VIBRAPHONE PLAYER BOBBY HUTCHINSON AND CHROMATIC HARMONICA PLAYER “TOOTS” THIELMANS
In jazz, history counts for a lot. Every current performer of note stands on the shoulders of all those who came before. In the case of vibraphone players the early jazz giant on the instrument was Lionel Hampton. Lionel first popularized the instrument while playing with Benny Goodman during the swing era. He was a two mallet player (one in each hand) with a rapid aggressive splashy style suited to the music of the day. He never really modernized his style when the likes of Charlie Parker invented Be-bop. That was left to the next generation of performers who immersed themselves in the new style. Milt Jackson, while still a two mallet player, had a style strongly influenced by the blues and Be-bop. He was not a show man in the Hampton tradition but rather made his name as a band member of the Modern Jazz Quartet. The MJQ had a career that spanned over forty years and Jackson was an integral component in their reflective style of jazz. BobbyHutchinson and Gary Burton careers’ both somewhat overlapped Jackson’s and they both rose to fame in the 60’s and 70’s. They were the new generation who favored the use four mallets (two in each hand) that allowed for a more complex pianistic style of performance. Although somewhat now retired Gary Burton is still around and is probably still performing in a semi-professional capacity. Bobby Hutchinson passed away on August 15, 2016 surrounded by his family in the living room of his long time home in Montara, California. He was 75 years old.
Jean-Baptiste Frederic Isidore Thielemans was born in Belgium and began studying the harmonica at age 3, and by age 17 he was also proficient on guitar. He became known as “Toots”. The Chromatic Harmonica does not have the same historical traditions of other jazz instruments so he is literally the first of his kind. Although he has played with all the great jazz soloists, including Charlie Parker, he is best known for his composition Bluesette. He died in Brussels on August 22, 2016. He was 94 years old.
Saturday, October 15, 2016 – Laura Landsberg with her Trio at Studio 64, Kimberley
What can I say? Once again the Kimberley Arts Council has hit the jackpot. And once again I am astounded at the technical proficiency and musicality of the musicians coming out of the West Kootenays. Laura Landsberg (Vocals) and her Trio, Paul Landsberg (Guitar), Tony Ferraro (Drums) and Doug Stephenson (Acoustic Bass) all hail from the Nelson area.
Although Laura is currently from Nelson she does “come from away” . She has an honest musical pedigree. She is the daughter of world-renowned trombonist and composer Ian McDougall. She was born in London and grew up listening to her father’s jazz trombone. Her father played in Johnny Dankworth’s top British Jazz Orchestra. Undoubtedly at some time in her youth she was exposed to the jazz sounds of that orchestra plus the incredible British Jazz vocalist Cleo Laine who performed from time to time with the Dankworth organisation. Laura was raised in Vancouver, BC, received her formal education at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta. In numerous vocal workshops she went onto to develop her skills as a performer and teacher. She has studied with Bobby McFerrin, Rhiannon, David Worm, Axel Thiemer (Voice Care Network), Dee Daniels, Kiran Ahluwalia, Joey Blake and many other inspiring teachers. She has been teaching music since 1985 and joined the Selkirk College Music faculty in the fall of 2004. Laura is a certified voice care teacher and a member of the “Voice Care Network”. There you have it, a pretty impressive resume.
Her musical co-conspirators are no less impressive. As any good vocalist will tell you a good accompanist is hard to find so when you find one you hang onto him and there is no better way than to marry him. Paul Landsberg is that accompanist. The two other members of the trio should be named “The Dynamic Duo”. The drummer Tony Ferraro is a full spectrum performer who can drive a big band into the stratosphere (The Chicago Tribute Band), or dig into funky Latin Grooves with the Gabriel Palatchi Trio or, as in this performance, play whisper soft brushes behind a vocalist. Tony has performed many time in this area. Doug Stephenson is adept on funky electric bass in the context of the Gabriel Palatchi Trio or adding his beautiful bass lines to any acoustic performance.
Laura and her trio kicked off the evening with Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Dindi. Although described as a Bossa Nova classic it is entirely new to me so it was a welcome introduction. They followed that up with two jazz standards All or Nothing at All, How Deep is the Ocean and a bluesy Please Send Me Some One to Love. Other songs in the set included more jazz standards and the Elton John hit Your Song. Tony Ferraro’s brushes were the sweet support for Laura’s vocals. Paul Landsberg’s Wes Montgomery inspired guitar playing on Exactly Like Your was also perfect. The song Time After Time had a nice little rhythmic twist. I am seldom right on these things but was that tune in 5/4? It was just one of the many musical twists and nuances in the evenings performance. These little things make a difference.
All in all it was another nice evening of top flight Jazz and one I hope will repeated with a return concert at some future date. As always the evening was made possible by the efforts of the many volunteers and community support of the sponsors.
NEW CUSTOMS: HOUSE CONCERT AT 5768 HAHA CREEK ROAD, WARDNER (MAYOOK), Sunday September 25, 2016, 7:30 pm
Not all live music shows and venues are equal. Some people prefer the big stage. The bigger the better. An arena with 20,000 fans, over the top volume, fireworks and a big production is the ideal for a lot of fans. Not me. I prefer music on a small scale, low volume, homespun production values and an intimate venue. The Studio / Stage Door (Cranbrook), Studio 64 (Kimberley), Knox Presbyterian Church and the Small Stage at The Key City are all admirable small venues, each with it’s particular advantages and foibles. Often these venues are not available, or the additional cost of the rental space eats into the venue available for travelling musicians who are on a very tight budget. The House Concert concept is an alternative venue for travelling musicians. House concerts are just what they sound like, a complete concert performance with professional musicians located directly in the biggest room of a house. Most house concerts operate without a sound system. The shows are presented as solo, duo or trio performances. Occasionally an artist will bring a small amp for their keyboard or as voice reinforcement, but for the most part, these are entirely acoustic shows. House Concerts have been around for many years and there has always been a few here and there in this area. Some have been successful, some not so much. What is required is a venue with a comfortable room with comfortable seating and space for at least 30 patrons. An essential ingredient is a host willing to go above and beyond by providing over night accommodation and the PR needed to bring in an audience. Support from local audiences is also an essential. Home Routes / Chemin Chez Nous is a not-for profit organization that has a mission to bring excellent Folk-Roots-Blues music to new audiences who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience these musical genres live, in their own area, and by professional performers. It has been around for over 10 years and it basically serves as an umbrella organization for touring musicians and house concert hosts. It should be understood that while the touring musicians may not be household names they are part of a huge body of exceptionally talented performers out there who take the notion of “professional musician” to a whole new level of excellence.
A case in point is the duo New Customs who performed recently at the home of Shelagh and Van Redecopp out on Haha Creek Road in Wardner (Mayook). For a House Concert the venue was perfect for the duo The New Customs. They are new in name, but not in experience. They are a recently minted folk duo, but individually they are Emma Cloney (Guitars and Vocals) and Dale Brown (Fiddle, Mandolin, Octave Mandolin and Vocals) with over 20 years of professional musical experience between them. “Hailing from the prolifically musical city of Winnipeg Manitoba Canada (12% of all professional Canadian musicians live in Winnipeg), the duo is being noticed for its solid songwriting, heart-stirring harmonies and outstanding instrumentation. The combination of guitarist Emma Cloney’s powerful haunting voice with the award-winning, sought-after multi-instrumentalist Dale Brown’s (mandolin, fiddle) – his deep voice evokes the sound of James Keelaghan or Stan Rogers – make up the heart of their sound. According to their bio, they’re not confined by the conventional and are unrestricted in their thinking: they‘re intent on creating the new customs, blending not only their music styles but also their careers. In writing together, the pair crafts tunes that range in flavour from Folk to Celtic to Blues, with a sound uniquely their own. With solid reputations and an obvious musical chemistry, they’ve already played at three high profile folk festivals in Manitoba and Ontario this summer, and released a debut EP”. In their own words: “Our shows are a mix of upbeat and contemplative, fiddle tunes and sing-a-longs, friendly for all ages, and full of original songs (mixed with some classics and traditionals you may recognize). We are 2 voices, 4 hands, 33 strings (though not all at once!), and an electrified cutting board all packed into a Kia hatchback and looking forward to playing for you.”
The concert was a mix of original songs – Sons of Saint Marie, Deep River, Austin of the North; traditional songs – Stephen Foster’s Hard, Hard Times; a few covers – Stan Rogers’ 45 Years; lots of fiddle music including an outstanding tune, A Song For All Seasons from the pen of traditional fiddler Oliver Schroer.
This is a very self aware duo who knows who they are, where they come from and where they are going. These are very rare qualities in most Canadian performers. It gives their music a strength and vibrancy that is some what unique. Emma’s voice and the duo’s vocal harmonies are outstanding On top of that, their instrumental strengths are exceptional. Emma uses two guitars in unusual open tunings that are altered and expanded with her novel simultaneous use of two capos. With the two guitar set up she wastes little or no time in switching between her various tunings. Her accompaniments are more forceful than delicate but are a perfect blend with her voice and Dale’s mandolins and fiddle. Dale also uses the unusual tuning AEAE for the mandolins. The larger instrument is that hybrid instrument that is sometimes labelled as a bouzouki but given the shorter neck and the tuning he uses I suspect it is actually an Octave Mandolin. His musical breaks on songs and tunes are outstanding.
Here a some images from the evening:
All and all, this was a very successful first House Concert in this new series. It was a great venue, with charming hosts and wonderful music. The wine and snacks were much appreciated.
I am looking forward to the next concert in series to be held also in Mayook at 8163 Gibbons Road, on Tuesday October 25, 2016 at 7:30 pm. It will feature the Duo Blue Moon Marquee who performed at Studio 64 (Centre 64) in Kimberley March 2015. I remember it well, it was an outstanding concert. Check this link to my review
Don’t forget to be there. Remember all of the revenues generated at these concerts goes to the musicians.
Here is special treat for you. A YouTube clip of New Customs performing Deep River
Why do I like this particular song – well first of all I like the lyrics
SHE’S GOT ONE FOOT IN THE WATER,
& THE OTHER FOOT ON THE SHORE
WHEN THE TETHER LET GO BEHIND HER,
SHE COULD RESIST THE WATER NO MORE
OH IT’S A DEEP RIVER THAT YOU’RE WADING IN …. OH MOMMA NO!
OH IT’S A DEEP RIVER THAT YOU’RE WADING IN …. OH MOMMA DON’T, MOMMA DON’T GO.
NOW HEARTACHE IS A POISON
AND POISON TENDS TO DRINK
AND WHEN SHE STEPPED INTO THAT WATER,
THE MUDDY BANK STARTS TO SINK
OH IT’S A DEEP RIVER THAT YOU’RE WADING IN …. OH MOMMA NO!
OH IT’S A DEEP RIVER THAT YOU’RE WADING IN …. OH MOMMA DON’T, MOMMA DON’T GO.
NOW MOMMA’S IN UP TO HER NECK,
AND THE WATER IS STARTING TO RISE
BECAUSE MOMMA USED THE BOTTLE TO DRY
THE TEARS FROM HER PRETTY BLUE EYES
OH IT’S A DEEP RIVER THAT YOU’RE WADING IN …. OH MOMMA NO!
OH IT’S A DEEP RIVER THAT YOU’RE WADING IN …. OH MOMMA DON’T, MOMMA DON’T GO.
Then there is the soulful Cape Breton flavored fiddle intro, Emma’s soulful voice with driving reel like rhythm guitar, Dale’s fiddle fills, their vocal harmony around minute 1:25′: the slight of hand slip into a 6/8 jig rhythm and around 1:50′ Dale seems to re-invent the tune with some melodic variations. Emma ups the ante around 3:20′ with those driving descending chords before they take the tune out with a recap of the soulful intro.
JAZZ BLUES & STUDIO 64: THE ANDREA PETRITY TRIO, September 24, 2016, 8pm at Studio 64 (Centre 64) Kimberley BC
Some musicians have an epiphany. They may be wandering along in a sonic fog and out of the blue they hear a performer or a recording that becomes an “aha” moment. It becomes lodged in their brain and the thought train becomes – “So that is what it is all about. I want to do that”. What follows is a commitment to a musical performance philosophy that may take them in a completely different direction, one that they may have never considered prior to the “aha moment”. That didn’t happen for the Calgary jazz pianist Andrea Petrity. The metamorphosis was much more gradual than that. Like so many other youth she took piano lessons and worked her way though the standard classical piano curriculum and repertoire. After leaving school and wondering what to do with her life she came to a conclusion that she already had a possibly useful skill set and perhaps, if she applied herself, it may lead some where. That is what she started doing and, eventually, she applied for admission to a Jazz Performance Program at Mount Royal University in Calgary. Now, years later she is a fully fledged Jazz Pianist with a great love for the music of Bill Evans, Brad Mehldau, Thelonious Monk and that whole other world of Jazz Piano. Her favourite is the long deceased musical genius Bill Evans but she freely admits that there are so many talented musicians out there it is impossible to know them all, hear them all, or give credit where credit is due.
When asked the crass question “And what is your real day job?” the unequivocal response from Andrea, her bass player Stefano Valdo and drummer Robin Tufts is that they are full time professional musicians. That they possess a degree of professionalism is more than self evident in their on stage demeanour and commitment to technical and musical excellence.
On Saturday night at Studio 64 in Kimberley the Andrea Petrity Trio gave the admittedly small audience (very unusual for this extremely popular annual series) a substantial serving of straight ahead, no holds barred piano trio jazz. They kicked off the evening with their interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s Bird on the Wire. I normally approach listening to drummers with a certain amount of scepticism. Kit drummers tend to play too loud and dare I say it, often sound unmusical. Andrea promised a tasty treat with Robin Tufts accompaniments and we were not disappointed in his adroit handling of brushes and his simpatico accents. The bassist Stefano Valdo is no stranger to Studio 64 audiences. The last time he was here he played a huge electric bass guitar but this time around he had switched to upright bass. One of his musical heroes is the late great Scott LaFaro of Bill Evans Trio fame. The influences, at least to my ears, were very evident in his free wheeling accompanying and solo style. One of the sonic pleasures of recent years is the return of the upright acoustic bass. Nothing quiet matches the big fat bottom depths of the acoustic upright bass. The first “standard” tune of the evening done in a very original style was Harlem Nocturne. The rest of the program was filled with a number of Andrea’s originals that included You Took Love With You, a nod to Thelonious Monk in Monkey Around (I am sure Thelonious was smiling), and a cute interpretation of a Hungarian Folk tune with some nice hand percussion from Robin. The name of the tune was loosely translated as an ode to a Brown eyed or gypsy girl. It was a neat 4/4 tune with a triplet feel, kind of 6/8, but not really. After the intermission they kicked off with a Latin feel in Andrea’s original Marianna, followed by an achingly slow (Andrea’s direction to the trio) version of the standard The Very Thought of You. This was followed by I Found a New Baby. Then more original tunes including a new untitled work simply called Untitled and the final piece of the evening PMS. A title that doesn’t mean what you think. It is a nod to three modern Jazz master musicians, the bassist John Patitucci the guitarists Pat Metheny and John Scofield – PMS.
Here are more images from the evening.
As always in the Studio 64 Jazz and Blues Concert series the music in this concert was a joy to experience. There is something about the interplay and shifting textures of live jazz that cannot be beaten.
The musicians in the trio would like to thank the Studio 64 Organizing Committee, Volunteers, the audience and A B&B AT 228 for their hospitality. They would also like to thank Elaine Rudser fo her astonishing art work on the walls of the performance space.
Only a non-jazz fan would ask “Rudy who?”. Rudy was a renowned recording engineer and the principle sonic architect of the “Blue Note Sound”. A specific sound that is associated with the classic recordings of the golden jazz era of the last 50 years. He worked with many recording companies but is best known for his work with Alfred Lyon’s Blue Note Recording company. He recorded all the jazz greats, including Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and just about every other major jazz artist of the past 50 years.
He wasn’t always a sound engineer. He trained as an optometrist and that was his “day job”. He went off to work in the morning to his optometry practice to earn his “daily bread” and after hours he spent his time recording jazz. At first in his parent’s living room, then in the iconic studio he designed and built at Engelwood Cliffs in Hackensack, New Jersey. He eventually ditched his day job and became a full time recording engineer.
Here is a Wikipedia quote: “When I first started, I was interested in improving the quality of the playback equipment I had,” Van Gelder commented in 2005; “I never was really happy with what I heard. I always assumed the records made by the big companies sounded better than what I could reproduce. So that’s how I got interested in the process. I acquired everything I could to play back audio: speakers, turntables, amplifiers”. One of Van Gelder’s friends, the baritone saxophonist Gil Melle introduced him to Alfred Lyon, a producer for Blue Note Records, in 1953. Within a few years Van Gelder was in demand by many other independent labels based around New York, such as Prestige Records, Impulse and Savoy. Bob Weinstock, owner of Prestige, recalled in 1999, “Rudy was very much an asset. His rates were fair and he didn’t waste time. When you arrived at his studio he was prepared. His equipment was always ahead of its time and he was a genius when it came to recording”. According to a JazzTimes article in August 2016, “jazz lore has formed the brands into a yin and yang of sorts: The Blue Note albums involved more original music, with rehearsal and the stringent, consistent oversight of Alfred Lion; Weinstock was more nonchalant, organizing what were essentially blowing sessions for some of the best musicians in jazz history”. Van Gelder said in 2012, “Alfred was rigid about how he wanted Blue Note records to sound. But Bob Weinstock of Prestige was more easygoing, so I’d experiment on his dates and use what I learned on the Blue Note sessions”. He also worked for Savoy Records in this period, among others. “To accommodate everyone, I assigned different days of the week to different labels”. Rudy was also a pioneer in the development of live “on site” jazz recordings. In the 1950s Van Gelder also performed engineering and mastering for the classical label Vox Records. Thelonious Monk composed and recorded a tribute to Van Gelder entitled “Hackensack”.
Here is quote that I am sure will raise the ire of fans of vinyl recordings. From 1999 on, he re-mastered the analog Blue Note recordings, that he had made several decades earlier, into 24-bit digital recordings for the Blue Note’s RVG Edition series and also a similar series of re-masters for the current owners, Concord Records, of some of the Prestige albums he had previously recorded. He was positive about the switch from analog to digital technology. He told Audio magazine in 1995: “The biggest distorter is the LP itself. I’ve made thousands of LP masters. I used to make 17 a day, with two lathes going simultaneously, and I’m glad to see the LP go. As far as I’m concerned, good riddance. It was a constant battle to try to make that music sound the way it should. It was never any good. And if people don’t like what they hear in digital, they should blame the engineer who did it. Blame the mastering house. Blame the mixing engineer. That’s why some digital recordings sound terrible, and I’m not denying that they do, but don’t blame the medium.”
Van Gelder resided in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey where he died at his home on August 25, 2016.
SummerSounds presents: The Little Jazz Orchestra, August 13, 7:30 pm, Rotary Park, Cranbrook.
It isn’t Newport, Rhode Island and the year is not 1958 but it could be the next best thing. The documentary film Jazz on a Summer’s Day was set at the penultimate jazz festival of the day and here in Cranbrook a half century later we have SummerSounds and The Little Jazz Orchestra (LJO). In both instances the weather was wonderful, the music superb and the setting magical. Sure the crowd wasn’t as big and the number of performers was restricted to just the one band of superb musicians. But to be able to kick back an enjoy the music on this wonderful summer evening, what more could one want? The band line up sported a couple of changes; Dave Ward (Trumpet, Fluegelhorn), Janice Nicili (Bass), EvanBueckert,,(Keyboard)and Graham Barnes (Guitar) were the long time members joined by special guest Rick Lingard (Alto Sax) and Julian Bueckert substituting for Sven Heyde on drums. The band delivered up a set of their funkified version of jazz stands and their own original compositions. Here are images from the evening:
THE TRAGICALLY HIP NATIONALLY BROADCAST LAST CONCERT FROM KINGSTON, ONTARIO, CANADA,Saturday August 20, 2016
On watching the concert there was something that had never really occurred to me before. My son Brendon belongs in the same generation as Justin Trudeau and as such was exposed to the music of the Tragically Hip during his high school and University years. My son was raised in Cranbrook, graduated from the Engineering School at Simon Fraser University and the MBA Program at UBC. He went on to work in the Caribbean, Ireland, Vancouver and Silicon Valley. He is married to an American girl (Ashley) who he met while going to school in Britain. They have one daughter and are currently living in San Jose, California. Here is some email correspondence we kicked around following the historic Tragically Hip Concert broadcast from Kingston Ontario.
Way back when, I decided that rather than try to follow the in and outs of pop/rock music I would just go on my merry way and ignore it all. My philosophy was, then and now, if the music had any real merit I would get to hear it eventually. By and large I think it worked. I didn’t waste time sifting through a lot of dross and the quality stuff usually won out in the end. Case in point : The Tragically Hip – it seems that they have finally penetrated my conscious and I now get it. They are the sound track of your generation. I just got back from my gig with SHEVA in Rotary Park in time to pick up the second half of the Kingston concert. Some of the tunes I am familiar with because they pop up at open mics sessions (Ahead by a Century andWheat Kings). The sound of the broadcast was not good, but what can one expect from a hockey arena, but on listening to some of their recorded stuff I was much more impressed. So I am placing their CDs on my Christmas wish list.
In response to my comment “They are the soundtrack of your generation”.
Too right. Watching Saturday night was fairly emotional, on many levels. Thinking back, I’ve followed The Hip since somewhere around 1991, so about 25 years. I think I had heard a few of their songs on CBC and the like, but it wasn’t until I listened to Road Apples (I borrowed Kirsti Medig’s copy), that I really started paying attention. And later it was their songs I played at open mike nights, or played with my buddy Drew when we go together. So yes, some part of it was emotional because here was a band that I had followed for most of my late teens and adult life. And now it was coming to an end.
On another level, I think everyone watching was also contemplating their own mortality in the face of Gord’s imminent demise. We had all thought The Hip would go on forever, and here it was: The End.
And on yet one more level, a big piece was that there was something definitively Canadian about the moment. I was watching Twitter during the concerts, chatting with friends all over the world as we watched the concert. There was drone footage of the town of Bobcaygeon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VS8UeF2pok&sns=tw), showing the incredible extent of the turnout for a town of only 3500 people. A friend of mine attended a viewing up in SF, and the crowd spontaneously broke out into “O Canada” at the conclusion of the concert. Positively seditious. 😉
As Trudeau rightly pointed out, there was always a singular thought in the back of mind of Hip fans: when will they “break out” and go big, go global? The Hip’s somewhat bizarre appearance on SNL (fellow Kingstonian Dan Ackroyd had made it a requirement of his willingness to appear on the show) was not the leaping off point everyone expected it would be. There was Gord, all weird, fronting a band that looked like they accidentally shuffled out of a bar gig and onto stage at Rockefeller Center. And the song choices – “Grace, Too” and “Nautical Disaster” – were not exactly the rocking numbers that Hip fans wanted the world to hear. And yet, at some point I think Hip fans realized that sure, they could go big, they could be an international stars, etc…but in the words of Joey “Da Lips” in “The Commitments”, “that would have been predictable”. Instead, they stayed uniquely ours. They were a gem of Canadian-ness that we were happy to let the world ignore.
I found it especially interesting to hear Ashley’s perspective on The Hip. Of course she’d heard the music from me, and we’d gone to a few of their concerts (one of which was a ludicrously small event at the Fillmore in SF). But I never really expected her to get them, or have much of a connection to them, given how briefly they had been a part of her life. But she too was quite emotional about it. To her, she saw The Hip as one of the main takeaways from her time in Canada. They were, in many ways, what she knew of Canada and reflected the country she had come to know. Even the affection shown by the band before the show (you didn’t see, but there were hugs and kisses on the mouth from Gord to the band members) showed a group that was clearly comfortable with themselves and their place in the world, as weird and awkward as it might appear to outsiders.
While the Hip may not have been a big band on the world stage – none of that mattered. They were a big band on the stage in our hearts, and in our minds. They have earned their place in Canadian history.
The keys to a good murder / mystery novels are a good plot, interesting personalities, interesting locations, and, of course, a good writer. There are a number of authors out there that have the gift to pull all those ingredients together . The Scottish writer Ian Rankin with his dysfunctional hero John Rebus and his stories set in Endinburgh is one such writer. He was my first real introduction to the genre. The Swedish writer Henny Mankell(1948-2015) who chose Yarstad in southern Sweden as a location for his, once again dysfunctional hero Kurt Wallander. The novels were so successful that the BBC turned them into a mini-series staring starring Kenneth Branagh. Another Swedish writer of note is Steig Larsen who, in the astonishingly successful Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, created the memorable characters Lisbeth Salander and Michael Blomkvist. All novels were published posthumously and sold 80 million copies. They ended up as highly successful movies in Swedish and English. Maybe we should add Michael Genelin to the list with his five Jana Matinova novels . Apart from his writing skills he seems to have the necessary legal background needed to bring an air of authenticity to the plots.
Check his resume:
Michael Genelin (born January 6, 1950) is an American author and former Los Angeles Head Deputy District Attorney in the Hardcore Gang Division. Genelin has been involved around the world in Penal Code reform, Anti-Corruption reform in government, including legislative drafting, Ethics Establishment and Training, Freedom of Information laws, Witness Protection Practices, Trial Advocacy, Investigation and Trial of Cases, particularly homicides, Judicial Procedures, Reform and Creation of Evidence Procedures, Human Resources, all aspects of training, including Anti-Corruption Investigation and Prosecution and the general operations of law enforcement/prosecution/criminal court programs, Investigative Journalism Training, and Interactive Governmental Communications. He has written five novels, mostly set in central Europe, and centered around investigations conducted by Jana Matinova.
Siren of the Waters (A Commander Jana Matinova Investigation) (July 1, 2008)
Jana Matinova entered the Czechoslovak police force as young woman, married an actor, and became a mother. The Communist regime destroyed her husband, their love for one another, and her daughter’s respect for her. But she has never stopped being a seeker of justice.
Now, she has risen to the rank of commander in the Slovak police force and is based in the capital, Bratislava, a crossroads of central Europe. She liaises with colleagues across the continent to track a master criminal whose crimes include extortion, murder, kidnapping, and the operation of a vast human trafficking network.
This investigation takes her from Kiev in Ukraine to the headquarters of the European Community in Strasbourg, France; from Vienna to Nice during the Carnival, as she searches for a ruthless killer and the beautiful young Russian woman he is determined to either capture or destroy.
Dark Dreams (A Commander Jana Matinova Investigation) (July 1, 2009)
Prudent Jana and impetuous Sofia were best friends when they were schoolmates. One day Sofia approached a man in a car when she shouldn’t have and ended up being raped by a nefarious Communist Party bigwig. Jana pursued the culprit’s car, identified him, and vowed someday to bring him to justice.
Now Jana is a commander in the Slovak police force and Sofia, having made her name as a reformer, is a member of Parliament. Jana has fallen in love with an upright government prosecutor and Sofia is carrying on a notorious affair with a suave, married fellow MP.
One day Jana finds an enormous diamond dangling from a string fixed to the ceiling of the living room of her house. Was it put there as a present? Or, more likely, to entrap her? Where did this magnificent jewel come from? And why was it left for her to find? The answer leads Jana across Europe to unravel a criminal conspiracy involving multiple murders which has entangled her hapless, impulsive friend, Sofia, in its web, and ultimately to the criminal mastermind, the onetime Communist Party boss.
The Magician’s Accomplice (A Commander Jana Matinova Investigation) (July 1, 2010)
Devastated by her lover’s death in an explosion—on the same day an indigent student was shot and killed in sleepy Bratislava—Jana is transferred to The Hague, headquarters of the international police force Europol. On the flight she encounters a retired magician, the dead student’s uncle, who is determined to help Jana investigate his nephew’s death. And his help is indeed needed as Jana faces an international criminal conspiracy emanating from Europol itself.
Requiem For A Gypsy (A Commander Jana Matinova Investigation) (July 1, 2011)
When the wife of one of Slovakia’s most prominent businessmen is killed in a very public assassination, it looks like the bullets were meant for her husband. But could she have been the primary target? Commander Jana Matinova must push through her own government’s secretiveness and intransigence to discover what connects the murder of Klara Boganova to an anonymous man run down in Paris, a dead Turk with an ice pick in his eye, and an international network of bank accounts linking back to the Second World War.
For the Dignified Dead (A Commander Jana Matinova Investigation) (Nov. 3, 2015)
When the wife of one of Slovakia’s most prominent businessmen is killed in a very public assassination, it looks like the bullets were meant for her husband. But, could she have been the primary target? Commander Jana Matinova must push through her own government’s secretiveness and intransigence to discover what connects the murder of Klara Boganova to an anonymous man run down in Paris, a dead Turk with an ice pick in his eye, and an international network of bank accounts linking back to the Second World War.
So that’s Amazon.ca basic synopsis of the series.
One of my criteria for reading enjoyment is how long it takes me to actually read the material. The shorter the time it takes me to read then, obviously, the more I have enjoyed the book(s). It doesn’t necessarily follow that they are great literature, just that I enjoyed reading them. That is the case with this series of novels. I read the entire series in under three weeks – turned lots of pages and missed out on some sleep. I found the plots were good, although, my wife only read the first and the last in the series and she felt that the plots could be tighter. There were interesting personalities spread through out the stories. They included the chief protagonist Jana, her boss, her associates and a super villain that drifted in out of a couple in the series. The locations were places that I felt had been under represented in recent fiction. Most of the action takes place in Eastern and Central Europe including Czechoslovakia and the two member republics, then Switzerland, Austria, Hungry, Slovenia and France with side trips to the Ukraine and Germany. Judging by the geographic detail outlined in the novels I can only assume that the author is very familiar with the locales. Although there is a chronology of events that suggest that the novels should be read in sequence, it is possible to read the them as stand alone stories.
All in all, if you are into Crime / Murder / Mystery novels then I suspect you will enjoy them as much as I did.
SummerSounds presents Clayton Parsons in Rotary Park, Cranbrook, Saturday August 13, 2016, 5pm. Clayton’s special guest is Joelle Winkel
The value of the average Singer / Song writer is in serious decline. It is not a question of quality, although that is part of the equation, but rather a question of supply. There are just too many singer / song Writers out there looking for gigs. It seems that every high school kid who plays guitar has ambitions to be a singer / song writer. Even if the quality was over the roof the market cannot absorb an unlimited number of such performers. There are some reasonable word smiths out there who, given time and maturity will put out some reasonable material. One of the kickers is that most only play guitar at a very modest level. Most are just three chord strummers. What we need are superior word smiths with above average guitar skills. I think Clayton Parsons is a performer who fills that bill. Clayton is young man in his early twenties raised here in Cranbrook with an honest artistic pedigree. His father, Reg, is the well known for his bronze sculptures, his sister Jani is a concert pianist and, I believe he has a brother who plays banjo. Clayton is an honest heir to the singer / song Writer tradition that stretches back to the beginning of the last century. He is following in the footsteps of the likes of Woody Gutherie, Rambling Jack Elliot, Bob Dylan, Ian Tyson and John Prine. He has a strong clear voice, killer acoustic guitar chops, great stage presence and, above all, songs that reek of authenticity. He seems to have the uncanny ability to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. A midnight shift at the Skookumchuck pulp mill during shut down would seem to be a pretty ordinary life experience and yet in his hands it becomes a classic piece of art called September Sunday. He also freely plunders the tradition with such classic re-interpretations of C.C. Rider, Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky, and a wonderful reworking of You are My Sunshine that segues back and forth into Gershwin’s Summertime. His partner in crime for this particular performance was Joelle Winkel with some pretty sweet backup harmonies. If I have the story right Clayton and Joelle are just back from a 20 concert tour that stretched from Winnipeg to Victoria. Here are some images from a very pleasant summer evening at Rotary Park.