Tag Archives: Parkdale

Ep. #278: Jane Bunnett

Jane Bunnett is a world-renowned jazz musician and composer who lives in Toronto, Ontario. A Juno award winner and Grammy award nominee, Bunnett is a highly accomplished saxophonist and piano player well known for her incorporation of Cuban music and collaborations with Cuban musicians; her 1991 album, Spirits of Havana, is considered one of the greatest jazz records ever. Her group, Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, release their new album, Oddara, is out October 14 via Linus Entertainment and will be touring throughout Canada and the U.S. between September and November. Bunnett will be appearing at the Guelph Jazz Festival on September 16, as part of Song Everlasting, an all-star tribute to the late pianist, Don Pullen. Jane and I met on the terrace of her Toronto home recently to discuss raccoons, spices, the evolution of a rooming house in Parkdale, where goes the neighbourhood, chains, the Gardiner Expressway, the stupid annual Toronto Air Show, Yours to Discover, attending five different Toronto high schools after attending a free school, painting and clarinet, street tough, music in the family and a new house with a piano, sister Sarah, the youngest kids don’t seem to matter as much, big brother’s music collection, piano lessons and bailing, too much playing and jazz, off she went to San Francisco, Charles Mingus, The Colonial Tavern, Don Pullen, improvisation and the flute, Toronto’s New School of Music and Howard Spring, “Nostalgia in Times Square,” snobby record store employees, Toronto’s underappreciated history as a jazz mecca, Claude Ranger, Mark Miller, ahistorical, a range of instruments, the social aspect of music, Mexico and Cuba, discovering greatness in Santiago de Cuba and Havana in 1982, the great percussionist Guillermo Barreto, her partner and collaborator Larry Cramer, the stories behind her all-female Cuban group Maqueque and their new album Oddara, David Virelles, the spirit and fiery energy of a little girl, NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, remembering Don Pullen, In Dew Time, Ajay Heble, the esteemed ensemble playing this tribute, Howard Johnson and Saturday Night Live, the Maqueque song, “Dream,” and that was that.

Related links: janebunnett.com guelphjazzfestival.com vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #88: Vanessa Dunn of Vag Halen

Vanessa Dunn is the lead singer of Vag Halen, one of Toronto’s most exciting and confrontational rock bands. On Facebook, they describe themselves as “Toronto’s feminist art rock band that brings the bad with a dash of ass! Armed with a repertoire of classics, Vag Halen muff dives into the salty cock rock waters, blowing nether regions with their commitment to all things queer and all things rock.” Having seen the band myself, I can verify that that is all totally, totally true. Vag Halen storm Guelph on April 12 for a set at Kazoo! Fest at Van Gogh’s Ear. The band is on at 11:30 PM sharing a bill with Whoop-SZO, Biblical, and Legato Vipers. Here Vanessa and I discuss the pizza in Parkdale, growing up in Scarborough and celebrating the suburbs, where Vag Halen came from and what it might stand for, Katie Ritchie of the Organ, good Van Halen (David) and bad Van Halen (Sammy), how the band covers songs by different cock rock, hair metal bands who are male-centric, as an attempt to assert and understand the role of women and queer culture in such realms, the sexy, revealing attire and stage presence of Vag Halen, the power and cultural contributions of Tawny Kitaen and Miss Elizabeth, Vanessa’s acting background, whether or not we’re well past the era where musicians can get away with blatantly misogynistic and homophobic aesthetic stances, Nirvana’s decision to perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with women like Joan Jett, Kim Gordon, Lorde, and St. Vincent filling in for Kurt Cobain, why Axl Rose is the worst, most complex person, how personas or behavioural patterns in musical genres can perpetuate problematic lyrics and attitudes, running into Alice Cooper at a restaurant, Vanessa’s love of Depeche Mode and the Jesus and Mary Chain but her passion for hard rock, whether Vag Halen will ever write its own songs, the generally positive reception for the band in Toronto and Vanessa’s place as a role model, what’s new in Vag Halen’s set these days and why things are gonna get heavy at Kazoo! Fest, and nothing more.

Related links: twitter.com/VagHalen kazookazoo.ca vishkhanna.com


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