Gift of jazz reviews

With song, dance and storytelling, audiences of all ages and especially students have been guided through the importance of Canada’s history and culture….

“For the past 14 years it has been my pleasure to be a part of Odyssey Showcase’s productions. I wholeheartedly feel that their productions are icons of priceless educational and entertainment value. My name is Darin Kyle. I am the first Canadian World Tap Dance Champion. I am a keynote speaker and local “community building” activist in Ottawa. My roots in this city run deep. And I have deep respect for how Deborah Davis, her crew and her cast have made an impact on the lives of students. With song, dance and storytelling, audiences of all ages and especially students have been guided through the importance of Canada’s history and culture. Odyssey Showcase is devoted to finding the right talent to do the job and does it extraordinarily well. It is my opinion that if given the opportunity to back the Canada Speaks project, then the only course of action is to throw all of your support behind the initiative and ride the subsequent wave of success. Speaking from experience, it will be a partnership built on mutually assured success. I welcome you to experience this partnership for yourself.” Darin David Kyle

Most of all, Deborah is one of those rare individuals that encompasses musical talent with a deep sense of purpose….

“Deborah Davis is someone people respect and admire with great affection. Partly, because of the incredible energy she is prepared to devote to what she believes in, but even more, it is because that is how she feels about all of them. Cast and crew, sponsors, teachers, children, students and everyone associated with anything Deborah touches all support her because she brings to life in ways others can only dream of, so much that is moving, beautiful, inspiring and, quite simply, the best in us. Deborah brings people together through the arts.” “…Most of all, Deborah is one of those rare individuals that encompasses musical talent with a deep sense of purpose. Her strong beliefs in supporting Canadian culture have given her a “raison d’être” She is very generous with sharing a stage with all performers and unwavering in getting the best quality to any project she initiates. My association as musical director for her many endeavors has been a great journey that goes back twenty years including projects such as A Musical Taste of our Canadian Heritage, Satin Dolls, What is this Thing called Jazz, Choonga Changa and various other musical performances. I would be remiss if I did not mention her generosity to bring out and personally pay for hundreds of economically disadvantaged local children over the past nineteen years to have the opportunity to see the productions……Deborah is very deserving and long overdue for any awards in the arts.” Peter Beaudoin, Musical Director and Musician About Peter: Peter has over thirty years of experience as a musician, drummer and band leader. He has also completed nine Canadian Forces world show tours, to Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Dubai. He has had an impressive career as a respected and well sought after performer and recording musician with numerous world class Canadian and international artists including Harry Chapin, Petula Clark, Rita Coolidge and Rob McConnell (Boss Brass) to name a few. Peter has been working with Deborah Davis since 1997 on a number of projects as Musical Director includingSatin Dolls, What is this Thing Called Jazz, Canada Roars and the Canadian Musical Odyssey Ensemble. Peter Beaudoin

It is always wonderful to witness tribute to an American art form because doing so tips a hat to all of the diversity that contributes to its creation…. Canada’s history and culture….

“It is always wonderful to witness tribute to an American art form because doing so tips a hat to all of the diversity that contributes to its creation. The American experiment, at its very core is a testament to the involvement of so many cultures and backgrounds and the blessings that emerge. Jazz is an American treasure, a Gift given by its people to the world, musically and rhythmically depicting its pain, joy, energy, youthfulness, recklessness and wonder. This is clearly seen in the presentation by Deborah Davis’ Gift of Jazz, chronicling the birth, resurrection and deployment of this art form on the world stage. At the core of this performance we see and feel the soul of the African Diaspora. We hear the agony of the middle passage and hope of a people newly freed from bondage. As the scenery and century turns and America begins to flex we witness the influences of the European classics and modernity on the presentation of jazz into the mainstream of culture. The ‘Gift’ presentation gives homage to the great performers of Bessie Smith, Louis ‘Satchmo‘ Armstrong, Fats Waller and many more. All of the ‘Gift’ performers and musicians are dedicated artisans and lovers of both the arts and their professionalism is evident in this performance. It is very clear the Deborah Davis and Segue to Jazz has a winner in the ‘Gift of Jazz’ as she continues to share this with the Greater Ottawa Community. When presented again it is a must see.” Michael Curtis Hanna About Michael: Michael was blessed with the unique life experience of living in a community with Sarah Vaughn, Al Hibler, Thad Jones, Nat Adderly and a host of noted musicians around the corner from his home. Born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in Teaneck, New Jersey he was immersed in much of the changing musical landscape of the past 50 years. Finding Jesus and Gospel music Michael sang in church choirs from Detroit to Ottawa. As a solo vocalist, Michael toured with and for his father, the late Sir Roland Hanna in the United States and Japan. Having a fondness for male vocal harmony, Michael nurtured this love of singing with male a cappella groups including the Canadian Men’s Chorus of Toronto. Michael currently manages Rahanna Music Inc., and has developed over 300 compositions of Sir Roland Hanna. He can also be found on several CD’s in addition to performing in Ottawa and abroad. Michael Hanna

Odyssey Showcases Ultimate Valentine to Jazz

Jazz music has certainly created enough romantic standards to slip into when making a Valentine’s Day playlist for that candle lit dinner with your sweetheart. Ella and Louis singing “Cheek to Cheek”, Miles soothing horn on “Stella by Starlight”, the sensual crooning of Holiday singing “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love)” and, of course, sorrowful Chet and his funny Valentine. When you dip your toe into the vast ocean of jazz and you’re looking for love, the waters you wade into make for a fine history lesson in the music of romance. On this day, however, where lights were being dimmed, chocolates unwrapped and everyone appeared to be walking around with a bouquet of roses, the Odyssey Showcase went even deeper into those waters. Be you an aficionado of the genre or curious about its roots, The Gift of Jazz: From Africa to New Orleans to the True North Strong and Free was a show with a lot to love on a day devoted to that very sentiment. It was a trip through the decades at the National Gallery only this time it wasn’t via the artwork on the walls. From the cotton fields to the church pews where the glorious gospel of “Amazing Grace” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” rang out to the heavens, the beginnings of jazz in the hands (and voices) of Michael Curtis Hanna and Deborah Davis was, well, just heavenly! Early on, however, we were shown that even in its hymnary beginnings, the seeds of jazz could still swing. That church transformed into a jumping joint in New Orleans when those saints came marching in and then continued that march right on into rag-time as Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” provided an interlude before the Roaring Twenties had Hanna busting out his best Louis Armstrong. “Basin Street Blues” and “Birth of the Blues” had this reviewer picturing a smoky nightclub somewhere ‘round midnight where the sound of a trumpet carried all the way down the Main where it seemed like even the street lights were swaying. Before things wound down too much, the chica, chica boom made famous by Carmen Miranda bought out World Tap Dancing Champion Darin Kyle and equally impressive Bernadette Bélanger. Each time one, the other and especially both took the stage it wowed the audience. Some in the crowd couldn’t sit any longer and found being upright and boppin’ was the best way to be. The first act contained a stunning tribute to jazz music’s Satin Dolls. Women like Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald and Bessie Smith received a fitting homage in the vocals of Davis and Sheril Shaw. Interspersed between the music was the history with Canadian Olympic Hurdler Sekou Kaba serving as the show’s narrator, explaining the context of the chosen songs and their place in the legacy of jazz. Actors helped accentuate this via their portrayals of historical figures in and outside of the music. Darin Kyle’s Booker T. Washington, Tifanni Kenny’s Harriet Tubman and Simone Shepherd’s Viola Desmond were particular standouts. Other guests for the evening included CTV News Anchor Stefan Keyes and Poet Laureate Jamaal Jackson Rogers. Of course, you can’t have jazz without a band that can kick it up to 11 as much as they can tug on your heart strings with a slowed down groove. René Lavoie took care of that business on the sax with Ed Bimm on the piano, Ken Kanwisher strumming the upright bass and Gino Scaffidi on Electric Guitar. Yet, it just might be the band’s musical director and drummer, Peter Baudoin, who stole the show. As the second set reached a crescendo on “Sing Sing”, out strolled fancy footed Kyle again. What proceeded was an all-out tap dancing verses drumming battle that nearly set of the fire alarms. Ohhhhh yeah, it was that hot! Beaudoin slammed the skins as fast as Kyle’s feet could carry him with no clear winner in the musical dual (but us the audience, of course). It all led into a jubilant medley of Motown that got us dancing in our seats. So, while this Valentine’s Day was sure to bring sweet delectables, floral buffets and, I’m sure, something gold, diamond and glistening for some, this music lover was more than content with what Odyssey Showcase gave me to unwrap: The Gift of Jazz. Earth to Andre 2019 review

As a 6th grade teacher, I see The Gift of Jazz” as an educational “gift” for all junior-senior level students….

“The Gift of Jazz celebrates the profound impact and diversity of black culture and history and portrays a musical story-telling of the contributions of African Americans in the development of music. The Gift of Jazz is engaging, dynamic….and a must see for both families and school groups. As a parent of an 9 year old and 14 year old, I can honestly say they were both fascinated by the production. Afterwards we engaged in wonderful discussions about the lives of African Americans, civil rights, and how mood and experience contributed to the development of different genres of jazz. As a 6th grade teacher, I see The Gift of Jazz” as an educational “gift” for all junior-senior level students. With the wealth of social justice and curricular connections the production provides, it’s the perfect support addition to support Black History Month. Naomi Ventura, Hazel McCallion Sr. P.S.

My guests and I enjoyed every song, the singers, the dancers, the actors and speaking notes that framed and contextualized the songs….

“…My guests and I enjoyed every song, the singers, the dancers, the actors and speaking notes that framed and contextualized the songs. . . . the backdrops and slides, the Band, lighting, choreography, sound levels – all fabulous! A Terrific show. . . . . it should be repeated each year, and on more than one evening. . . with students invited from every high school in town, to learn something about Black music and history…” Floralove Katz

The music lively, the band flawless and the performers kept the audience entertained throughout….

“This is our second year attending performances by Deborah Davis and Odyssey Showcase, and we loved every minute of it. The music lively, the band flawless and the performers kept the audience entertained throughout. This year’s “Gift of Jazz” featured a wonderful selection of amazing songs from the greatest jazz singers of the past century….Deborah, Stefan Keyes, Michael C. Hanna and tap dancer Darin Kyle kept the energy level high, with the audience bouncing to the beat of their songs throughout. There wasn’t a lull in the performance from start to finish. The quality of the music, the dancing and the singing were inspirational.” Anna Rubinstein

Spectacular show!….

”Spectacular show! We were treated to an absolutely stunning evening – both visually and musically, from period costumes to amazing, strong, powerful vocals from Deborah, Michael, and Stefan!!! ….From Africa to present day….a story well told through music. Congratulations to TD and all the members of The Gift of Jazz.” Raffi Marks

The Gift of Jazz is an experience that perfectly captures the eclectic journey in North American musical evolution.

“The Gift of Jazz is an experience that perfectly captures the eclectic journey in North American musical evolution. The diverse team are professionals dedicated to disseminating the immense beauty and joy that jazz offers the spirit! It is a privilege to create with this production, and I anticipate to every stage that we have the opportunity to share the story and wonder of jazz.”
Jamall Jackson Rogers (Just Jamaal)
Just Jamaal YouTube Link
About Jamaal : Jamaal Jackson Rogers is an award winning poet, hiphop artists, arts educator, and creative entrepreneur. He is currently Ottawa’s English Poet Laureate and has brought his work to audiences nationally and abroad. His defining moments are when he makes intimate connections with his participants during his performances and workshop exchanges.

His topics range from emotional maturity to social justice, from the struggles of everyday living to the human condition. He is a father of five and resides in Ottawa, Canada, using the nation’s capital and his performance studio, THE ORIGIN ARTS & COMMUNITY CENTRE, as his launch pad to practice, teach, mentor and advocate for the arts.
Jamaal Jackson Rogers

 
Special Thanks to TD Bank for its support of these presentations.
All photos by Alan Dean Photography, photolafontaine and Stephen Willcock with permission.
Thank you to the Government of Canada’s Celebration and Commemoration Program for financially supporting the presentation of the War of 1812 and our tribute to The First World War.
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