Archive for the ‘Performers’ Category


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.


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.


Blues Man Harry Manx to Perform at the 2011 WIJBF

July 4, 2011

On July 13th 2011, the 10th Annual Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival will open with a bang as “Mysticssippi” Blues man Harry Manx takes the stage at the Majestic Theatre.  Harry Manx has a style all his own, combining amazing Blues licks with Indian ragas to create a unique and even addictive sound.  Harry is an incredible artist, having played all over the world and having studied at the feet of master musicians like Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, the inventor of Harry’s signature instrument the Mahon Veena.  He has also been recognized world-wide as a blues great, bolstering 7 Maple Blues Awards, 6 JUNO Nominations, a Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Solo Artist, and CBC Radio’s “Great Canadian Blues Award.”

Harry Manx is in a league of his own when it comes to Blues, so come see this master player at work on July 13th at 8:00pm at the Majestic Theatre.  Better hurry and get your tickets now as they are almost sold out!

Get your tickets here.


The Legendary Dutch Robinson Hits St. John’s

June 30, 2011

Dutch Robinson is a name known worldwide in the worlds of jazz, soul, R & B, and beyond.  Most well-known for being the lead singer of the Ohio Players, Dutch’s career has taken him all across the globe.  He has played with  world class musicians like Tommy Motolla, Daryl Hall, John Oates, and Curtis Mayfield, and has a very long list of accomplishments to his name.  Dutch has won an unfathomable amount of awards like Artist of the Year, Best Jazz Artist, Single of the Year, and Entertainer of the Year from various organizations, has been featured on such shows as Canada AM and Soul Train, and can be heard on Cirque du Soleil’s Grammy nominated album Alegria.

Dutch Robinson is an incredible vocalist and one heck of a performer, so be sure to come see him live on July 16th, 10:00pm at the Majestic Theatre during the 2011 WIJBF.

Get your tickets to see Dutch Robinson here.


Drumming Sensation Mark McLean at the 10th Annual WIJBF

June 29, 2011

Mark McLean began his career as not a drummer but a pianist at age 9, but at the age of 14 he decided that the drums were his true calling.  Since then his career has skyrocketed.  Starting at the age of 18 Mark played for Canadian jazz icon Oscar Peterson, since then he has been playing and recording for some of the world’s best musicians, and is now releasing an album of his own.  Mark has received praise from jazz and drumming experts alike worldwide, receiving endorsements from Regal Tip Mallets and Brushes, Remo Drum Heads, Zildjian Sticks and Cymbals, and Yamaha Drums.

Mark McLean is a powerhouse drummer, and he is sure to bring the house down when he hits the WIJBF this summer, so join him 8:30pm on July 15th at the Rocket Bakery for a drumming spectacle that is sure to leave you in awe.


Get your tickets to see Mark here.

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