John Alcorn

Blue Xmas

Bob Dorough, Holly Cole and John Alcorn – December 1, 2013

So, there I was on December 1, minding my own business at a party celebrating the birthday of my old pal, Holly Cole, when local scenester-extraordinaire Jaymz Bee burst through the bold-faced (or, at least, italicized) crowd with a dapper, effervescent gent at his side.

And that’s how I met Bob Dorough.

I’d been a fan for years, of course, loving his unique talents as singer and pianist. It’s his songwriting, however – particularly his lyrics – that really gains my deep admiration.

Starstruck and fumbling for words, I finally blurted out, “Wow. I’m a huge fan. In fact, just the other day I sang ‘Little Did I Dream’! I loooove your lyrics in that song!”

Not missing a beat, he replied, “Actually, those are Dave Frishberg‘s lyrics”.

Damn.

Even more flustered now, scrambling to make myself look a little less like an idiot, “Ha, ha, ha…I’ll bet that people confuse you and Dave all the time…” (Please, dear god, let that be true…)

He grinned, “Yup.”

And so it went. Bob and Dave are longtime pals, of course. In fact, they were slated to do a duo concert in Portland the following week – so, I wasn’t completely off the mark. After a bit more banter, I finally said, “‘Devil May Care’! That’s yours, isn’t it? I sing that ALL the time!”

This time, I was correct. Thank god.

Flash forward a couple of weeks, to last night – another party, this time at the home of jazz piano great, Mark Eisenman, and his lovely partner, Sue Hall. The evening was winding down (I’m never the first to leave), when Mark said, “You gotta listen to this”.

The track was one I’d never heard before – and it slayed me, “Who IS this?”

Turns out it was none other than Bob Dorough, singing his tune ‘Blue Xmas’ with the Miles Davis Sextet in 1962.

I decided that I had to share it with all of you :)

I love the Holidays!

…and I wish all of you the merriest of merries, and a swingin’ 2014!!!

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Billie, Bessie, Laura and me…

Don’t worry; I’m not about to imagine myself in the rarefied sphere that embraces those 20th century musical giants :)

However, when I was in my mid-teens and a family friend introduced me to the recordings of jazz legend Billie Holiday, the Lady’s voice and style had an enormous impact on me. Her influence continues to this day.

While Billie held me captive in her little corner of the musical world, the ghost of blues giant Bessie Smith was schooling my friend, Laura Hubert. I hear echoes of Bessie’s commanding, no-nonsense stance in every song that Laura sings – even when she’s whispering about lotus blossoms.

While these two innovators appeared to have little in common with each other in terms of sound and style, Billie and Bessie did share at least one powerful trait. Each, in her own way, “told the truth” with every note, every word, every phrase – or, at least her version of the truth. That’s not as easy as it might sound, but those two made it seem as effortless and natural as breathing.

To my mind, Laura Hubert also tells the plain, unvarnished truth when she sings. I slash and burn my way through a myriad of hitches and hindrances as I reach for that same elusive goal.

When Laura joins me at the Home Smith Bar once again on Thursday, September 26, we will not do a tribute to Holiday and Smith. Still, I know that I will keep my eyes, ears and heart open, hoping to feel a trace of their spirits – perhaps a subtle phantom nod, a sly wink, a sotto voce “Mhmm…”

John Alcorn and Laura Hubert

John Alcorn and Laura Hubert

 

Cole Porter 2.0

I guess I should file this under “guilty pleasures”. I’d planned to revisit some of our first Songbook Series offerings maybe in the spring of 2013. However, I’ve had so many requests from folks who missed the first few (and some crazy fools who love reruns) that I’ve decided to bring back several of my personal favourites over the next few weeks as we head into Holiday Season. First up – the man himself, Cole Porter! In fact, we didn’t have time to do a few Cole faves during our original September 5 performance. I’ll add some of those and bring back many of the “big hits” too :)

My #1 guys will be there – Reg Schwager (guitar) and Steve Wallace (bass). I hope that you’ll be there too!

ABOUT COLE PORTER:

Cole Porter (1891-1964) was an American songwriter noted for his elegant, often suggestive lyrics, clever rhymes and complex forms.

Cole Porter 1954

Unlike most of his contemporaries, Porter wrote both lyrics and music for his songs.

Even a brief listing of his songs reads like a Jazz or Cabaret artist’s dream set: What Is This Thing Called Love?, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, All Of You, I Concentrate On You, Too Darn Hot, Night And Day, Just One Of Those Things, Get Out Of Town, Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye, Love For Sale, etc.

It kinda makes my head spin – in a good way!

Details:
6:30PM – Doors Open
7:30PM – Performance Begins

TICKETS:
$10.00 adv/$15.00 door
*Dinner reservations get priority seating*

Dinner available, before, during, and after the show.
647.347.6567
http://www.pubaret.com/

The STANDARD

Over the past two months, exploring the works of songwriters and performers in our Songbook Series has been a fantastic journey of discovery. Now, I’ve found fresh inspiration in this recently published book:

…and so, we begin a new series – The STANDARD!

ABOUT The STANDARD

Starting this Wednesday (and for every Wednesday until further notice), we’re shifting our focus to the big one – the Great American Songbook. Each week, I’ll choose from my ever-expanding collection of inspiring songs (I lost track a long time ago, but it’s at least in the high hundreds now…). My little personal challenge is to make the set lists unique for each Wednesday, including well-known favorites and some lesser-known gems.

As always, a couple of brilliant jazz musicians will join me in the adventure. This week, it’s the father/son team of Steve Wallace (bass) and Lee Wallace (guitar). I expect that I’ll have a hard time wiping the grin from my face :)

Details:
6:30PM – Doors Open
7:30PM – Performance Begins

TICKETS:
$15.00 adv/$20.00 door
*Dinner reservations get priority seating*

Dinner available, before, during, and after the show.
647.347.6567
http://www.pubaret.com/

You can join the Facebook Event Page here, and/or “Like” the John Alcorn Facebook Fan Page here. Thanks :)

 

The Halloween Songbook

Should we be afraid?!? Likely, not – this October 31 show will weigh in on the “treats” side, and not too many evil “tricks” :)

Please note that this evening will be the last of our “themed” Songbooks for a little while. Beginning on November 7, we’re switching to a new format that we think you’ll love. We’ll tell you more about that soon!

In the meantime, please visit the John Alcorn Facebook Music Page, and “Like” us:

John Alcorn Music

You can also join the Halloween Songbook Facebook Event Page here:

Halloween Songbook

ABOUT the HALLOWEEN SONGBOOK

The devilish Steve Wallace came up with this notion a few weeks ago, when he realized that one of our Flying Beaver Pubaret Wednesdays would fall on Halloween.

Within a few days, he’d compiled a list of great tunes related to such concepts as witches, magic, devils, the moon, evil, the colour orange et al – not to mention the general notion of autumn itself. A few fans have also added their suggestions and requests (thank you, Judy!). This theme has us kinda foolishly pumped, and we hope that you’ll join Steve Wallace (the King of Bass), Reg Schwager (Jazz Guitar Maestro) and me (costumes optional!).

Details:
6:30PM – Doors Open
7:30PM – Performance Begins

TICKETS:
$15.00 adv/$20.00 door
*Dinner reservations get priority seating*

Dinner available, before, during, and after the show.
647.347.6567
http://www.pubaret.com/

One Night Only – The Home Smith Bar!

We’ll be digging deep into our standards collections as we play our favourites (and, hopefully, your faves too!) tomorrow night for *Fridays to Sing About* at the beautiful Home Smith Bar in Toronto’s west end.

I’m thrilled that I’ll be working with two of the finest Canadian jazz musicians on this special engagement – David Restivo (piano) and Pat Collins (bass). If that’s not enough to tempt you, consider that there’s no cover charge :))

Details:
7:30PM – 10:30PM

TICKETS:
NO COVER CHARGE
*Minimum Food & Beverage * $ 20.00 per person * Taxes & gratuities included

416-236-2641

http://www.oldmilltoronto.com

 

The Chet Baker Songbook

We think that all of our Songbook evenings are special, of course – each with its own unique charms and challenges. However, we believe that this one will be a particular standout. First, there’s the repertoire – exclusively songs that the charismatic Chet Baker loved and lived. Second, there’s the ongoing supreme artistry of guitarist Reg Schwager and bassist Steve Wallace – pure magic. Third, there’s our very special guest artist – New York cornet virtuoso Warren Vaché.

ABOUT CHET BAKER

Chet Baker (1929-1988) was a jazz trumpeter and singer most often associated with the West Coast, “cool jazz” style.

His repertoire included many songs that we now consider classic standards, like Alone Together, Everything Happens To Me, Time After Time and My Funny Valentine.

Here is Bruce Weber‘s 1988 documentary, Let’s Get Lost. If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth checking out…

Details:
6:30PM – Doors Open
7:30PM – Performance Begins

TICKETS:
$15.00 adv/$20.00 door
*Dinner reservations get priority seating*

Dinner available, before, during, and after the show.
647.347.6567
http://www.pubaret.com/

The Billie Holiday Songbook

Next Wednesday, October 17, we’re beginning a little detour into the songbooks of iconic interpreters of song. First up is one of my personal heroes and everlasting inspiration, Billie Holiday aka Lady Day. We hope that you’ll join us at The Flying Beaver Pubaret as Reg Schwager (guitar), Steve Wallace (bass) and I explore the songs that Ms. Holiday “owned”, either through her unforgettable – and often definitive – interpretations or through actual creation (yes, she was a gifted songwriter too).

ABOUT BILLIE HOLIDAY

Billie Holiday (1915-1959) had a formative influence on jazz and pop singing.

Her vocal style, strongly influenced by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo in such songs as Crazy He Calls Me, Solitude, Strange Fruit, Them There Eyes and God Bless The Child.

Here’s Billie singing Autumn In New York, with Oscar Peterson at the piano (1952):

Details:
6:30PM – Doors Open
7:30PM – Performance Begins

TICKETS:
$15.00 adv/$20.00 door
*Dinner reservations get priority seating*

Dinner available, before, during, and after the show.
647.347.6567
http://www.pubaret.com/

The Rodgers and Hart Songbook

On Wednesday, October 10 we’re exploring the treasure trove of songs created by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz (Larry) Hart. We hope that you’ll join us at the Flying Beaver Pubaret in the heart of Toronto’s Cabbagetown – an intimate “listening room” with stellar sound and great food (and drinks!).

Canadian jazz greats Reg Schwager (guitar) and Steve Wallace (bass) will join John once again for the sixth evening in this ongoing series.

ABOUT RODGERS and HART

Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) and Larry Hart (1895-1943) wrote an astonishing array of musical comedies for Broadway and London’s West End.

At their pinnacle, the team was writing an average of four new shows a year. In 1930, the team relocated to Hollywood, where they contributed songs and wrote the scores for several movie musicals, including the landmark Love Me Tonight starring Maurice Chevalier.

Legendary Broadway producer Billy Rose lured them back to New York in 1935 to write the songs for his circus musical spectacular, Jumbo. Their score introduced The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, My Romance and Little Girl Blue. From 1936 to 1943, Rodgers and Hart wrote a series of Broadway musical comedies, each of which seemed to top the one before in terms of innovation and box office success. These productions collectively offered such classic songs as There’s A Small Hotel, I Wish I Were In Love Again, My Funny Valentine, Where Or When, The Lady Is A Tramp, Spring Is Here, Falling In Love With Love, This Can’t Be Love, I Didn’t Know What Time It Was, It Never Entered My Mind, Bewitched, I Could Write A Book, and Wait Till You See Her.

Details:
6:30PM – Doors Open
7:30PM – Performance Begins

TICKETS:
$15.00 adv/$20.00 door
*Dinner reservations get priority seating*

Dinner available, before, during, and after the show.
647.347.6567
http://www.pubaret.com/

The Harold Arlen Songbook

This coming Wednesday, October 3, we’re bringing our favorite Harold Arlen songs to the Flying Beaver Pubaret in Toronto’s Cabbagetown. Arlen is one of my personal heroes within the pantheon of great 20th century songwriters. He had an enviable range as a composer, and he worked with some of the most gifted lyricists. Brilliant stuff.

Guitar virtuoso Reg Schwager will be on board again, along with our special guest, the impeccable Pat Collins (bass).

ABOUT HAROLD ARLEN

Harold Arlen (1905 – 1986) – his music is everywhere. You may have heard – or hummed – a Harold Arlen song today and didn’t even realize it.

Though he was most noted for composing the songs for the film The Wizard of Oz, particularly Over the Rainbow (which was recently named the Number One Song of the Century) he wrote over 400 songs including classics like: Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Blues in the Night, Come Rain or Come Shine, I’ve Got the World on a String, It’s Only a Paper Moon, Let’s Fall in Love, My Shining Hour, One for My Baby (and One More for the Road), Stormy Weather, That Old Black Magic, and The Man That Got Away.

Yup. One guy wrote all those tunes. Crazy.

Details:
6:30PM – Doors Open
7:30PM – Performance Begins

TICKETS:
$10.00 adv/$15.00 door
*Dinner reservations get priority seating*

Dinner available, before, during, and after the show.
647.347.6567
http://www.pubaret.com/

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