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Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada | AFM

Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada | AFM
Band World Acoustic


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"Canto: Close Enough For Jazz"

A weekend afternoon in early March, and three musicians gather to rehearse in a crowded living room. The rehearsal space can barely fit them and their instruments as they tune up, warm up, confer quietly on practice order. A pair of concerts is in the offing.
"Ten Thousand Miles, then."
Suddenly, they are playing, filling the room with sound like an acoustic sunrise scouring the landscape with blinding beautiful light. The song gathers momentum, an old ballad set to new music, a tale as timeless as breathing. The final major resolving chord. Then peace.
"Well," says Kim Erickson at her piano. Damon Dowbak, on mandocello, and Sage Reynolds, on standup bass, grin, gaze expectantly. "That's quite fine, since we haven't played together since last August!"
"I'm on two hours' sleep," Reynolds quips, adding that he had played a late night gig in his current home city of Montreal before flying in the early morning to the Lakehead.
Their words speak of the special challenge posed in playing and staying together. Their music belies the separation. In spite of Reynolds living thousands of kilometres away, the members of Canto pick up where they left off. 2006 was a good year for them, with local concerts at the Lakehead Unitarian Fellowship and a well-received set at Summerfolk in Owen Sound, Ont. Prior to that, they were not strangers to one another.
"I've known Sage since he was a little kid," muses Dowbak. "I watched him grow up. All of a sudden, he was amazing!"
"I'd been living here for four years in 2004," Reynolds answers. "I'd jammed a lot, played with Damon, Danny Johnson, Cliff Ojala, and of course Kim."
"We worked together a few times," adds Erickson, "and then in 2006, we coalesced into Canto. It seemed a natural thing."
Erickson's turn of phrase describes Canto well, especially given the welter of influences that the three veteran musicians bring with them, both in their writing and their cover songs.
Dowbak and Reynolds are both steeped in jazz, Reynolds working as a full-time bassist and session man in Montreal. Erickson is as comfortable in cabaret music as she is in classical music, along with folk styles of a variety of countries and traditions. All three cite world music, especially Latin American, African and European music as a lasting influence and love. The group's name and signature song, in fact, stem from a traditional Portuguese singer.
"Canto is the title of a fado song by Misia (pronounced Mee-Shee-Ah," says Erickson. "She writes beautiful string music, very dark."
Members of Thunder Bay's Canto will showcase their own writing as well as their musicianship in their forthcoming concert. For her part, Erickson has moved a considerable distance from the music of her Away cd (2000).
"My voice is lower, darker in colour, and my writing is more introspective, gutsy and strong," she says.
Dowbak is more recently come to writing, pleased to be showcased for his own work after years of backing up fellow musicians. Both he and Reynolds are immersed in the jazz improvisation tradition.
"I like to set up a framework," Dowbak says, "and work from that. In one of my pieces, everybody would take a section and improvise from there. Last year, we had no encore, so we improvised one on the spot!"
"I write what I hear, but what I hear isn't necessarily out there in modern jazz," Reynolds adds. "I like to create strong melodies you can grab onto, good grooves, music that's interesting. Any complexity is a byproduct, not the central thing."
For all their shared views in music, members' differences are also important. In their upcoming concert, Dowbak and Reynolds will work through several jazz and world-influenced pieces in duet, while Erickson will do several turns as cabaret vocalist in the styles of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel. For these songs, Danny Johnson will accompany on piano. And there is Canto, the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
Canto (Kim Erickson, Damon Dowbak, and Sage Reynolds) will perform Saturday, March 10, beginning at 8 p.m., at the Lakehead Unitarian Fellowship, 129 S. Algoma St. Tickets are $15 adult; $12 students and seniors; available only at the door.
- Peter Fergus-Moore, March '07. - The Chronicle-Journal



Kim' Discography

The Hoito Project - a documentary feature film by Shebandowan Films, Thunder Bay (Featured artist and composer), 2007;
Many People of Song - music for a short documentary film by Sonja Obljubek, Toronto (Vocalist, musician and composer), 2003;
Away by Kim Erickson - songs for voice with piano and thumb piano accompaniment, independent release, 2000;
Celebrate!, a music video by Sonja Obljubek, Toronto (vocalist/performer and composer) - commissioned by the Women’s Health Information Network, Thunder Bay, 1992;
the intention, the blue by Kim Erickson - original songs and jazz/blues arrangements, independent release, 1987;
March, performance piece co-created with playwright William Roberts (vocalist/musician) - excerpt recorded, Musicworks: The Canadian Journal of Sound Explorations, Issue 31, 1986;
Session musician and vocalist on several recordings by Ian Tamblyn, Heaven’s Radio, Sneezy Waters, Bruce Hansen (Canada) and Hi Jinx, Secret Sounds (Holland).

Damon's Discography

Rita Chiarelli- Cuoro:The Italian Sessions 2006
Rodney Brown and the Northern Roots Band- Coastline of Our Dreams the Songs of Ian Tamblyn 2005
Rodney Brown and the Northern Roots Band- The Big Lonely 2004
Bill Houston- North of Superior
Rodney Brown- When the Bay Turns Blue
Ken Hamm- Ken Hamm & Friends
Rodney Brown- Freedom In Me
Ian Gill- Ghosts of Us All 2007
Tracy K- Old, Borrowed & Blues 2007

Sage's Discography

Amon Tobin- Foley Room (Ninja Tune) 2007
Bruce Hansen- Controlled Burn (Bruce Hansen Music) 2006
Sage Reynolds- On the Wall (Effendi, Montréal, FND067.) 2006
Lenya B.- Clues and Lies (independent) 2006
Sage Reynolds- Clear Sight EP (independent) 2006
Moondata Satellite- LABprojects '03-'05 (Moondata Prod.) 2005
Stars- “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” Single (Arts and Crafts) 2005
Naëco- Les 5 Saisons (independent) 2005
The Robin Ranger Quartet- On the Shortest Day of the Year (independent) 2003
Sean Craig Quintet- Under Glass (ORA) 2003



Canto combines the bountiful talents of three accomplished solo artists.

Damon Dowbak is an adventurous mandolinist/mandocellist/guitarist whose influences include world, jazz and electronic musics. From Thunder Bay, he has worked extensively with such artists as Rodney Brown, Rita Chiarelli (Cuore-The Italian Sessions Canadian Folk Alliance Music Award for Best Solo World Music Act), Ian Tamblyn, Ken Hamm and Daisy DeBolt.

Kim Erickson is a multi-talented northern Ontario vocalist, musician and composer. Studies in classical voice, piano and composition took her to Ottawa, Montreal and Holland, and she has augmented her performance background with intensive study of modern and world dance styles, and by her work in the theatre. She has performed across Canada and in Holland as a solo artist and backing musician/vocalist (see discography). Festivals she has performed at include: Lunenburg Folk Harbour Music Festival, Summerfolk Festival (Owen Sound), Northern Lights Festival Boreal (Sudbury), Live From the Rock Folk Festival (Red Rock), Thundering Women Music Festival (Thunder Bay), Ottawa Folk Festival and Women’s Cultural and Music Festival (Winnipeg). Kim acquired a knowledge of East Indian music and dance through studies with Anuradha Naimpally (Texas) and Ukrainain music through the Lakehead AUUC Mandolin Orchestra and Women’s Choir. She has performed on several occasions with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, with arrangements of her own songs and the music of Kurt Weill, Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, De Falla, Vaughn Williams and Mozart! She has worked with theatre companies in Ottawa, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Thunder Bay, and recorded her score for a radio drama by B.C. playwright Patricia Ludwick for CBC Vancouver. Kim has been awarded two Netherlands Government fellowships, several Canada Council for the Arts grants, Ontario Arts Council grants and the 2008 CJ Award for Arts and Heritage in the area of Media and Performance Art (Thunder Bay). She has served as an arts juror for CC and OAC, and as a consultant for the Ministry of Culture and Communications, Ontario.

Bassist and composer Sage Reynolds is highly active on the Montréal music scene performing and writing in a variety of musical styles and contexts. Sage has performed and recorded with many different musicians and groups such as Sage Reynolds Quartet, Life in Winter, Courtney Wing, Matt Lipscombe, Julian Brown, Jade McNelis, Stars, Land of Talk, Sarah Neufeld, Amon Tobin, Ismail Fencioglu, Shtreiml, Kaba Horo, Sean Craig Quintet, Gabriel Lambert Trio, André Leroux, François Bourassa, Guy Bélanger, Rick Haworth, Rita Chiarelli, Harry Manx, Bella Fleck, and Andrea Revel. Sage was awarded the “Prix Étoiles Galaxie de Radio-Canada” at the 2005 Montréal International Jazz Festival for his compositions “Saturday Afternoon” and “On the Wall”. In October 2005 his quartet opened for John Scofield at the famous Spectrum. “On the Wall”, Sage's first full length CD as a composer/band-leader/producer, was released in September of 2006 on Effendi Records.

Canto performs a generous mix of music to move your heart and your feet.