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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

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Holiday Gift Guide 2017: Books for Music Fans

So many music books, so little time. Depending on what the sounds that person in your life loves, there’s a ton of great books out there to choose from this Holiday Season. Here are a few of our favourite selections:

Sticky Fingers

Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jan Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine – Writer Joe Hagan had unprecedented access to the founder and publisher of Rolling Stone Magazine, and the end result didn’t please Jann Wenner at all. Lots of sex, drugs and rock and roll, and comments from the rock stars that Wenner himself loved to hang around with. It’s all happening in this book.

Bon

Bon: The Last Highway: The Untold Story of Bon Scott and AC/DC’s Back in Black – With the passing of AC/DC founding member and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young just a few weeks ago, reading about the band’s original lead singer Bon Scott has become even more fitting. Jesse Fink delves deep into the lore of the Thunder from Down Under, Bon’s influence on the band, and his tragic passing at the age of 33. Read the rest of this entry

31 Days Of Horror 2015: The True Story Of The Haunted Set List

CrossroadsMusic, experience and memory. This is how I remember the haunting:

In the early nineteen nineties, I signed up to be a disc jockey for Radio Erindale of the University of Toronto, Mississauga. I signed up because I loved music, was heavily into the alternative live music and club scene in Toronto, and because my longtime friend, Gary Matos, was their newly christened Station Manager.

With a few other select personnel, we planned to collectively make a musical difference at a small, and slightly beleaguered, suburban campus radio station. We’d fill the thirsty ears of the student body with the music that we liked to listen to, with the tunes we were hearing in the downtown clubs we were regularly frequenting: La Vie, Catch-22 and Empire. And, most importantly, we’d get to talk bands and records and new music all day and all of the night.

I signed up for the late shift that quivered between ten o’clock in the evening and one o’clock in the morning. It was a time when solitary figures of the student body ghosted across campus in the dark, arms full of books and bags, and faces full of essay anxiety. I, meanwhile, was left alone to spin my personal records and compact discs, ethereally reaching out to everyone through the hallways, residences and student lounges.

It’s fitting, then, that this particular story takes place one evening at the end of October, the month when the days are short and the cold nights come early, near an intersection of foot pathways between university buildings appropriately called The Crossroads.

Here I was. Alone. At midnight. With music. With the unexplainable.

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A Rock ‘N’ Roll Crucible: U2–Songs Of Innocence (2014) Reviewed

U2 Songs of Innocence album coverNot counting last year’s “Ordinary Love” from the Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom film and this year’s “Invisible” for Product Red, it’s been five years since we last heard from U2.

No Line On the Horizon, the band’s twelfth studio album, released in early 2009, was a relative failure in terms of sales, even if the resulting world tour was the highest grossing concert tour in history. It was evident: people still wanted to hear and see U2. For that reason and that reason alone, the aged Irish rockers can still be deemed as being relevant musically, politically, and culturally. With the surprise album release of Songs of Innocence last week, five long years since their last proper album, U2, the long-lasting survivors of rock and roll, test the theory of relevancy once more.

And they come through that crucible in one of the most unexpected ways imaginable: if not through the music itself, then through the musical process.

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The Top 5 Albums of 2013 As Chosen By JP Fallavollita

There was certainly no dearth of great music to listen to in 2013. Albums from both new bands and old mainstays shone a light on music-lovers moods, attitudes and deep-seated emotions. Although there were great albums, I remember thinking that new music left me a little wanting in 2012. Misguided or not, this year more than made up for that thought with strong offerings from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The National, Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire.

With so many fantastic sounds echoing through speakers, ears and minds, it was a tough ask to whittle my love of 2013 music down. As always, I found myself gravitating to the albums and songs I listened to the most throughout the year. They’re the ones that stood out from the rest – and a common theme seemed to emerge: surprise.

Here then, after the jump, are my top five albums of 2013.

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A Perfect Live Set: Deep Purple’s Perfect Strangers Live DVD Review

Perfect Strangers LiveOne of the band’s I’ve grown increasingly fond of over the past few years is Deep Purple. Working in rock radio for the first part of my career, I was familiar with all the big hits (read that as the songs that would make the fairly stringent rotation list) – Smoke On The Water, Highway Star, Hush, Kentucky Woman, Woman From Tokyo. You’d never hear anything from the Mark III line-up, songs like Burn and Stormbringer, which are fantastic slabs of rock. And even the classic Mark II line-up’s 80’s comeback hits, Perfect Strangers and Knocking At Your Back Door, never seemed to get radio play.

Thankfully, the good folks at Eagle Rock have helped spread the word about Deep Purple’s stellar catalogue with various DVD releases, including Phoenix Rising and the brand new DVD, Perfect Strangers Live.


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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.

Pink and Richie Sambora? In The Same Article?

There have been a ton of solid new releases over the past few weeks.  Green Day, Grizzly Bear, Band Of Horses, The Killers and Mumford & Sons all have new albums out there definitely worth checking out.  But there are two new releases that I keep coming back to for repeat listens.

When I listen to music most of the time I’m looking for great songs or melodies, interesting or meaningful lyrics, and great performances either vocally or from the musicianship on the tracks. The latest releases from Pink and Bon Jovi guitar player Richie Sambora have all of the above on display.

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Win Tickets to Queen’s Hungarian Rhapsody – Live in Budapest

freddie mercuryQueen is an act that transcends time and bridges the gap between mine and my parents’ generation… and if there is one artist I regret never getting to see, it’s the legendary Freddie Mercury.

But thanks to Cineplex and Eagle Rock Entertainment, the Hungarian stop on the 1986 Magic Tour is being brought back to life in theatres this fall.

Even better, we’ve got a contest!

You can win two tickets to a special screening of Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live in Budapest this Thursday, September 20, 2012, at the Scotiabank Theatre, Toronto at 7:30 p.m. Read the rest of this entry

Stone Temple Pilots…Alive and Well On New Concert DVD/Blu-Ray

Stone Temple Pilots are set to release their first-ever live concert DVD/Blu-Ray this week featuring a blend of the bands’ greatest hits with new material from their 2010 self-titled album. Alive in the Windy City sees STP filmed in front of an adoring Chicago crowd in state-of-the-art high-definition, and recorded in DTS-HD Master Audio and LPCM Stereo for a great home theatre concert experience.

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