This Sunday from 8-9 a.m., it’s another edition of Arts Toronto with your host Mark Wigmore on Jazz FM91
Benny Green is a world renowned Hard Bop pianist and music educator. He started in the classical world, but found jazz through his father, Bert, who shared his deep love and feelings towards the genre with Benny at an early age. By the time Benny was 20, he was on his way, playing with major names like Benny Carter, Freddy Hubbard, Ray Brown, and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Benny’s talent and enthusiasm for jazz elevated him to leader status by the late 1980s; he has nearly 20 recordings in his current catalog. His work as a sideman continued as well, collaborating in recent years with Houston Person, Diana Krall and John Pizzarelli.
Top Left: Benny Green Trio with Christian McBride & Carl Allen (1990)
He also embarked upon a serious musical relationship with Oscar Peterson in the 1990s. In 1993, Oscar chose Benny as the first recipient of the City of Toronto’s Glen Gould International Protégé Prize in Music. That culminated in the 1998 recording, Oscar & Benny. Since those remarkable times, Benny has remained loyal to the Oscar legacy, taking part in Oscar Peterson inspired concerts, the Oscar With Love recording project, and now, the inaugural Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival in Niagara. Benny will perform with an all-star group on Friday February 16th at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. Benny speaks to Mark Wigmore from his home in Ann Arbor Michigan.
Above: Benny Green & Oscar Peterson
And, Kellylee Evans received welcome news this week. A 2018 Juno nomination for her new soul/jazz/pop album Come On. The Toronto-born Ottawa native has enjoyed major success during her career, including runner-up at the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition, and a Juno Award win for her 2010 record Nina, which paid tribute to the late great Nina Simone. But life got a little rocky a couple years ago when Kelly suffered several serious accidents, including being struck by lightning in 2013. Her future as an artist was uncertain, but her comeback with Come On has been inspired. On Monday February 12th, Kellylee will perform at the Old Mill Inn in Toronto as part of Jazz FM91’s Sound of Jazz Concert series. Kellylee speaks to Garvia Bailey from her home in Ottawa.
And Pianist Robi Botos is back with his new funk-infused record, Old Soul. His previous effort was the great, Movin Forward, which went on to win Jazz Album of the Year at the Juno Awards. This new effort sees a sonic adventure, delving into jazz, funk, soul, gospel and classical music. He also plays on a number of different instruments including the Harpejji, which he was inspired to learn and incorporate into his sound by Stevie Wonder. On Old Soul, Robi is joined by some familiar faces such as longtime collaborators Mike Downes on bass and Larnell Lewis on drums, as well as Seamus Blake on saxophone. Feature players include heavyweights Cory Henry from Snarky Puppy and Bruce Springsteen fame, on the Hammond B3. Ingrid Jensen is on trumpet, and Lionel Loueke (Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, Wayne Shorter) on guitar. Robi celebrated Old Soul with a sold out three-night stint at The Jazz Bistro. He now sets his sights on another big live event: The Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival. Robi will join an all-star group on Sunday February 18th at Stratus Vineyards in Niagara on the Lake. Robi speaks to Mark Wigmore in the Jazz FM91 studios.