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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.

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