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Playing to ‘A New Standard’: Exclusive Interview With Jazz Pianist Thompson T. Egbo-Egbo

Among family, friends, and his many acquaintances, Thompson T. Egbo-Egbo is known for his infectiously positive spirit, his playful hijinks, and a smile that absolutely lights up a room.

But it’s the music that emanates deep within Egbo-Egbo’s soul his piano as a constant appendage, his jazz, classical and pop leanings and the constant intermingling and pushing of musical genres that reveals the creative standard of the man. As a Toronto-based pianist, composer, producer and sound designer, 2018 marks the official release of his new musical work, appropriately titled A New Standard.

The twelve-song album contains a wide selection of entries originally created by a number of legendary composers over the last two centuries. They are, naturally for Egbo-Egbo, culled from disparate genres: classical, jazz, and curiously, even rock music. In A New Standard, Egbo-Egbo lovingly performs a fun and up-temp version of Sigmund Romberg’s and Oscar Hammerstein II’s “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise,” as well as a rollicking account of John Coltrane’s “Mr. P.C.” that merges brilliantly into the classically jazzy and beloved theme song from the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon by composers Paul Webster and Robert Harris.

In a more contemporary sense, Egbo-Egbo’s rendition of Bob Dylan’s”Make You Feel My Love” brings a wonderfully fresh and emotional sense of affection to the beloved classic, but surprisingly, there’s also a perfectly lonely interpretation of Radiohead’s “Exit Music (For a Film)” found on the new compilation, whose aural sense of isolation any fan of the band might expect and adore. This time, it’s just with a piano.

Biff Bam Pop’s consulting editor and regular contributor, JP Fallavollita, got the chance to steal Thompson T. Egbo-Egbo away from his busy schedule to talk music, his home city of Toronto, and the release of his latest album, the shimmering and wonderful A New Standard. Read the rest of this entry


Zola Jesus Frees Herself from Constraints on ‘Okovi’

Even if you’ve never heard the name “Zola Jesus” you’ve definitely heard the music of Nika Roza Danilova. It’s been used on several high-profile TV shows including Skins, Grey’s Anatomy, How To Get Away With Murder, Gossip Girl, and Elementary.
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Cheap Trick’s ‘We’re All Allright’ Proves They Are Exactly That

Although they may have money, fame, and hordes of adoring fans, it must be tough to be an iconic rock and roll band. Every time they release a new batch of material, they run the risk of sounding either too much like their previous selves, or not enough. Worse still is being confronted with the dreaded “return to form” cliché.

For a band like Cheap Trick, it’s even dicier. To which “form” should they return? The sardonic hard rock of their debut? The bubblegum power pop of “Dream Police”? The AOR of “The Flame”? After over four decades in the biz, they’ve covered a lot of ground, so deciding which direction to take presents an ongoing quandary that I don’t envy.
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Dion Lunadon’s Solo Album Will Blow Out Your Earholes

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

Best known as the bassist and guitarist of A Place To Bury Strangers for the last few years, Dion Lunadon was recently struck with a “neurotic impulse” to record a solo album. The result is a self-titled collection of 11 tracks.
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Back To The Future: Bruce Springsteen’s High Hopes Reviewed

High_Hopes_album_Bruce_SpringsteenIf you had the opportunity to catch Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on their triumphant Wrecking Ball Tour in 2012/2013, you’ll recall that one of the show’s highlights was the reworking of the 2002 The Rising track “My City Of Ruins”.  Springsteen turned the track – originally written about the deterioration and abandonment of his home town in Asbury Park, NJ and later adopted as a song of hope and faith following the 911 attacks – into a moving gospel performance where he introduced the band on stage as well as the ‘ghosts’ who were missing from the stage.  Fallen members of the E Street band no longer with us were remembered and the audience was asked to think about their own missing ghosts.

In a way, Bruce Springsteen is revisiting some of these old ghosts with the release of his latest studio album, High Hopes.  The album features performances by deceased E Street Band members Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici on tracks dating as far back as the mid-1990’s. It must be nice to have a tickle-trunk of idle music to mine from as deep as the material Springsteen had to work through in putting together his 18th album.  The album features a collection of tracks culled from outtakes, covers and do-overs of songs written over the past decade.  Whether these songs didn’t fit thematically or sonically with the vibe Springsteen was going for on recent standout albums like The Rising (2002), Magic (2007) or Wrecking Ball (2012), The Boss felt he had the makings of a meaningful album with these once orphaned tracks.

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Guest DJ Jae’s Stash of Wax – Long Weekend Listening

I’ve been hunting down records for years now and am stunned at the endless supply of amazing and sometimes forgotten music that’s still out there.  You need to hear this stuff!

So allow me to share with you some old and new gems from my milk crates.  The only thing that I ask from you is that you leave your musical prejudices behind and read on with an open ear.
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Summer Listening With Fitz and the Tantrums’ More Than Just A Dream

More_Than_Just_A_DreamLast year, my album of the summer belong to The Beach Boys’ and their reunion album, That’s Why God Made The Radio. It was this great mix of upbeat surfin’ and party songs, matched with the melancholy that only Brian Wilson could create.

While it may be too early to tell, I would wager that at least one of the albums I’ll be listening to a lot this summer is the second album from Fitz and the Tantrums, out today.

More Than Just A Dream is the second studio album from the band, and their first on Elektra Records. Full of upbeat and catchy tracks, the album definitely makes good on all the hype and buzz that surrounded the group two years ago, when their debut album Pick Up The Pieces was all the rage.

There are lots of fun, catchy tracks throughout More Than Just A Dream, but for me, the standouts were the opening song, Out Of My League, and The Walker, which is sure to remind folks of Peter, Bjorn and John and the New Pornographers. Take a listen and I’m sure you’ll agree.

More Than Just A Dream could have been maybe two songs shorter, but this is really a fun, poppy record that keeps the energy high and the melodies memorable. Check it out – you might just find your summer album comes from Fitz and the Tantrums.

Nothing Terrible About The Flaming Lips’ The Terror

The_Terror_coverMy first introduction to The Flaming Lips, like a lot of folks, was their critically acclaimed 1999 album The Soft Parade. Problem was, while everybody else loved it, I didn’t. I mean, it was beautiful in many places,with its layered vocals and production, but I couldn’t get into Wayne Coyne’s voice. I tried, believe you me. When Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots came out, I tried even harder. At War With The Mystics I got into, though. It wasn’t as twee as the previous albums. And then came Embryonic in 2009. That’s when I got it. The Flaming Lips had gone from orchestral pop back to avant-garde, Pink Floydish noise. Beautiful noise, like a psychedelic trip that had no boundaries. This was music I could get into.

It should come as no surprise then, that the band’s new release The Terror, is just what the doctor ordered for this particular listener.

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Drop The Needle On Jimi Hendrix’s People, Hell & Angels

9 out of 10 dentists and rock fans agree, the greatest, most influential guitarist of all time was the one and only Jimi Hendrix. And who are we to argue. In the forty plus years sinc ehis death, Hendrix’s legend and legacy has only grown, while his music has most certainly stood the test of time. Fans have embraced his classic studio albums, but more than that, they’ve lapped up anything and everything that have come out of the Hendix vaults since his death. Case in point – People, Hell & Angels.

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Justin Timberlake Crafts Progressive Pop With The 20/20 Experience

Who would have thought a skinny white kid would become the Marvin Gaye of the 2010’s? As strange as it may seem, that’s exactly who Justin Timberlake embodies with his latest album, The 20/20 Experience. Check out his singly Suit and Tie below and then read our review after the jump!

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