book love: the jazz piano book // 10


Welcome to the 10th instalment of Book Love: a series in which I tell you all about the resources, guides, and inspirational books that I love. Today’s book is The Jazz Piano Book by Mark Levine.

The Jazz Piano book a cross between a reference book and practice guide. It’s written for jazz pianists (obviously) but every jazz musician I know has a copy. Every chapter is filled with musical examples of theory set within the context of jazz standards. When I have been learning about intervals and modes and other foundational stuff, I have used this book to get the sounds in my ear.


I highly recommend this book for singers, especially those of us who don’t play an instrument like piano or guitar. When I’m writing songs or lifting charts, sometimes I know the sound I want for the harmony of the tune but I’m unclear on what to call it on paper. This book is a great resource for chord function and chord nomenclature.

It also comes with a pianist listening guide, tons of photos of jazz pianists, and lots more unexpected surprises.



That’s it for Book Love // 10. Let me know what you’re reading in the comments. You can check out the last post in the series, The Right To Speak, or see all of my book recommendations on the Book Love index page.

Three upcoming jazz releases I am very excited about // Youn Sun Nah, Marc Cary, and Cécile McLorin Salvant


1. Lento by Youn Sun Nah

Youn Sun Nah is a really interesting vocalist who blurs the lines between jazz, folk, and pop. I just bought her last album, Same Girl, and I was blown away by her poise and sure-footed delivery right from the first track. Lento is already receiving wide-spread praise. The physical CD is slated to come out June 11 and it can be pre-ordered on amazon here. The digital version is available now.

2. For The Love Of Abbey by Marc Cary

In 1994 Marc Cary began his 12-year tenure as Abbey Lincoln’s pianist. Since then he gone on to gain a reputation as a band leader and an exceptionally creative pianist. On June 11 he will be releasing his first solo recording honouring the late Abbey Lincoln and her remarkable songwriting abilities. This album is not yet available for pre-order.

3. WomanChild by Cécile McLorin Salvant

In 2010 Cécile McLorin Salvant was the youngest finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. The vocal TMIJC is my Olympics so I always watch with bated breath. I was really thrilled when I first heard Cécile McLorin Salvant because she brought so much depth and personality to jazz standards. I have greatly enjoyed her only other release and I’m excited to hear her next one when it comes out on May 28th. You can pre-order it in amazon here.

So that’s it for Three upcoming jazz releases that I am very excited about. If you want to stay abreast of upcoming jazz releases then you should be definitely go follow Donna’s blog, Elements of Jazz. She’s is on top of things over there.

I’m coming to Toronto on February 5th!


You asked for it and now you’ve got it. I’m playing in Toronto! Very soon! On Tuesday, February 5th, I’ll be playing at Hugh’s Room as part of Jane Harbury presents Discoveries. I’ll be playing alongside three other emerging artists, The Schotts, Jessica Chase, and Tom Taylor. I know it’s going to be a wonderful evening of music and I’m really looking forward to seeing my Toronto friends and fans. Here are all the show details:

What: Jane Harbury presents Discoveries
Where: Hugh’s Room, 2261 Dundas Street W, Toronto, ON
When: Tuesday, February 5th, performance starts at 8:30pm
Tickets: $15 in advance/ $17 at the door (includes HST)
Reservations: Click to request a reservation or call 416 531 6604

I’m told Hugh’s Room has great food so please come for dinner and make a night of it.

See you then!

CD bundle giveaway: jazz vocalists Amy Cervini, Kellylee Evans, & Nicky Schrire ***closed***


Yay! Thanks to the generosity of three amazing vocalists, I’m giving away a great CD bundle to one lucky reader. The bundle includes Amy Cervini’s Digging Me Digging You, Kellylee Evans’ Nina, and Nicky Schrire’s Freedom Flight.


1. Follow the three singers on facebook or twitter:

Amy Cervini: facebook | twitter
Kellylee Evans: facebook | twitter
Nicky Schrire: facebook | twitter

2. Leave a comment below.

The contest will close at 11:59pm on Tuesday, January 29th and the draw winner will be required to answer a skill testing question.

That’s it! These three wonderful women are all jazz singer friends of mine and I’m so happy that I get the chance to share their music with you. Good luck!


This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Robert B Rucker! Stay tuned for more amazing CD bundle giveaways!

Welcome a new house band to the Saturday Afternoon Jazz Jam at Pressed


The Saturday Afternoon Jazz Jam at Pressed is starting into it’s 9th month of existence, and after 8 months of running it with Craig Pedersen and David Pontello as the house band, it’s time to pass the torch! Starting this Saturday, Karen Rauh and company will be hosting the jam. Karen has been a part of the house band a few times in the past but now she’s taking it over for the next little while. Hooray! Let’s all wish Karen, Adrian, Mark and Allyson a warm welcome.

If you are an Ottawa-based jazz musician (or are visiting from out of town) please check out the jam this Saturday from 2pm to 5pm. Pressed is at 750 Gladstone Avenue and the cover is a sliding scale of $5 to $15. It’s open to players at every level so don’t be shy if it’s your first time!

If you’re still in doubt, just look at how much fun we’ve had at past jams:

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Jazzin’ the Holidays in support of SASC

Jazzin' the Holidays e-cardHappy holidays! On Sunday, December 23rd, I’m going to be teaming up with Elise Letourneau and Nicole Ratté to bring you an afternoon of seasonal classics, beautiful harmonies, and swinging grooves. We will be joined by trumpeter Craig Pedersen, guitarist Tim Bedner, bassist Mark Alcorn, and drummer Marilee Townsend.

100% of the proceeds from this concert will be donated to the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa, so come on out and support a worthy cause! Here are the deets:

What: Jazzin’ the Holidays – a holiday charity concert in support of SASC
When: Sunday, December 23rd, 2012, 2pm
Where: GigSpace, 953 Gladstone Avenue, Ottawa, ON
Tickets: $20, available at the door or by phone at 613-729-0693

Mixtape: Winding Down Before Bed // 05


This week has been completely non-stop and go go go. I embraced that in my last mixtape: Taking Care of Business – a fast-paced mix for running errands in the car and being an all-around biz-lady bad-ass (or BLBA). This week, as the CD release approaches, I feel like I need to spend more time relaxing, unwinding, and preparing my mind and body for an incredible event. That’s why I made Winding Down to Sleep, a mix full of soft, sweet singers who will serenade me to sleep. This mix features Cécile Mclorin-Salvant, Barbra Lica, and Briana Cowlishaw, among others. Enjoy this week’s mix.

1. Two Sleepy People – Silje Nergaard
2. Moody’s Mood For Love – Cécile Mclorin-Salvant
3. P.S. I Love You – Barbra Lica
4. All of You – Mike Tremblay & Mark Ferguson
5. May I Come In? – Amy Cervini
6. A Fine Spring Morning – Blossom Dearie
7. Skylark – Briana Cowlishaw
8. Glad To Be Unhappy – Tierney Sutton
9. Some Other Time – Bill Evans


My Week In Pictures: the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle

It feels like the weeks are whipping by as we get closer and closer to December 7th and the CD release! This week the t-shirts arrived! Now the posters and postcards and printed and are being distributed and the books of sheet music are ready for printing too. It’s coming together… mouahahaha!

But seriously, I can’t wait for this concert. I can’t wait to have those CDs in my hand…

On Monday I went to Le Petit Chicago and saw Curiosity Killed The Quartet, a late night performance and jam hosted by Zak Frantz. If you haven’t checked them out yet, they perform every Monday and it’s definitely worth the visit (after Live Jazz Monday at Mercury Lounge of course!)

On Tuesday Craig and I took the day off. We visited the main branch of the public library and I found an enormous book entitled The Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer. Pretty cool! Inside there was a song about the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle. Definitely my kind of song. Then we went out for coffee and took in a movie. This week we saw the new Bond movie, Skyfall, and it was pretty cool too.

On Wednesday I taught a whole bunch and my Square Card Reader arrived. Now I can take Mastercard and Visa for lessons, tickets, CDs, and pretty much anything else.

On Thursday I went down to GigSpace for the Jazz and Blues Jam and ran into my friends René Gely and David Pontello, as well as lots of other fine Ottawa musicians.

I was a little under the weather on Friday and Saturday so I took it a little easy. I spent a lot of time at home on my computer chugging away at administrative tasks in my pajamas and eating grilled cheese. Not a bad way to spend the work day if you ask me.

I couldn’t stay sick for long though because on Saturday night I had a ticket to see the Brian Browne trio for Brian’s solo CD release at the NAC Fourth Stage. It was a completely sold out show and everyone was clearing having a great time. (I hope Mark and I can sell out our Fourth Stage CD release!) After that I headed over to Pressed to see the Craig Pedersen Quartet winding up their mini-tour. Unfortunately I missed the opening set by Jeff Morton, but I heard it was great.

On Sunday Craig and I did a small duo performance (bass and voice) at the Herb and Spice on Wellington. This was my first show in a grocery store and it was a bit funny at first (and really chilly!) but the shoppers seemed to really like it and I even sold some tickets to my CD release.

So that’s it for this week! For more photos updated throughout the week, follow me on instagram.

My next performance is tonight, Monday, November 26th at the Mercury Lounge for Live Jazz Monday – 9pm to 11pm, no cover. See you there!

Mixtape: Taking Care of Business // 04


It’s crunch time! Today I visit Merriam Print to pick up my postcard flyers and posters for the Here We Go Again CD release and I’ll be spending this morning running around Ottawa putting them up in local businesses. There’s less than four weeks to go until the release so I have a feeling I’m going to be to taking care of a lot of business between now and December 7th. That’s why this week’s mixtape has fast jazz, funk, and boogaloo featuring Horace Silver, Jamie Cullum, and Esperanza Spalding – perfect for a morning of running errands and taking care of business.

1. Finger Poppin’ – Horace Silver
2. Big Boogaloo – Eric Legnini Trio
3. I Get A Kick Out Of You – Jamie Cullum
4. I Can’t Help It – Esperanza Spalding
5. Prime Directive – Dave Holland
6. Obsessed – Maria Neckam
7. Blue Heaven – Dave Douglas
8. As Long As You’re Living – Cyrille Aimée
9. The Beat Goes On – Buddy Rich


Mixtape: Gershwin Gershwin Gershwin // 03


I’ve got Gershwin on the brain lately! This Saturday, November 10th at Knox Presbyterian Church, I’ll be performing a tribute to George Gershwin. To get inspiration for this concert I’ve spent a lot of time listening to songs like They All Laughed, Our Love is Here To Stay, and Isn’t It A Pity recorded by some of my favourite vocalists like Mark Murphy, Stacey Kent, and Carmen McRae. This mix contains the best of all the Gershwin tunes I’ve been listening to lately.

1. Love Is Here To Stay – Mark Murphy
2. Isn’t It A Pity – Stacey Kent
3. They All Laughed – Chet Baker
4. But Not For Me – Giacomo Gates
5. It Ain’t Necessarily So – Herbie Hancock
6. Porgy, I’s Your Woman Now / I Loves You Porgy – Roberta Gambarini
7. The Man I Love – Herbie Hancock
8. Nice Work If You Can Get It – Carmen McRae
9. Summertime – The 3 Sounds


If you’re interested in checking out the concert, tickets are $20 or $15 for students and seniors. Click here for all the information.