Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


November/December 2012: Cyrille Aimée

New Recordings: The Harvest

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None of us will be at a loss for the perfect holiday gift this year because Winnipeg is about to be humming with brilliant new music. In November alone, three major new recordings will be released into the world here. Several other recording projects are in the works and a few recent ones already out there are garnering attention. It’s harvest time!

On November 8, Winnipeg audiences will gather at the Park Theatre to celebrate the release of The Skeptic & the Cynic, the debut recording of drummer Curtis Nowosad. A recent graduate of the Jazz Studies program, Curtis has been forging his own path for a number of years now, performing frequently in the city and away, in a broad range of musical settings. The Skeptic & the Cynic features several originals alongside Curtis’ fresh arrangements of tunes by Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, 2pac, Bob Marley, and Black Star. Eclectic? Yes, and all tied together by an inventive mind and superb musicianship. Also by a terrific band: Jimmy Greene on sax, Derrick Gardner on trumpet, Steve Kirby and Julian Bradford on bass, and Larry Roy on guitar, with special guest and Grammy-nominee Taylor Eigsti making an appearance on the piano for one tune. Sneak previews are at curtisnowosad.com.

On November 15, crowds at the dig! magazine Rent Party will be the first to get their hands on Stepchild, the new release by Steve Kirby and the Northern Prairie Jazz Collective. Recorded just over a year ago, the CD features current and recent members of the U of M’s Jazz Studies faculty: Derrick Gardner on trumpet, Jimmy Greene on sax, Quincy Davis on drums, George Colligan and Will Bonness on piano, Larry Roy on guitar, Anna-Lisa Kirby on vocals, and Steve Kirby on bass. The music runs the gamut, from standards like “Stolen Moments” to originals like Bonness’ “Oneironaut,” Davis’ “Things are Looking Up,” and Kirby’s “Wicked Grin.” Great arrangements, and electricity in the band—it’s going to make its mark.

On November 22, the action unfolds at the West End Cultural Centre, where the Lucas Sader Project releases Apollo: Tribute to the Miles Davis Quintet. Sader is also a drummer, just finishing his studies at the U of M, and his group includes Paul Balcain on sax, Karl Kohut on bass, Will Bonness on piano, with Derrick Gardner carrying the Miles Davis flag. Inspired by the powerhouse quintet of the 1960s when Davis teamed up with Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and the young Tony Williams, the recording features work they performed as well as Sader’s originals and arrangements. Classic jazz, with the adventurous spirit that any homage to Miles Davis requires. Singer Erin Propp joins the band for the release concert.

Erin Propp and guitarist Larry Roy are finishing their recording of new work. Erin’s arresting vocals and the duo’s compelling originals got a lot of people talking at this year’s jazz festival—there’s a buzz of anticipation for this album. They don’t have a release party planned, but they’re performing in a Christmas extravaganza with the WSO on December 1 so they’re aiming to have the CD ready by then.

Recent releases are making waves too. Winnipeg pianists Will Bonness and Jeff Presslaff teamed up on piano and electric piano for Rhapsodies by Two, featuring work by Richie Beirach, Chick Corea, Bill Evans, Ralph Towner, John Abercrombie and Presslaff. Released this past spring, it’s now available at McNally’s and on-line.

Trumpet player Richard Gillis released Morgana’s Revenge earlier this year as well. The band features his frequent collaborator, Icelander Björn Thoroddsen, on guitar, with Will Bonness on piano, Scott Senior on percussion, Gilles Fournier on bass, and Eric Platz on drums. Reports are that Gillis is back in the studio with more small ensemble work, as is the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, the big band he leads.

Brazilian transplant Marco Castillo warmed up a lot of listeners with Trip to Brazil earlier this year. In late September, it was named the World Recording of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards in Regina. That’s a two-year sweep in that category, with Winnipeg’s Trio Bembe taking the honours last year.

Not quite a decade ago, we called Winnipeg the Jazz Capital of Canada and got a kick out of the irony. Now, with the range and calibre of jazz flying out into the world, we’re smiling for other reasons! Congratulations to all the hard-working musicians who continue to put us on the map, and to the listeners in this city who continue to expect the best they have to offer…


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