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Jazzmania is Back in Town (Posted On: Sunday, April 11, 2010)

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Jazzmania, the best bargain in jazz entertainment anywhere, returns to the Blue Mountains Friday April 23rd. Stating at 8:00 PM, ten live jazz bands will entertain at ten different jazz hotspots around Thornbury and Clarksburg.

New this year at Bridges Tavern is the Kenny Baldwin Trio with Christine Frolick. Sax virtuoso Kenny Baldwin leads Robin Rich on keyboards and Robin Martindill on bass.

All are familiar names in this area but the group is making their first appearance at Jazzmania. Originally from England, Kenny Baldwin was a fixture of the Toronto jazz scene playing with the best of the best for many years. Christine Frolick, who also performs separately with Robin Rich, sings a wide range of styles but, jazz has been her staple for more than sixteen years. This group will make Bridges one of the “coolest” stops in town!

Also appearing for the first time is the Blue Room Blues Band. They will “christen” Jazzmania’s newest venue, the Ironworks in Clarksburg. The Blue Room Blues Band features Brian Neller's big, bluesy, passionate vocals, Fraser Lawrason's solid bass lines and backing vocals, Paul Sanderson's soaring blues rock guitar, Norm Ryan's fluid and inspired saxophone and Frank Watt and Pat Quinn's seasoned drum grooves. Since 1997, the band has played in major blues venues around Toronto, including the Silver Dollar Room, the Horseshoe Tavern, and Chicago's. What’s not to like about a tightly cohesive band with a great vocalist?

Returning after brief absence is Louis Lefaive and his Kings of Swing. Louis and his band were missed last year. In their stead Piper’s had a blast with the Ken Meyer Band. But, producer, educator, recording artist, singer, songwriter, arranger and bandleader Louis Lefaive and his Kings of Swing are back! Hold on to your seats listening to this fabulous group. With Louis on trombone, vocals and keyboard, Russ Strathdee on reeds, Rick Patenaude on drums, Kene Hyatt on bass and guitar and yes, Ken Meyer on woodwinds, bass and vocals, Pipers will need to bolt everything down!

Also back after a brief absence is the ever popular Shawn Mei Trio who will play the Mill Café. With Shawn on piano & vocals, Graham Hilliam on tenor & alto sax and Neil Mavor on drums, you can expect a range of styles (blues, funk, jazz) and always Shawn’s popular crooning style. But you will need to keep your seatbelt fastened when the Trio belts out “up temp” numbers by Louis Prima, Colin James, Brian Setzer, and many more! Bring your dancing shoes and a "shout chorus!" This you got to see!

Returning to the Loft Gallery, the Charlie Bell Trio will again be accompanied by the great vocals of accomplished television actress and singer Stevie Vallance. Having recorded four CDs, her latest, “Make My Night” released in 2008, includes several of her own compositions. Charlie, who also leads the great Stardust Big Band, leads his trio cohorts on tenor sax, while Jack McFadden on bass and Andy Harasymczuk on guitar combine with Charlie to create a sound that draws listeners into a warm and intimate place, perfect for this venue. 
After playing Bridge’s Tavern last year, the June Garber Trio returns to keep SiSi on Main jumping. Her delivery of “Black Coffee” at the 2006 Beaches International Jazz Festival was described as, “Sultry, more brooding than the darkening sky, she took her time. The pacing, the spacing, the intensity were delicious.” Geoff Chapman of the Toronto Star wrote, "June has a potent voice brimming with character and readily adaptable to any material. She's clearly able to tackle tunes of infinite variety." In the words of Barbara Cook of the National Arts Centre Theatre, "June sets the stage on fire." Lucky Sisi’s!

Quattro Plus One returns with Diana Wood’s emotionally charged vocals to the L.E. Shore Library. The very special nature of Quattro Plus One became evident to all who heard them last year. The great musicianship of these experienced pros combined with the powerful emotion of Diana Wood’s Latin infused vocals drew a full house and rave reviews. Stewart Steinhart on bass, Rob Gasidlo on keyboard, Bruce Campbell on drums and Don Buchanan on sax a clarinet all play with many familiar names in the area but together, these five really cook! A “must” stop on your Jazzmania itinerary.

For really good, old fashioned, foot stomping fun, you have to see The Howlin’ Dog Vintage Jazz Band rock the Marsh Street Centre.  Formed in 2002, Howlin’ Dog’s frontline includes Dave Jewett on trumpet and flugelhorn, Steve Hasbury on clarinet and saxes and Dave Schmalz on trombone. Rhythm comes from Ron Daniels on guitar, Karen Weber on bass while Sam Daniels looks after vocals. The band specializes in old jazz standards that they perform up and down the Lake Huron shoreline as well as at major regional concerts.

Back again at the Dam Pub, the popular Stokes Bay based entertainer, Bobby Dean Blackburn brings a career dating back to the fifties when his R&B combo, Bobby Dean and the Gems, played regular Saturday gigs. Later, Blackburn played in the house band at Toronto's Zanzibar Tavern and hosted a Saturday afternoon jam that attracted musicians from other area taverns. Blackburn’s versatile, dynamic, soulful sound is a popular attraction across the southern Georgian Bay region.

And Lisa Hutchinson brings her great vocals backed by the Joe Huron Trio to the back room at Wong’s Restaurant. Lisa Hutchinson appears regularly with the Georgian Sound Big Band as well as with other local groups. At Wong’s her sparkling vocals will be backed by veteran jazz guitarist Joe Huron who leads trio members Tim Moore on drums and Peter Loudon on electric bass. Based in Barrie these four musicians combine to reinterpret jazz standards and put a jazz twist on popular tunes. Wong’s back room is another of those intimate jazz settings that jazz listeners love so, make sure you stop by!
Tickets for Jazzmania are just $15 each. For that price you get to see all ten bands and ride the free Jazzmania shuttle buses that take you from one hotspot to the next. 

Don’t miss out. Check out the details of all the Festival performances and venues and buy tickets on line at our easy-to-remember web address or, you can still call 519 599 3223. Both VISA and MasterCard are accepted. Plan now to attend and make sure you get tickets to the events of your choice. 

Photos by: ISIS Photography

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