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Singer/pianist Fern Lindzon at T.O. jazz fest

Tags: Arts
Fern Lindzon

TORONTO — It has been a banner year for Fern Lindzon. Just off a Juno Award nomination for her CD Two Kites, the jazz singer and pianist is performing at three shows at this year’s Toronto Jazz Festival.

The Toronto singer’s first date is as a quartet in a free outdoor concert at the Shops at Don Mills at 2 p.m. on June 23. She’ll be performing with Bill McBirnie on flute, Mark Segger on drums and bassist George Koller, who played on and produced Two Kites.

“Bill McBirnie is a breathtaking flautist. It is always fun to feature Bill,” Lindzon says.

“It is going to be in the afternoon. It will be more up-tempo and light… with more Brazilian music because Bill is phenomenal at playing it. We’ll also be playing some fun standards… some Thelonious Monk.”

On June 24, she’ll be at Chalkers Pub at 8 p.m. with Mike McClennan on bass and David French on sax. The evening will include longer solos, more instrumentals and a few more ballads.

She performs as a duo with bassist McClennan at Musideum on June 28 at 8 p.m. “It is a fantastic venue. It is like a living room that seats 30 people,” she says.

“Mike and I have been playing together for some time now – he has a beautiful feel. We have a really nice rapport.  I want the concert to feel like an intimate conversation between, Mike, me and the audience.”

Lindzon’s repertoire includes jazz standards, Brazilian melodies, klezmer instrumentals, Yiddish arts songs and her own compositions and arrangements, including some Yiddish and Hebrew that she’s incorporated into a contemporary jazz context.

At all the performances, Lindzon will play excerpts from both her first CD, Moments Like These, and Two Kites, as well as new material.

Audiences will be treated to the title track from Two Kites, a rarely heard English tune written by Brazilian Antonio Carols Jobim, which she says is a wacky tune with a fun set of lyrics.

Lindzon also plans to include an arrangement of the Yiddish folk tune, Dona, Dona, inspired by a sonata by composer Nikolai Medtner and Hang Gliding by New York-based composer and big-band leader Maria Schneider. Hang Gliding is in an unusual time signature, and that’s the same timing that Lindzon decided on to perform Dona, Dona.

She will perform Rodger and Hart’s My Romance and has composed a tongue-in-cheek verse that she calls Moon in the Sky, which she sings as a scat. Another favourite of hers is Basin Street Blues, which she has put her own spin on by changing the harmony, making it reminiscent of a steamy, sultry stroll down Basin Street.

Lindzon was the music director of the klezmer-swing act Sisters of Sheynville, and appeared at world music events in Canada, the United States and Poland. The Sisters won the Canadian Folk Music Award in 2008 for vocal group of the year.

Lindzon was commissioned to compose a jazz/klezmer original score for a sextet for Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Bell Lightbox in 2010. She will perform the Keaton movie music as part of a trio and speak about it at this year’s Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto over the Labour Day weekend.

For more information on Fern Lindzon visit www.fernlindzon.com. For the complete Toronto Jazz Festival lineup – the festival runs June 22 to July 1 – go online to www.tojazz.com.

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