ABOUT THE CD
Jazz saxophonist Janice Finlay showcases her formidable talents as a performer, composer and arranger on her first feature CD, "She's Hip". Finlay is joined by several stellar Canadian jazz artists, including Hugh Fraser (piano and trombone), Mike Downes (bass), Mike Herriott (trumpet) and Ron Halldorson (guitar); little wonder this mainstream jazz album was nominated for Outstanding Jazz Recording at the 2003 Western Canada Music Awards, and was named as one of the top five "must have CDs" of 2002 by the Galaxie network within two months of its release!
One of eight originals on the CD, the title track's catchy melody and hard swingin' feel harken back to the hardbop era. "Sir Duncan" salutes the bebop era with its trumpet-alto pairing, and echoes of Ilionois Jacquet's raunchy tenor sound permeate "In a Mellow Tone". Finlay's gorgeous and emotional tenor sound shines on the two ballads on the CD, her original composition "A Tender Heart" and her evocative arrangement of "Georgia on My Mind". Her take on Faure's Pavane is totally refreshing!
Please scroll down for liner notes and reviews of the CD.
ABOUT JANICE FINLAY
The seeds of Finlay's passion for jazz music were sown in her late teens, with such jazz luminaries as Stan Getz, Art Pepper, Paul Desmond and Julian "Cannonball" Adderley proving to be key influences in the development of her unique saxophone voice. After cutting her "jazz teeth" for a few years in Winnipeg, Canada, Finlay decided to put down permanent roots in the jazz world, undertaking serious study of the musical genre at Montreal's McGill University and graduating with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance in the early 90's.
Since her graduation, Finlay has risen to prominence in Canada as a jazz saxophonist, composer, arranger and band leader and maintains an active performance career as a top-call player. She has continued to develop her skills through a residency at the Banff Centre and studies with artists Don Thompson, Mike Murley and David Liebman. In 2008, Finlay was thrilled to be selected from an international field of applicants as an associate artist in a residency program led by prolific composer Mark Applebaum at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida.
In her role as a sought-after educator and mentor, Janice shares her love of jazz with students from all walks of life. She was delighted to be named Manitoba's 2004 Xerox Jazz Educator of the Year, and honoured to be nominated for a 2004 YM/YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the Arts, Culture and Heritage category.
Audiences and musicians alike find Janice's contagiously joyful spirit impossible to resist!
CD LINER NOTES:
Until recently, this jazz reviewer believed Finlay’s greatest musical asset lay either in arranging (The Swing Cats Live: Every Night & Every Day) or evoking saxophone sensations with such artists as Clark Terry, Mel Torme, George Reznik, Maureen McGovern, and the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra. After being honoured with an advance copy of her first recording as a leader, I may have to focus in the future on the manner in which she invents a song. Finlay has really come of age in her evolution as a composer, with no less than eight new originals, all of which merit repeated play on any jazz broadcaster’s turntable. Bravo Janice! Bravo also to Hugh Fraser, for his spiritual leadership and powerful piano and trombone sounds, Mike Herriott for some very inspired trumpet playing, and to a terrific rhythm section of Kelly Marques on drums, Mike Downes on bass, and guitarist Ron Halldorson, taking a hiatus from his legendary bass status (recall Lenny Breau’s first two albums).
Many highlights include the freshest interpretation of Faure’s "Pavane" that these ears have heard since Branford Marsalis’ rendition with choir. This version transforms the piece into something truly special – featuring Janice on soprano sax, Hugh Fraser on piano, Ron’s guitar and Mike’s haunting trumpet. "In a Mellow Tone" brings to mind Flip Phillips’ tasteful arrangement, while "Georgia on My Mind" becomes a classical vehicle of expression. Perhaps the biggest surprises of all lie in Janice’s promising originals such as "She’s Hip" (love the melody!), "Sir Duncan" (a splendid dialogue between Janice, Mike Herriott and Ron Halldorson), "A Life Worth Remembering" (a song worth cherishing – the late jazz flautist Moe Koffman would have probably enjoyed playing this one) and "A Tender Heart", which showcases some soulful playing by High on piano, Mike on bass and Janice on tenor sax.
Janice Finlay is a relatively rare cat in the Canadian jazz scene. I can only recall two or three other female saxophonists/composers/arrangers making impressive marks on the jazz scene in recent times – and they are all Jan or Janes (Bunnett, Faire and Finlay – Karen Graves from Mother of Pearl and Colleen Allen from the Molly Johnson Quintet notwithstanding). What’s in a name, you say?
SHE’S HIP is most definitely an album worth remembering!
Freelance Jazz Writer/Broadcaster
Host, Fascinatin’ Rhythm (UMFM)
Co-founder, Jazz Winnipeg Festival
FROM Style Manitoba (vol. 7 No. 3):
In her own way, Winnipeg's Janice Finlay holds history in her hands. Benny Goodman's clarinet swing, Coleman Hawkins' romantic vibrato tenor sax, the coolest flute this side of Herbie Mann - it's all there, along with the conviction and ideas to push beyond pastiche. Common to debut albums, She's Hip (Boathouse Records) has the diversity of a resume, from the slow flute waltz of "A Life Worth Remembering" to the Bo Diddley beat of "Jump for Joy." Everything works well, however, and a gorgeous lifting of Gabriel Faure's "Pavane," with a keen soprano sax, and a half-speed investigation of "Georgia on My Mind" are so deep you can swim in them.
- Randall McIlroy
FROM the Winnipeg Free Press, November 2, 2002:
When Janice Finlay says She's Hip, you'd better listen. Really, you can't help but listen to the saxophonist's new CD; it's that good.
Finlay, a stalwart of Winnipeg's jazz scene wrote or co-wrote eight of the 11 tunes and plays beautifully, whether bop or ballad, backed by some of the country's best musicians. We've heard her perform in so many settings, it's a pleasure to hear her let loose as a leader playing her own music. (four stars out of five)
- Chris Smith