Friday, 11 April 2014

JazzFM Caberet Series ''The Sondheim Jazz Project''

All Photos Courtesy of Janet Jardine

Bobby Hsu, Alex Samaras, D'Arcy Myronuk, James McEleney, Morgan Childs.
Together they are the Soundheim Jazz Project! 

And Along with special guest Sophia Perlman they brought the house DOWN!

The venerable JazzFM 91.1 in Toronto has undertaken the task of creating a constantly evolving array of concerts to help showcase the fabulous musicians in the Toronto area. In the past they have presented a 'Composers' series that I adored, and the radio station is committed to bringing more and more of these fabulous Jazz concert sets to our town.

Bobby Hsu and Alex Samaras
Alex Samaras

The group of shows currently running is the 'Caberet Series'. Held at the venerable Hugh's Room each and every show has been a delight. The most recent concert in the series was 'A Sondheim Jazz Project', the musical love child of saxophonist Bobby Hsu and vocalist Alex Samaras. A blend of the traditional hot smokin' jazz world with the fun nostalgia of broadway, Bobby Hsu has created an entire album full of jazzed up Sondheim arrrangements. Bringing D'arcy Myronuk, James McEleney and Morgan Childs on board was brilliant, and the five of them gel into a wonderfully crisp, tight, but FUN band. Word of their 'project' got out, and the astonishingly gifted Jackie Richardson approached them to collaborate on their CD ''City of Strangers''. The CD is marvelous, and a must-have in any collection, so I knew I'd enjoy the show.

Sophia Perlman

Ms Richardson is one busy lady, not available for the Hughs Room show. Would you want to be the vocalist who filled her shoes for this concert? You would have to be equally as talented and loved. Sophia Perlman was a perfect choice! Her sweet, almost fragile, yet powerful voice is one of my favourite things to hear.

D'Arcy Myronuk and James McEleny

I have been fortunate to have been able to get out to see Bobby Hsu (sax), Alex Samaras(vocals) and Morgan Childs(drums) in other projects, but hadn't had the same pleasure for James McEleney (bass) or D'Arcy Myronuk (keys). They both thouroughly impressed me and I have ingrained their names in my memory. I will make a point to get out to the clubs to see them any chance I get. 
This is what is so amazing about the Jazz Fm music series. 
By showcasing incredible talent that hasn't received the attention they should, a whole new audience discovers them. 
It is that promotion of the local jazz scene that encourages jazz to thrive, everywhere. 

The who's who of the Toronto Jazz scene came out for the Sondheim Jazz Project concert, even a DJ who would have to be up for work just a few short hours after the end of the show! It was definitely THE hot ticket! Hugh's Room was packed, standing room only. Which was fine by me, easier to dance along! The show started with some of Bobby Hsu's gorgeously sexy sax, and moved on to beautifully arranged Stephen Sondhiem classics from 1954-94, a 40 year spread. Each song was introduced with a story. 
What the song meant, whom it was written for, the controversy over a particular song. 
Not a Day Goes By was accompanied by the tale of how the song appears twice in Merrily we Roll Along. Thankfully, The Sondheim Project chose to highlight the happy version! 
Everyday a Little Death, an older married woman's version of marriage as told to a young bride, from A Little Night Music, was hilarious and Loving You, from Passion, was heartbreaking. 

The music thrilled, chilled and ultimately delighted. 

A Sondheim Jazz Project is an exceptional group of musicians (and special guests!) and an example of everything that is going right in the jazz world today. I look forward to more and more wonderful things to come from them! And from the JazzFM  Caberet Series!

Bobby Hsu and D'Arcy Myronuk
Morgan Childs

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