Tim Mah's Recommended Canadian Jazz Albums of 2022
When 2022 began, we were in the midst of the fifth wave of the global pandemic and public health restrictions continued to be in place. By the summer, we saw a cautious return to live performances and in person attendance at the summer jazz festivals across Canada. Thank you to the music presenters in Calgary for providing the opportunities for music appreciators, like me, to experience these performances. And much gratitude to the artists for their performances and for speaking with me, and other music fans, at their shows.
To quote Toronto/Berlin-based trumpet player, composer and bandleader, Lina Allemano, who posted on social media in early 2022, after the Lina Allemano Four album “Vegetables” received a 2022 Juno award nomination for Best Jazz Album (Group):
“…there are a lot of great albums that get released every year by incredible Canadian jazz/improvising musicians that do not get recognized by Canada’s prestigious mainstream music awards, the Junos, or ever get played on Canada’s public radio. I hope people will be interested in having a listen to this year’s Juno-nominated albums, but also in making an effort to seek out albums that did not get nominated - a lot of great music gets made in Canada every year that deserves much wider recognition and support from media and radio at home.”
With that thought in mind, this blog post is one way to help readers to learn about Canadian albums that were released over the last twelve months. The following list includes albums led or co-led by Canadians. I have also included Canadian artists, whether or not they are living in Canada, and expatriates living abroad.
Here's twenty five favourite new releases, led or co-led by Canadians (from December 2021 to November 2022) in alphabetical order:
Andrew Rathbun - Semantics
“Semantics” is one of three albums released over the last twelve months by saxophonist and composer Andrew Rathbun: “THAR” (a project co-led with trumpet player Taylor Haskins, and including bassist Matt Pavolka and drummer Tom Rainey); “Incubated Dilemma Machine,” with Chris Biggs (keys, synths) John Hebert (bass) and Keith Hall (drums) and “Semantics” with Rich Perry (saxophone), Gary Versace (piano), John Hebert (bass), and Billy Drummond (drums).
“Old Ballad for Hawk”
Annie Dominique Quintet - Reflechir la nuit
“Reflechir la nuit” is the third album from the Annie Dominque Quintet.
Personnel: Annie Dominique (saxophone, flute and compositions), Jean-Nicolas Trottier (trombone), Jonathan Cayer (piano), Sébastien Pellerin (bass) and Alain Bourgeois drums)
“Reflechir la nuit”
Anthony Fung - What Does It Mean to be Free?
This is the third album from Toronto-native, Los Angeles based drummer, Anthony Fung.
Personnel: Anthony Fung (drums), David Binney (alto saxophone), Luca Alemanno (bass), Luca Mendoza (piano), plus guests including Andrew Renfroe (guitar), Paul Cornish (keyboards), Braxton Cook (alto saxophone), Marcel Camargo (guitar), Oscar Cruz (congas), Roni Eytan (harmonica)
“What Does It Mean to be Free?”
Brodie West Quintet - Meadow of Dreams
“Meadow of Dreams” is the second full length album from the Toronto-based Brodie West Quintet.
Personnel: Evan Cartwright (drums, vibraphone and guitar), Josh Cole (bass), Nick Fraser (drums), Tania Gill (piano), Brodie West (alto saxophone)
Caity Gyorgy - Featuring
This is Calgary-native, Montreal-based Caity Gyorgy’s third release. Each track features a special guest performer.
Personnel: Caity Gyorgy (vocals), Felix Fox-Pappas (piano), Thomas Hainbuch (bass), Jacob Wutzke (drums) with guests: Virginia MacDonald (clarinet), Allison Au, Daniel Barta, Christine Jensen, Tymish Koznarsky (alto saxophone), Lucas Dubovik, Pat LaBarbera, Kyle Tarder-Stoll (tenor saxophone), Kyle Pogline (trumpet), Jocelyn Gould (guitar), Laura Anglade (vocals)
Carsten Rubeling - Headwaters
Calgary-based trombone player and composer Carsten Rubeling’s album “Headwaters” was inspired by nature and the landscape of the Bighorn region of Alberta, which is tucked along the eastern slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains between Banff and Jasper.
Personnel: Carsten Rubeling (trombone), Andre Wickenheiser (trumpet and flugelhorn) Mark DeJong (alto and tenor saxophones), Fraser Calhoun (tenor saxophone), Aaron Young (guitar), Steve Shepard (bass), Trevor Falls (drums)
The full album of “Headwaters”
Chet Doxas - Rich in Symbols II
Saxophonist and composer, Chet Doxas, released “Rich in Symbols II” featuring music inspired by the paintings from The Group of Seven, Tom Thomson and Emily Carr.
Personnel: Chet Doxas (saxophones, clarinet, field recordings), Jacob Sacks (piano, mellotron), Joe Grass (pedal steel, guitar, banjo), Zack Lober (bass), Eric Doob (drums)
“The Jack Pine”
Ernesto Cervini - Joy
Drummer Ernesto Cervini’s album, “Joy,” was inspired by Louise Penny’s Gamache series' of books. There were many musicians on this album across the various songs, including: Felicity Williams, Emilie-Claire Barlow, Amy Cervini, Alex Samaras (vocals), Virginia MacDonald (clarinet), Tara Davidson, Luis Deniz, Kelly Jefferson (saxophones), Jim Lewis (trumpet), William Carn (trombone), Adrean Farrugia (piano), Don Scott (guitar), Dan Fortin, Artie Roth, Rich Brown (bass)
“Surprised by Joy”
Florian Hoefner Trio - Desert Bloom
In June, St. John’s, Newfoundland-based pianist and composer, Florian Hoefner, released his second trio album with Toronto-based Andrew Downing (bass) and Nick Fraser (drums)
“The End of the Tunnel”
Gentiane MG - Walls Made of Glass
In September, Montreal-based pianist and composer Gentiane MG released her third album with her trio, Levi Dover (bass) and Louis-Vincent Hamel (drums).
“Flowers Laugh Without Uttering a Sound”
Gordon Grdina - Pathways
Vancouver-based composer, guitar and oud player, Gordon Grdina released five albums over the last twelve months: “Oddly Enough” – a solo album featuring the music of Tim Berne; “Night’s Quietest Hour” with his group Haram, who interpret classic Arabic repertoire; “Pathways” – a trio album with Mark Helias (bass) and Matthew Shipp (piano); “Boiling Point” – a trio album with Matt Mitchell (piano) and Jim Black (drums); and “Gordon Grdina’s The Twain” – the self-titled debut album with a band that includes Michiyo Yagi (electric 21-string koto, 17-string bass koto, electronics), Tamaya Honda (drums, percussion), Kōichi Makigami (voice, Theremin, Jew’s harp, cornet, shakuhachi)
Jessica Ackerley (under the band name MAW, with Frank Meadows and Eli Wallace) - A Maneuver Within
The 2021 album “Morning/mourning” was my introduction to the music of guitarist, composer, visual artist Jessica Ackerley. You can learn a little more about Jessica, who grew up in the Calgary metropolitan area, by reading the following article published by Bandcamp in November 2022:
The article mentions four of Jessica’s 2022 albums (a solo album “Waves;” a duo album “Across the Water” with Patrick Shiroishi (saxophone); the debut album of the avant-garde jazz supergroup, SSWAN [Jessica Ackerley, Patrick Shiroishi (saxophone), Luke Stewart (bass), Chris Williams (trumpet), Jason Nazary (drums)], which released the album “Invisibility is an Unnatural Disaster;” and “A Maneuver Within,” with Frank Meadows (bass) and Eli Wallace (piano) – also known as MAW. A fifth album, “Brooklyn/Kingston,” is a drum and guitar duo album, with drummer Henry Mermer.
This is a live performance by MAW (Meadows, Ackerley, Wallace), Live at the Bushwick Series (2021 in Brooklyn, New York).
Jocelyn Gould - Golden Hour
Jocelyn Gould and her band performed music from “Golden Hour” during the 2022 summer jazz festival in Calgary. This is her second album and expect a new album in 2023 with guitarist Randy Napoleon.
Personnel: Jocelyn Gould (guitar, voice), Jon Gordon (saxophone), Will Bonness (piano), Rodney Whitaker (bass), Quincy Davis (drums)
Joy Lapps - Girl in the Yard
“Girl in the Yard” is the fifth album as a leader for Joy Lapps, and her first with all original music. It pays tribute to the women in her life, who have helped develop her mastery of the steelpan and supported her success in the steelpan movement. The core ensemble on the album includes guitarist Elmer Ferrer, pianist Jeremy Ledbetter, drummer Larnell Lewis, and electric bassist Andrew Stewart.
“Sharifa the Great”
Kate Wyatt - Artifact
Pianist Kate Wyatt has been a mainstay of the Montréal jazz scene for over twenty years. In July, she released her debut album, “Artifact.”
Personnel: Kate Wyatt (piano), Lex French (trumpet), Adrian Vedady (bass) and Jim Doxas (drums).
Laura Anglade & Sam Kirmayer - Venez donc chez moi
Toronto-based vocalist Laura Anglade teamed up with Montreal-based guitarist Sam Kirmayer (and New York-based accordionist Benjamin Rosenblum on two tracks) on this album, an homage to France, where she was born. It features jazz versions of French classics made famous by Maurice Chevalier, Boris Vian, Edith Piaf, and Jacques Brel to name a few.
“Venez donc chez moi”
Luis Deniz - El Tinajon
In May, Cuban-born, Toronto-based saxophonist and composer Luis Deniz released his debut album “El Tinajon,” which reflects influences from his upbringing in Camaguey, Cuba and Florida with his later life move to Canada.
Personnel: Luis Deniz (alto and soprano saxophones, compositions), Rafael Zaldivar (piano, keyboards). Roberto Occhipinti (acoustic bass), Amhed Mitchel (drums, vocals) Adis Galindo (vocals) and Jorge Luis Torres Papiosco (congas, bata drums, minor percussion)
Melissa Stylianou - Dream Dancing
Vocalist Melissa Stylianou’s new project features bass player, Ike Sturm, and guitar player, Gene Bertoncini.
Michael Blake - Combobulate
Michael Blake’s new album, “Combobulate,” features the unique instrumentation of two tubas, trumpet, trombone, saxophone and drums.
Personnel: Michael Blake (saxophones, flute), Steven Bernstein (trumpet), Clark Gayton (trombone), Bob Stewart (tuba), Marcus Rojas (tuba), Allan Mednard (drums)
Matthew Stevens & Walter Smith III - In Common III
Toronto-native, guitarist Matthew Stevens has released three albums with saxophonist Walter Smith III under the project name “In Common.” The third album, “In Common III,” was released in March and features Kris Davis (piano), Dave Holland (bass) and Terri Lyne Carrington (drums).
Rafael Zaldivar - RUMBA
Montreal-based pianist and composer Rafael Zaldivar is joined by numerous guest musicians on his new album, “RUMBA.” The term RUMBA refers to the social gatherings of the black community in Havana, Cuba. At the beginning of the twentieth century, these groups met to celebrate and praise the deceased in ceremonies full of song and dance. RUMBA promotes social interaction, cultural exchange, and the transmission of Africanism, all of which feeds into the sound of this album.
“Dolor de amar” (featuring Kurt Rosenwinkel)
Tania Gill Quartet - Disappearing Curiosities
This is the second album for the Tania Gill Quartet, released more than a decade after the debut album.
Personnel: Tania Gill (piano, synthesizer), Lina Allemano (trumpet), Rob Clutton (bass), Nico Dann (drums)
Below is a video of Tania Gill, Rob Clutton and Nico Dann performing songs from the album in concert:
Seamus Blake - New York Factor, Vol. 1
Saxophonist Seamus Blake is currently based in the Netherlands. His new album features some of his long time New York-based collaborators: Bill Stewart (drums), Alexander Claffy (bass), David Kikoski (piano) and Victor Lewis (drums).
“Points of a Star”
The Ostara Project - The Ostara Project
The Ostara Project is a Canadian jazz supergroup, co-led by Amanda Tosoff and Jodi Proznick. Their debut album featured the following personnel: Amanda Tosoff (piano), Jodi Proznick (bass), Rachel Therrien (trumpet), Allison Au (saxophone), Joanna Majoko (voice), Sanah Kadoura (drums), Jocelyn Gould (guitar).
“Bye Bye Blackbird” (arranged by Joanna Majoko)
Tommy Crane - We’re All Improvisers Now
Tommy Crane is a composer, drummer and percussionist, who divides his time between New York and Montreal. After he returned home to Montreal from Italy (where he was teaching drums and improv classes at Siena Jazz Institute) in mid-March 2020, he began putting his energy into writing and recording a new album in his apartment.
Personnel: Tommy Crane (compositions, drums, cymbals, sensory percussion, percussion, glockenspiel, synth bass, vocals, plus others). Guests include: Pietro Amato (French horn), Simon Angell (guitar, space guitar), Jordan Brooks (electric bass), Charlotte Greve (alto saxophone), Logan Richardson (alto saxophone), Chris Speed (clarinet)
This blog advocates for Canadian artists and their music. In addition to the artists listed above, there were many more Canadian artists with new releases over the last twelve months. Have a listen to the music from these artists below (in alphabetical order):Aaron Dolman, Sarah Rossy, Eugenie Jobin “Are You Here to Help?”
Adams, Dunn & Haas “Future Moons”