Chris Smith

  • Different approaches, different sounds, produce solid results

    THREE new recordings -- two vastly different trios and a quintet augmented by four string players -- illustrate the versatility and ingenuity of jazz and help explain, yet again, why it is such a vibrant music.  
  • Who requested Stormy Weather?

    Into each life some rain must fall, some days must be dark and dreary. -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Empire state of mind

    CURTIS Nowosad's life these days is like a tale of two cities. The drummer is studying for a master's degree at the Manhattan School of Music and performing in New York. He also will open the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival theatre series on June 16 with his quintet, featuring saxophonist Jimmy Greene.
  • Harp player rubbed elbows with legends, made history

    THERE'S a telling moment during the YouTube video of the great blues singer and guitarist Muddy Waters performing Got My Mojo Working at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival, what would become the definitive version of the song. During an instrumental break, Waters walks over to harmonica player James Cotton, grabs hold of him and twirls him around in a dance.
  • Nu Sounds Series ends season with musical trip

    GOOD musical compositions, and improvisations, relate a story to listeners. And, sometimes, they'll take listeners on a journey from the tip of South America to Canada's North. The Longitude Project: Steve Kirby's Oceanic Jazz Orchestra offers both on May 25 as it closes Jazz Winnipeg's Nu Sounds Series at the Park Theatre.
  • Will Bonness gets an invite to all-star jam

    WINNIPEG pianist and jazz professor Will Bonness is heading back to the scene of one of his teenage triumphs. The skilled musician, in his late 20s, will return to the Telluride Jazz Festival in Colorado, Aug. 1-3, to perform in a 20th-anniversary all-star band comprised of seven musicians who made their debut at the fest as high school students.
  • Arizona jazz club 'galvanizing' community

    PHOENIX -- The Nash, a non-profit, mainly volunteer-run performance and educational venue, is helping change the face of jazz in Arizona. And that face is getting younger, a move that has "galvanized an otherwise fragmented community, so that everyone is benefiting," says Joel Goldenthal, executive director of the 37-year-old Jazz in AZ, the parent of The Nash, which, less than two years after opening, was named by Downbeat magazine as one of the world's top venues for jazz in 2014.
  • Biography tries to get to bottom of bandleader

    DUKE Ellington, the famous bandleader whose career spanned close to six decades, was a complex man who presented a deliberate image of himself to the public. Biographer and Wall Street Journal drama critic Terry Teachout looks behind the dual facade in his new book Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington (Gotham Books, $31.50).
  • Early success doesn't go to jazz singer's head

    If Cécile McLorin Salvant seems to be leading a charmed life, well, she's earned it. The singer released her first album, Cécile, in Europe in 2009, won the Thelonious Monk jazz vocal competition in 2010, was courted by two serious jazz labels for her North American debut released in 2013 and was nominated for a Grammy for best vocal jazz album for that CD, WomanChild.
  • Loss of Vancouver jazz club a blow to fans and players

    VANCOUVER -- In just over a week, when the doors clank shut for the last time at the popular Cellar Jazz Club, the noise will be heard throughout Canada's jazz community and into the United States. On Feb. 27, alto saxophonist Cory Weeds will shut the doors on the jazz club/restaurant he has run for the past 131/2 years. Since he first announced it, musicians and fans from across the country and the U.S. have expressed their dismay at the loss and their gratitude to Weeds for featuring so much great music over the years.
  • Musical program promises romance

    If you want a singer to celebrate Valentine's Day and love, Denzal Sinclaire, with a honeyed voice that could charm the pants off a... (well, you know), is your man. The Canadian singer has appeared in Winnipeg a few times over the years, and is so popular the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra added a third concert this weekend to its usual two for My One And Only Love featuring Sinclaire.
  • Set captures Ella on way to becoming jazz legend

    Before there were a slew of one-named pop singers, there was Ella. The marquee or the club poster would read Ella Fitzgerald, but all you had to do was say Ella for fans of one of the swingingest singers ever to know whom you meant.
  • The shape of jazz to come in 2014

    Last year featured a lot of great jazz played in the city by local musicians and visiting artists alike, and the new year offers just as much promise, or more. So, it's time to look ahead at some of what 2014's lineup has to offer in the near future.
  • Home for the holidays? Join in the jam

    There's a jazz reunion in the works as young musicians, many of whom used to hang out at Monday night jam sessions about a decade ago, converge on the city from New York, Berlin, Toronto and Montreal for the holidays. And Winnipeg guitarist Keith Price has set up a Dec. 29 show combining the out-of-towners and local musicians in a rare chance to perform together.
  • Bird's turbulent flight begins in bio

    ‘CHARLIE Parker’s mind moved faster, and had a greater command of detail, than that of the merely gifted,” author and critic Stanley Crouch writes in the first volume of his biography of the great alto saxophonist who helped shake up the jazz world and give it a new language, bebop. Crouch's first instalment may not have arrived with the speed of a Parker solo, but the tale it tells of a young, although very troubled, genius is worth the wait.
  • Funeral home to get lively during Beatles-focused set

    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.
  • Bassist's world view hits suite spot

    Jazz is an open art form for bassist and bandleader Omer Avital, and he feels his mixture of jazz and world music doesn't need to be labelled. "For me there is not much difference between the styles, since I know and feel both worlds," says the New York-based, Israeli-born musician whose quintet performs here Nov. 19 as part of the Tarbut Festival of Jewish Culture.
  • Winnipeg-born pianist excited about return to city

    New York-based pianist Bryn Roberts is "thrilled to be coming back to Winnipeg to play," even in mid-November. But first he's taking his band on a tour of Spain where the sun will be decidedly warmer than in Winnipeg on Nov. 17 when he visits the city to play the West End Cultural Centre, leading a quartet performing music from his new album, Fables.
  • Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra takes three to tango

    It used to take two to tango; now it takes three. Concerts, that is.
  • Detroit label home to veterans, newcomers

    It's an impressive roster by any standards. Mack Avenue Records may not have reached the standards of legendary jazz labels such as Blue Note or Verve (who can, in this economy?), but the Detroit label continues to produce recordings by statesmen Gary Burton, Gerald Wilson and Kenny Garrett, monster bassist Christian McBride, Kevin Eubanks and younger musicians such as Aaron Diehl, Warren Wolf, C©cile McLorin Salvant and Sachal Vasandani.
  • These notes are blue

    The Blue Note record label was known in its heyday for its stable of great jazz musicians, its string of successful recordings and its celebrated LP covers. The label held an almost exalted place in the jazz world, and you couldn't consider yourself a fan without at least a few Blue Notes on your record shelf.
  • Group from iconic photo loses another member

    There's another empty spot outside the brownstone in the famous A Great Day in Harlem photo. When pianist and longtime host of National Public Radio's Piano Jazz, Marian McPartland, died on Aug. 20 at 95, she left a great hole in jazz, but also in the iconic 1958 Esquire photo by Art Kane of 57 top jazz musicians of the time.
  • Saxophonist brings heat to U of M jazz camp

    EXPECT some "liquid fire" this week when alto saxophonist Jon Gordon joins three other top U.S. musicians for four nights of jamming, a concert and seven days of teaching at the University of Manitoba's 20th annual jazz camp. Gordon, newly appointed saxophone professor in the faculty of music's jazz studies program, will join saxophonist Steve Wilson, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and trombonist Steve Turre, who also plays shells, teaching at the camp and jamming today, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at the Orbit Room on Pembina Highway (8 p.m.) and in concert Wednesday at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (7:30 p.m., $25).
  • Collection a fitting tribute to jazz great

    Trumpeter Woody Shaw was a towering, influential figure in jazz, if not exactly a household name like, say, contemporary Freddie Hubbard. His career spanned three decades -- the '60s, '70s and '80s -- and much of the music he recorded was on the Muse label. Those nine albums have been released as a seven-CD limited edition set by Mosaic Records, the acknowledged longtime master collector and issuer of boxed sets by jazz greats.
  • Jazz great Benson 'warm and welcoming'

    Winnipeg guitarist Aaron Shorr had the best seat in town to see George Benson; he sat beside the man at the King's Head Pub for about half an hour, talking shop. Guitarist and singer Benson was one of the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival's highlights, delighting a near sold-out crowd at the Burton Cummings Theatre on June 23 that put up with sweltering heat to hear their favourites from the Benson repertoire.

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