On a few occasions have I seen Ottawa singer Steve Berndt wearing something other than his musical uniform.
On gigs, he favours a retro suit and dark fedora a la Frank Sinatra, resembling a Rat Pack member from back in the day. That get-up gives a sense of what to expect from Berndt on his gigs and his two CDs, Deja Vu and its follow-up All Over Again, which he and pianist Brian Browne will launch this Friday at the NAC Fourth Stage. Berndt looks the part of a 1960s crooner, and he sings that way too. He’s developed a supple, expressive way of delivering songs (ballads in particular) that frequently moves from vulnerable, understated beginnings to punchy, dramatic finishes.
His new disc repeats the same format of his debut, presenting 14 tracks including a dozen American Songbook standards and two very compatible originals. Here’s a live version of the Berndt/Browne duo performing “Mona Lisa”, complete with the verse, demonstrating the duo’s class at its best:
Other ballads appearing on the CD, along with the Nat King Cole classic, include “Born To Be Blue”, “For All We Know”, “The More I See You”, “Easy Living” and “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”. The renditions are consistent with the time-honoured way of interpreting these tunes — what matters most is the spontaneity and poise of the delivery.
More exuberant are “September In The Rain”, “Candy” and “Our Love Is Here To Stay”. Berndt’s originals the melancholy title track and the bouncier “The Moment” deal with love from two vantage points. To his credit, Berndt writes natural but untrite lyrics and crafts songs with some interesting cadences to them.
Above all, he renders his own words, as well as those of the greats, with conviction that outweighs the rare under-enunciated vowel or slightly more mannered singing, while Browne, the dean of Ottawa’s jazz pianists, is his usual sturdy, bluesy, in-the-moment self.
Deriving their name from Preservation Hall, the venerable music venue located in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band continues to live up to its name and celebrate the art form of New Orleans Jazz. Many of the band’s charter members performed with the pioneers who invented jazz in the early twentieth century including Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and Bunk Johnson. The band leaders and dozens of others have passed on the lessons of music to a younger generation who now follow in their footsteps.
For nearly 50 years, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band has been traveling the globe, performing at prestigious centers like Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center, for British Royalty or the King of Thailand, yet the band never fails to bring their audiences dancing into the aisles with music that embodies a joyful, timeless spirit.
Tickets: $19.50/$29.50/$39.50 + HST and handling fee.
Each Tuesday evening from 6-9, Olivea restaurant (39 Brock Street) in downtown Kingston hosts live Jazz. See Paul Clifford, Dave Barton, Spencer Evans, the Downtown Trio, and more. There is no cover charge and food is top class. Feel free to come for drinks or dessert as well.
Jazz Fridays at Monte’s with Craig Jones and Friends from 6-9
Join Craig Jones and a host of fellow of Kingston Jazz Musicians every Friday from 6-9. Sit by the fire and enjoy a wonderful evening of music and food.
7:30pm Malting Tower Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning 370 King St W.
Tickets available at the door or through TicketScene
Joe Morris – guitar
Mark Molnar – cello
Craig Pedersen – trumpet
The winter jazz concert series continues with a very special concert featuring the trio of Joe Morris, Mark Molnar, and Craig Pedersen. This concert is first for us as we will be using the brand spankin’ new Malting Tower in the recently opened Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning. We are also pleased to be partnering with Tone Deaf for this event!
About the artists
Guitar player Joe Morris is hailed as “… the most exciting and original jazz plucker to emerge in the last decade.” (JOHN CORBETT, DOWNBEAT). Joined by trumpet player Craig Pedersen and cello player Mark Molnar, the trio will tread through their collective take on tradition and innovation to places of joy, inquiry and contemplation in an effort to share the music they love.
Feb 25 – Silence – Guelph, Ontario
Feb 26 – Black Squirrel Books – Ottawa, Ontario
Feb 27 – Tett Centre – Kingston, Ontario
Feb 28 – Curated – Peterborough, Ontario
Mar 1 – La Passe – Montréal, Quebec
Joe Morris is a joyous, innovative, and thought provoking artist, musician, guitarist and bassist who draws on the history of jazz in his work, and reinvents tradition through his unique voice.
He has worked consistently on communicating with audiences the world over throughout his nearly 3 decade long career. He has lectured and conducted workshops throughout the US and Europe. He is a former member of the faculty of Tufts University Extension College and is currently on the faculty at New England Conservatory in the jazz and improvisation department.
Since 1994 he has recorded for the labels ECM, Hat Hut, Leo, Incus, Okka Disc, Homestead, About Time, Knitting Factory Works, No More Records, AUM Fidelity and OmniTone and Avant. He has toured throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe as a solo and as a leader of a trio and a quartet. Since 1993 he has recorded and/or performed with such Jazz luminaries as Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Joe and Mat Maneri, Rob Brown, Raphe Malik, Ivo Pearlman, Borah Bergman, Andrea Parkins, Whit Dickey, Ken Vandermark, DKV Trio, Karen Borca, Eugene Chadborne, Susie Ibarra, Hession/Wilkinson/Fell, Roy Campbell Jr., John Butcher, Aaly Trio, Hamid Drake, Fully Celebrated Orchestra and others.
“… the guitar revolutionary to pay attention to.”
NORMAN WEINSTEIN, THE BOSTON PHOENIX
“… a guitarist whose sound is completely his own, oscillating between deadpan sweetness and dangerous, shrapnel-like caprice.”
K. LEANDER WILLIAMS, THE VILLAGE VOICE
Craig Pedersen is trumpet player, composer and educator based out of Montréal. An active freelance musician specializing in jazz and free music, he also performs commercial, classical and klezmer music. He actively leads his own bands, the Craig Pedersen Quartet and the It’s A Free Country duo with Joel Kerr.
Since 2011, Craig has released eight albums of material, ranging between composed material to improvisation, through jazz, free music, country, and klezmer, in a variety of ensembles. Recent highlights of this work have included collaborations and/or performances with Joe Morris, Jean Derome, Joane Hetu, Lori Freedman, Nicolas Caloia, Ian Birse and Laura Kavanaugh (Instant Places), and Mark Molnar (Kingdom Shore), as well as recording on the soundtrack for Robert Lepage’s Needles and Opium, and performances at L’Off Festival du Jazz and FONT Canada. His method book exploring extended techniques for the trumpet, Trumpet Sound Effects, was published by Berklee Press and Hal Leonard in November of 2014.
Mark Molnar plays strings and electronics with Kingdom Shore, 1/4 Tonne Spike Pitcher (Nick Keupfer and Eric Craven), Generator (John Higney and Jamie Gulliksen), Mice (Bennett Bedoukian and Dave Clark), and in duos and a variety of configurations with Eric Craven, Craig Pedersen, James Annett, David Broscoe, Jamie Gulliksen, Linsey Wellman, and Bennett Bedoukian. He also plays erhu and rebab in Gamelan Semara Winangun.
TONE DEAF COLLECTIVE – The Tone Deaf Collective is dedicated to bringing experimental music and sound performance to Kingston, presenting artists residing both within and outside of our city through their annual festival, and additional programming throughout the year. The group has successfully highlighted work of local new music composers, noisicians, laptop, sound sculptors, and many others, and is a vital outlet for a wide range of musics and sound-based practices which are not otherwise heard.
Rich Bannard and Jon Stewart will be performing what promises to be a stellar duo show Tuesday nights in January at the Musiikki Cafe (73 Brock Street). The performances are planned to be in preparation for a recording slated for February. So as not to conflict with the long-standing jazz night at Olivea’s down the street, they plan to start a little later than usual, between 8:30 and 9.
Cover will be Pay What You Can, and the proceeds will go to cover recording costs.