I always cherish that very unique early Thursday morning radio hour I get to spend with some of the most vibrant and creative folks in our country at CUIT 89.5 FM, on the campus of the University of Toronto. Every person is different – most stories compelling but a rare few are as fascinating and uplifting as the hour spent with film composer/pianist and violist Donald Quan. This was a rollercoaster ride with Quan out front. Donald Quan is one of the most celebrated film composers in recent memory, a workaholic, an accomplished musician – and then one fateful day – lights out. Here’s what happened.
Bill King: Long time keeping your grand passion afloat – Musideum and now big changes.
Donald Quan: It’s been less a change of heart. Musideum was a project I could see an end in sight. It’s been around about ten years and I knew there was a time it would end. Basically, after ten years, I feel I’ve done everything I can with it in terms of how I first conceived it. It even had a long run as a show on CIUT 89.5 and that kind of wrapped up the whole Musideum arc – starting as a music store.
Often likened to Bonnie Raitt, Alabama blues-lady Debbie Bond’s latest release, ‘Enjoy The Ride’, kicks off strongly with an upbeat, optimistic surge of soul and passion on the title track before shifting a few gears with introspective inner searching reaching out in tracks ‘Start With Love’, the dizzying despair and combative edge of ‘Left Me In The Dark’, and the reflective beauty of ‘Remedy’. Throughout, Bond’s fine fretwork is confident and compelling, carrying the whole mix along with power and purpose. Recorded in Muscle Shoals, with full-on horns and Shoals-sounding quality, ‘Enjoy The Ride’ is easily Bond’s finest effort to date, bursting with sensitivity and a soulful delivery that show heartache and hurt, love and loss will always be winning combinations.
Bond’s previous album, ‘That Thing Called Love’, featured her partner Radiator Rick Asherson on Harp and Keys, and he again figures strongly here. Her love and affection for the late Alabama bluesman Willie King, whom she played with for many years, is also evident with an excellent cover of one of his anthems, ‘I Am The Blues’ included in the mix. Add some quality support guitar flourished from Will McFarlane, (ex-Bonnie Raitt), Spooner Odham on organ, one of the US’s finest sidemen, and you have an album of considerable class, style and quality.
East Coast Canadians Great Big Sea paved the way for many bands to take traditional tunes and bring them up to speed to be popular with a younger generation of fans. With this influence, then adding their twist to the tunes, Old Man’s Flanagan’s Ghost (OMFG) brings a refreshing new sound to the public arena.
Launched in Jan 2014, Old Man Flanagan's Ghost have already hit the Celtic Festival circuit and have appeared at The Beach Celtic Festival, 2015 Coburg Highland Games as well as legendary venues in Toronto like The Hard Rock Café, The Sound Academy, and The Horseshoe Tavern.
Speaking with band leader Stephen Lamb we asked him what his inspiration was to have started a Celtic Band.”When I met Brooke we didn’t know we had music in common, we were both working in childhood education. We started playing music together and it was whole awakening for me. I contacted my brother Brian, and the ‘jams’ began.”
When asked how things have changed for him from 2014 until now, “I found it enlightening but I also found a whole new respect for the music industry. It isn’t just about having the talent, you need to go through the trials and tribulations, time and money. I found new respect for the people who make the industry work.”
Early 60’s we turned onto Aebersold Drive and pops parked the station wagon out front of our new music teacher’s small brick bungalow and began what would be a lifetime friendship based on music and basketball.
Aebersold was just wrapping up a degree in saxophone at Indiana University and plotting his future. That future would drive him to originate his version of a ‘Play-A-Long Series’ of jazz standards – some 133 plus recordings since inception in 1967. Along the way, some 40 years of Summer Jazz Workshops and in 2014 Aebersold was honored by the National Endowment of the Arts with the prestigious Jazz Master award.
Through the years I’d make Aebersold Court a mandatory stopover. That meant several games of pick-up basketball on Aebersold’s home court and the customary jam session.
We have people we look for inspiration in our lives – people who keep you straight and aware the only way to achieve your goals is through hard work. Witnessing the octopus like arms of Aebersold binding, licking stamps, fielding telephone calls, taking and placing orders, proof-reading and correcting the pages of the next book caused one feel you weren’t collecting or contributing all you could to each day. Aebersold did this all while gigging, teaching and serving his community in so many ways. Humility is key here! There’s none of this self - bravado – no – “I’m the greatest bullshit” – just do the work – play the chords, scales and solve problems.
Submitted by Lenny Stoute Photo at right: Charlotte Cornfield
From a lady who digs deep with her music, Charlotte Cornfield’s newest turn, Future Snowbird, is set for release Mar. 11. The album grew from the Toronto songwriter’s time living in New York and the background noise of her moments in the city: a formative relationship, a vicious bout of psoriasis, and an overall constellation of ups and downs.
Full of clever, heart-wrenching songs sung in a lived-in, streetwise drawl, the album was recorded live off the floor at Rooster Studios in Toronto with Cornfield's longtime bandmates Sam Gleason, Damon Hankoff, Kathryn Palumbo, and Sam Rosenberg, and produced and engineered by Don Kerr (Ron Sexsmith, The Rheostatics), with guest performances by Tim Darcy (Ought) and Johnny Spence (Tegan & Sara). The result is Cornfield's strongest statement to date, each song a moodscape all its own.