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Funeral home to get lively during Beatles-focused set

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With a first name like his, we're lucky Bjrn Thoroddsen chose to record a CD of tunes by the Beatles and not ABBA.

But the Icelandic guitarist, like many jazz musicians, recognizes a great melody when he hears it, and can't wait to arrange it.

Thoroddsen, a fairly frequent visitor to Winnipeg, will be back Dec. 6, to perform Fab Four songs from his new album, Bjrn Thoroddsen plays the Beatles, at the Neil Bardal Funeral Centre, 3030 Notre Dame Ave.

The venue is not as macabre as it may seem: it has been used to host Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra fundraisers, and Thoroddsen and WJO artistic director and trumpeter Richard Gillis are old friends and musical colleagues.

The Icelander has performed and recorded with Gillis, a professor in the U of M faculty of music, and with bassist Steve Kirby, the faculty's director of jazz studies.

Winnipeggers got a taste of Thoroddsen's penchant for the Beatles and skill at interpreting their music when he lead a group of local guitarists -- Greg Lowe, Larry Roy, Ariel Posen, Tim Butler and Chet Breau -- last May in Guitarama, a Nu Sounds series production by Jazz Winnipeg.

Admission to the Bardal Centre show is $10 (doors open at 6:30 p.m., show at 7 p.m.).

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Amber Epp is about to show off what she calls her "other side."

The singer, best known for her work in Latin music band Trio Bembe and salsa orchestra Papa Mambo, is releasing her debut jazz album, Inside Outside, Dec. 2, at the Park Theatre (tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door and $10 for students).

Epp, who sings and plays piano on the disc, composed five of the 11 tracks and is backed by Latin music partners Rodrigo Mu±oz and Scott Senior and jazz studies faculty pianist Will Bonness, guitarist Larry Roy, bassist Steve Kirby, drummer Quincy Davis and trumpeter Derrick Gardner.

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A lot of Manitoba musicians regularly perform in hospitals and care homes, offering some musical respite to patients facing a variety of health problems.

Members of Artists in Manitoba Healthcare, a not-for-profit organization, have played music for more than 7,000 patients a month since 2001, and now those musicians are releasing an album "meant to inspire, calm and rejuvenate," says contributor and producer Keith Price, a guitarist.

"For every CD we sell, we'll be able to gift two away to hospital patients and their families," he says.

The disc, which features 14 musicians, will be released Nov. 28 at the Park Theatre (admission is $10).

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What's the Christmas season without Ellington's Nutcracker? The Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra will perform two concerts of Ellington's Nutcracker Suite, based on Tchaikovsky's non-jazz version, Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

The concerts include a performance of the 2013 Essentially Ellington Student Composition contest winner, Winnipegger Devon Gillingham, who studies jazz performance at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York. Tickets ($34 for adults and $15 for students) are available at 204-632-5299 and McNally Robinson Booksellers.

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The eighth season of Jazz Winnipeg's Nu Sounds series, which showcases Manitoba musicians, offers five concerts from January to May by three vocalists, a guitarist and a bassist.

The series, which takes place at the Park Theatre, kicks off Jan. 19 with Greg Lowe, who has been composing music for acoustic guitar, nylon guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar and upright bass, mandolin, banjo, accordion, keyboards and percussion.

Vocalist Monika Wall uses her background in classical music to create jazz pieces based on classical scores on Feb. 16. Expect melodies by Bizet, Debussy and Richard Strauss to swing.

Vocalist Rayannah originally adapted well-known jazz standards, R&B hits and folk songs for solo performances with loop pedals, synths and percussion. For her March 23 concert she will be joined by a group of musicians performing her original music in her Pedal Project.

On April 6 vocalist Mira Black takes to the stage to show the fruits of her university studies in a show she's dubbed Mira Black Gets Schooled where she'll debut a new repertoire of compositions.

Closing out the series on May 18, bassist Steve Kirby will present his Longitude Project -- compositions and arrangements that track musical styles from the tip of South America through to the northernmost points of Canada.

Individual show tickets are $12 in advance at Jazz Winnipeg and the Park Theatre.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 25, 2013 D3

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