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Artists

2018 Smordin Law Artist-in-Residence Heather Bambrick

Heather Bambrick is a JUNO-nominated vocalist, voice actor, broadcaster, and educator, who has collaborated with Phil Nimmons, Fred Hirsch, Gene DiNovi, Guido Basso, Lea Delaria, Anne Hampton Callaway, Jackie Richardson, Ian Shaw, Rob McConnell, Peter Appleyard, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra., and many others. She is also a founding member of the Jazz/Cabaret ensemble Broadsway.

Heather’s recordings It’s About Time and Those Were The Days have received critical acclaim and ECMA nominations. Her latest album You’ll Never Know was nominated for a 2017 JUNO Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year and a 2018 ECMA for Jazz Recording of the Year. Heather’s been a featured guest on numerous recordings, including those of Peter Appleyard and the Breithaupt Brothers, and she has been awarded Canada’s National Jazz Award for Vocalist of the Year.

Heather is one of Canada’s busiest voice actors, appearing in commercials and voicing characters on animated series for various networks. She is currently a regular on Emmy-nominated series Wild Kratts, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and Justin Time. In 2001, she began broadcasting at JAZZ.FM91 and currently hosts “Jazzology” and “Sunday Afternoon Jazz”. Heather has twice been named National Jazz Awards’ Broadcaster of the Year.

Heather is a graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Music (Jazz Studies), and has taught at U of T, Humber College, and the Royal Conservatory of Music. She remains active as a clinician at schools and festivals across Canada.

http://www.heatherbambrick.ca

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Allison Au Quartet

Juno-award winning Jazz Saxophonist, Composer and Arranger, Allison Au refuses to be defined. Born to a Chinese father and Jewish mother, and raised in the multicultural metropolis of Toronto, Allison found music as a young child. Exposed to a wide array of musical styles, she was captivated by the unhinged freedom of Jazz. Jazz became Allison’s lab for self-expression, exploration, and musical experimentation. Her work weaves a mosaic of influences into a seamless and soulful sound, a concoction steeped in the tradition of Jazz but skillfully laced with elements of Classical, Pop, R&B/hip hop, Latin, and world music.

Au’s music transports you to a place where instrumentals ring bold and emotions run free. Melodies cascade and collide, highlighting Au’s gift for layering voices and rhythms. Her writing showcases the color and character of each instrument, while providing ample room for her band mates to push her compositions to new heights.

Au earned her first Juno nomination for her debut album, “The Sky Was Pale Blue, then Grey” in 2013, and in 2016 seized the Juno for “Best Jazz Album of The Year: Group” for “Forest Grove.”

Formed in 2009, the Allison Au Quartet has toured extensively in Canada and the US. The group was awarded the TD Jazz Fellowship Scholarship (2011), The Alfred and Phyllis Balm Scholarship (2012), and The Margareta and Benno Nigg Scholarship (2013) for three consecutive artist residencies at the Banff Centre.

Most recently the Allison Au Quartet has won the 2017 Montreal Jazz Festival TD Grand Prix de Jazz, received the 2017 Halifax Jazz Festival Sting Ray Rising Star Award, and was named a 2017 Finalist for Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Jazz Artist Award.

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Diana Braithwaite & Chris Whiteley

DIANA BRAITHWAITE -A vintage and classic jazz & blues performer

Born in Toronto, Canada, Diana Lee Braithwaite grew up crooning jazz and blues classics that were played by her elder brother jazz pianist, Victor Cornell Braithwaite.

When Diana Braithwaite sings, you hear passion, with sultry stories of life beautifully expressed through music. Braithwaite is a descendant of the Wellington County pioneers in Canada. With roots in the southern United States her ancestors escaped slavery through the Underground Railroad and lived for four generations in Wellington County, the first African-Canadian pioneer settlement in Ontario, Canada.  Growing up, Diana spent summers in Montreal, Quebec, in a place called “Little Burgundy”, the historic African-Canadian neighbourhood where her father and the great jazz musician Oscar Peterson were both born. Dubbed “a national treasure” by JAZZ FM’s Radio host Danny Marks, Diana Braithwaite combines elements from Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, Esther Phillips and others to create her own unique appealing and expressive jazz and blues style.

CHRIS WHITELEY- A vintage  cornet and trumpet jazz & blues performer

Kansas born multi-instrumentalist Chris Whiteley has had an illustrious music career spanning some 40 years.  Whiteley’s extensive touring career includes working with many renowned jazz and blues legends such as Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson and countless appearances on television and radio including a special guest appearance on Saturday Night Live with the international recording jazz artist Leon Redbone. A multiple award-winning international touring horn player, Chris Whiteley is also a sought-after recording artist and has appeared on over 250 recordings over his successful career as a trumpet and cornet player. Whiteley, who blows his trumpet with a clear tone and a sublime unique jazz style, has received numerous Canadian Maple Blues Awards as both songwriter and horn player of the year and a Jazz Report Magazine Blues Album of the Year Award. In 2010 Whiteley was awarded the prestigious BLUES WITH A FEELING AWARD, for lifetime achievement in the blues.  In January 2014 Chris Whiteley won the Maple Blues Award for the top blues horn player in Canada–for the 7th time.

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Broadsway

Broadsway … the brilliant combination of fabulous voices, clever arrangements, excellent music, and side-splitting humour!

Heather Bambrick (JUNO-nominee, National Jazz Award “Vocalist of the Year”), Diane Leah (Dora Mavor Moore Award nominee), and Julie Michels (international touring artist) combine their respective musical experience and influences in a show that is eclectic, funny, and very musical!

From the moment they first hit the stage together, Broadsway has been creating quite a buzz – aswell as a steadily growing fan base – in every venue they’ve played, from Roy Thomson Hall and the Jazz Bistro in Toronto, to Birdland and the Metropolitan Room in New York. They’ve been featured in some of Canada’s top Jazz and Cabaret festivals, as well as various concert series and feature presentations. Their music brings together a repertoire that ranges from Jazz and Theatre, to Pop and even Classical… all delivered with passion, power, poignancy, and plenty of humour!

Broadsway released their debut CD Old Friends to rave reviews, and followed that up with seasonal release The Most Wonderful Time … Maybe, hailed by CBC Radio (Canada’s national broadcaster) as “a musical version of the best office Christmas party ever!” Their show has since expanded to include Broadsway with Symphony, featuring gorgeous orchestrations of some of the Broads’ (and their fans’) favourite arrangements. Broadsway’s symphony show debuted in 2016, with additional shows planned through 2019.

Audiences, fans, and critics agree: Broadsway should never be missed!

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Brad Cheeseman Group

Brad Cheeseman is a JUNO-nominated bassist and composer from Hamilton, Ontario. A much sought-after musician both on stage and in the studio, Cheeseman’s lyrical bass playing and melody-driven compositions have been featured on Canadian, American, and European stages, and captured on four original recordings.

Cheeseman’s newest recording, The Tide Turns, chronicles a period of change, self-discovery and reinvention, and reinforces the cornerstones of his music: engaging melodies, playful rhythms, and an honest, emotional core. The album comes on the heels of winning the Montreal Jazz Festival’s coveted Grand Prix de Jazz with his acclaimed Brad Cheeseman Group, a contemporary jazz quintet that has been performing and recording since 2012.

Brad Cheeseman’s previous releases include 2016’s Figurants EP, (a collection of compositions based on the novel Infinite Jest), 2015’s Brad Cheeseman Group, and 2013’s Mixed Messages EP. These albums have received airplay across Canada, won two Hamilton Music Awards and have been nominated for three Toronto Independent Music Awards.

In addition to his work as bandleader, Cheeseman has had the privilege of  performing with many great Canadian jazz musicians, including Colleen Allen, Bruce Cassidy, Terry Clarke, Don Englert, Adrean Farrugia, John Macleod, Mike Malone, Reg Schwager and Nancy Walker.

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Thompson Egbo-Egbo

Born in Nigeria, Thompson Egbo-Egbo came to Toronto with his family at the age of four and started playing piano two years later. His talents were quickly developed through a local music school, created specifically to provide neighborhood kids with affordable lessons. Egbo-Egbo went on to study Jazz Performance at Toronto’s Humber College and then, with the help of a partial scholarship and several benefactors, attended Berklee College of Music in Boston for three years.

He later expanded his studies into production and sound design, which led to composing music for the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre, and performing with the London production of the popular Canadian stage play, Da Kink In My Hair. This in turn brought further opportunities, including playing for Quincy Jones, as well as for H.R.H Prince Charles, H.R.H. Prince Edward, and H.R.H. Prince Phillip. He also recorded and toured with Toronto R&B artists, Ayah and Saidah Baba Talibah.

Perhaps one of Egbo-Egbo’s greatest career milestones came in 2007 when he was commissioned to produce a medley for that year’s Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, a class that included no less than Joni Mitchell. This wealth of experience eventually resulted in Egbo-Egbo releasing his first solo album, Short Stories, in 2014. In some ways, it encapsulated his life’s journey to that point and laid the foundation for the exciting directions his music has taken on A New Standard.

When reflecting on his choices for A New Standard, Egbo-Egbo says, “It’s funny how sometimes songs become more meaningful after they’ve been recorded. For example, we’d been playing ‘Make You Feel My Love’ for some time just because it’s a beautiful melody, but after really absorbing the lyrics—both on Dylan’s original and Adele’s interpretation—it began to take on a much deeper significance for me and I’m really proud of the version on the album.

“And as far as doing Radiohead’s ‘Exit Music (For A Film),’ I’d heard it for the first time in a long time, and it suddenly struck me how many other pieces I heard within it, from Chopin to Jobim’s ‘How Insensitive.’ Once we worked it out as a trio, we knew we had to record it. It’s simply just a cool song.”

Such boundless musical curiosity and inventiveness is what continues to drive Egbo-Egbo creatively, and also motivates him to help a new generation of Toronto kids to transcend their social and economic circumstances through music, just as the Dixon Hall Music School in Regent Park helped him. Specifically, the Thompson T. Egbo-Egbo Arts Foundation has run a program in the Jane/Finch neighborhood teaching composition to kids, and has also collaborated with Regent Park urban music artist Mustafa the Poet on a video, Spectrum Of Hope, intended in part to showcase the community’s revitalization.

Egbo-Egbo’s mantra has long been that you always make the best choice if you have a choice. Perhaps it could be added that music is rarely ever the wrong choice. “I was very fortunate when I was a kid,” he says. “So I feel I kind of have a responsibility to be an example of how when you give a kid opportunities, it can lead to real results. Some people still don’t realize how isolated many communities are, so engaging with them, and encouraging others to do likewise, will always be the main goal of my Foundation, and, in essence, my music as well.”

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