Jim Dupuis' Best of Jazz 2014
A look at some of the best jazz had to offer in a very good year.
Canada's vibrant jazz scene doesn't get nearly the attention it deserves from Canadian media. Regular contributor Jim Dupuis has been waving the flag for Canada's young jazz musicians for years with his radio show on Jazz Notes on CFBX-FM in Kamloops, BC and with regular contributions to !earshot. nd
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Jim Dupuis, host of Jazz Notes on CFBX-FM in Kamloops, BC, which in nearing its 15th year on the air. Jazz Notes airs on Wednesday nights from 5-7 PM PT. The theme song for Jazz Notes is Jimmy Jazz by the Clash.
Jim attends the Vancouver International Jazz Festival most years and attends many live music events in Kamloops. He believes in supporting local talent and encouraging local musicians to follow their dream. Local musicians are encouraged to appear on Jazz Notes. Most of the music spun on Jazz Notes is understandably jazz related and the general focus in on new music, to a lesser degree jazz classics are played that the new music brings to mind. The Big Easy Gumbo segment of Jazz Notes consists of three tracks of traditional jazz or music which came out of the New Orleans area. Generally this two hour show has a wide variety of subgenres of jazz which can include contemporary, soul-jazz, bop, swing, country swing, free jazz and …
Jim can be found on Facebook and has been known to play the music of his Facebook “friends” frequently. Once a year Jimmy Jazz turns into Disco Stu and befuddles many with an irreverent romp through the disco years. No-one seems to know why.
My Top 10 records of the year
1. PJ Perry & Tommy Banks - Old Friends - (Royalty)
Jazz royalty from Edmonton that can bop with the best or pull on your heartstrings as required. Old Friends contains impeccable phrasing, glorious arrangements, wonderful selection and sheer talent. This was my only easy choice in the top ten this year.
2. Cory Weeds - As of Now (Cellar Live)
Weeds, has often touted Harold Mabern as one of his all-time favorites and, is living his dream in releasing an album and playing alongside him. The uber jazz promoter of Vancouver rarely speaks of his own playing. He really should. He’s that good. He holds his own and then some with Mabern and a hot rhythm section. Many tracks in As of Now have that soul jazz feel that can really get an audience going.
3. Paul Tynan & Aaron Lington - Bicoastal Collective: Chapter Four (OA2 Records)
Combine a hot trumpet, with a groovy organ, a racing bass and the bari sax and you get a fun CD with plenty of bop and blues. Trumpeter Tynan from Canada’s east coast and bari sax player Lington from the US west cover all the bases in this very enjoyable CD.
4. Joe Coughlin & Mark Eisenman - Saloon Standard (JC Jazz)
This CD certainly has the feel of a boozy, bluesy saloon with the piano in the corner and a bleary eyed singer sounding like he should be in a much nicer place. Actually that’s what they were going for and they succeeded. Coughlin’s voice brings to mind the likes of Kurt Elling and other more refined crooners. Pianist Eisenman is a consummate pro who seems to leave the show to the vocalist, but his timing and the arrangements are bang on. Yes, it’s another salute to The Great American Songbook, but this time somebody got it right!
5. Steve Kaldestad with The Mike LeDonne Trio Straight Up (Cellar Live)
Saxophonist Steve Kaldestad leads the wonderful pianist Mike LeDonne and his trio in a blues filled fun romp. Kaldestad’s sax belongs in film noir gangster piece and the rhythm section of John Webber on acoustic bass and Joe Farnsworth on drums reveals a real affinity for the music.
6. Bria Skonberg Into Your Own (Random Act Records)
Bria Skonberg is a dynamo in New York. She is constantly playing, organizing, composing and promoting jazz. Helping out with festivals, leading her own groups and playing in others. She’s getting noticed, too. She’s up for a number of NYC awards and has been mentioned in Jazz Times and is nominated for a number of Jazz Times readers awards. Her swinging trumpet shows its trad roots in Three Little Words/Sir Duke and Six More Weeks. Yet she can provide a nice, pop feel reminiscent of the Carole King years with tracks like Break My Fall. Into Your Own includes talented guest artists including John Pizzarelli, Wycliffe Gordon, Victor Goines, Ulysses Owens, Jr. This young, lady is going places!
7. Blackstick Blackstick (Independent)
British Columbia’s Arntzen family has produced so many musicians, that I’ve actually lost count. Primarily known for keeping trad jazz alive in B.C., Grandpa Lloyd Arntzen, a well-know clarinet player and teacher has put his grandsons Evan and Arnt to work. Both Lloyd and Evan do a fine job with the blackstick and Arnt plays guitar and banjo and provides some vocals. They cover classics from Sidney Bechet and Fats Waller. Evan composed Silver Fox, as a tribute to Lloyd. This is a fun album that makes you say as they do, “I Wish I Was In New Orleans.”
8. Connie Evingson & the John Jorgenson Quintet All the Cats Join In (Minnehaha)
Minnesota based Connie Evingson has released albums of different jazz forms over the years. This time she experiments with hot or gypsy jazz and she has found a great band to do it with in the John Jorgenson Quintet. The CD is a mix of jazz standards played in the style of Reinhard and Grappelli, with a couple of Beatle tunes thrown in for good measure. Her vocals and phrasing are good, as always. I always enjoy her albums and wonder what she is going to do next.
9. Jane Bunnett and Maqueque Jane Bunnett and Maqueque (Justin Time Records)
Just another excellent album from the reed player and composer, who has championed Latin music. Here she works with Maqueque, an all woman band that keeps the mainly Cuban rhythms going. Guest artists are added on some tracks and a percussion laden cover of the Bill Withers hit “Ain’t no Sunshine When She’s Gone” completes the only Latin album on this list.
10. Chris Walden Big Band Full-On! (Origin)
Thankfully there are still some big bands out there and Walden has put together a bunch of fine musicians to play his varied arrangements. The band can jump from the movieish sounding “Bailout” to pop and country covers of Stevie Wonder and Hank Williams. Like the 1940’s this big band has a rotating cast of vocalists that nicely fit their songs. Vocalists include Carol Welsman, who sings “Hey Good Looking,” Tierney Sutton, Melaine Taylor and others. Great band, great vocalists and big band versions of a wide variety of songs make Full-On! a winner!
Best local release
Anita Eccleston So It Goes (Independent)
Anita Eccleston is a classically trained horn player and vocalist. She has dabbled in composing over the years and has put out a CD, which has eleven original compositions on it. She has tried out tunes such as “Scarlet Scribbles” and “Fumbling Forward” on local audiences over the last few years and they have evolved nicely over time. As a trumpet/flugelhorn player, she has taken notice of the work of Chet Baker, among others and has established her own sound. This CD is somewhat of a hybrid between jazz and pop. This makes it accessible to a wider audience. Favorite tracks include “Through It All” which has a big band sound with interesting vocal changes, and the bluesy “Claim on You” which allows Eccleston to showcase her considerable talents on trumpet and another local musician, Kris Ruston adds a fine guitar solo. Eccleston now lives in Vancouver, but visits family and often plays gigs in Kamloops. So It Goes is a jazzy/poppy/soulful mix that should appeal to many. It would be a nice surprise in anyone’s Christmas stocking.
Best live show you saw this year
Tough to pick one, but it’s between Nick Cave at the Orpheum and Arturo Sandoval at the Vogue Theatre
Most under-rated record of the year
Arthur Migliazza Laying It Down (Hobemian)
It made the list for the entry nominations for the Grammy Awards, so maybe not that under-rated, but probably quite unknown in this part of the world. This CD is outside the jazz category but still go plenty of play on Jazz Notes. Migliazza is a lively, talented boogie-woogie piano player. His tunes just make you want to jump and jump and jump.
Most over-rated record of the year
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga Cheek to Cheek (Universal)
Doesn’t even rate this plug.
Best personal campus/community radio moment or experience of the year.
The Live appearance of Ellen Doty and her band on Jazz Notes, was a personal highlight this year. They are a talented group of young musicians who attained their “road warrior” status this fall with a 30 city coast to coast tour. I had met Ellen Doty when she played in town earlier in the fall. Later she suggested coming on the show and performing live near the end of her tour. Of course I was fine with that. She, Oliver Miguel on sax and Conrad Good on double bass crammed into our small on-air studio for a chat and to play a couple of songs. Keyboard player Dan Reynolds couldn’t fit in the studio, so he was elected to watch the van and equipment. They played a beautiful set which was comprised of a song off their CD Gold and a bass-lead version of the classic “Fever.” It was delightful chatting with them and Oliver Miguel’s smoking sax and fun sense of humor kept everything light.
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