Rick Keene Music Scene – Molly Johnson Talks Juno Nomination and A Much Needed Black History Website

History comes in many forms. Molly Johnson herself – is Canadian music history.

Molly is a pioneer. Musical theater, Theater, Disco, Funk, Rock / Pop and Jazz. Molly has not only done it all, she has excelled in all.

A Member of the Order of Canda

In 2019, Johnson has been nominated for a Juno Award in the Best Adult Contemporary Category. She has already won a Juno for Jazz Recording and this recent album places her in the company of some of her favorite artists.

This year is also fertile ground for a website she is starting up. A Black History informational tool which she hopes will be a go to place for teachers in all Canadian institutions.

Please LISTEN below to my chat with Molly. Hear some great tunes and find out why history is so IMPORTANT to all Canadian’s futures.





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Rick Keene Music Scene – Lindsay Beaver; The Real Deal !

Lindsay Beaver is the real thing …

Thus far , it has been a lifetime of discoveries for the native of Nova Scotia. Singing, drumming and a love of all genres of music starting with Jazz.

Yet it was Billie Holiday that sealed the deal and inspired Lindsay to pack up and head to Texas and make music her full time ‘job’.

Please listen below to my chat with Lindsay – a musician who has been referred to as a cross between Amy Winehouse and Little Richard.

Lindsay? What’s up?

Visit Lindsay Here !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savvy with The Savoy Ellingtons

The kids’ hearts are in the proper place …

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That was the feeling jumping around The Rialto Theater on Friday in Montreal. The children of Duke Ellington – April and Edward Jr., suspended in time. Starting with their clothes, the duo transcended time and place right back to the era of the Big Band prominence of the 1940’s.

With the big band boppin’ behind them, along with the choice of classic songs, an easy -to-please audience was right for the pickin’. Easy to please because those in attendance – got exactly what they came for. Swing, swing and more swing.

April, along with gowns fit for the era of her Father Duke – exchanging voices with brother Edward Jr. Together and apart. A duo and solo. Back and forth they went with classic vaudevillian banter showcasing the time their Father was the king of everything grand in music.

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Amid the grandiose and renovated Rialto Theater – Frank Sinatra staples ‘Fly Me to the Moon‘, ‘I’ve Got the World on a String‘ and ‘ Come Fly with Me‘ – seemed to be at home. The vocals carried simply yet powerfully by Edward Jr. The entire time – delivering the right words to demonstrate how he and his sister are carrying the legacy of their Father and people like Sinatra to ensure the music’s survival. Edward Jr. – the stronger vocalist of the pair, as charming as his sister. Working the crowd yet allowing the backing big band to take over (as they should). Brassy and filled with foot – stomping’ numbers. A trip back to a greater time in music when the artists seemed bigger than life. A time when Facebook and Twitter – did not allow a peek into the performer’s lives …

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April delivered the portion of the show meant for the lady singers who led the way for women like Lady Ga Ga and Madonna to reap millions.

Peggy Lee‘s ‘Fever’ – a highlight if only for the reason that most young people know Madonna’s version and Elvis Presley’s ‘ gyrating – sexy’ version from his ‘Aloha from Hawaii‘ television special. April sung Lee’s version as if Peggy herself appeared via a ghostly figure. It was a special moment and commenced the trip down memory lane for most in attendance. “I Got It Bad (and That Ain’t Good)” – ( a song that Dad Duke wrote the music for and was recorded by more than fifty artists including Peggy Lee and Billie Holiday), sung almost to perfection by April. After all – once Holiday sang it, everyone else cannot meet perfection or come close.

The surprise of the night was Lady Alicia …

The Ellington’s Mother, arrived on stage and sung her heart out. God bless her. Surprisingly – she did a bang on job considering her age. If Ella could carry it out – so can Miss Alicia. With a roar to the twenties and an ear to the forties, the lady was definitely not a tramp.

The third -to-home trot, complete with a wink towards Duke Ellington.

‘It Don’t Mean a Thing ( if it ain’t got that swing)’, ‘In a Sentimental Mood’ duke-ellington-1and ‘Take the A Train’ – just a few of the numbers from Duke’s vast catalog, displayed with conviction by the Big Band, April and Edward Jr. Let’s not forget – back in the day, these songs were the ‘Satisfactions’, ‘Hey Judes’ and ‘ Like a Rolling Stone’ of the time. Thousands attending and listening to – the sounds of orchestras led by Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey and …

Duke Ellington.

A man whose heart was in the proper place and after all these years – remains as prominent as ever. His kids – doing their best to keep the legacy alive.

Terez Montcalm; Voice of a Ragged Angel

At L’Astral last evening, Terez Montcalm came home and the predominant Francophone crowd – welcomed her with open ‘bras’.

Why would they not …?

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Montcalm, in her somewhat short, six album career, has recorded mostly in French. Her sole English album? Voodoo, released in 2006.

Terez is presently touring with her new album; I Know I’ll Be Allright. It is a mixture of jazzed – up covers translated in both official languages. Songs from David Bowie, Micheal Jackson and Neil Young circle like vultures from a time long ago. All placed together in an album with songs that Terez handpicked to soothe her soul.

‘Hier soir’ – she performed the ‘new songs’ impeccably. Her spirit – silenced from it’s angst. If only for a moment or two.

‘Superwoman’, the 1972 song penned by the then boy wonder; Stevie Wonder, set the tone of what would come. In English…

The song, recognizable to music connoisseurs and diehard Wonder fans – arrived masked in a cape of old school Jazz rhythms. Lena Horne, Billie Holiday and Eartha Kitt kinda stuff. Montcalm’s voice dipping and striving between complex structures of an arranged musical marriage. A unison fitted with a first time scenario.

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“This is the first time I have played with French musicians in Quebec.” Admits Montcalm – herself a Quebec City native.”In Europe and France I have but never here at home.”

Montcalm has assembled a great ensemble of backing ‘musiciens.’ A group of young men consisting of elite talented craftsmen. Performing to the utmost of their musical ability.

Terez Montcalm (guitar, vocals), Jean-Sébastien Williams ( a man who Terez calls out as the best guitarist in the world), Pierre De Bethmann (piano), Christophe Wallemme (double bass) and Steve Williams (drums) simply deliver the goods. De Bethmann particularly adept with a beautiful piano solo in Superwoman.

The show was underway …

Wanna Be Starting Something‘,  Micheal Jackson’s great tune – displayed Montcalm’s vocal range. Anywhere from scat down to a sultry refined raspy tone, Terez delivered an array of voices which transcends all time. One moment she is a child and soon after a teenager, lost in the wilderness of peer pressure. A young adult then grabs the microphone and seduces. Anger creating the undertone. Jackson’s song evolves into a slowed down version of classic Jazz as the crowd grooves. Jackson would be proud.

“Tonight, judging by the crowd reaction.” Says Montcalm. ” Neil Young’s Philadelphia, Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie and ‘Je Reviens Te Chercher’ were my favorites. I am so happy they received the reaction they did.”

“If You Don’t Know Me by Now” – the song written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and recorded by  Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes ( also made famous by the group Simply Red), was instantly recognizable. Carried truthfully by Terez and her mates. The soul of the song traversing the crowd with sentiment while providing Montcalm’s ‘offspring’ –  the vision to introduce itself properly to the world of music. Not many would attempt to alter a tune embedded so profoundly within decades of music fans. Montcalm does. It  changes nothing to the fans of the original romantic classic.

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The Francophone  contingent were very boisterous welcoming their own. The political undertones very evident as Montcalm bantered with the patrons. Realistically, the majority of the best Jazz artists that come through these parts, speak English as their mother tongue. Even the Francophone greats perform Jazz standards written by Anglophone legends. Terez Montcalm herself, may one day be deemed legendary and the audience were not shy in making Terez aware of this potential outcome. They  let her and everyone in attendance know, with every standing ovation and amorous catcall – she is recognized as a true Quebec-er.

Montcalm sings and plays acoustic guitar and double bass, Montcalm is close to hitting the half century mark in age. This life experience of wisdom along with a musical education consisting of Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday and Shirley Horn – shines through in her singing. It is not just the fact her range is so various, it is her experience that is delivered sharply through lyrics. The tone is ‘ been there – done that’.  Very similar to all the greats as the years envelope their musical souls.

Terez Montcalm will be; ‘ Allright …”

It’s a feeling that a listener cannot shake yet they still want to follow to make sure …

01. Superwoman
02. If I Could Turn Around
03. Je reviens te chercher
04. Philadelphia
05. Wanna be Startin’ Somethin’
06. Lilly
07. Honest to the Bones
08. Fling
09. If You Don’t Know Me by Now
10. Chambre d’hôtel
11. I Could Have Told You
12. Tell It Like It Is
13. Ashes to Ashes

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Lennon’s Stepsister? A Canadian and Talented …

Kicking off the new year with a bang seems like the only appropriate thing to do after closing 2012 with such wild success.

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Having just returned from her European tour with a dizzying number of interviews and features (incl. Rolling Stone, Die Zeit), Chloe Charles is perfectly poised for her home turf celebration of “Break The Balance” at Toronto hub, The Revival, Feb 13th.

A mere two years ago, this young singer-songwriter and self-taught guitarist released her debut EP, Little Green Bud – a fitting title, too, as it set the tone for a fully blossoming career that’s about to go off the scales with Break The Balance.  Since Little Green Bud, music critics and fans alike have been scurrying to put into words what it is that Chloe does. She’s that spellbindingly different.

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Julian Lennon and John Charles

Best of luck with that.

The press have likened Chloe to everyone from Björk to Billie Holiday, Amy Winehouse to Adele, and Alicia Keys to Joni Mitchell. While this reflects her unfathomable range, it goes a long way towards describing why this singing sorceress’ musical magic defies any and all straitjackets of classification.

Fans, presenters and media around the world have responded warmly to this one-of-a-kind voice, offering Chloe 300 shows across 8 countries in only 2 years, features in (German versions of) Rolling Stone and Elle, the cover of International Musician magazine, the Harbourfront’s Soundclash Award, CBC feature on Here & Now (Song of the Week), an invitation to join the Guild Guitar family, and showcases at SXSW, NXNE, CMW and Folk Alliance.

Weaned on an early childhood in the lush, dense woods of Ontario, the beauty and its uninterrupted silence forged her relationship with sound and the art of listening.

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In her teens, Chloe’s father married into a musical dynasty when he became the husband of Cynthia and stepfather of Julian Lennon. Becoming Lennon’s stepsister provided Chloe with an uncommon picture of the world and the place of celebrity within it, while cementing her desire to create and follow her own muse.

Her discovery of classical guitar just a few short years ago fuelled a love for all things stringed and resonant, plotting a roadmap for a territory inhabited by cello, violin and bass  – each song a mini-symphonic stopping point.  Here, her penchant for orchestral soul pop and jazz – and a blend of many influences in-between – could happily co-exist within a timeless and ethereal soundscape.

So, who would dare produce the debut CD of this transcendent force field? No less than Duane Lundy (Ben Sollee, Vandaveer) shared the reins with Charles on the development of Break The Balance while Peter Moore (Cowboy Junkies, Willie P. Bennett) handled some of the mastering.

aThe lead and hallmark track, “Business”, dedicated to everyone going through an identity crisis, sets an edgy pace for this inaugural, full-length release. Voice becomes instrument against an upbeat collision of strings, percussion and powerful chorus – the uniqueness of which serves the narrative perfectly – love is ours, just as we are.

On “My Child”– a soft, delicate number relying on the harp effect from her classical guitar, Chloe takes the lovely melody and wraps words around it like a motherly blanket.

From the title track’s poignant testament to love, to “Soldier”, which turns the meaning of bravery on its head, Chloe asks us to look at life from a fresh perspective.

And this is only a taste of Break The Balance’s 12-song menu.  Indeed, if the response to her appetizer of an EP is any indication, Break The Balance is bound to tip things even further in her favor.

Listen here!

http://www.chloecharles.com/music

Visit her site!

 http://www.chloecharles.com

Chloe Charles CD Release
 Singing sorceress weaves musical magic with new CD, “Break The Balance”

WHEN:                     Wed Feb 13, 8:00-9:30pm

WHERE:                  The Revival, 783 College St, Toronto

TIX:                         $15 advance http://guestli.st/142446  or  $20 door

INFO:                       
416-535-7888  http:www.revivalbar.com

Susie Arioli; Changes are Standard

Jazz crooner Susie Arioli did not plan on being a singer…

Art – or rather drawing, was her thing. In fact , she even enrolled in a four year Fine Arts program at Dawson College in Montreal. Something she did not finish because it was too confining for her free – spirited ways.

‘It is a lot of work being an artist.” Says Susie. ” There are a lot of things, tedious things involved in the process. It is not like singing where you just show up, sit down and open your mouth and sing. I’m not lazy but I guess my personalty suits what I am doing …”

Arioli has been doing the   ‘singing thing’ on and off since her late teens and early twenties. Starting from singing at any hotel / club which had a piano. Something Susie says was quite common in Montreal in the eighties.

” I would go from place to place looking for bars with pianos and sing. Thinking the whole time how great I was. When you are young, you have no idea just how good you are not. It takes an experience to humble you a bit …” Says Arioli.

Susie’s experience of being humbled took place as she took the stage and realized the reverb box was missing during a gig in a big hotel. Arioli  does not care who you are – without that tool, any voice will not sound very good.

” I was singing top forties stuff with a sprinkling of jazz.” Explains Susie. ” When you are doing other people’s songs, you must try to produce them accurately. Without the reverb box, I went through a painfully educational experience. Even Madonna would not sound good without it. I’m not saying she can’t sing, she would not sound as good. Everyone uses it …”

Arioli, following her humbling lessons, truly discovered her talent working with the Stephen Barry Blues band.  An experience which she holds dear to her heart. It was the first time she worked with true professionals. She followed their jams which sometimes took place at community centers. Her older sister and her getting right into the experience as the pair designed posters for the band.

“They were true gentlemen. I was not thrown into a situation where I was singled out with catcalls or something. They were so nice and they helped me to take my ‘ heart-pounding anxiety’ and harness it into something meaningful.”

The rest, they say –  is history…

Susie Arioli along with her arranger / guitarist Jordan Officer, have combined for seven albums and have traveled all over the world performing Jazz standards for an ever growing fan base. Her big break came when she was asked to open for Ray Charles’s show in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts in 1988. An opportunity which opened the door for a singer whose voice has been compared to a young Ella Fitzgerald – before the iconic singer became known for scat.

” Ella, Sarah Vaughn and a young Billy Holiday are the singers which influenced me the most.” Says the Toronto – born, Montreal – raised Arioli. ” I grew up listening to them  along with Frank Sinatra, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. My parents were kinda beatniks. They were very cool. My Dad was Italian and used to wear those wife beater shirts and he was a very hairy man. Looking back – I think he must have really stood out …” Laughs Susie.

Susie also holds Brazilian singers in high esteem. Mostly because they sing with their mouths close to the microphone. In doing so – a low, deep in bass sound is parlayed to an audience. Something which Arioli admires.

The late guitarist Jeff Healey is another person the singer admires. Susie had the opportunity to sing with Jeff on her ‘Pennies from Heaven’ CD in 2002.

” Jeff was a great guy. He had this amazing collection of 78 records and the cool thing was – he could tell you which song it was by feeling the grooves. There was no brail. He would pick one up, run his fingers on the grooves and tell you what song it was. A truly amazing thing.”

Jordan Officer, Susie’s partner in crime since the beginning, is another person who Arioli holds high as far as his talent goes. Officer, the arranger of practically every song on Susie’s collection of seven  CDs –  is on his way out.

” Sometimes, a comfortable place can be creatively restrictive. ” Admits Susie. ” I think it has become that way. Not just for me but for Jordan as well. He needs to grow and so do I. He won’ t be completely out of the picture, he just won’t be my main guy anymore.” She continues. ” I have my own identity and so does he. We have both been living in this beautiful cocoon. It is too comfortable and too easy. Sometimes we need new challenges.”

Arioli is in the process of  ‘auditioning’ four guitarists for her next album ( a tentative Autumn release) and at least one of them is a big name. A name which Arioli would rather keep secret for now.

For now, including a show at Place des Arts on Thursday November 22, Officer and Arioli will be together on stage along with other band members Bill Gossage ( Bass), Cameron Wallace ( Tenor Sax) and Tony Albino on drums. They will be performing a list of songs from Arioli’s newest CD; All the Way, as well as a couple of Christmas tunes. The rest of the show will contain songs from the Great American songbook. Some staples of Arioli’s choices will be included because of audience appreciation.

” I just read an interview with Tony Bennett. After all these years, he still subtracts or adds songs by the way they are received during a performance. As a performer, you’d be stupid not to.” Says Arioli. ” The audience is the consumer. You must ( or should ) perform what they are paying for. If not – how long can you be a supplier for?”

Some changes are standard …

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Show starts at 8pm at Salle Wilfrid- Pelletier Thursday 8pm

Stay tuned for a review.