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This article was published 16/2/2017 (1926 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.


Life & Livin’ It
(City Slang)

In January, Nigerian funk/disco musical pioneer William Onyeabor died at age 70. His music was equal parts obscure and influential; acolyte Ahmed Gallab created and led a tribute ensemble that successfully brought Onyeabor’s music to the world in the Atomic Bomb! Band, which included musical luminaries David Byrne, Damon Albarn, Joshua Redman, Pharoah Sanders and Charles Lloyd.

With their sixth album, the Gallab-led Sinkane fruitfully furthers its own characteristic reach while drawing its approach and energy from Onyeabor’s eminent influence. This music is at once bright and catchy; full of hypnotic grooves and breezy beats, yet underneath the percolating rhythms there is more to be discovered.

The London-born, U.S.-based Gallab’s falsetto singing voice adds a charming lightness to tracks such as Deadweight, Fire and U’Huh. Telephone reaches back to offer a straight-ahead, 1970-informed disco beat that will have those of a certain age reminiscing about silky, open-to-the-navel shirts, stacked-high platform boots and ridiculously flared trousers. Favorite Song, with its captivating electronic/synthesizer and guitar riff, should be voted best summer of 2017 beach track, four months early.

These nine memorable songs form the kind of collection that strikes familiar chords, while the distinctive arrangements pay service to a style that needs to be valued in this age of homogenization. A must-buy for those who enjoy broader, brighter musical horizons. ★★★★ out of five

DOWNLOAD: Favorite Song, Won’t Follow

— Jeff Monk






The Treble
Modernaires (Cadence)

Credit to them. The guys in Winnipeg’s the Treble have been working their butts off for years, playing, writing, rehearsing and working to forge a sound and identity. A promising 2013 release, Northern Lights, revealed the band’s acoustic roots, but Modernaires, which is touted as the group’s first full-length album (despite being the same length — eight songs and 30 minutes — as the EP) places the Treble firmly in the melodic, modern pop/rock space occupied by the likes of, say, Snow Patrol or Maroon 5.

That’s not to say this material is derivative. Far from it. Singer Mark Brusegard’s expressive voice is distinctive, elastic and placed front and centre in the mix, ensuring that the hooks on Modernaires, of which there are plenty, are immediately recognizable and eminently memorable. Wherever You Go, a straightforward, uptempo rocker with soaring harmonies and a propulsive beat, was the advance single, while Ten Thousand Floors, another upbeat rocker, is the current focus track (check out the impressive, locally produced video on YouTube). There’s more here, too, especially the groove-driven Reckless and Wild, or piano-based album-closer Devils, both of which perfectly capture the nostalgic sensibility that comes as young adults mature.

Overall, the most impressive thing about Modernaires is that producer Rob Wells (Ariana Grande) enables the Treble to explore various tempos and approaches (such as the ballad Shine or the rootsy Highwater) while ensuring they retain a consistency of sound and purpose. ★★★1/2 out of five

DOWNLOAD: Kings and Queens, Wherever You Go, Highwater

— John Kendle






Steve Kirby’s Oceanic Jazz Orchestra
All Over the Map
(Head in the Sand)

There’s no question bassist Steve Kirby has revolutionized the Winnipeg jazz scene since he arrived here from New York in 2003 to be the director of jazz studies at the University of Manitoba.

This ambitious new album from the performer/composer is a major release in the local jazz world. The album features who’s who of Winnipeg musicians, including (of course) Kirby on upright and electric bass, as well as Will Bonness (piano), Curtis Nowasad (drums), Shannon Kristjanson (flutes), Larry Roy (guitars), Jon Gordon (saxes), Derrick Gardiner (trumpet), Gwen Hoebig (violin), Anna Lisa Kirby (vocals), and others from all over the map, so to speak, such as vibist Warren Wolf from Baltimore and cellist Andrew Downing from Toronto.

The tunes — all Kirby’s original compositions — are a terrific, eclectic mix of tempos, moods and styles. The liner notes are beautifully descriptive and explain the stories behind the tunes, like the uptempo opener Assiniboine and the reflective Boissevain. Make no mistake, by any standard this is a fine album and if you can’t be at the release party — which takes place on Saturday, Feb. 18, at the West End Cultural Centre — find a copy elsewhere. You won’t be disappointed. ★★★★★ out of five

Download: Health Sciences Hypertension Clinic

— Keith Black






Sonya Yoncheva
Handel (Sony Classical)


One of the opera world’s most buzzed-about sopranos, and "It Girl" of the venerable Metropolitan Opera, Sonya Yoncheva treats listeners to 10 Handel arias in her second solo album by Sony Classical. The Bulgarian superstar, 35, first burst into public awareness after filling in for Aleksandra Kurzak during the Met’s 2013 production of Rigoletto, with her compelling artistry seemingly knowing no bounds.

The album features the German-born composer’s most enduring solo works, including Lascia ch’io pianga, from Rinaldo, or two excerpts from Alcina: Ah! mio cor! schernito sei! and Tornami a vagheggiar, with the latter particularly showcasing the singer’s florid ornamentation and baroque runs that trip off her tongue like quicksilver. Other selections include pieces from opera serias: Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Rodelinda, regina de’ Langobardi and Agrippina, as well as oratorio Theodora, accompanied by early music group Academia Montis Regalis, led by Alessandro de Marchi,

However, Yoncheva saves the best for last, with English composer Henry Purcell (oddly) making a cameo appearance. Her delivery of his iconic When I am laid in earth from Dido and Aeneas sends chills down the spine as cold as the grave itself, while firmly asserting her status as one of the world’s top living divas today. ★★★★1/2 out of five

Holly Harris

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