Avataar - Worldview
Avataar is an award-winning world-jazz group featuring a cohort of some of Toronto’s finest jazz, world, funk, and pop musicians. The music is inspired by the deep musical traditions of India, Africa and Brazil, and is rooted within the framework of modern jazz. In an innovative marriage of ancient and modern, driving grooves intersect with cinematic atmospheres and soaring melodies, creating a fresh sonic experience.The music in Worldview represents a logical artistic evolution for its leader, Sundar Viswanathan. The album is a musical commentary on the state of our world, on the pandemic, and on the inability of our leaders to lead with integrity, honesty, and compassion. While the actions of our leaders affected so many, some of the songs started as gut responses to the treatment of children, our most valuable and vulnerable citizens, and act as vehicles of catharsis for the composer. Song Song explores ideas of childhood nostalgia and memory, and the homesickness and saudade one feels when trying to recollect that song that’s just out of our memory’s reach. Little Kurdi (for Alan Kurdi) is a lament and memorial for three-year-old Syrian boy Alan Kurdi, who washed up on an Italian shore, a victim of human trafficking; and Innocents (12/14/12) is a dedication to all those who were murdered in Sandy Hook in 2012, tragic victims of gun violence. Together these pieces comment on the honesty and fragility of children faced by a world of uncertainty and confusion created by adults.
They won’t be contained! Drenched in energy, passion, and feeling, The Heavyweights Brass Band bursts forth with their latest outing Stir Crazy! Their fourth full-length album, Stir Crazy, features the high intensity New Orleans-style brass playing and virtuosity that has been a staple of the band since its inception. Put that alongside soulful and reflective grooves on tracks like Feel Like Makin’ Love and Black Hole Sun and you’ve got a smorgasbord of musical flavour. The album is punctuated by the tasteful use of studio production techniques that add even more depth to this remarkable creative statement. This is the kind of album you turn up, put on repeat, and then lose all sense of the passage of time! The Heavyweights Brass Band is known for their collaborative efforts, and Stir Crazy is no different with Joel Visentin of JV’s Boogaloo Squad joining the band on organ for Sweet Pauly’s Boogaloo and Rehab. Recorded during a marathon three-day session at Union Sound Station from March 12 -14, 2020, Stir Crazy is a demonstration of the Heavyweights at the height of their powers, captured just before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the live music world into hibernation.
Beth McKenna - Beyond Here
Born in Nova Scotia and a Montrealer since 2008, Beth McKenna is one of Montreal’s most versatile saxophonists, bandleaders, and composers. A Prix Opus Laureate (Concert of the Year – Jazz/World Music) and a 2-time finalist for Revelations Radio-Canada (Jazz), Beth has studied with a wide range of jazz music’s top voices, including Christine Jensen, Darcy James Argue, Jim McNeely, Rémi Bolduc, John Roney, and Chet Doxas. Written almost entirely prior to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, McKenna’s new album Beyond Here was inspired by the impact we as humans have on the world around us. From conflict and climate change, to the fusion of North American culture with global influences, Beyond Here is pure energy from start-to-finish, pushing a sense of urgency to reflect on where we stand with our planet, and how our actions can echo far beyond the present. This album mixes a wide range of influences: from Pat Metheny to Brad Mehldau, Snarky Puppy to Jacob Collier, and from Pink Floyd to the Brian Blade Fellowship. As a composer, McKenna writes with plenty of room for improvisation and spontaneous musical conversation, with a diverse pallet of colours and shifting rhythmic textures in each piece. As the album weaves from darker to more upbeat moments, McKenna’s unique through-composed approach to writing breaks through traditional jazz forms, creating a strong narrative that runs through the album from start to finish.
Montreal Jazz Trio - Montreal Jazz Trio
Montreal Jazz Trio’s self-titled recording is modern jazz piano trio playing at its finest. This exciting new album was recorded in November of 2020 at the storied recording studio Boutique de Son in Pointe Claire, Quebec, and is being released by the Montréal label ODD SOUND. The group features three of Montreal’s finest musicians: Steve Amirault on piano, Adrian Vedady on acoustic bass, and Jim Doxas on drums. This recording was self-produced by the trio and mixed by Doxas. This nine track record is a mix of memorable originals and deft arrangements of well known jazz standards. Amirault is the main contributor with four originals, including the contrafacts All Those Lovely Things (based on Jerome Kern’s All The Things You Are) and Nowhere (based on the famous standard Out Of Nowhere), both of which showcase his singular approach to harmony. Highlights include arrangements of the classics Takin’ a Chance on Love and Take the “A” Train, as well as Wray, Vedady’s swinging tribute to the late great Canadian jazz pianist Wray Downes. Amirault’s stirring composition Empathy serves as a call for peace during turbulent times. This music is fresh, swinging, creative, and innovative.