY, as well as any soul/funk/R'n'B I can get a hold of. 
GM: For me I have a mixture that's kind of all over the place from R'n'B to jazz to indie to rock to motown.
IB: We're all pretty versatile in the USS so we all listen and play a variety of stuff as well. Anything from pop, rock, jazz, reggae, country, etc.

JE: What can we expect for the show February 19?
GM: We want everyone to have a good time and dance and let loose.
IB: You can expect us to bring the grooves and a great time!
GM: I know I certainly will be dancing!

Don't miss Roxy and the Underground Soul Sound at The New Standard 8:30 PM February 19 at the Company House. Opening the night is The NSCC Music Arts Band Funk Your Dreams. Tickets are $8 or free with certain JazzEast memberships.

Soul alive at JazzEast's New Standard

1377123_424824437623595_987700358_n_1.jpgSoul music is alive at this month's edition of The New Standard presented by JazzEast. Roxy and the Underground Soul Sound and the NSCC Music Arts band Funk Your Dreams takes the stage Wednesday, February 19, for a concert that promises to get people up dancing.

"We all just really love performing and making a good time for everyone," states Giverny "Roxy" Mercier, lead vocalist of the group Roxy and the Underground Soul Sound. "A couple of us were once a part of the NSCC ensembles bands. We are really excited to hit the stage with the NSCC's Funk You Dreams "

Inspired by the sound sounds of Miles Davis, R'n'B and hip-hop, Roxy and the Underground Soul Sound formed in 2013 when Mercier and bassist Ian Bennett started writing music together. Soon a band was formed featuring, along with Mercier and Bennett, Andrew MacKelvie (saxophone), Adrian Dunn (guitar), Matt Gallant (drums) and Jason Keddy (piano/organ).

Opening the night is NSCC Music Arts Program student band Funk Your Dreams.

JazzEast 's concert series The New Standard showcases local musicians on the Company House stage. Doors open at 8 PM and shows starts at 8:30 PM. Tickets are $8 or free with a JazzEast membership and can be purchase online or at the door. All proceeds from the concert go to the performing musicians.

For more information and to get your tickets visit here.