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Artist Profile: Tanya Tagaq

tanya_tagaq_2_of_21.jpgJazzEast got to speak with the very busy Tanya Tagaq on her upcoming In The Dead Of Winter show in Halifax, Tanya Tagaq: Nanook of the North

JazzEast: How did you learn to throat sing?
Tanya Tagaq: I taught myself to throat sing initially, but have had many tips and ideas from fellow throat singers as well.

JE: What drew you to combining traditional with contemporary sounds?
TT: I enjoy contemporary art. I enjoy music, and I love throat-singing. It just seemed like the right path.

JE: You are no stranger to Halifax, being an alumnus of NSCAD. Were you a part of the music scene here at that time?
Not at all, other than having great friends who were producing and performing a lot of music at the time.

JE: You studied visual art. How did that influence your music?
The chosen medium for expression got blurred. One idea can translate into many mediums. I think that the root source of my concepts seem to be most easily expressed through sound. The same concept would seem very laborious in carving or painting.

JE: Why create this soundtrack to Nanook of the North?
For various reasons. Culture has changed quite a bit in the last 100 years. To apply the imagery from the past to the present day reaction from a modern day Inuit person creates an interesting commentary.

JE: What are you hoping audiences will take away from the performance?
Whatever they need to take away from it.

Thanks for chatting with us Tanya. We are very much looking forward to Friday, Janruary 24. Tickets are available at www.dal.ca

March heats up with a New Orleans Dance Party

mardi_gras.jpgEscape the cold winter weather and dance all night long at JazzEast’s Mardi Gras Masquerade on Saturday, March 29, at the Olympic Community Centre. Featuring Gypsophilia and The Booty Boppin’ Brass Band, JazzEast’s version of this globally celebrated cultural event is later in the year than traditional mardi gras celebrations, but 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. 

The masquerade will cap off JazzEast’s fifth Out Like A Lion winter jazz festival, March 26-29. Audiences can enjoy dancing and additional Mardi Gras inspired activities including a contest for best mask.

The mask is a traditional part of Mardi Gras celebrations. Beginning as early as the 18th century mask were worn to allow people to escape society and class constraints. With the mask, carnival goers were free to be whomever they wanted to be, and mingle with whatever class they desired to mingle with.

No stranger to the masquerade party, Gypsophilia blends music from the fringes of history including gypsy jazz, klezmer, funk, classical and bebop. With their mix of serious musicianship, humour and showmanship Gypsophilia is capable of enchanting a sit-down crowd one moment, and whipping people into a dancing, clapping, singing frenzy the next.

Local trumpet player Mike Cowie starts off the evening with his Booty Boppin’ Brass Band. This band has the celebration style of the East Coast with the instrumentation of traditional twentieth century New Orleans jazz. The groove is kept funky, loud and lively, yet more intricate than typical New Orleans jazz groups.

Finally, members of Zuppa Theatre Company will be on hand to emcee the evening. Known for their inspired and original performances they will certainly add to the theatrical vivaciousness of the evening.

Tickets to Mardi Gras Masquerade are $20 general admission and $18 for JazzEast members, and are available here or by calling (902) 429-2225.  Doors open at 8:30 PM and the show starts at 9:30 PM. Stay tuned for the full line-up of Out Like A Lion available January 28, 2014.

American jazz legend Julian Priester joins JazzEast's 2014 CMW

pub_profile_11-09_Priester_2_by_DSheehan.gifAmerican jazz legend Julian Priester joins JazzEast as special guest faculty member for JazzEast's 2014 Creative Music Workshop (CMW).

"Julian Priester is an international musical treasure and a pioneer in teaching improvised music, " states Jerry Granelli, faculty head and CMW program founder. "He's a jazz lineage holder on the same level as Coltrane, Miles and Monk, and his career spans Sun Ra to Duke Ellington to Hancock."

Priester's career has spanned over six decades. Born in 1935 in Chicago to a Baptist minister father, Priester was immersed in music from an early age. As a teen in the 50s he relocated to New York, and played with blues and R&B artists such as Muddy Waters, Dinah Washington, and more. In 1969 he joined Duke Ellington's big band, and in 1970 left that to join Herbie Hancock's fusion sextet. He has played as a sideman by albums by Max Roach, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Art Blakey and Charles Mingus.  

In the late 1970s Priester settled in Seattle, teaching at Cornish faculty until his retirement in 2011. Priester has continued to perform as both a bandleader and sideman including tours with Sun Ra, Gary Peacock, the Dave Holland Quintet, Lester Bowie’s New York Organ Ensemble, and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra. His compositions have been recorded by Sun Ra, Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, Philly Jo Jones, Lee Morgan, Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, Clifford Jordan, and Dave Holland.

Now in its 18th year, JazzEast's CMW gathers renowned musicians and educators from across North America. Along with Priester, 2014 CMW core faculty includes Halifax drummer Jerry Granelli and pianist Tim Crofts, Toronto saxophonist Dani Oore, Calgary bassist Simon Fisk, New York City electric bassist J. Anthony Granelli, and Berlin guitarist Christian Kogel.

Running concurrently are two program streams, the Core Program and Creative Process. The Creative Process, running half-days July 5-11, is open to artists and musicians from all disciplines who are interested in deepening their practice but cannot commit to a full day program. The Core Program, taking place July 3-12, is suitable for artists who want to take their practice to the next level through improvisation and collaboration. Dancer Susanne Chui and musician Erin Costelo, with special guest clinicians from the 2014 TD Halifax Jazz Festival line-up, will present special hands on improvisation clinics. In the past the Core Program has concluded with an ensemble performance; however, this year participants will present works in progress throughout the TD Halifax Jazz Festival at 1313 Hollis Street.

Sessions will take place at the Sacred Heart School of Halifax, 5820 Spring Garden Road, Halifax, NS. Students of the Core CMW program receive a free All Events pass and Creative Process students receive a free Festival Tent pass to the TD Halifax Jazz Festival.  Tuition for the Core CMW program is $395; register by February 28 and receive $100 off. For more information, including program information and registration visit here.

Photo credit: Daniel Sheehan

May your holiday be filled with joy, music and eggnog!

2013 JazzEast Christmas Card-page-001 (362x450).jpgThe JazzEast office will be closed for the holidays, and reopen Monday, January 6, 2014.

To get the spirit of the season and wrap up a successful year, staff made some delicious nog. Here's the not so secret recipe:

1 dozen eggs, separate
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 1/4 cups (or more) of sugar
1 L milk
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1.5 L of heavy cream
Rum or bourbon

Beat together the egg yolks and salt in a large mixing bowl, slowly adding 1 1/2 cups of the sugar. Continue beating until thick and pale. Stir in the milk and vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl beat the edd whites until foamy and add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar. Continue beating until stiff and all the sugar has been incorporated. In another bowl whip the cream until stiff. Now fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture and then fold into the whipped cream. Taste and add your choice of alcohol, and more sugar if necessary. Served with nutmeg on top.

May your holiday be filled with joy and music... and eggnog!

Artwork by Sydney Smith.

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 www.etixnow.com.

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 etixnow.com.