June 19th, 2018

Jazz Picks: An award winner and a swinging good time

By Medicine Hat News on June 8, 2018.

Allison Au Quartet: “Forest Grove”
Alex Pangman: “New”

With just a week left until JazzFest begins, people are making their plans, picking up their passes and charting out the artists they don’t want to miss throughout the week. Feedback from provincial media is that the line-up for the Medicine Hat JazzFest is impressive and people from around the province are making plans to attend.

Two more artists from that line-up are being featured this week.

Juno Award-winning Allison Au and her quartet are on a cross-Canada tour that takes them from their home in Toronto to festivals as far west as Vancouver and Victoria.

Born to a Chinese father and Jewish mother, and raised in Toronto, Au was attracted to the freedom of jazz at an early age. Au has established a classic alto saxophone tone, expressive and filled with passion and nuance. Her sound is reminiscent of a Phil Woods or PJ Perry as she hops effortlessly through a bebop tune. She can then slip into a very contemporary, free-flowing mode that reflects her youth and contemporary vision of the eclectic world of jazz, and the sound of her saxophone reflects that mood change.

This is a well-rehearsed quartet, with a solid integration and connection that only comes from years of playing together. Medicine Hat audiences will recognize her bass player Dan Fortin who was here in 2017 with his very fine group Myrid 3.

The Allison Au Quartet represents everything good about contemporary Canadian jazz. Music solidly rooted in jazz, with an ear to the broad musical world around them, a clear voice and vision, interesting and creative compositions skillfully woven and delivered in a package that is engaging and timeless.

The Allison Au Quartet performs Monday, June 18, at 9 p.m. in the Esplanade Studio Theatre.

Alex Pangman is no stranger to Medicine Hat audiences. Pangman has performed here several times over the years. This year she is back to spin out the tunes for this year’s swing dance. Alex is joining forces with some of Calgary’s finest players including bassist Jason Valleau, Mark Limacher on piano, Jon May on drums and Cedric Blary (also with The Bow Djangos) on clarinet.

The swing dance was an immediate hit at last year’s JazzFest, jumping on the swing dance revival that has swept North America. Medicine Hat has its own swing dance club and members of that organization will be teaching lessons the afternoon of the dance to anyone with a pass or ticket to the dance. Visitors are expected from the swing dance clubs of surrounding cities as the dance floor is filled with a mixture of beginners to more advanced dancers. It is a highly energetic dance form, and it is easy to see why it is once again growing in popularity.

Pangman is a strong proponent of swing dance. This Toronto native specializes in music from the 1930s, is an active swing dancer, and delivers this music as authentically as is possible.

Alex Pangman appears at JazzFest on Saturday, June 23, in the Murano room (main floor) of the Beveridge Landmark Events. Lessons take place at 2 p.m. and the dance begins at 9 p.m.

There are lots of ways to connect with JazzFest. The website at medicinehatjazzfest.com has all of the information about the artists as well as daily schedules, links to sound and video files and a downloadable brochure.  Follow JazzFest on Twitter and Instagram at @medhatjazz.

You can also follow the Facebook page and join the Facebook group by searching Medicine Hat JazzFest and keep up on all video content on the YouTube channel.

Brochures can be found all over town, at coffee shops, the Esplanade, the Tourist Centre and the Public Library. They will be in the Medicine Hat News as well.

Tickets and passes are available at all Esplanade ticket outlets including tixx.ca.

Lyle Rebbeck is producer of Medicine Hat JazzFest.

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