Canada Calling (2.2): Brad Barker’s pick of some 2020 Canadian releases

In the previous Canada Calling post, new Canadian resident Nicky Schrire chatted to Jazz.FM91 Music Director Brad Barker about the Toronto radio station and his role in the Canadian jazz community at large. Barker shared his “Best of 2020” list with us, noting the inclusion of five Canadian artists. Ever the diligent student, Nicky deep dived into researching and listening to his offerings in order to broaden her knowledge of Canadian jazz. Here is what she discovered:

1. Joe Bowden – Roots: Tales of the Urban Yoda

Joe Bowden is a drummer, keyboardist and a veteran of the Toronto music scene. Originally hailing from Nova Scotia, his album Roots: Tales of the Urban Yoda was released in November 2020 and is a great snapshot of his style. His affinity for funk, blues and jazz is easily heard on this release that showcases many of his influences like James Brown, The Yellowjackets and Herbie Hancock. His music is energetic and fun while being intricate and conceptualised with great finesse.

Watch the EPK here: https://youtu.be/eZAzk8G_cJE
Visit Joe’s website:https://theurbanyoda.com/

2. Ernesto Cervini – Tetrahedron

I didn’t have to do much research on Ernesto Cervini because he was one of the few people I knew when I moved to Toronto. Cervini is a real force in the Canadian jazz scene. A composer, drummer, marketing whizz and a recent JUNO Award Winner, his most recent release Tetrahedron featured New York guitarist Nir Felder with Canadians, alto saxophonist Luis Deniz and bassist Rich Brown. The core trio first formed in 2014 and the context provides a slight departure for Cervini, having him navigate a “funkier” jazz style that takes him out of his comfort zone. I urge readers to set aside a good couple weeks to explore Cervini’s varied discography and projects as bandleader and collaborator. Also, no one creates a funnier album EPK than Nesto…

Watch the EPK here: https://youtu.be/5RDGRVT4QjE
Visit Ernesto’s website: https://ernestocervini.com/

3. Shuffle Demons – Crazy Time

Shuffle Demons is a group swimming in retro vibes, which is part of their charm. The band, now 23 years young, features a line-up of saxophonists Richard Underhill, Kelly Jefferson and Matt Lagan, bassist Mike Downes and drummer Stich Wynston. All the players perform singing duties too. Rightly so, I say! The band was founded by Underhill in 1984. Initially a street saxophonist, this led to the Shuffle Demons evolving into an incredibly popular street band, attracting “hordes of hipsters” to their street gigs. This verve is present in their music to this day.

Watch the EPK here: https://youtu.be/80X1qxMEwtE
Visit the Shuffle Demons’ website: https://shuffledemons.com/

4. Peripheral Vision – Irrational Revelation and Mutual Humiliation

Peripheral Vision is a Toronto-based quartet, led by guitarist Don Scott and bassist Michael Herring. Their music’s varying sonic textures shimmer while the ensemble is “defined by its group rapport”. They are certainly within the jazz realm but their rock, classical through-composed, and improvisatory influences give them a specific personality.

Visit Peripheral Vision’s website: http://peripheralvisionmusic.com/

5. Alex Goodman – Impressions in Blue and Red

Alex Goodman’s name is familiar to me. Partly because I’d already stumbled upon his dazzling take on Mozart that features Canadian vocalist Felicity Williams (I’m a big fan of her work – hear it here: https://youtu.be/zR2kbfpxg6c ) and also because we share an alma mater in the Manhattan School of Music. However, I wasn’t aware of his new album Impressions in Blue and Red. Goodman was the winner of the first prize at the 2014 Montreux Jazz Festival International Guitar Competition and his creative output now stems mainly from New York, where he is based. He is a musical, dexterous player and his writing is melodic and lyrical in a way that certainly speaks to me.

Visit Alex Goodman’s website: https://www.alexgoodmanmusic.com/

For more Canadian jazz, from people who really know Canadian jazz, you can listen to Jazz.FM91 (from anywhere in the world!) online here: https://jazz.fm/web-radio/

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