Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

January/February 2014: Neil Coligan

What’s Nu?

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Curious about what’s happening in the creative imaginations of Winnipeg’s jazz artists? Jazz Winnipeg’s popular Nu Sounds series, now in its eighth season, brings another eclectic line-up to The Park Theatre over the next few months.

The five-concert series opens with veteran guitarist and composer, Greg Lowe. Greg is an adventurous musician. He has a strong jazz signature, having studied with heavyweights like John Scofield, but he is at home in a broad range of styles, from R&B to rockabilly to classical chamber music. He has performed in every imaginable context, from jazz duos and small ensembles to touring bands to the symphony orchestra.

He’s a prolific composer too, and has created soundscapes and scores for stage, radio, film, and television. He has released seven recordings of original work, both electric and acoustic. His music is evocative and polished, and always playful.

On January 19, Greg Lowe will present a new suite of songs that celebrate the many faces of the guitar—acoustic, nylon, electric, and bass—with support from mandolin, banjo, accordion, keyboards and percussion. Sharing the stage are many of the musicians who’ve worked with Greg over the years: Leonard Shaw, Gilles Fournier, Bruce Jacobs, Daniel Roy, Daniel Koulack, Ron Paley, and Walle Larsson. Expect a lot of banter, some good storytelling, and an intriguing take on jazz.

The second concert of the series, on February 16, features singer Monika Wall. Monika is a classically-trained singer with a passion for the Hollywood glamour of the 40s and 50s. Even her own compositions have a vintage cabaret feel—the storytelling is foremost, the voice is nimble, and the orchestration is saturated with music hall textures.

That European cabaret feel makes sense: after winning several Canadian competitions for classical voice, Monika entered a vocal competition in Hamburg and was inspired to move to Europe. After five years, she brought that experience back to her native Winnipeg.

For her Nu Sounds concert, Monika is literally linking up her passion for classical and her passion for jazz. Expect to hear dramatic revisions of familiar melodies by masters like Bizet, Debussy, and Strauss, all wound through with jazz standards. Put on your fedora.

The Nu Sounds series continues through to mid-May with concerts by singers Rayannah Kroeker and Mira Black and a closer with Steve Kirby’s Oceanic Jazz Orchestra. Tickets are $15 per concert, $12 if you buy them ahead, but Jazz Winnipeg does offer a series pass for only $50. All concerts take place on Sunday evenings, and the Park Theatre on Osborne is becoming a go-to place for musicians in this city.

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