Okay so before I get too far along with this post I have to declare a fairly strong bias. Alex Samaras is one of my favourite singers. He's performed with my big band on numerous occasions. I've seen him perform in a variety of settings. And I've booked him for the Festival. As far as I'm concerned, from a fundamental quality of instrument standpoint, from a musical interpretation standpoint, from an emotional connection to the music standpoint...he's simply one of the best. All of which, in short, answers the title of this post.
Harley Card Sunset Ensemble
The Sunset Ensemble is a new initiative by Harley Card and David French, the leader/guitarist and saxophonist from Harley’s long standing quintet.
Spectrum Music is a collective of new-generation Canadian composers and music curators who create and present genre-defying new music that fuses many genres (jazz and creative music, classical and contemporary music, world music, and pop/folk music). We do this through themed concerts, to explore points where art music collides with the real world. Rooted in jazz and creative music, the core of our philosophy has grown from the idea that the future of jazz music lies in its synthesis with other genres.
Sundar Viswanathan's AVATAAR marries modern jazz, Classical Indian music, Brazilian lyricism, atmospheric textures and ambiance, Javanese gamelan, and contemporary improvisation. The music has drawn comparison to Mahavishnu Orchestra, Keith Jarrett with Jan Garbarek, late John Coltrane, and Oregon. The group's mesmerizing blend of rhythmic hypnotism, sonic landscapes and soaring melody marry ancient and modern musical sounds. Petal is Avataar's debut release. Cleverly layered and cinematic in scope, the music drives and swirls through a vast sonic palette.
Riverrun is a quartet made up of some of Toronto's strongest musical personalities. Their sound has been described as Electro-chamber-jazz and Minimalist-avant-garde- pop. Cinematic, delving and disciplined, Riverrun cuts across stylistic boundaries and goes deep into the moment.
James Brown (Guitarist, Composer, Educator) is one of Canada’s most talented and versatile musicians.
He has appeared and recorded with many leading artists and ensembles and has recorded three critically acclaimed CD’s of original music. His most recent “Sevendaze” on the NGP label features Don Thompson, Quinsin Nachoff, Jim Vivian, and Anthony Michelli.
Other recording have featured Andrew Downing, Ernie Tollar and Christopher Lee.
Sarah Jerrom is a Toronto-based vocalist, composer, lyricist, and arranger whose music reflects a mix of eclectic and diverse influences. She is involved as a leader and collaborator in several improvising projects that include jazz, creative music, folk, roots, and Irish music. As a composer, Sarah has written pieces for her own nine-piece chamber jazz group “The Yeats Project” which features music set to the poetry of W.B. Yeats.
Jaron Freeman-Fox and the Opposite of Everything
Described as “Gogol Bordello meets The Mothers of Invention”, or “Tom Waits playing the fiddle while fronting The Mahavishnu Orchestra” Jaron Freeman-Fox & The Opposite of Everything somehow combine bluegrass with Indian music, afro-beat with sea shanties, or klezmer with the blues, and make it sound like the most natural thing in the world.
Shannon Graham and the Storytellers
Shannon Graham and the Storytellers are a ten person chamber jazz ensemble who bridge the realms of improvised music, through-composed music and song, merging the styles of large jazz ensemble, modern chamber music, and pop music. With an eclectic instrumentation of voice, strings, saxophone, brass, and jazz rhythm section, the Storytellers are constantly reaching for new textures, ranges of emotion, musical surprise and humor to provoke and delight the listener.
Brian Katz is an internationally acclaimed guitarist, pianist, recording artist, improviser, composer, and music educator. As a performer and composer, he is noted for bringing classical and world music influences to modern jazz and Jewish music, and is highly regarded as a “free” music improviser, where he blends many of his influences into coherent musical statements.