Tag Archives: Simon and Garfunkel

It’s A Jazz Weekend For Local Fans

by Bill Monahan

With the annual Jazzmania series of concerts happening in Thornbury and a special jazz concert by Patricia Wheeler in Meaford, it’s a special treat for jazz fans this weekend.

Start the weekend early at Bruce Wine Bar with the hot jazz of Toronto based iSpy Trio.  Led by singer-songwriter  Rebecca Everett, the band plays a style inspired by the 1940’s gypsy jazz of Quintette du Hot Club de France, with a mix of vintage and original tunes.  Lead guitarist Tak Arikushi is well known for his virtuosity and trademark Django licks.  The trio is rounded out by Chris Kettlewell, an accomplished double bass player and Humber Jazz College alumni who has performed with  jazz ensembles such as The Rachelle Courtney Quartet and The Cam Britton Collective and has toured extensively in Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

There are two dinner shows, one at 6:45 and the second at 9 pm.  Reservations are recommended.

Down the street at the harbour, well-known Simcoe county musician and educator Louis Lefaive performs at Maiolos, starting at 7:30 pm.  In addition to gigs with his family band performing Celtic and French folk music, Louis has performed in a Beatles cover band and a band that features original French music.  An accomplished composer, arranger, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, he has numerous albums to his credit and has his own recording studio.

Also starting at 7:30 on Friday, The Mike Grace Quintet will be performing in the small hall at the Beaver Valley Community Centre.  In addition to being a director at Southampton’s Summer Music Camp, Mike has played around the world, from Texas road houses to world tours and has played with many jazz greats, including Dave Brubeck, Dizzy Gillespie, Peter Appleyard and Randy Brecker.  He is also a highly respected educator, recipient of the University of Michigan Musical Society’s Educator Of The Year.  The quintet will be performing classic jazz standards, including tunes to dance to.

Things really get swinging on Saturday with a pair of big bands playing at the Beaver Valley Community Centre.

In the afternoon, starting at two, it’s the Georgian Sound Big Band.  This is the band that started it all in Thornbury, way back in 1998 when it was formed by the late Bob Cringan.

“Bob Cringan was an incredible music educator,” says Tony Bauer, “He moved up from Toronto to Meaford and we started the Georgian Sound Big Band. 

“He did so much for music.  He put on concerts, and Bob had the idea to start a Big Band festival and we ran it for twenty years and it was very successful.  We brought five big bands up here.  I was very much involved with it and when he died we still ran it.

 “We added Jazzmania. In the heyday we had three day festivals, with bands in the restaurants in Thornbury.  We had two shows on Saturday and we had a big jazz brunch on Sunday”

The band, currently under the leadership of trumpeter Don Doner and conducted by trombonist Brad Crawford, covers numbers from the swing era to the present and includes a wide variety of danceable music including waltz, tango, and Latin rhythms using many of Bob’s original arrangements.

After a dinner break, head back to the Community Centre for another big band treat.  The Skyliners Big Band, formed in 1993, performs the big band era favourites by Miller, Shaw, Herman, Basie, Ellington, Kenton as well as more contemporary hits.  The band features the inspired vocals of Maria Branje.

There’s still more jazz in store if you head over to Meaford on Sunday where Christ Church Anglican is presenting the first in a series of monthly concerts.  This concert features the Patricia Wheeler Quartet with jazz interpretations of both standards and popular songs form catalogues as diverse as Henry Mancini, Simon and Garfunkel and The Beatles.

The concert is something of a homecoming for Patricia, who got her start in music attending Grade 7 at Meaford Elementary School.  The music teacher at Georgian Bay Secondary School, Charlie Strimas, is now the musical director at the church and it was at his request that she agreed to come to Meaford for this special concert.

The Patricia Wheeler  concert runs from 3 to 5 on Sunday afternoon, with wine and cheese served at intermission.

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Patricia Wheeler Quartet Brings Jazz Concert to Meaford

Sunday afternoon, April 29, from 3 to 5, the first in a series of concerts at Meaford’s Christ Church Anglican features a performance from Patricia Wheeler’s Jazz Quartet.  With Patricia on sax and flute, the quartet features Mike Cado on guitar, Ben Riley on drums, and Ross MacIntyre on bass.

“I’ve known the other three musicians for a long, long time,” Patricia says, “and played with each of them in different situations, not only jazz but rock ‘n roll, hip hop, funk, pop, country and western.  They’re very versatile.”

Mike Cado is a faculty member at York University where he directs the York University Jazz Orchestra along with a 15-piece R&B band, Soul Collective.

Ben Riley, for fifteen years co-leader of the soul/R&B band Planet Earth, has been in demand as a touring and session drummer for over twenty years, playing with the cream of Canadian artists from Moe Koffman to Domenic Troiano.

Ross McIntyre is a legendary bassman who tours with Emilie-Claire Barlow, plays on hundreds of sessions and has worked with artists as diverse as Wynton Marsalis, Ed Robertson and Jim Cuddy.

Patricia is, in a sense, bringing these old friends to show them where the music began for her.

She grew up with good music always being played in the house.  She says her father was “a very good amateur pianist and accordion player.  My mom started her record collection back in the era of the 78’s and still has most of those discs, so I just grew up being surrounded by good music.  My dad taught ballroom dancing for many years and my mom often helped him with that. He was always sourcing out new recordings to teach with and so that kind of music was always being played.”

She was lucky enough to live in a town where music was taught at an early age.

“I was very fortunate to go to school in Meaford where band music started in Grade 7 at Meaford Elementary School.  We did half a year with orchestral string instruments, like violin, and then the other half with band instruments.  We did festivals, concerts. 

“The teacher was a man named Ron Knight, who was exceptional. For any of the students who really enjoyed it he would give us opportunities to just go to another room and practise.  And then we would feed into Georgian Bay Secondary School and Charlie Strimas took over. He ran the music program for many, many years.”

The Music of Rob Lutes Captures The Spirit of The Gallery Series

Next Saturday, April 1st, the last in the Gallery Concert Series at Meaford Hall will feature singer-songwriter Rob Lutes.  Although everyone is excitedly anticipating the re-opening of the Opera house, with the newly renovated balcony and a spate of exciting shows, the Gallery Series offered a unique and special setting for live music that doesn’t otherwise exist in downtown Meaford.  The series had been primarily curated by Liz Scott, who has been bringing exceptional talents to Meaford for a couple of decades with her Irish Mountain House Concerts, but there hasn’t been the equivalent in the downtown core.  This series melded her creative vision and appreciation of unsung talent with the beautiful facility and always flawless sound offered at Meaford Hall.  In the intimacy of the gallery, it has provided a setting that is particularly suited to the performers who have come to visit.  It evoked the coffee houses that were ubiquitous in the sixties and served as launching pads for future superstars from Bob Dylan to Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell.

It seems particularly fitting that the series is capped off with a visit from Rob Lutes, whose guitar stylings, vocals and insightful songs also evoke that era.

When he settled in Montreal in his early twenties, his first love was song writing.  He had great admiration for songwriters and, as a musician he had played in a high school band called Hippopotamus Waterfall, modeled after their heroes, Buffalo Springfield.  But, with a freshly minted degree in journalism, he found work right away in that field, working for a company that published general interest books, and that job kept him busy with “strange but fascinating non-fiction” for the next ten years before he finally made music his full time vocation.  His writing skills brought a couple of unique opportunities, including speech writing for former Prime Minister Paul Martin, and ghost writing an introduction to a book on golf by George Bush senior.  He found it challenging to “pretend to be him” but was pleased when his submission was accepted without a single edit.

His interest in song writing and performing during this period didn’t abate.  The first time that he really felt like a song writer who might have something to say was when he performed at The Yellow Door, an outreach venue of McGill University that has been an integral part Montreal’s artistic and spiritual community for over 100 years.  There, in The Rabbit Hole, the coffee house in the basement, he found his artistic voice.  The spiritual nature of that venue, with its emphasis on meditation and introspection has informed his artistic voice.

His work as a journalist had less impact on his creative song writing except that the discipline required to deliver tight copy has carried over to his song writing, continually tweaking them until he got them right.  Some of the songs, for example, that he is preparing for his upcoming 7th CD he has been working on for five years.  The effort shows in the results, earning him accolades and awards internationally.  Mike Hill, artistic director of the Mariposa Folk Festival, expressed a common assessment of his talents when he said, “For me, Rob Lutes was one of the highlights of the 2012 Mariposa Folk Festival. His unique style, superb musicianship and his rapport with the audience came through loud and clear. A thorough professional, Rob deserves wide recognition as one of Canada’s best musical assets. ”

Rob Lutes’ musical style is partly coloured by his other project, a band called Sussex which features the jazz and blues of the 20s and 30s.  His finger-picking style was a hard won skill.

“The guy who gave me my technique,” he says, “was Mose Scarlett,” who, with Jackie Washington and Ken Whitely, are widely considered to be the founding fathers of the Toronto folk scene.  Scarlett’s self-taught, original technique of finger-picking, dubbed ‘stride guitar’ by Canadian music journalists, has a syncopation and melodic flow that was picked up by a lot of guitarists in the sixties.  Rob found that his teaching technique consisted of just playing a song, recording it on a cassette and sending his student home with the recording to figure it out for himself.  “I came back six months later and was able to play it for him.  He was impressed,” Rob says, “I guess not many people did that.  I must have cared a lot to figure it out.  I find that when things are difficult, it makes me want to do it all the more.”

Combine this dedication to his craft, the sensitivity he developed at The Yellow Door, and the intimate perfection of a venue perfectly suited to his talents, and this climax to the Gallery Series looks likely to be something very special.

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