Chris Smith

  • 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.
  • There's something for everyone at this year's Jazz Festival

    There are musical gems throughout the lineup of the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival; some right in your face on the mainstage, others in smaller venues, but all worth the effort to seek them out. Obvious choices for some exciting jazz during the June 13-23 fest include saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa (June 17), singer Patricia Barber (June 18) and U.K. saxophonist Courtney Pine (June 22).
  • Festival gives opportunities for local acts to win new fans

    If someone is a locavore for eating locally produced food, what does that make someone who listens to locally produced jazz? Simply a fan, without a trendy name, but also a good friend of the many musicians who create and perform jazz in Winnipeg.
  • New York vocalist doesn't let genre box her in

    Singer Jane Monheit loves good lyrics, and she knows where to look for them. And, she knows how to sing them, which is more to the point.
  • Alto player still wants to shake things up

    Rudresh Mahanthappa, one of his generation's best jazz musicians and the June 17 mainstage opener for this year's Winnipeg International Jazz Festival, admits to less than spiritual reasons for picking up the alto saxophone. "I chose sax in band class at nine because I heard the bari (baritone sax) could rest on the floor and vibrate and shake ornaments. My mom had ornaments from around the world," Mahanthappa says from his home in New Jersey.
  • Pianist smashes convention on latest album

    Patricia Barber is an inventive singer, songwriter and pianist, whose recordings and performances ease listeners away from the mainstream, yet she remains grounded in the jazz standards. "I think audiences appreciate a different version of standards," the singer says in an interview from her Chicago home.
  • Big Apple lures talented young drummer

    There could be a free-for-all for young jazz drummers in the fall when Curtis Nowosad heads to New York City to work on a masters degree as a fellow of the Manhattan School of Music jazz institute. Nowosad laughs at the image, but recognizes he's an in-demand drummer.

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