If determination is the key to success in the music biz, then this pop quintet from Winnipeg and Montreal will get there. They are “winsome, wicked and witty” according to their bio and they recreate that vibe so common in the ‘60s girl-groups. This captivating ensemble lays down harmonies, beats, the Motown “thing”, then turns it all off- kilter by some French pop and an anyone-can-be-the-lead-singer mentality.

The band consists of three Winnipeg-based friends and former band-mates, Ariane Jean, Andrina Turenne and Annick Bremault. They recruited Montreal drummer and percussionist Sacha Daoud, and added fourth singer, Winnipegger Alexa Dirks. So far they’ve sung at the 2010 Winter Olympics, toured all over North America, opened for Smoky Robinson, won a Canadian Juno Award in 2008, made a gazillion critics’ best-of lists, and so on. That’s just a few highlights in six years of impressing everyone, everywhere they go.

I have just done some financial consulting for the band, but the way they’re progressing they’ll soon need their own accounting department.

Photo Credit:                                                                                                                    WEBSITE

There’s an often typical path for Canadian-born jazz musicians: become noted on your instrument in your home town, head to a college with a jazz program (in this case, McGill in Montreal), and then move to New York where you study, play all manner of gigs, do some tours, record with some NY cats, and repeat. That’s exactly what the talented and versatile pianist Bryn Roberts did.

Since moving from Winnipeg via Montreal to New York City in 2001, Roberts has performed extensively both as a sideman and a leader.
He has played at many of New York's prestigious jazz clubs, including the Blue Note, Birdland, Smalls, Fat Cat, the 55 Bar and the Jazz Gallery. He has appeared with many of New York's top jazz musicians, including Seamus Blake, Chris Cheek, Lage Lund, Victor Lewis, Jochen Ruckert, Will Vinson, Matt Penman, John Ellis, Rodney Green, Jonathan Blake, Kendrick Scott, Jonathan Kreisberg, Jon Gordon and the Alan Ferber.

Bryn has two albums out as a leader: his debut was the independently released "Present Tense", his second was called "Ludlow", featuring Seamus Blake, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Mark Ferber. Both were supported by national tours in Canada in 2002 and 2004. His third album, "Fables", featuring Seamus Blake, Johnathan Blake and Orlando LeFleming was released in the fall of 2013 on Nineteen Eight Records. A Canadian tour in support of “Fables” will happen in November 2013.

In recent years, Bryn has turned his talents to the world of rock, pop, R and B and folk music as well, performing with Juno-award-winning artist Serena Ryder, touring widely with the acclaimed folk-pop singer Dar Williams and other top artists.

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You would be hard pressed to find a more “Canadian” artist than the harmonica virtuoso, Gérald Laroche. This self-taught musician has progressed from blues noodlings on the harp to a full-fledged multi-disciplinary maestro. His harmonica skills are on full display amidst a plethora of sound and effects, created by various mouth bows and foot percussion and electro-acoustic gear.

A direct descendant of the French voyageurs who discovered the Canadian west and created the fur trade, Gérald tells their fanciful stories and fables, enveloping them in soundscapes, to create unbelievable moments of sheer brilliance. An eagle comes screaming into the theatre, buoyed by the sound of the Great North Wind, and audiences are in a state of amazement.
Laroche has performed in almost every nook and cranny of Canada, in front of enchanted school children and at many folk and kids' festivals, even command performances by governor-generals. He’s travelled to the US, Europe, Africa and Haiti, and what he hears he tucks into some little corner of his bag of 50 or so harmonicas, and incorporates that into future performances. He defines the term "conteur", and international symposiums have hailed him as a "nouveau storyteller".

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This multi-dimensional pianist and composer from Toronto is comfortable playing jazz, avant garde, Jewish music, musique actuelle, Latin and probably birthday parties for kids. Her Marilyn Lerner Quintet introduced two Cuban musicians to Canada who have now gone on to become major jazz players – drummer Dafnis Prieto and saxophonist Yosvanny Terry – and her recording Birds Are Returning was made in Cuba, the first by a Canadian there.

She has performed internationally with Queen Mab, the dramatic and brilliant avant garde duo/trio with clarinetist Lori Freedman and Dutch violist Ig Henneman. She was a member of From Both Ends Of The Earth, which had a short life but long credits. And speaking of credits, check out these: recordings with legendary guitarist Sonny Greenwich, the Mad Satie Trio, Ugly Beauties, singer David Wall, singer Adriene Cooper, NY Jewish music great, Frank London and Alicia Svigals. She’s played with Steve Lacy, Jane Bunnett, Tito Puente and Gerry Hemingway, too.

There are other prestigious honors that only a talent like Lerner can chalk up: Montreal Intl. Jazz Festival award for best composition; a commission by CBC in honour of Dmitri Shostakovitch's 100th birthday; "Romanian Fantasy", a solo recording of improvisations on traditional Eastern European Jewish music recorded at the Glenn Gould Studio at CBC Toronto: ongoing collaborations with poet Patrick Friesen; contemporary Yiddish song cycle on the poetry of Anna Margolin, scored for piano, cello, clarinet and singer Adrienne Cooper, for which she received a Hadassah-Brandeis research award; and so on. Throw in assorted broadcasts of her audio art collages, and I think you get the idea how talented Marilyn Lerner is.
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Creative, original, committed to her vision, singer Alexis a true culture maker. She has taken the essence of Ukrainian music and culture, its early poetry and chants and songs, and transplanted them into contemporary musical settings to form what she calls a new Ukrainian musical paradigm. Both as a solo artist and as leader of her Paris To Kyiv ensemble, Alexis has never wavered from her vision.

She established Olesia Records to get her projects to market, and the story of Olesia is a successful one, tied in with solo and group tours to Eastern Europe, the US, and most parts of Canada, playing venues like the Rolston Recital Hall in Banff, Harvard and Yale Universities, the World Music Institute in NY, Harbourfront in Toronto and Tage Der Jiddischen Kultur in Berlin

She has five acclaimed recordings to date, including Fragmenti which received world wide press and interest. Currently, she has two projects near completion: a Ukrainian and Yiddish duet with pianist Marilyn Lerner and a remix of tunes from Fragmenti featuring an international cast of
remix artists.

Photo Credit:  Craig Koshyk                                            WEBSITE

David has a very compelling story. The short version goes like this: discovered at age 16 in Santiago de Cuba by Jane Bunnett -- brought to Toronto where he studied the jazz lexicon like a fiend -- toured nationally and internationally with Jane -- graduated from Humber winning the first Oscar Peterson prize -- toured and recorded in Canada -- and then off to New York.

In the four years since his move to NY, David has studied with Hendry Threadgill and
Muhal Richard Abrams, become an A-list pianist playing with people like Chris Potter, Wadada Leo Smith, Curtis Macdonald, Roman Filiu, Ravi Coltrane and Tomasz Stanko (extensive touring with the latter two). He's recorded with Potter and Stanko for ECM, and with Macdonald, David Binney, Roman Filiu, Jonathan Finlayson among others, and to top all of that off, he released his very unique interpretation and deconstruction of Cuban music on Continuum (Pi) which made a gazillion best of 2012 lists, including #1 at the NY Times. Mboko (ECM 2014)) was equally hailed by the critics as groundbreaking and mesmerizing. Plus, he was selected as the #1 pianist Rising Star in the 2015 DownBeat Critic's Poll up from #2 in 2014.

It's an amazing rise to prominence by an amazing talent who is an even more amazing person. I can't think of one other Canadian who has had such a rapid rise up the jazz ladder.

He is continually looking for ways to combine music with other forms of art, like his projects with the great Cuban artist Alberto Lescay, creating music for video artists, and delving into the African roots of Cuban music and culture.

The arrows all point up for David Virelles.

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Curtis Macdonald is a Canadian saxophonist, composer and sound designer born and raised in Calgary, AB who is now living in New York. His first album, Community Immunity was released on  Dave Douglas' Greenleaf Music label.   The Curtis Macdonald Group, has, in the past 18 months, toured across Canada, New York, and Europe, and released, Twice Through The Wall, in 2013. 

This highly skilled and talented musician is typical of the new breed of musicians these days: they surround themselves with equally ambitious and intelligent players and then proceed to take jazz in different directions.  Curtis’ music could be described as efficiently complicated. He doesn’t blow sheets of sound, yet his playing is far from simple. The rhythms get tinkered with, the musical forms get stretched in unexpected directions, and the typical harmonies are displaced by new sounds.  And yet, it is still very organic and accessible.

Curtis graduated cum laude from the New School University in New York City in 2007 where he immediately became faculty, and currently teaches. Look for great things to come from Curtis.

Photo Credit: Ed Berger                                                                                                    WEBSITE
Will Peter Hum at the Ottawa Citizen, and has spent several weeks on jazz radio charts in the US and Canada, earning 4.5 stars in Downbeat. His 2012 debut, The Skeptic & the Cynic, spent two weeks at
#1 on the !earshot Canadian Jazz Charts.

Curtis has performed on many high-profile stages in New York, and several Canadian jazz festivals.
Curtis recently performed at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam, as a winner of the Keep an Eye Jazz Award.
He has twice been selected to participate in the Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead residency at the Kennedy
Center in Washington, DC.

He is currently a Fellow of the Jazz Institute at Manhattan School of Music, where he is a student of
John Riley; he holds a Bachelor of Jazz Studies from the University of Manitoba, where he mentored
with master drummers Terreon Gully and Quincy Davis.

Photo Credit:
New York-based drummer, composer, and bandleader, Curtis Nowosad, has developed a reputation as a highly-skilled, versatile, and forward-thinking musician. A native of Winnipeg, Curtis is recognized as one of the faces of the new generation of Canadian jazz. He has performed with top musicians like Donny McCaslin, Stefon Harris, Miguel Zenon, Steve Wilson, Bobby Sanabria's MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra and NEA Jazz Masters, Candido Camero, Jimmy Owens, and Kenny Barron.

His sophomore album, Dialectics, was released in March 2015 on Cellar Live Records, and features Jimmy Greene tenor saxophone, Derrick Gardner trumpet, Steve Kirby bass, and