Well folks, last year was a very busy year in my life. The JAZZ part of me did a few gigs with my band — Orleans Newmarket, Gate 403 and the revered Montreal Bistro. Just a few weeks after I appeared there with my band – Bruce Harvey, Jack McFadden, Donnie Vickery and John MacMurchy the favourite Jazz room in the city of Toronto closed its doors for good. Although there are still a few small places in Toronto for jazz musicians to play, there was nowhere like the Montreal Bistro — where the grand piano was always tuned, the food was amazing, and there was a “no talking” policy while the musicians played and the singers sang. Can’t get more special than that. We are still mourning the loss, and hope that Lothar and Brigitte Lang will be opening another venue soon in Toronto.
The CHOIRGIRLZ part of me took up about 75% of the year – arranging and co-producing our second CD entitled “Girl Time” during the summer.
It’s an album we are all proud of, and it features the swingin’ Bebop Cowboys backing us up. The band is led by Steve Briggs on guitar and mandolins, the co-producer of the “Girl Time” CD, and incidentally – -my guitar teacher. In the band along with Steve, are John Adames on drums, Victor Bateman on upright bass, Burke Carroll on steel and dobro, Denis Keldie on Accordian, the totally amazing Drew Jurecka on fiddle and Duncan Fremlin on banjo. Produced at Soundhole Studios owned by uber-talented Ray Montford, it all fell together like clockwork. The CD may be ordered and listened to via the ChoirGirlz website. Choirgirlz have done a lot of performing as a result of the new recording, and we’re reaching ever wider circles of appreciative fans .
GREG KING has a slew of great photoz he’s taken of both me, and Choirgirlz — we even have a special page on his website. Go to gregking‘s website to check out the talents of this fantastic photographer. He did the cover of our CD, and there are photos on his site of the CD cover shoot.
The CLASSICAL part of me had a very busy year with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Because of my involvement with
ChoirGirlz and Jazz, I chose not to be a member of the Mendelssohn Singers — the smaller 80 voice unit made up of the creme-de-la-creme of the Mendelssohn Choir. I was part of the recording of Christmas music that was done in June, and released just before Christmas this year. It is a lovely recording entitled A Festival of Carols, and will be a seasonal favourite for years to come. I also enjoyed going to Elora to sing the Mozart Requiem and the mighty Mahler 2nd Symphony — better known as “The Resurrection Symphony”. What a thrill to sing both those amazing works under the baton of Noel Edison with full orchestra! We will be performing the Mahler again this year – I think in April.
The Hampton Avenue 4 part of me enjoyed thoroughly reuniting with Suba Sankaran, Dylan Bell and Tom Lillington as we sang carols at First Canadian Place and The Atrium on Bay before Christmas in 2006. The wonderful arrangements in our book just rang out pitch-perfectly, and I felt my life was full-filled musically. We don’t get much chance to gig together any more — Suba is heavily involved in recording and touring with her jazz/Indo/fusion group autorickshaw . Dylan has just left the talented group Cadence to pursue more writing and recording, as he is becoming greatly in demand for both these talents. Tom is busy with his piano tuning business, and also tours extensively with the Canadian Chamber Choir. With ChoirGirlz’ busy schedule, it’s really difficult to find a window of time to just get together, let alone do a gig.
PLANS FOR 2007 include:
Getting my jazz trio back on the rails and doing more gigs around the GTA. Performing with ChoirGirlz — Winterfolk is our first 2007 gig — the weekend of Feb. 9 – 11th. It’s free admission for all, and taking place in the Broadview-Danforth area. Go to Winterfolk for more info about venues. Practising harder on GUITAR and taking a few more lessons from Steve Briggs. Getting back to a more healthy workout regimen at Metro Central YMCA. Writing more jazz vocal arrangements and having a few more “singoffs” with members from Hampton Avenue and Cadence. Writing more music for my wonderful church choir to sing (St. Pauls Bloor St.) Writing more songs for ChoirGirlz. Laughing more. Enjoying my granddaughter Sadie. Spending time with friends. Eating healthily, and drinking good beer, enjoying life. It’s gonna be a busy year!
Parti-Gras, the weekend before the Beaches Jazz Festival, took place at the Distillery district. Debbie and her quartet were to follow the wonderful June Garber in the afternoon.
Rain began to fall, and the outdoor “Tankhouse Diva Stage” was protected only by overlapping patio umbrellas. By the time Debbie and her band stepped onto the stage, the rain was coming down steadily, and dripping onto the drumstool. The kit was moved to slightly drier ground, tarps were loaded atop the floor monitors to protect them, and to successfully muffle the sound coming out of them. Nobody seemed to think about protecting the singer, and Debbie stood in a puddle while holding a mic and singing “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On Your Head” as a soundcheck tune.
A few diehard fans took to the tables and chairs, wrapped in protective raingear, and prepared to get up and dance anyway! During Debbie’s third song, a massive series of “poofs” took place in the speakers, which immediately lost power along with the piano, and that was the end of that! Debbie felt very frustrated not to be able to sing her songs for the audience who had come to hear her, however she was saved from electrocution, and lived to tell the tale.
September 1, 2005
Debbie had a busy run of gigs in May and June 2005. She guested to a full house in Markham, with the marvellous Sgt. Pepper’s Quartet consisting of the great Norman Amadio on piano, Frank Wright on vibes, Jack McFadden on bass and Don Vickery on drums. These guys swing their patooties off — and Frank Wright is downright amazing as he continuously dances like a twenty year old from one end of his vibes to the other!
The Distillery Jazz Festival was fabulous — if a little chilly. The crowds were out to have a good time, and Debbie and the boys got them up and dancing in front of the stage! Debbie’s catchy tunes usually do that — it’s hard to stay in your seat with the infectious rhythms — swing, bossa, Latin — ole!
For more photos of Debbie and her gigs, check out Greg King’s website — Deb has her own special feature page.
Debbie appears at the Distillery Jazz Festival in May
Photo by Greg King
LE SELECT BISTRO – DOWNTOWN JAZZ FESTIVAL
Debbie, Jack McFadden and Bruce Harvey appeared at Le Select Bistro during the Downtown Jazz Festival. A white-tuxed Bob Segarinni and his very nattily dressed party of four graced the narrow aisle at LeSelect with some fancy ballroom dancing while Debbie filled their requests.
Debbie’s newly released solo CD “Steppin’ Out” was requested and played by many radio stations across Europe, America and Australia. The kudos and reviews were very positive:
**” you reached me good on A Bad Goodbye. That track is soulful and heartfelt.”
Fradley Garner, International Editor of Jersey Jazz (Journal of the New Jersey Jazz Society).
**” For sure this CD will get airplay in my program Jazz & Blues Tour as from next Tuesday — really like your style !”
Joost Van Steen Jazz and Blues Tour, Holland
**Your style, is perfect “mainstream”, … really nice and …. your voice is so beautiful! Classic, yes, but also modern, thanks to your particular approach. My sincere compliments. For me will be a pleasure to insert your music in my program.
Bruno Pollacci – “AnimaJazz” – Pisa – Italy
**”Steppin’ Out” arrived today and I love it. It will go in our show “Jazz World” starting next week. Great songs – well done, and great arrangements too I think. All good wishes for your musical future!!
TONY WICKHAM Presenter, “Jazz World”, Radio Maldwyn
**Wow!! You’ve got a HOT CD!! Thank You so much for sending it to us at WJSK. I just received it this PM, previewed it, and into our ON AIR programming computer it went. We have a “Traditional Jazz’ format daytime, with a smooth, layed back jazz style on our evening programming and “Steppin’ Out” covers both time periods! I am one who appreciates diversity in one’s career, now you’re on top by going SOLO! A salute to Jim Morgan, who definitely has “ears”. Your CD technically, is excellent.
Frank Pingree WJSK Radio, USA
* *Thank you for sending Debbie Fleming, “Steppin Out”CD, to WBCX at Brenau University in Gainesville, GA! We will be adding the following tracks for airplay in a variety of our eclectic formats: Que Pasa One More Birthday Blues I’m sure we’ll be adding more tracks in the future on Eclectic 89.1 WBCX covering NE Atlanta and North Georgia!
Scott Fugate, WBCX, Georgia, USA
**You have every reason to be proud of the project, good music, good rhythm, nice groove, great voice, very professional performance (choosing your partners is very important and a good indication to the attention given to the project). One can be only complementary and respect your maturity and musicianship.
I am very glad to have this little treasure and my audience will be sharing my delight with me tomorrow night (Thursday) during the show as 1st introduction with more to follow in the coming weeks.
Ilan Oz Belgium
**My audience sure liked you, Debbie, got a couple of calls saying so. I have very faithful & devoted people and they are constantly in contact with me. If I pass something that is not appreciated I’ll know about it within minutes).
Ilan Oz jazzinbelgium.org
Debbie Fleming..Steppin’ Out..Riverdale Records..2004
CD Reviews / CD Reviews
Date: Apr 06, 2005 – 08:23 AM
By John Gilbert
First and foremost, let it be known that Debbie Fleming is a first rate composer and lyricist. Every tune on this album goes right to the heart of hip. There is a message in every tune and it comes from the soul. The ballads exemplify Fleming’s ability to coax romanticism out of a song without waxing any saccharine sentimentality.
“Let’s Jive” is a masterpiece of solid jazz writing and combined with Fleming’s cool vocal, it is both bouncy and true to the genre. Her phrasing is impeccable and the timing is true. A clean tone and clear enunciation are the ingredients that make it all come together. John MacMurchie’s saxophone solo is free of mindless notes, He gets after this number with an artistic zeal bred of professionalism and talent.
“Corner Of my Mind” is a thoughtful reminder of lifes travails superbly written and sung beautifully.
“Crazy In Love” features a great melody with ultra hip words..MacMurchie is in his groove and his solo is a joy to listen to. I would like to hear more of this fine artist. Fleming again brings this tune to life with her interpretive powers.
I highly recommend this recording, it is not only tasty and cool, it has more hits than a relevant google search.
This album can be purchased at CD Baby or by visiting the artist’s website at http://www.debbiefleming.ca 5 STARS
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