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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.

JazzEast announces 5th Out Like A Lion festival lineup

2014 Out Like A Lion (422x450).jpgJazzEast keeps the buzz and community spirit strongly felt during the Halifax Jazz Festival rolling all year long. Say goodbye to winter with the roar of Out Like A Lion, March 26-29, 2014.

The fifth annual winter jazz festival starts 8 PM Wednesday, March 26, with the quirky, high energy Banda Magda at The Company House. This New York based four-piece, led by Greek-born singer, accordionist, film scorer and composer Magda Giannikou (who has caught the attention of everyone from the Kronos Quartet to Louis CK), hits the stage with their blend of Greek dance rhythms, French pop, jazz manouche and more.  Sung in six different languages, their songs hearken back to the golden age of Brazilian bossa and the lush chic of vintage French pop, all while drawing on the band’s global background. Some members of Banda Magda will be familiar to Halifax; in 2009 bassist Haggai Cohen-Milo and percussionist Keita Ogawa performed at the Halifax Jazz Festival, and returned later that year to execute a live recording with The Secret Music Project at the Sonic Temple. Local duo Magnolia (Leanne Hoffman and Scott MacLean) kicks off the evening with their unique blend of jazz, blues and folk.

JazzEast throws a curve into Out Like A Lion programming with a Bowl-a-thon on Thursday, March 27. JazzEast invites teams of four or five to get out of the gutter, get pledges and take part in the ultimate bowling league. JazzEast will keep score and there will be prizes for the best dressed athletes, the highest and lowest scores, and more. A listening track featuring a sneak peak of the 2014 TD Halifax Jazz Festival artists will accompany the games. Proceeds from the event will support JazzEast’s education initiatives.

Friday features eclectic sounds that are both new and reminiscent of the past. Jeff Torbert’s E.S.T. Tribute band pays homage to the 90’s piano trio known for blurring the lines between classical, rock, pop and techno. The newly formed band The Final Chapter of Our Lives, featuring Andrew McKelvie, Andrew Jackson and Sam Erskin opens the night. Friday’s show starts at 8 PM at the newly established café/bar, The Nook, located at 2116 Gottingen Street.

To close the small but mighty festival JazzEast spices things up with a Mardi Gras inspired masquerade. Though a month shy of New Orleans’ true Mardi Gras, this dance event featuring Gypsophilia and The Booty Boppin’ Brass Band will bring just as much heat. JazzEast patrons have been reminiscent of the Brazilian Carnaval, which hasn’t been held in Halifax for several years now. This year JazzEast brings the party back, with a New Orleans twist.

Out Like A Lion individual show tickets start at $10, and full festival passes are available here for $35.

Out Like A Lion: Sarah Burwash

Sarah Burwash.JPGEach year JazzEast commissions an artist to create a lion image for our winter jazz festival Out Like a Lion. This year we are pleased to showcase the work of emerging artist Sarah Burwash.

Burwash grew up in the small mountain town Rossland located in British Columbia. She graduated from the University of British Columbia Okanagan in 2009, and relocated to Halifax in 2011. Since then she has immersed herself in the local visual arts scene showcasing her work throughout the city, working at Eyelevel Gallery, and completing her first media art piece through the Centre for Art Tapes scholarship program. She has participated in residencies throughout Nova Scotia, and in British Columbia, Ontario, Colorado, Yukon, Michigan and Norway. Her work has been praised by Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge, and last spring her first book, The Far Woods, was published by Conundrum Press.

2014 Out Like A Lion (422x450).jpgBurwash works in a variety of media including watercolour, drawing, collage, clay, video and installation.

We invited her to create a lion that is fierce and regal, and says goodbye to winter with a ROAR. We think she did just that in her lovely watercolour illustration.

"The lion comes to you in the night, representing assertiveness, personal power and courage," Burwash describes her interpretation of the lion. "Under a star speckled sky, in the crash of the sea, the lion shows its self and provides strength."

Currently Burwash is completing a thematic residency at the Banff Centre called “Winterjourney". Spring will be busy for her with a solo show at UAS Gallery in Calgary, Saskatoon's AKA artist-run centre billboard project, and a residency at Point Pleasant Park in the Gatekeepers Lodge this spring.

For more information about Sarah Burwash visit her online at sarahburwash.com or check out this interview in the latest edition of Visual Arts News.


Celebrate African Heritage Month with Music

IMG_6477.jpgCelebrate African Heritage Month with live music at local libraries. Listeners of all ages are invited to attend free concerts presented in partnership with JazzEast and Halifax Public Libraries.

Enjoy the rich deep voice of Corey Adams Saturday, February 1, at the Halifax North Memorial Library. As the son of the late Charles 'Bucky' Adams, since childhood Adams has immersed himself in music.  Adams is known for his lively and engaging performances. Enjoy his interpretations of songs by well loved blues and jazz legends

Hot after the release of her debut album The Breakup EP  (now available Samm Splash.JPGon iTunes), emerging R&B musician Samm Splash will be performing at the Alderney Gate Public Library  stacks Saturday, February 15. Growing up in Dartmouth and with roots in Cherry Brook and Beechville, Splash is proud of her heritage. Expect to be dazzled by Splash's unique voice and smooth sound.

Both performances take place at 2 PM. The Halifax North Memorial Library is located at 2285 Gottingen Street; The Alderney Gate Public Library is situated in the Dartmouth Ferry Terminal.

For a full list of African Heritage Month activities at Halifax Public Libraries visit halifaxpubliclibraries.ca/ahmonth.