Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

straight up

Smooth Jazz Sundays

Written by:

It’s a privilege to be the host of Smooth Sundays 2015 at the Lyric Theatre in Assiniboine Park. Having recently returned from the Bahamas Jazz Festival and a ten-day tour in Israel, my band and I are pumped to have the opportunity to back up top international musicians that will be joining us for this summer’s series.

As a band, we get a chance to do our own thing on the kick-off date, July 12, playing material from my previous CDs along with some fresh material we’ve been working on.

The following Sunday, July 19, guitarist Soren Reiff joins us from Sweden. I’ve had my eye on Soren for a while as he’s played with Chaka Khan and David Sanborn. Reiff’s soaring riffs and soulful funky R&B-flavoured chops got me thinking that he’d make the perfect fit for our series.

On July 26, LA-based saxophonist Will Donato will join us. Like Soren, Will’s style is all about soulful R&B. Having caught Will’s dynamic performances in Palm Springs last winter, I knew that he’d be a shoe-in for the series. I’m not the only one raving as Will was flagged at as “a must see show”!

Guitarist Marc Antoine has been a staple on the contemporary jazz scene for years. We’ve tried to get Marc to Winnipeg before and this year the stars lined up for August 2. Residing in Madrid, Spain, Marc has kept some high-end company as a sideman to Sting, Queen Latifah and Chris Botti. Marc’s simple, soul-stirring melodies and inspired soloing over Latin- and funk-based rhythms make for an energized live show.

In September I had the opportunity to be a featured artist on the Dave Koz Alaskan Jazz Cruise. Also on board was sax great Richard Elliot, a former member of the classic soul band, Tower of Power. With seventeen solo albums to his credit and a career that spans three decades, I was ecstatic when Richard accepted my invitation to join us on August 9. When Richard graces the stage, he doesn’t hold anything back.

Our final show of this series on August 16 sees a return engagement from guitarist-vocalist Steve Oliver. Steve is virtually a one-man symphony and has two #1 Billboard hits to his credit. I first witnessed Steve’s stellar talent at the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards a few years ago in Toronto. One of California’s most sought-after guitarists, Steve recently finished a month-long tour with Acoustic Alchemy. Special guest Mae Losa will also join us for our final show. Mae recently finished recording her first CD in Los Angeles which Steve Oliver and I both played on and produced.

We’re hoping to be blessed with some hot Winnipeg summer Sunday nights this season, as nothing beats the joy of playing outside in the inspiring setting of Assiniboine Park. All of the concerts start at 7:00 pm and are free to the public.

For any aspiring saxophonists out there I’m pleased to let you know that Jupiter Music is donating a brand new shiny sax for us to give away in a draw this summer. I’m truly thankful to our sponsors: Red River Co-op, Johnston Group and the Richardson Foundation for their continued support. See you there!

Copyright! © 2023 dig! magazine.