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TIFF18 Scrapbook
#tiff18 memories#TIFF2018, we hardly knew ye. It seems like barely two weeks ago that I picked up my media ID and it was off to the races. (It actually was two weeks ago, lol.) Here are the pics, the schedule, and the pieces I wrote for the Toronto International Film Festival 2018.TIFF takes over King StreetDay 1- pick up press pass- cocktail party at Le Milagro hosted by the Toronto Film Critics AssociationTIFF Street Theatre- gossip with other journosDay 2- brunch with the TIFF people - lovely, lovely peopleTIFF CEO Piers Handling says good-bye to the media (he's stepping down)Day 3- screening - Fig TreeThe media herd heading for a screening at the Scotiabank Place Cinemas- screening - Lionheart- cocktail party with Documentary DirectorsVarda Filmmaker's Lounge- gossip - meet Naziha Arebi - decide to add Freedom Fields to the list- interview with Ng'endo MukiiDay 4- screening - Freedom Fields- screening - FarmingThe cast of Farming at the World Premiere at TIFF Sept 2018Day 5- interview - Aalam-Warqe Davidian at Le Germain Hotel (Fig Tree)- second interview postponed by email- third interview - Tom Volf at Dineen Cafe - about Maria by Callas- fourth interview - Jahmil X.T. Qubeka at 401 Richmond (Sew The Winter To My Skin)Day 6- Everything is cancelled and rearrangedDay 7- Interview Stephane Bak at TIFF Bell Lightbox (Mercy of the Jungle)- Interview Naziha Arebi & Fadwa - Intercontinental Hotel (Freedom Fields)Day 8 - Screening - Sew The Winter To My SkinTIFF Bell Lightbox MadnessAlso: checking email and text messages every half hour, every day, because things change and change...And Toronto is so pretty when there's a Festival in town.Now, all that's left is the detritus...

Alt Rock Single: Elza - Swayed from the album Nothing's Wrong (Independent/November 2 2018)
Alt Rock Single:Elza - Swayedfrom the album Nothing's Wrong(Independent/November 2. 2018)• Stream the single• Buy it on bandcampSwayed, the new single by Elza, comes in advance of her debut full length release, Nothing's Wrong, slated to drop on November 2, 2018. Her EP, Glories, came out in 2014.The song is striking and original, with a strong and hypnotic rhythmic pulse and a chorus that sticks in your head. She never swayed...Elza's vocals hover above a thick tapestry of guitar rock."As a solo artist I write, compose, arrange and produce all my music. I spent over 2 years working on this album alone, carefully crafting all the arrangements."Russian-born Elza moved to Israel at age 15, where she discovered her musical side singing and playing guitar. She trained at classical piano, along with studying audio engineering and sound design, and says she's inspired by 90s alternative rock. Elza relocated to Vancouver, British Columbia, where she's based now.Her voice is melodic with a sweet side, ranging from fluid to whispery and emotional. Lyrically, she tackles love and relationships with a raw and confessional emotion and poetic expression.The music on the upcoming album could fall under the general umbrella of alt rock, but with a sophisticated and even jazzy sense of phrasing and complex layering of rhythm and melody. Room has a classic anthemic groove and arena rock approach. Tracks like Hollow add elements of electronica and a driving - and danceable - beat. Simple Dreams, on the other hand, is a melancholy melody against acoustic guitar. Elza handles the stylistic changes with aplomb and a nicely assured vocal technique.It's an impressive debut release with both polish and an emotional heart.Tracklist:  1. Moonlight And I 2. Endeavor 3. Swayed 4. Hollow 5. Simple Dreams 6. Nothing's Wrong 7. Stay With Me 8. Room 9. Can't Heal 10. One DayPersonnel: Elza - primary artist - composer, producer, arranger, vocals, keyboards,guitars, programming Stay in touch:

#tiff18 review/interview: Freedom Fields - Directed by Naziha Arebi
#tiff18 review/interview:Freedom FieldsDirected by Naziha Arebi"We've lived many beginnings."So says Fadwa, one of the young women featured in Naziha Arebi's documentary Freedom Fields. It's that ability to keep picking up the pieces to keep going that is highlighted in the movie, which got its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2018.Ever wondered what's been going on in Libya since its "liberation" at the hands of Western jet fighter pilots? British-Libyan director Naziha Arebi's documentary fills in the gaps with her film that looks at the trials and triumphs of a group of women determined to play football - soccer for us North Americans - for their country.Making the movie proved to be just as much a labour of love and perseverance as the making of the women's football team. Naziha shot the footage over a four year period between 2012 and 2016.In the beginning, there are dizzying street scenes - the rush of optimism that came with the revolution and assassination of Ghaddafi. But then reality sets in. Some scenes have to be shot by candlelight when the power goes out. The army is an ever present shadow, the shells and gunshots ringing out.On the field, we see the competitive spirit come out in the women, who have come from all over the country to pursue their impossible dream. Determination, will, strength - it's their pre-game chant. Finally, they seem to be getting somewhere, and their first international meet is set up under the auspices of the national football association.But...two years after the Revolution, the religious right has taken over. Then some ultra-conservative clerics get involved, and preach against the idea of a women's team. A Facebook page is set up in opposition to the team, and to their dismay, the football authorities crumble, and cancel the team's match.Arebi provides the cinematography as well as directing the movie. The camera is intimate, giving us the real impression of being let inside the lives of these women. We ride with them in the car, and pace anxiously on the sidelines as they play. Her aesthetic is poetic and artistic, finding beauty in the blur of streetlights, and poignancy in shots of little boys who play ball without a care.We see the women in their everyday lives, and the pressures they - and their families - face. Their own brothers weigh in on the situation. The frustration at seeing their lives always subject to patriarchal approval is clear, even as they clearly also still see themselves as part of the same society. Why can't girls play? they ask - particularly when other strictly observant Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia already have women's football teams. The barrier is cultural, not really related to Islam at all."Everyone hates us in this country," one of the women says ruefully.Is the story over? Not for this group. Four years after the Revolution, the team picks up steam again as they push for a match without Football Federation approval.After growing up with her mother in the UK, Naziha moved to Libya to live with her father. "I became obsessed with my own Libyan identity," she says. Her father, and then she too, became involved with the Arab Spring uprising.Not long after that, she recalls hearing about this mysterious women's football team. "It was a team no one had seen," she laughs. "I found them...after some time." Naziha was writing already, and soon developed a friendly relationship with the nascent team. "They were fun to be around," she says. "The story was constantly changing."At that point, in 2013, Naziha thought the story was finished. But, the optimism and grit of the team made her hang on with them. "At that point, that's where the movie goes into their personal lives," she notes.Fadwa is one of the players featured in the movie, and she made the trip to Toronto with Naziha - the only one of the players who could in view of the current unstable conditions back home. "I played football since I was really young. When you are little, you play outside with the boys," she recalls. At a certain point, however, little girls are separated from the play. "They want you to go inside." She heard about the women's team and knew she had to join them.Fadwa dealt with the pressure from the religious fundamentalists on a personal level. "The whole community was against it," she says. She was determined to plow on regardless. "If you allow them to have an opinion, they will state it.""It's a cultural thing," Naziha says, pointing out that, in contrast to the official government opposition, there were many individuals, men and women, who helped the team along the way, including coaches and the man who let them use his field.In the end, the team chose to disconnect from the Football Federation and form an NGO dedicated to opening up the world of sport for young girls."It's education, working on the next generation," Naziha says."At the beginning, all we wanted to do is play," says Fadwa. "We gained from it in all sorts of ways. It can change girls lives." She recalls recently visiting a school to work with the girls. "We were surprised that some girls don't even know how to run."The benefits of sports education are many and well documented. "You can own your own body, your own space," Naziha says. She also notes the still turbulent conditions of Libya today. "Giving people a release is important. This generation needs it."Play on, sisters, play on.If you're in the UK, the movie screens next at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2018.• Buy Tickets  

Get ready for the return of Chicago House: Matt Warren - Music Is My Life (Wake Up! Music/Oct 15, 2018)
Get ready for the return of Chicago House:Matt Warren - Music Is My Life(Wake Up! Music/Oct 15, 2018)• Stream/DownloadAre you ready for Nu-House?Matt Warren is one of the pioneers of Chicago House, and he's making a return to the spotlight with his new album set to drop October 15, 2018. You'll find your dancing shoes grooving to beats influenced by the last few decades of electronic dance music, from the days of disco to 90s radio pop.Matt has been a DJ for forty years, and a producer since 1984, when he released his debut single Rock The Nation. He cofounded Sunset Records in 1985, which released several house classics, leaving to found AKA Dance Music on his own in 1987. The first single that AKA Dance Music released was Bang The Box, which sold over 50,000 copies in the US and is seen by many as the first hard house track.Since the end of AKA Dance Music, Matt Warren continued to DJ all over the world, and produce new music and remix tracks by some of the biggest names in music. On this release, he's got help from gospel singer  Jan McGee, flamenca Elena Andujar and house diva Pepper Gomez who plays a starring role on the album. It was Pepper who persuaded him to record his own album.There's a new version of Bang The Box on Music Is My Life, an infectious dance track with a beat that won't leave you alone. Catch Me If You Can is a trip down memory lane to a retro disco beat. In The Dark Storm breaks the mold, an instrumental track of melodic piano that's reflective and introspective, in contrast to the swagger of the rest of the album. La Rosa adds a Latin beat and horn tracks to the relentless beat, with lyrics in Spanish and vocals from flamenca Elena Andujar.How Do I Love Thee is a standout, a love song with a tongue in cheek lyrical bent and a killer trumpet solo that fuels the melody over a thumping beat.Matt has assembled an impressive roster of players to flesh out the music in style. Nu-House or old House, you won't be able to sit down for this release, and it makes the perfect party track.Track List:01 How Do I Love Thee (5:01)02 The Way To My Heart (6:24)03 Catch Me If You Can (Main Mix) (6:27)04 Catch Me If You Can (Disco Mix) (5:48)05 Get On Up (6:21)06 Going Deeper (5:01)07 Musica Es Mi Vida) (5:46)08 Bang The Box (6:50)09 La Rosa (7:18)10 Sometimes (4:04)11 The Dark Storm (6:12)Personnel: Matt Warren: electronic instruments, programming; Pepper Gomez: vocals; Janis McGee: vocals; Elena Andujar: vocals; Ron Haynes: horns; Mike "Champagne" Anderson: guitar; Antone Montgomery: bass; Sharkeyes: electronic instruments, programming; Frank Schabold: bassAdam Kucharzyk: guitar; Richard Meyer, Junior: piano; Wes Nelson: bassStay in touch:

#tiff18 review: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Illuminates the British Black Experience in Farming
#tiff18 review:Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's FarmingWorld PremiereAt the World Premiere of Farming at the Toronto International Film Festival, actor turned director Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje confessed that it had taken him 14 years to bring the story - his own life story - to the screen. In its unflinching portrayal of a life marred by racial and cultural dislocation and a loss of identity, we can only be glad that he persevered.Farming, the movie, isn't the pastoral tale you are probably imagining. The term, incredibly, refers to the practice of Nigerian parents fostering their children to white British parents - a practice that was fairly common in the 1960s. With the best intentions of providing a better life for their kids than they could as struggling immigrants, those children were thrown into a society that looked down on its colonial roots, with often tragic results.In the movie, Adewale plays his own father, Femi, with Nollywood star Genevieve Nnaji taking the role of his mother Tolu. The pair, studying to become lawyers in Britain, can't provide for their son, and feel they are making a positive move. They also pay for the privilege, sending money to the foster mother regularly for the boy's care.Adewale, called Enitan in the movie, and played with a rich intensity by young actor Damson Idris, is sent to live with a working class family who already fosters a gang of Nigerian kids. Kate Beckinsale plays against type as the distinctly unglamourous and working class Ingrid Carpenter. She does have something of a soft spot for the kids, but thinks nothing of getting them all to make fun of their African heritage, or lashing out at them when she's in a bad mood. She's also the first one to teach young Enitan how to get by on the wrong side of the law."You've got to do better if you want to be Mummy's favourite," she admonishes when he's caught stealing a necklace.Clip:An odd and dreamy child, he's rebuffed by Ingrid, and increasingly terrorized by racist gangs who roam the streets, seemingly unchecked by police or anyone else. Once his parents graduate, they bring him to Nigeria, where he doesn't fit in at all. He quickly gets into trouble at school, and is promptly shipped back to Ingrid's home.Enitan is a talented artist, something that is recognized by a friendly teacher at school, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw. "My imagination's my only friend," he tells her.But, in the end, when there is no one to protect him from the constant abuse and humiliation, what can he do...except join the abusers? Horrifyingly, he becomes part of the racist skinhead gang led by Levi. John Dalgiesh does a wonderful job of portraying the sickeningly sociopathic gang leader. Trouble is, Enitan begins to participate in their nightly devilry, including beating up on other Blacks.Damson Idris' strong performance embodies Enitan's rage and pain, resulting in a corrosive self-loathing that subverts it into pure aggression. It makes for some squirmy moments watching, but at least, in this case, we already know there's a happy ending to the story.Director Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje & cast of the film Farming at the Toronto International Film Festival premiereActor turned director Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (The Bourne Identity, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Killer Elite, Suicide Squad, among others,) also wrote the screenplay and acts as executive producer of the project. He is a recognized face to anyone who's watched action movies over the last decade or so. What most people probably don't know, however, is that the accomplished actor with a law degree started out in life very differently.Like Enitan in the movie, Adewale graduated from King's College London with a master's degree in law, and he even patched up his relationship with Ingrid and her husband. Once in a while, the system works, it seems.On this side of the Atlantic, we hear a lot about the North American Black experience. Farming sheds a harsh light on the Black British experience, one with its own set of horrors and peculiarities.Lionsgate UK acquired the UK rights to the film with HanWay Films, meaning you should be able to catch it on a silver screen near you around the world soon.Interview:

Surfer Rock Redux: Laura Paragano - Strange Curses (Independent/September 17, 2018)
Surfer Rock Redux:Laura Paragano - Strange Curses(Independent/September 17, 2018)• Stream/Download the AlbumA mouth from Jersey and a soul from California.That's the tagline for San Francisco based artist Laura Paragano. Strange Curses is her first full-length release, coming after the two-song EP The Tiny Telephone Sessions (April 2018).That surfer rock soul is out in full force on Out for a Surf (natch) with vocals that tip the hat to the richly tremolo'd legacy of Roy Orbison. There's a tough girl credo to I'm Fine, sung with a bittersweet bravado.Laura has the perfect voice for the genre, strident yet expressive, with an edge of melancholy that adds to the intepretation of the songs she's penned. They cover the oft-charted territory of love and loss with a catchy retro groove and golden guitar lines from Linden Evans.""Strange Curses" is a literal record of myself. Although I only started writing the songs for the album two years ago, I've been working on this album for much longer. Every song relates to a particular feeling that has viscerally impacted me. Some are very old feelings, and not putting them to words was burning a hole inside of me. It wasn't until recently that I found the right way and right people to externalize these feelings." (Laura Paragano)The rhythm section of Jerry Miller on bass and Mike Steczo on drums provide a nicely complex texture to the music underneath the driving beat of surfer rock.3/4 slows it down for a classic torchy rock song in waltz time (3/4, get it?) showcasing her vocals and a sexy trumpet line from the singer and multi-instrumentalist. California Dreaming isn't a cover of the song you were thinking of, it's an inventive country rock track.I want to live in the sunlight,Instead of the headlights, out in the rain...Her writing is atmospheric and offers a unique spin on the old cliche about the Sunshine State. A slow, retro rock cover of Bruce Springsteen's I'm On Fire cleverly brings her New Jersey and California influences together in one track.Catchy and illuminated by great playing that feels the music, Strange Curses is definitely replay worthy.Track List:1. Out for a Surf2. I'm Fine3. Can't Give4. 3/45. And You6. California Dreaming7. Sick8. Juliet, Romeo9. I'm on Fire10. Doom / Strange CursesPersonnel:Laura Paragano: Vocals, rhythm guitar, trumpet, harmonica; Linden Evans: Lead guitar; Jerry Miller: Bass; Mike Steczo: DrumsStay in touch: the EP The Tiny Telephone Sessions:

Pure #Nollywood: Lionheart, Directed by Genevieve Nnaji
#tiff18 review:LionheartDirected by Genevieve NnajiNollywood star Genevieve Nnaji steps behind the camera for her directorial debut, Lionheart, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2018.Genevieve Nnaji in Lionheart - image courtesy of TIFFLionheart is a bus company working the southeast of Nigeria, a seemingly successful company that is vying for a new state BRT contract. But, when the company head and patriarch, played by Nollywood veteran Pete Edochie, falls ill, that facade begins to crumble.Genevieve plays Adaeze, the good daughter. She's clearly Dad's favourite employee - serious, dedicated, and disciplined. So she's all the more surprised and disappointed when dear old Dad names his seemingly sketchy brother Godswill - played with comic relish by Nkem Owoh - to take his place.Nkem Owoh & Genevieve Nnaji in Lionheart - image courtesy of TIFFThen, Adaeze discovers that the company has run out of cash and can't pay back hundreds of millions in loans her father has taken out. Can she and Uncle Godswill work together to save the company from ruin?Genevieve has been working in Nigeria's film industry since the age of 8, and the movie, which is co-wrote, served as executive producer, stars in, and directs, is pure Nollywood.Are there wise parents and loving daughters? - CheckIs there at least one big family dinner at a table laden with Nigerian food? - CheckAre there Naija Dad jokes? - CheckWill we see beautifully dressed, made-up, and bejewelled women in lavish interiors? - CheckThe Premiere Q&A:The dialogue is in English and Igbo, and the blend of drama and comedy will please Nollywood fans the world over.Nnaji is a superstar in her native Nigeria, not only a star of about 100 Nollywood movies and TV shows, but also a model, singer, and business woman. She's taken charge of her career in a way that few women have in Nollywood, and she's set her sights high up the food chain.Genevieve Nnaji, Peter Edochie & Nkem Owoh in Lionheart - image courtesy of TIFFThe premiere was enhanced by the recent announcement that the movie had been picked up by Netflix, where it will stream as a Netflix Original Movie - the first African movie to achieve that designation. While the streaming service does offer a handful of other Nollywood and African films, the Netflix Original designation means a higher profile and promotion. Nigerian stars like Richard Mofe-Damijo, Mo Abudu, Uche Jombo, Rita Dominic and Osas Ighodaro expressed their delight with the move on social media.Check it out on Netflix soon.Trailer:

Chill/Downtempo Release: ivoryHaus - ivoryHAUS (Independent/September 14, 2018)
With material from a media release:Chill/Downtempo Release:ivoryHaus - ivoryHAUS(Independent/September 14, 2018)• Stream it on Spotify• Buy it on Bandcamp"I wanted to make an album of chill/downtempo music, so this release was largely inspired by things that mellow me out: hiking, stargazing, and the ocean. Sonically, glitched pianos, analog synthesizers, and hip hop rhythms guide you through the record." - ivoryHAUSivoryHAUS is the alter-ego of Noa Spott, a Philadelphia based multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. A full-time musician, Noa balances his commercial endeavors by composing and recording adventurous solo projects as ivoryHAUS. The eponymous album is his debut full-length release.It's no surprise to find Noa's favourite classical composer is Debussy, with his deceptively simple melodies, and the combination of dissonance and harmony. He studied recording technology in college, which give shim the tools to create his ambient soundscapes.While the instrumental tracks have no official lyrics, they are evocative and tell a story of their own through the music, from the optimism of Orange Sky to the searching of Sweet Dreams, and the sombre sweep of Sadr Region.He creates music that is layered and atmospheric, building and playing with the ebb and flow of intensity. He uses a variety of different approaches from the purely melodic to the stuttered repetition of hip hop and rap, to the spacey dissonance of electronica.Good Morning evokes the swell of the tide and the birds on an ocean stroll with a sense of calm and serenity. Forests is a highlight, opening with quirky noises and a rhythmic beat that segues into jazzy electronic piano and guitar. Searching for Saturn wraps you up in a celestial electronic groove."Since college, I have been interested in contributing and furthering art. Not that what I make is crazy or different, but I want to share music that people can listen to. I think of other mediums like live performances, virtual reality videos, or short films to go along with my albums."Track List1. Orange Sky 2. Sweet Dreams 3. Good Morning 4. Forests 5. Clouds 6. Sadr Region 7. Searching for Saturn 8. AlleviateStay in touch: Dreams

Recently Released RnB: B. Mills - The Life & Times of an Eternal Optimist (Independent/August 31, 2018)
Recently Released:B. Mills - The Life & Times of an Eternal Optimist(Independent/August 31, 2018)• Stream it on SpotifySinger/songwriter/producer B. Mills brings a diverse set of influences— ranging from D.C.'s legendary Backyard Band, to Radiohead, Marvin Gaye, and Kendrick Lamar - to The Life & Times of an Eternal Optimist, his recent release."Every song on this project embodies a sense of urgency in the pursuit of dreams, love, and happiness. Our common thread as people becomes unwoven at times -- by race, religion, gender, sexuality, economics, and politics. We all are in the struggle to survive these conditions -- more concerned with our individual needs, and less concerned about the group. Sometimes we begin to tie the thread back together -- with rallies, marches, protests, concerts, etc. However, the wheel we're on was built by division, not unification -- and it continues to spin round and round. Yet, no matter how dark it gets, there's always a light peeking through the cave. It's the light of hope and love, and this light remains undefeated against the darkness of doubt and hate. This project shines that light all throughout. Life, love, success, happiness, hopes, desires -- we all dream the same things, just in different ways. For we are one." -B. MillsEternal Optimist offers melodic RnB and soul with a retro feel, but still thoroughly contemporary in tone - where the vocals and harmonies take centre stage, fed by an irresistible groove. Sleek production values showcase a sophisticated sense of melody and intriguingly layered arrangements.Each song offers a different mood. The Light is a hypnotic track with a slow and sexy feel, perfect for that slow dance with someone you love. Conflicted is jazzy, with lyrics that match the minor chords with a dash of rueful honesty. If U Will is an upbeat pop song with a catchy and anthemic refrain, and It's About Damn Time offers D's fluid jazzy vocals over acoustic piano in a classic song about regret.B. Mills writes, performs, arranged, and produced all the tracks on the album. His collaborators all went to the same high scohol back in Maryland, including childhood friend Vincent "Invincible" Watson, who mixed all songs on the project and co-produced two of them. Watson comes to the album from a stellar year that has so far included a production credit for I Like It by Cardi B and a song on the recent Nicki Minaj project. All songs were written, performed, arranged and produced by B. Mills.Track List:1. And We Rise2. The Light3. Get up 2 Get Down4. Conflicted5. If U Will6. It's About Damn Time (Interlude)7. Slow Motion8. Life Is BeautifulStay in touch:

Electronic R&B: Tropic - Bittersweet (Independent/July 23 2018)
Electronic R&BTropic - Bittersweet(Independent/July 23 2018)• Check it out on Soundcloud• Stream it on SpotifyBrooklyn, New York based produce Phuse and singer Jo-B Sebastian got together to craft some earworm tracks under the name Tropic. The collaboration brings together the best of electronic dance music and smooth R&B vocals with a nice sense of variation. Inventive beats and a range of styles give the EP a lot of replay value.Bittersweet, the title track, has a fluid R&B version with an impressive vocal performance, and an electronicized redux version that downplays the vocals and adds a slow and sexy beat with a fat sound.Vocals and the beats share centre stage without either giving up ground. Nostalgia is a dance song full of rhythmic complexities, overlaid with classic R&B vocal gymnastics. Breathe Again has a hypnotic pulse, with more than a nod to the classic dance tracks of the 1990s in its musical inspiration.Over You is electronica with an infusion of soul, the vocals and synthy embellishments playing off against each other.The collaborators got together by accident, and like many New Yorkers, their path came from divergent routes. Phuse was born just outside LA and learned to play piano at the same time he was learning how to walk. Jo-B Sebastian was born in Hong Kong, raised in Manila, and now lives on the East Coast.Track List1. Bittersweet; 2. Nostalgia; 3. Breathe Again; 4. Over You; 5. Bittersweet ReduxPersonnel - Jarel Hill: Music Production; Jo-B Sebastian: Vocals & CompositionStay In Touch: (original version):

Modern Pop: Monique Angele - Alive (Independent/September 7 2018)
Modern Pop:Monique Angele - Alive(Independent/September 7 2018)• Buy the EPMelbourne, Australia based singer and pianist Monique Angele offers listeners an album's worth of polished piano pop on Alive, which releases September 7, 2018.The focus is on her clear and fluid soprano, and rightly so. Lush production and fat orchestral arrangements provide just the right backdrop to Monique's compelling vocals. You can hear years of training in her flawless vocal technique. Her background in opera training along with musical theatre gives her the chops to both impress and emote.Pink Coloured Sky is a standout track, building from a spare arrangement of piano and voice to an orchestral swell.The mood throughout the album is bright and upbeat. Hold On has a nice bluesy/gospel feel that showcases the rich tone of her vocals. Our Paradise is another highlight, a song with an uplifting message under a relentless beat. Rare Girl pares the focus down to voice and a fluid piano line in classic singer/songwriter mode.The one quibble I might have with the release is that the vocals are overly processed in some passages. They're strong enough that they don't need all the extra help in any case.Personnel - Vocals and Piano: Monique Angele; Drums: Shawn Burgess; Violin: Sarah Busuttil; Guitar, Bass and Other Instruments: Sean O'Sullivan from Highway 9 ProductionsTrack List:1. Pink Coloured Sky; 2. Our Paradise; 3. Forever Strong; 4. Rare Girl; 5. Hold On; 6. I Want a WorldStay in touch:

Global Grooves: Mah-Ze-Tar - Liquid Lotus (Independent/August 1 2018)
Global Grooves:Mah-Ze-Tar - Liquid Lotus(Independent/August 1 2018)• Stream it on Spotify• Buy it on CDBabyYes, but can you dance to it? EDM meets the world in Liquid Lotus, the new single from Mah-Ze-Tar.What is so-called world music, anyways? Projects like Mah-Ze-Tar and Liquid Lotus, the latest single in advance of a full length album, push the boundaries of that definition with a mash-up of styles and influences that defies categorization.Mah-Ze-Tar is the fusion project that Maz has been working on since 2015. His ultimate vision is to fuse traditional music of the East with modern electronic composition as a form of cultural preservation.Here's the Track List for the full album, coming out soon:1- Maand 2- Bhoopali 3- Liquid Lotus 4- Cosmic Union 5- Yaman 6- Keshi 7- Bhatiyali Dhun 8- Hamsa 9- BilawalAlbum teaser:In Liquid Lotus, the classic Indian Sitar meets North African trance music, with vocal textures that take on the flavours of Indian, Persian, Flamenco, Native American, and other traditions from around the world.Based in Santa Barbara, Maz Karandish is a devoted student of music, including voice and multiple instruments. He's influenced by many genres and styles from Raga, Maqam, and Dastgah to Harmony, Jazz, and Opera. He plays a variety of instruments, including the Oud, Persian Tar, Turkish Saz, and Ney with the Santa Barbara Middle Eastern Ensemble.The results are compelling. You don't have to know any of the background to be mesmerized by the melody, or dance to a beat that won't give up its hold on your solar plexus.Musicians Maz Karandish- Instruments, Vocals, & Compositions Stay in touch:

Dance Toronto: Esie Mensah Presents Shades September 27 to 30 2018
From a media release:Dance Toronto:Esie Mensah Presents ShadesSeptember 27 to 30 2018• TicketsEsie Mensah Announces World Premiere of Shades: An Explosive Exploration of DiscriminationAward-winning Choreographer and Dancer Confronts Pervasive Issue of Shadeism Within Communities of ColourTORONTO, ON — In a searing world premiere, choreographer and dancer Esie Mensah presents Shades, a deeply personal dance theatre exploration into the discrimination between lighter-skinned and darker-skinned members of communities of colour known as shadeism, September 27 to 30, 2018 at Factory Theatre. A visceral and urgent work, Shades examines the deep generational trauma that shadeism has imprinted on Mensah, its six artists, and society at large.“I’m interested in exploring the ugliness, the pain, and the truth of shadeism,” says Mensah. “In 2018, shadeism is still a reality, constantly dividing us. Shades is my unapologetic confrontation with this all-too-common actuality in communities of colour. While shadeism is explored through my lens—it is not just my story. It would be selfish to present something so universal as just my own—and that’s why I value the stories and experiences of my artists, creative team, and mentors.”Originally developed in 2016, the now full-length 75-minute work will fearlessly examine the question of how communities of colour became fractured around the notion of skin tone, but also becomes an undeniable opportunity to start a conversation of healing across all Diasporas. In today’s world, this discrimination can often be subtle and insidious, whereas in the past shadeism was commonly used to unofficially rank enslaved people in many countries around the world.Mensah is greatly affected by the lengths people of colour, the world over, have taken to permanently alter their skin tone in a quest for a distorted beauty ideal. Countless reports abound of dangerous and sometimes illegal products purporting to lighten or even bleach skin tone—all suggesting an ingrained psychological belief many ethnic communities have towards social acceptance, perceived value and attractiveness. While Shades doesn’t shy away from confronting the ugly truths of shadeism, Mensah feels the piece is a restorative balm through which to mediate the pain.Esie Mensah - Shades from a 2016 performance (by Dahlia Katz)Toronto-based Mensah is a highly respected choreographer and dance artist. She is the 2014 Black Canadian Award Winner for Best Contemporary Dancer, the 2015 recipient of the Cultural Promotion award from the Ghanaian-Canadian Association for her 2015 production of Akoma and was named in 2017 as one of 100 Black Women to watch in Canada. She has worked with some of the industry’s biggest icons such as Rihanna, Drake, Janelle Monae, French Montana, Francesco Yates — the Canadian opener for Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods Tour — and has collaborated with companies like Coca-Cola, Luminato, TIFF, Estée Lauder, FIFA, WE DAY, and more. Within the realm of the performing arts, she has worked with Shaw Festival, Soulpepper Theatre, and Obsidian Theatre, where she gained both experience and knowledge to help her create.In addition to her accolades, Mensah is committed to bringing her own unique style of Afrofusion dance into the industry that includes movements from traditional and contemporary African fused with commercial, urban, and contemporary styles. As a choreographer, Mensah uses each artistic opportunity to express her creativity through the art of dance and theatre. She designs and directs performances that have inspired others to share in her innovative ideas.Esie Mensah - Shades from a 2016 performance (by Dahlia Katz)Shades features Mensah alongside an ensemble of six highly athletic and accomplished artists, coupled with the luminary creative team including actor Akosua Amo-Adem (Soulpepper’s The Crucible, Nightwood’s The Penelopiad) as dramaturge, and triple Dora Award-winning playwright, director, and scholar d’bi.young anitafrika as Mensah’s artistic mentor. During the performance, the dancers will interact with an inherent physicality while recounting moments of rejection, pain, and discrimination. Percussionist Santosh Naidu and bass player Ian DeSouza will compose original music as they create a soundscape of pulsing African rhythms and musical flow. Audiences will discover that Shades will be an experience to remember.Esie Mensah Presents ShadesDates: September 27–29 at 8pmSeptember 28 at 1pm (school show)September 30 at 4pmTicket Prices: Adults: $35 + HSTSeniors/Students/Arts Workers: $25 + HSTVenue: Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst Street, Toronto, OntarioTickets and InfoFrom a 2017 remount:

Kudzai Kazai Mbira Manufacturer Maestro
Kudzai Kazai Mbira Manufacturer Maestro@MbiraMasterMaker• Check Him Out On FacebookBased in Harare, Zimbabwe, Kudzai Kazai is a master mbira maker - or the Mbira Maestro. He makes the instruments from scratch, including the sounds boards. He ships customized mbiras, tuned according to the client's specs, all over the world.Kudzai Kazai speaks about making and playing mbira in an interview taped at his workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 2015:The mbira is an ancient instrument consisting of a soundboard made of hardwood with 22 to 28 staggered metal tines or keys that produce the sound. It is played holding it in your hand. It is sometimes called a thumb piano.Kudzai Kazai- RimukaRimuka means greener pasturesThe instrument has been an important part of Shona culture in what is now Zimbabwe for a thousand years or so. The instrument is cited in their literature and mbira music is an integral part of their traditional religious practices and ceremonies. Today, it is still in use in Zimbabwe's popular music, and in other regions of Africa in both traditional and contemporary music.Kudzai Kazai - ShuramuroveShuramurove is the name of a bird

TIFF2018 - Short Cuts: Filmmaker Ian Harnarine on 'Caroni' Part of the Short Cuts Programme 08
TIFF2018 - Short CutsFilmmaker Ian Harnarine on 'Caroni'Part of the Short Cuts Programme 08Toronto International Film Festival September 6 to 16 2018• Check For Screening TimesAward winning filmmaker Ian Harnarine comes back to TIFF 2018 with a new short film. Entitled Caroni, from the film's description, it's the story of "a West Indian nanny working in New York City tries new ways to connect with her young daughter at home in Trinidad."Ian left his mark on TIFF the first time in 2011, when his short film Doubles with Slight Pepper, which won the award for Best Canadian Short Film, and then went on to garner the Genie Award for Best Live Action Short Drama at the 32nd Genie Awards in 2012.Caroni gets its message across using a poetic mode of storytelling. A brief excerpt focuses on the striking image of a vivid scarlet ibis amid greenery. The bird is common to the Caroni swamp on the west coast of Trinidad, and is one of the national birds of Trinidad and Tobago."There's definitely a narrative to it," Ian says, "but then it goes into magic realism."Ian says the title of the film has multi-layered significance. "There's also a lot of importance to it historically," he explains. The area is where the old sugar plantations were located.Filmmaker Ian HarnarineBorn and raised in Toronto to immigrant parents from Trinidad and Tobago, Harnarine studied physics and astronomy at York University and the University of Illinois before switching to film at New York University. While there, he took classes with famed director Spike Lee, who was credited as executive producer on Doubles with Slight Pepper.Going from Toronto, where he lived in the midst of the city's Caribbean community, to New York City, pointed up some of the differences between the way both big cities deal with their diverse populations. Toronto's Caribbean community is quite visible, and includes members who are prominent members of the city. Even though, in terms of numbers, there are undoubtedly and actually more people of Caribbean descent in NYC, Ian calls them "hidden in plain sight." They are visible in a supporting role in the Big Apple. "In upper middle class neighbourhoods, you see white babies being pushed by black women."It was shining a spotlight on that overlooked role that led Ian to conceiving Caroni. "I always remember the families left behind," he says. "It's really interesting. I've lived in New York City for 13 years, but New York, for all its diversity, is still a very segregated city." In Toronto, as he points out, ethnic groups may have a concentration in some areas, but are also spread out through the city and even to the suburbs.In his goal of telling a story that was unseen by the public eye, he also included faces of NYC that filmgoers may not recognize. "I tried to film the movie in locations that aren't normally seen," he says.In the end, it's a story about the politics of immigration, and what it means on a human level. "I'm more interested in the emotional response," he says. As he points out, a film about homesickness should find an appropriate home in Toronto, a city where so many of its residents will share the sentiment.

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