Richard Underhill
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Richard Underhill

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Band Jazz Jazz


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"Here’s another winner from the Richard Underhill."

Here’s another winner from the Richard Underhill stable, a sure candidate for assorted end-of-year awards and, for once, a CD and DVD package that works. It’s a studio session so passionate you could believe it’s live, plus a DVD recorded at Lula Lounge last October that entertains for more than 90 minutes, plus a bonus segment containing the leader’s incisive jazz opinions. Make sure you experience Free Spirit (Stubby Records SRCD-7734 The CD line-up’s interesting with Underhill’s alto and the trombone of Ron Westray, late of the Lincoln Center Orchestra and now at York. Their companions are pianist Dave Restivo, who plays with marked intensity, plus hardworking bassist Artie Roth and all-action drummer Larnell Lewis. All nine tunes are by Underhill, whose snarling horn sound on This House and Hustle Up might raise your neck hairs. Westray’s speed is remarkable and skittish, both horns swinging hard, dabbling in exhilarating free jazz outbursts. Great inventions are the clever Positive Spin and the anthemic Be Strong, Be Strong. The DVD session allows more solo room and also brings in edgy, rock-influenced guitarist Eric St. Laurent and for three tunes djembe (hand drum) exponent Michel DeQuevedo. Consistently sharp and engaging, the groove’s ever-present with delightful forays on Blakey’s Bounce and Bike Lane. This is challenging, complex and robust music, ranging from lyrical to incendiary, yet still communicating with pleasing ease. - The Whole Note Magazine

"'Underhill emphasizes prime Blue Note muscle'"

‘Underhill emphasizes prime Blue Note muscle in his original music with a a big sound that triumphs whether he’s teaming with the tenor of Bob Brough or fronting a horn section rooted by Chris Gale’s baritone. “Big” purrs on guitar, organ and conga and ‘The Blue Lounge “ is a sexy rumba. The sweetest surprise is “Lazy Afternnon,” a ballad without apology – Johnny Hodges with added lemon. Underhill may prove the missing link between mass appeal and dignity’

Randal McIlroy, CODA issue 311 Sept 2003
- CODA, Sept 2003

"'second album builds on considerable promise'"

Richard Underhill
Moment in Time
Stubby Records SRCD-7732

Altoist/composer Richard Underhill's second disc away from the often-comic contours of The Shuffle Demons builds on considerable promise. While he works in familiar territory, Underhill has a keen ear for detail as a bandleader, a neat talent for finding the right elasticity in his tunes—not bad at all on a set that features the choice of two different bassists and three different drummers—and good lungs and ideas as a soloist. It all comes together especially well in sly tracks like "A Few Things" and "Chasing the Sun," which never stay quite the same as you might expect, while "Traffic" is fairly mischievous with Joe Poole's canny drumming. As for detail, check the opening of "Morse Code," with its sprinkles of piano (Luis Guerra) and pulse bass (Mike Milligan). Can we get a live album next?
Randal McIlroy


"'A stellar effort'"

...'tales from the blue lounge' is a stellar effort and well deserving of the Juno kudo. The feeling harkens back to the mid-late 60s jazz in the style of Rollins or Cannonball Adderly. Underhill himself refers to this sound as "modern vintage," an apt description.
The compositions are a somewhat diverse collection of 10 tunes with nothing too outrageous or too mundane - just solid joyful tunes filled with rollicking solos and a delightful feel all around. Some parts are positively Demonesque while others harken back to a New Orleans style.
This is an lp to get lost in and be totally happy about it. Highly recommended! Echo Weekly - Kitchener.
- Echo Weekly

"'Lives up to the accolades'"

Richard Underhill
Canadian alto saxophonist Richard Underhill delivers a hard-swinging CD that lives up the accolades it has received as 2003 Juno Award winner Jazz Album of the Year. TALES FROM THE BLUE LOUNGE reference jazz greats that range from Monk to Mingus to Ornette Coleman to Henry Mancini. The set opens with “Surfing,” a hard-swinging tune that features Underhill’s excellent command of the alto saxophone’s range and dynamics. From honks to fog blasts and everything in between, you feel the improvisational excitement of his grooves. He closes with “Chillin’” a soul jazz swinger that is in direct contrast to the opener. With guitar, organ and great blowing by Underhill, this song swings with a feeling that harkens back to the 50s style of jazz when Jimmy Smith reigned on the organ. With a great solo by organist Dave Restivo, this song echoes enough sentiment and vitality to place him in the modern realm of new B3 players. Produced by Richard Underhill for Stubby Records, this recording is available at at

"'A wonderfully diverse and appealing album.'"

For those familiar with the jazz scene in Toronto during the eighties and the next decade will remember the impact the Shuffle Demons had. Richard Underhill was the leader and founding member of the band that flipped jazz over not only through the initial impact of their colorful costumes, but also with their outstanding musicianship. The Shuffle Demons split in 1997 and Underhill went out on his own and recorded his debut album in 2003, with a wealth of Canadian talent. It is well worth revisiting.

Richard Underhill
Tales from the Blue
Stubby Records

Underhill uses several idioms in his music. He does not miss out on the connect as he gets deep down into the groove and comes up with rhythms that sizzle. He drives the point home right away as “Surfing” gets off on a funky edge shifted by George Koller on bass and Ted Warren on drums. Underhill takes his alto into the curl and loop, his lines taut yet delving to capture the nuance of the melody. He breaks away to prod and probe letting Bob Brough to bring his big sound on the tenor and parlay a path that etches some deep lines. A great balance, indeed! Underhill utilizes an octet to give voice to “Big.” This is a big (!), brawny production, the sound initially driven by Dave Restivo on organ before Jake Langley illumines the path on the guitar, countenanced by the horns in particular Underhill as he burrows a red hot trail. The title cut has a big band, 11 musicians gathering for a rumba which glides into sensuality on the horns. But Underhill is not content to rest on one aspect. He shifts time and tempo to give the song a broader scope, and in that a stronger impact. There’s more in the way of marvelous tunes that make this a wonderfully diverse and appealing album.

Jerry DeSouza -

"'From beginning to end, “Moment in Time” is nothing but pure delight. '"

Canadian Alto Sax Monster Richard Underhill’s “Moment In Time” is a Jazz Dream come true. It is a complete album, exhibiting all of the intensity, passion and grace of this rich history in the traditions of the true masters. There is no doubt that Richard Underhill’s excellent compositions will take their rightful place in the future book of standards. This album is a must have for any serious collector.

Underhill, 2003 Juno award winner (Canada’s equivalent of the Grammy’s ®) for his solo debut “Tales from the Blue Lounge” formed two very forceful rhythm sections for this new outing which punctuates the heterogeneousness of his magnificent playing. The constant presence of virtuoso pianist Luis Guerra and tenor sax master Bob Brough along with splashes of guest musicians make “Moment in Time” a timeless wonder.

“Perry’s Place” begins our trek into greatness with bassist Graig Earle and drummer Daniel Barnes laying down a powerful swing set for the hippest melody this side of the Potomac and then it’s right into a charismatic solo by Guerra, followed by a powerful statement by Underhill. Earle takes an opening bow on his towering bass with some fabulous co-signing by Barnes and you immediately understand that you just walked into a fabulous evening.

But wait. The very next tune, “Day Off” trades rhythm spaces with Mike Milligan on bass and smooth stickster, Joe Poole in the drum chair. With the addition of Brough harmonizing and schmoozing in on his fat tenor, the mood deepens, but swings just as hard.

Back to position one on the third offering “A Few Things” and the first band picks up where they left off when we arrived. Cuban born Guerra’s playing is exceptional in every respect. Whether he’s comping or soloing, he’s always in the pocket with fresh perspectives to add to the harmonic palette. The combination of Underhill and Brough is a tight fit and Bob gets to show his prowess as the band moves over and lets him go.

“Morse Code” has all the chroma of a frantic forest fire. It’s an unstoppable fury that destroys everything in its path. The static team of Earle & Barnes provides the perfect storm for the lightening hot Luis Guerra to move from staggered 8th notes to vigorous solos as the mad saxophonists try to quell the drama to no avail, so they end up joining the may lay. Drummer Daniel Barnes playing here is beyond intense. It’s psychotic with a control factor reminiscent of Max Roach.
His alternating stick-n-brush work is marvelous. Pure Heat. This is my favorite track.

“Will of the People” follows. And just in time, too. It’s a poignant, thoughtful mid-tempo ballad to smooth things over while you try to recollect yourself. But this doesn’t mean the tune doesn’t have its own heat. After an assuaging 90-second introduction, the band settles on a recurring 4 bar obbligato that contemplates tension over tenderness. The saucy percussive textures provided by Joe Poole are perfect suspensions beneath the arc of Afro Cuban and traditional rhythms. Underhill delivers a smoldering solo and once again Luis thoroughly engages us in yet another profound solo.

At this point it’s probably best that I slow down and point out how intrigued I am with the genius of pianist Luis Guerra. At just 21 years old, this man is a prodigy. He’s Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett and Ahmad Jamal in one body. His playing is well beyond his years and I am looking forward to the inevitable solo album bearing his name as this unsung hero has an incredible gift to contribute to the world of jazz.

The next track, “Chasing The Sun” is my second favorite. The introduction of trombonist William Carn adds a new dimension to the evening and provides a robust punch to Barnes’ snap happy snare. Earle’s lanky bass romps along square in the pocket as Guerra dances all through the groove. The great thing about an Underhill composition is his approach to pacing. He knows how to stir up a groove, slow it down to a simmer and then allow it to boil in its own energy. The pace of this as well as the other tunes on this album is acutely synergistic.

“Waiting for Something to Happen” rolls right into focus without warning and expresses the aforementioned pace I just spoke to. You can feel the stretch of the elastic measure as emphasized by Milligan’s pliant bass. He grants us insight to his approach with a remarkably snug solo, which while delicate, tugs at our imagination. The swing of this song is irrefutable. The band weaves in and out of tempo – from none to mid to fevered & cascading and back. Anything can happen as Luis’ piano asserts. The playful motif after his solo provides ample ground for Poole to explore before climbing back onto the magnetic melody for the ride home.

“Traffic” is pure fusion. And pure fun! And this time Milligan and Poole hang around for the ride. The tune is as light and airy as it is deep and cunning. Everyone gets a turn at the wheel as we whisked about the city, sometimes a little air bound, but always with our eyes open. The scene is Downtown Toronto and you might get bumped if you’re not paying attention, but Poole’s careful drumming and spirited solo navigates us through the underpass without a scratch. I particularly love the interplay between the ‘car horn beeps’ and the drums. Ingenious. If I were forced to pick a third, this would be it!

We slow down again at “3 AM.” Our early morning (or very late night) tryst is introduced by Captain Guerra and once again the participation of Carn’s vibrant trombone adds a unique flare, this time with solo firmly in hand. This song is smothered in elegance and you wish all after hour joints were as plush. Earle’s nimble playing caresses your senses and makes you forget about sunrise. This is the ‘moment in time’ Underhill must have been referring to.

The album ends with “Where Were You When The Lights Went Out?” an ode to a day of celebration where, according to Underhill, the city of Toronto “shook off our digital shackles and became a small town again.” This song is pure Crusaders music, circa 1977. Luis assumes a Fender Rhodes piano and Earle is joined by guest drummer Davide Direnzo, whose cymbal work, rimshots and starlit snare construct a festive climate in which fellow invitees, percussionists Jono Grant & Samba Elegua, along with additional tenor saxophonist Chris Gale join Carn and the crew in the middle of the street for a late night parade…makes me want to shut off my computer for a day! NOT!

From beginning to end, “Moment in Time” is nothing but pure delight. Every song is fresh and unique with a story all of its own. The one dynamic that is continually inspiring as I replay the music over and again is Underhill’s use of the alternating rhythm sections and how they are sequenced throughout the album so each song possesses its individuality though you never lose context or structure. The recording and mix is flawless and the ‘sound’ of the record is as warm as early June. You hear and feel every nuance and texture no matter how intense the band’s playing, you maintain a solid footing throughout.

When I became interested in writing reviews, I wanted to make sure that I spotlighted indie musicians, who for the most part are still under the radar of the masses. When I listen to exceptional composer/musicians like Richard Underhill, I am very glad I chose this path, for I am thrilled to present his music to you. Happy Listening! - Jere B.

"'A real treat!'"

Tales From The Blue Lounge
Richard Underhill | Stubby Records
By Stephen Latessa

Tales From The Blue Lounge is Canadian alto saxophonist Richard Underhill's debut solo album and the winner of the 2003 Juno Award for Jazz Album of the Year. After a long and winding career that has included membership in the eclectic Shuffle Demons and the electronica-based Astrogroove, this disc of ten original compositions finds Underhill exploring classic sounds that wouldn’t sound out of place on a mid-1960s Blue Note Release.

”Surfing” kicks off the album with the fleet confidence of a fighter entering the ring, bouncing about, eager with anticipation for the bell to sound. Underhill, tenor saxophonist Bob Brough, and bassist George Koller each take strong, assured solos, seemingly feeding off the shared confidence. Notice must also be given to the fine production that captures the drive and presence of the band, not just on this track, but throughout the album.

Elsewhere, Underhill employs ensembles of varying sizes, adding a welcome sense of range to the proceedings. The title track sways with a Latin groove, aided by added percussion from Luis Orbegosa and Jose “Papo” Gonzales. “Big” struts soulfully with driving guitar from Jake Langley and shimmering organ from Dave Restivo. “The Old Guys” features a clever arrangement from Underhill that skillfully references some sunny big band motions, with a dash of Mingus’ gospel fire.

Tales From The Blue Lounge is a real treat—an album inspired by past musical forms that never sounds tired or dated. Old-fashioned styles are summoned with real joy and a knowing wink. This is accomplished and assured music that has the added benefit of being a lot of fun.


"a resolutely swinging affair, focused and mature"

Eye weekly : CD guide.

Moment in Time ***
'For a long time, the word restraint didn't seem to be in Richard Underhill's musical vocabulary, but the man who led 900 saxists in playing the Hockey Night in Canada theme last year has delivered a small-group jazz album that sounds both focused and mature. Moment in Time is a resolutely swinging affair, mostly in a 1960s post-bop vein, featuring thoughtful and committed playing from Underhill and sidemen, as well as some memorable original charts. Occasionally, though, it feels more accomplished than exciting;its best moments, such as in the feverish drum 'n' bass-referencing "Morse Code," find the musicians exploring intriguing new territory. Should Underhill manage to imbue his current group more consistently with his Shuffle Demons' exuberant, experimental spirit, he'll surely turn the Canadian jazz world on its ear.' - Eye Weekly - Toronto Nov. 24/05

"'shape-shifting pieces that show off rich harmonies'"

Review The Toronto Star
by Geoff Chapman (*** 1/2 out of 4).

'Richard Underhill of the Shuffle Demons won a 2003 Juno award for 'Tales from the Blue Lounge' and his strong follow 'Moment in Time' (***1/2) is surely in with a prize chance. It's official release is Tuesday at the Montreal Bistro. The alto saxophonist's quintet playing his 10 compositions has expert foils in tenorman Bob Brough and yet another Cuban piano prodigy, 21 year-old Luis Guerra.

Underhill is comfortable and frequently thrilling in all areas and gets bustling aid from his pulse duos bassists Mike Milligan or Graig Earle and drummers Joe Poole or Daniel Barnes, plus occasional guests.
The groups scramble effectively with contemporary, dense-themed and shape-shifting pieces that show off rich harmonies and opportunities for heady outside playing' - The Toronto Star - Nov 10/05

"'one of the best-sounding (CD's) of the year'"

RICHARD UNDERHILL Moment In Time (Stubby) Rating: NNNN

It's hard to believe this follow-up to his 2003 Juno winner, Tales From The Blue Lounge, is only Underhill's second solo album. As a founding member of the Shuffle Demons and a noted session sax player who puts in time with Blue Rodeo, Underhill seems to have been around forever. This album, co-produced by Jono Grant and Underhill, continues to deliver the goods, and may be one of the best-sounding of the year. All the better to hear the intense rhythm section, especially on Perry's Place and Day Off, where the drums and bass create an organic, driving force for Underhill and keys master Luis Guerra to go off on wild warring solos. Competition here is healthy, bringing out the best in everyone, with Bob Brough's tenor sax sweetly countering Underhill's alto. A thoroughly modern take on modern jazz, à la Coleman and Hawkins.
Brent Raynor
NOW | DECEMBER 15 - 21, 2005 | VOL. 25 NO. 16 - Now Magazine


Free Spirit (2010) CD and DVD

Kensington Suite (2008)
Nominated for a Juno Award

Moment in Time (2006)
Nominated for a Juno Award

Tales from the Blue Lounge (2003) Juno Award Winner
Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year

Duets • Tom Walsh: 2005 - composer, arranger, alto sax
Luke Doucet • Luke Doucet: 2005 Six Shooter Records - alto sax, baritone sax
Back to Me • Kathleen Edwards: 2005 Zoe Records - alto sax, horn arrangement
Blue Mythos • Geordie Macdonald 2004 Sonavista - alto sax
Mungle Music • Ron Davis Trio: Davinor 2004 - alto sax, composer
Seriously Happy • Jaymz Bee’s Royal Jelly Orchestra: 2004 Linus - alto sax, arranger
Release • Z’Howndz: 2004 Scratch Records - alto sax
Oh Susanna • Oh Susanna: 2003 Nettwerk Records – alto sax, horn arrangement
That’s how I Walk • Stephen Fearing: 2002 True North Records - alto sax
Palace of Gold • Blue Rodeo: 2002 WEA - alto & bari sax, horn arrangements
Greatest Hits • Blue Rodeo: 2001 WEA - alto sax, horn arrangements
Mela • Trio David Parker: 2001 Woolly Records - alto sax, composer, arranger
Work Songs • Various Artists 2001 DROG Records - alto sax, programming
Rhythm of Love • David Wilcox: 2000 Stony Plain - alto saxophone
AstroGroove • AstroGroove: 2000 - Spinning Round the World - co-producer, saxes, flute, samples, drum programming, composer
Radio Fuse Box • Andy Stochansky: 2000 The Orchard – saxes, horn arrangement
The Tonight Album • Johnny Favorite: 2000 Alert Music - saxophones, arranger
The New Piano • Wayne Cass: 1999 - Alto Saxophone
Molly Johnson • Molly Johnson: 1999 Alert Music - alto sax
Blue Willow • Blue Willow: 1999 Iridescent Music – alto sax
ClintEastWoodyAllenAlda • Jaymz Bee’s Royal Jelly Orchestra:1999 Leisure Lab
saxophones, composer, arranger
A Christmas Cocktail • Jaymz Bee’s Royal Jelly Orchestra:1998 Leisure Lab/BMG
saxophones, arranger
Shaken and Stirred • Jaymz Bee’s Royal Jelly Orchestra:1997 Leisure Lab/BMG
saxophones, arranger
How do you feel about that? • Jennifer Ryan: 1996 Go Play Records - producer
Get Right • Shuffle Demons: 1996 Stubby Records - co-producer, saxes, composer
Extra Crispy • Shuffle Demons: 1993 Stubby Records - co-producer, saxes, composer
Alive in Europe • Shuffle Demons: 1992 Stubby Records - producer, saxes, composer
What do you Want • Shuffle Demons: 1990 Stony Plain - co-producer, saxes, composer
Bobby Wiseman • Bobby Wiseman: 1989 Risque Disque/WEA - alto sax
Born to Cuddle • Mendolson Joe: 1988 Anthem Records -saxes, horn arrangements.
Bop Rap • Shuffle Demons: 1988 Stony Plain Records. - producer, saxophones,vocals
Beyond Benghazi • Paul Cram with Julius Hemphill: 1987 Apparition - bari sax
Streetniks • Shuffle Demons: 1986 Stony Plain/Stubby Records - co-producer,
saxophones, vocals, composer nominated for a Juno award 1987 – best jazz album
Live In Toronto • The Bill Smith Ensemble: 1986 Onari – alto sax, composer
Live at the Cabana Room • The Shuffle Demons: 1985 Stubby – alto and bari sax



Richard Underhills wonderfully melodic alto sax playing, great writing and arranging skills and in-from-the-outside soloing make him one of Canadas most distinctive jazz performers.

A truly original jazz composer and arranger, Richard's exciting original music captivates audiences with singable melodies, outstanding musicianship and engaging performances.

Richard won a 2003 Juno Award for his jazz debut 'Tales from the Blue Lounge' and was nominated for the Prix du Jazz at the 2003 Montreal Jazz Festival. Richard's video The Old Guys climbed to No.1 on the Bravo! video chart and won a 2004 SOCAN Number 1 award.

His 3rd album Kensington Suite garnered significant critical acclaim and was nominated for a 2008 Juno Award and his 2nd album Moment in Time was also nominated for a Juno Award in 2007. He was awarded the Toronto Arts Council Foundation Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition in 2008.

His latest album Free Spirit is a DVD/CD featuring Lincoln Center Jazz and Wynton Marsalis Alum trombonist Ron Westray. Richard embarked on an extensive cross Canada tour of Jazz Festivals in 2010 to promote the release of his 4th CD and debut live DVD Free Spirit, playing to large enthusiastic crowds from coast to coast.

In 2011, Richard was honoured to perform at Roy Thomson Hall for the state funeral of his old friend the honourable Jack Layton.

Richard has performed and recorded with Han Bennink, Julius Hemphil, Dr. John, Paul Cram, Kevin Breit, Jane Bunnett, the Neville Brothers, Kathleen Edwards, Taj Mahal, Maria Muldar, Rob McConnell, Molly Johnson, Blue Rodeo, Colin James, Andy Stochansky, Colin Linden, Hawksley Workman, Stephen Frearing, The Sadies, Tom Cochrane, Wide Mouth Mason, Luke Doucet, Holly Cole, Julie Michaels, Alex Lifeson, Mendelson Joe, Amos Garrett, Bobby Wiseman, Soul Rebels, the Mighty PoPo, the Hemispheres Orchestra, Daniel Janke, Tom Walsh, NOMA and Toronto jazz stalwarts like Reg Schwager, Jake Langley, Steve Koven, Ron Davis, Wayne Cass, Tyler Yarema, Tory Cassis, and George Koller. In demand as a session player and sideman, he has written horn and string arrangements for Kathleen Edwards, Molly Johnson, Andy Stochansky, Hawksley Workman, Blue Rodeo, Bobby Wiseman, Big Rude Jake and Lorraine Segato. He leads several diverse groups including his jazz quintet, the Funk Explosion, The Kensington Horns Community Band, and the improvising electronic groove ensemble Astrogroove.

The founding member of Toronto's outrageous Sun Ra influenced Shuffle Demons, Underhill took this ground breaking Bop Rap ensemble from the streets of Toronto across Canada and to Europe. This audacious group played jazz, folk, world and rock festivals from Halifax to Vancouver and from Italy to Estonia from 1986 1997, touring across Canada 15 times and through Europe 15 times. The Shuffle Demons featured a fusion of hard bop and rap combined with exotic costumes and a no-holds-barred performance style. Over the course of 15 European tours they were a hit at several Jazz festivals including the North Sea Jazz, Molde Jazz, Londons Outside In Jazz festival, the Edinburgh Jazz festival, the Sfinks festival, and Jazz a Vienne. They celebrated their 20th Anniversary with a cross Canada tour and by breaking the Guinness Book World Record for most sax players performing a song. (900). The Shuffle Demons continue to tour and performed at festivals in India, China and Europe in 2006 and in Thailand, South Korea and the USA in 2010 with great success. The band is currently working on a new album and will play the Rochester, NY and Kingston, ON Jazz Festivals in summer 2011 as well as touring Australia and New Zealand.

'one of the best-sounding (CD's) of the year

RICHARD UNDERHILL Moment In Time (Stubby) Rating: NNNN

It's hard to believe this follow-up to his 2003 Juno winner, Tales From The Blue Lounge, is only Underhill's second solo album. As a founding member of the Shuffle Demons and a noted session sax player who puts in time with Blue Rodeo, Underhill seems to have been around forever. This album, co-produced by Jono Grant and Underhill, continues to deliver the goods, and may be one of the best-sounding of the year. All the better to hear the intense rhythm section, especially on Perry's Place and Day Off, where the drums and bass create an organic, driving force for Underhill and keys master Luis Guerra to go off on wild warring solos. Competition here is healthy, bringing out the best in everyone, with Bob Brough's tenor sax sweetly countering Underhill's alto. A thoroughly modern take on modern jazz, la Coleman and Hawkins.
Brent Raynor

'a resolutely swinging affair, focused and mature'
Eye Weekly - Toronto - November 24/2005 - CD guide - Moment in Time ***

Band Members