New Toronto jazz collective She’s Funny That Way gives modern updates to jazz classics by inspiring women

The new Toronto jazz collective She’s Funny That Way is striving to encourage and exemplify diversity and modernity in jazz with their contemporary takes on classic standards.

The vocal trio features the talents of Joanna Majoko, Alisa Kanda Kovac and Alisha Oliver. Together, they’re paying homage to women in jazz by reimagining a collection songs for the 21st century with updated lyrics and arrangements but a suitably retro style.

“She’s Funny That Way strives to carve a space in the arts community for minority groups to encourage inclusivity and positive change in Toronto’s music scene through leading by example, and normalizing collectives composed of artists from all backgrounds,” the group writes in their mission statement. “SFTW aims to reinforce the cultural significance of women in jazz by paying homage to female jazz artists who are often overlooked in modern day jazz education and the music industry at large.”

She’s Funny That Way’s debut EP Baby This, Baby That! features five jazz standards inspired by historical recordings performed by women including Julie London, the Andrews Sisters and the McGuire Sisters.

Baby This, Baby That! was recorded live off the floor at Union Sound Company in Toronto with a combination of experienced and up-and-coming artists and engineers in Toronto.

The recording showcases Majoko, Kovac and Oliver in wonderful three-part harmony, backed by pianist Elliot Jarmain, bassist Erik Larson, drummer Jon Catanus. It also has guest performances by saxophonist Jesse Ryan, clarinetist Virginia MacDonald and vocalist Donovan Locke.

Last year, Joanna Majoko released her solo debut No Holding Back and won the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Emerging Jazz Artist Award.

In 2015, while studying at Humber College, Alisha Oliver won the CNIB Scholarship, distributed by JAZZ.FM91 in memory of Jeff Healey. She released an EP titled Me Against You in 2018.

Alisa Kanda Kovac is a singer-songwriter who also records under the name Sakako.

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Here’s the track listing:

  1. Daddy
  2. Is You Is (or Is You Ain’t My Baby)
  3. Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)
  4. McGuire Sisters Medley
  5. Bye Bye Blackbird

She’s Funny That Way’s Baby This, Baby That! EP is available now.