Archive for July, 2011


Brad Jefford Trio+ at the Rose & Thistle July 24th

July 22, 2011


An Interview With Bill Brennan

July 12, 2011

By Jonathan Hicks


A pianist and percussionist, Bill Brennan is a very well-known player in the Newfoundland and Labrador jazz scene and the local music scene in general. At the young age of eight Bill began playing music and because of his dedication, his knowledge and love of music is tremendous. He has recorded solo albums and has also played and recorded with artists such as: Mika Yoshida, Sisters Euclid (“All Good Babies Go to War”), Andrea Koziol (“Coming of Age”), Curtis Andrews (“The Offering of Curtis Andrews”), Snook (“Snook’s Christmas”) and many more. He has also performed on two motion picture scores:  “Ice Storm” (Director: Ang Lee) and “Antoine Fisher” (Director: Denzel Washington). Bill has composed numerous pieces for piano as well as pieces for percussion and jazz ensembles. He has performed in Norway, Germany, Austria, Japan, Belgium, France, Portugal and Canada. Bill’s performance history ranges from music for theater, contemporary, folk, orchestral and jazz.

Playing jazz became a part of Bill’s life 28 years ago while he was attending university. He was drawn to jazz at this time because jazz music gave him “the ability to express”. Bill’s biggest music/jazz influences include “Stevie Wonder, Don Wherry, Keith Jarrett [and] Egberto Gismonti” and if you were to ask who he enjoys listening to and who he draws inspiration from he would say “Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Shirley Horn, Toots Thielemans, John Coltrane, Herbie, John Taylor, Kenny Wheeler and so many more.”

Bill has been performing in the Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival (WIJBF) for seven years and in that span of time has played with about 6 or 7 groups at the festival. Bill believes that the Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival is having a very positive effect on the St. John’s and Newfoundland and Labrador music scene and says that he enjoys seeing other musicians perform and “bring jazz alive in the city.” Bill’s favourite memories from past years at the festival include “Rinse the Algorithythm” (a group that fuses new and old jazz traditions with modern dance music) performing at last year’s festival and the closing night party at The Dusk in 2009.

Finally I asked Bill “What tips would you give to a jazz musician trying to get themselves and their music recognized?” His response could apply to any musician and was simple yet profound: “Realize that it is a tough road but totally worth it.”


Kenwood Dennard Rocking the House at the 2011 WIJBF

July 11, 2011

Kenwood Dennard is a multi-talented drummer/keyboardist/composer extraordinaire.  Kenwood has played with a laundry list of incredible musicians including jazz greats like Miles Davis and Quincy Jones , Pop sensations like Whitney Houston and Vanessa Williams, and even the Boston Symphony Orchestra, just to name a few.  Kenwood is recognized all over the world as a highly skilled professional; not only is he a Berkeley Professor, but he has also won awards such as the Salute the African American Composer Award, and Modern Drummer’s 5th Best Funk Drummer in the World.

Kenwood is a true artist and has limitless potential as a musician, so be sure to catch Kenwood Dennard, Delmar Brown, and Chulo Gatewood on July 16th, 12:30pm at Atlantic Place and again at 8:00pm at the Majestic Theatre, or check out their Metarhythm Clinic 3:00pm at the Majestic Theatre.

Get tickets to see Kenwood here.


Top 5 Coolest Dudes in Jazz

July 8, 2011

By Alex MacNeil

Jazz has been considered by many, unfortunately, to be terribly inaccessible, esoteric and all together impenetrable as a genre to involve oneself with. I cringe when I hear this; although as a young hipster-child I probably would’ve agreed with these people. Luckily at 15, I stumbled upon some fantastic music that would serve as bridge into the lush green pastures of hipness.

That is what this article is all about, converting the non-believers with some of the coolest covers of their favorite pop songs, with the infectious grooves of hip hop, and the coolest styles from around the world.

I dedicate this article to my good friend Marc Deshaies from Quebec

1. Brad Mehldau – She’s leaving home (The Beatles)

Brad Mehldau may have been the first to inadvertently start reaching out to the Indie crowd. Putting Tom Yorke, The Beatles, Elliot Smith and Nick Drake covers next to Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker and personal compositions helped catapult his career well beyond the reach of the average jazz pianist. His sound is clear, articulate, intelligent and absolutely never convoluted. His improvisations say what needs to be said, nothing more, nothing less, and that lends itself to the interpretation of loose or (in the case of Radio Head covers) odd forms.

Brad’s style and aesthetic and marketing also brought Jazz back to a more wholesome, less scattered, classic kind of cool.

2. The Bad Plus – Flim (Aphex Twin)

I give electronic music fans license to go nuts over this one. I’m a huge fan of Aphex Twin and so hearing a piano trio bust up the traditional piano trio sound with this track is great. The melody is reminiscent of the compositions of Russian composer Arvo Part, but the beat is reminiscent of kick ass break beat madness.

If you like this check out their CD with indie rocker from Seattle, Wendy Lewis as well as Dave King’s Happy Apple, you won’t be disappointed.

3. Lage Lund – Vonnegut       

What could be better than a track named after and dedicated to the author which hipsters call their own?  I met a girl at the war memorial the other day who had a tattoo with a Vonnegut quote and was reminded to check out this track again. Lage is a brilliant composer, and the music is a little less accessible than my other choices, but anyone can hear why he titled the piece the way he did.

4. Robert Glasper, Mos Def, Chris Daddy Dave – Thelonius

This is my hip-hop pick. Really cool feature #1: Mos Def! Wow, that’s really awesome, one of my favourite rappers playing with Robert Glasper.  Robert Glasper is one of those jazz musicians who clearly doesn’t care about his “Legacy” in the jazz world, which is why he is more likely going to have one. He has the balls to do what he wants, and audiences around the world are right there with him. From this, to stunning arrangements of the Sam Rivers tune, Beatrice, Robert Glasper has the right stuff to make it with audiences beyond Jazz heads.

5. Christian Scott – The Eraser (Tom Yorke)

I’m gonna go out on a limb. I’m going to say it. Christian Scott would hate me for saying it. The Jazz Police will come in the middle of the night and steal me from my room and torture me for it. I just want to so badly. Christian Scott, given time, may become the next Miles Davis.

He has the cool factor, the distinctive, personalized tone and the taste of the modern jazz audience in his grasp and in just a few years, I predict he’ll join Esperanza Spalding as a Grammy award winner, and as an international super star breaking down the jazz barrier and opening the music up to even larger audiences. Christian Scott has all of that at his disposal.

As you can see from the picture, he is the most stylish man in the business. On top of being a model performer for young jazz musicians he has also posed for and been given recognition by these magazines: L’UOMO VOGUE, VOGUE ITALIA, THE SOURCE & KING MAGAZINE


Amazing Sextet Tunnel Six at the 2011 WIJBF

July 7, 2011

Tunnel Six is comprised of six incredibly talented up-and-coming musicians from the US and Canada.  While they have only been playing together for a few years, their chemistry with each other is undeniable on stage.   The band performs original material composed by all of its members that incorporate strong storytelling and improvisational aspects into the music, which makes for a very interesting performance.  Tunnel Six are well on their way to the top, having already toured extensively from Montreal to Portland in 2010.

Tunnel Six is an amazing group on the rise to fame and are sure to put off a spectacular performance at the 2011 WIJBF.

Get your tickets to see Tunnel Six here.


Canadian Sweetheart Alex Pangman Performing at the 10th Annual WIJBF

July 6, 2011

Alex Pangman will be taking St. John’s by storm as she hits the Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival on July 15th.  Alex is a superb singer and songwriter, and has the innate ability to breathe new life into classic jazz standards.  She has developed a very loyal following in Toronto among jazz listeners and dancers alike, and has gained significant International recognition for her work as well.  Alex and her Alley Cats have played concerts and halls all across Canada, not to mention an impressive showcase at the Montreal Jazz Festival.  She has garnered several awards like Songwriter of the Year from the National Jazz Awards, and a Genie Award for Best Original Song, making Alex Pangman a force to be reckoned with this summer.

You can catch Alex gracing the stage on July 15th, 8:15pm at the Masonic Temple with opening act the Marry Barry Quintet.  Be sure not to miss this great concert at the 10th Annual WIJBF.



Get tickets to see Alex here.


Sponsor of the Week: Toyota Plaza

July 5, 2011

The 2011 Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival is supported by many generous corporate and media sponsors, without whom this festival would not happen. To show our appreciation, Wreckhouse Jazz & Blues (WJB) will be highlighting our valued sponsors.

Toyota Plaza has been serving the citizens of St. Johns and the Avalon Peninsula with integrity and value for over 35 years. The dealer is proud to offer the largest selection of new Toyotas in Newfoundland and Labrador for you to choose from. Their dedicated staff is committed to delivering exceptional customer service.

In addition to new cars and trucks, Toyota Plaza offers a wide selection of pre-owned vehicles and is capable of meeting all its customers’ parts, service, body shop and accessories needs. Check out their website for more info on their special offers.

From 1978 to 1993, Toyota Plaza operated out of their original location on Kenmount Road. Their consistent yearly increases in sales meant that a new larger home became necessary. In 1993 the dealership moved to its current location at 73 Kenmount Road, In the coming months they will have completed numerous improvements to their facility which will enable them to offer a truly “state of the art” ownership experience to their customers.

As a member of the Penney Automotive Group, their commitment to earning their customers’ trust through providing real service and real value will remain as always.

As a sponsor of the 2011 Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival, Toyota Plaza will be supporting our staff, volunteers, and artists by providing solutions to our transportation needs through their rental car service.

WJB would like to acknowledge and express gratitude for the contributions of Toyota Plaza, the Sponsor of the Week!

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