The Singer's Jazz Series
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The Singer's Jazz Series

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Band Jazz Blues


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"Norm Amadio and Friends"

Esteemed pianist Norm Amadio called in a few worthy pals (vocalists Marc Jordan and Jackie Richardson, saxophonist Phil Dwyer, Guido Basso on flugelhorn) for his latest project. The result – anchored by bassist Rosemary Galloway and drummer Terry Clarke – is one of the year's top albums. Timmins native Amadio, into his sixth decade of performance, has an extensive resumé that includes collaborations with Miles Davis, Judy Garland and Mel Torme. One of Canada's underrated players, he's innovative and resonant on sprightly tunes penned by producer Andrew A. Melzer that have an air of familiarity; and veteran arranger Peter Cardinali delivers a big band's punch. The disc also includes three clanging but intriguing 1966 recordings of Amadio's celebrated trio with bassist Bob Price and drummer Stan Perry.
- The Star

"Septembering with The Singer's Jazz Series"

Wholenote Magazine Multi-talented Julie McGregor is an exquisite painter who, about a decade ago, turned her focus to singing jazz. More recently, McGregor has begun producing The Singer’s Jazz Series, which features, alongside herself, a variety of Torontonian talent on vocals, with the venerable Norman Amadio on piano. Ironically, it’s the accompanist who’s at the heart of this singer’s series.

“I was inspired by pianist Norman Amadio, one of Canada’s greatest jazz talents and sadly it seems, most under-appreciated,” says McGregor. “I wanted everyone to hear Norm play. At 84, he still plays great...he loves accompanying and really is one of the most giving, humble and kind musicians I have ever met.”

Indeed, Amadio’s modesty belies his legendary status as jazz pianist, piano teacher, music coach, composer, arranger, session player, band leader and accompanist, dating back to the 1940s. At 17, the precociously gifted Norm left his hometown of Timmins to study with Boris Berlin at the Royal Conservatory, and soon thereafter became influential in starting the bebop scene in Toronto. Amadio became one of the country’s most in-demand players, headlining at New York’s Birdland in 1956 opposite Duke Ellington, and collaborating with far too many jazz giants to mention in this wee column.

At the “September’s Song” installment of The Singer’s Jazz Series, Amadio, along with the wondrous Neil Swainson on bass, will provide the ultimate accompaniment for featured vocalists Sophia Perlman, Vincent Wolfe and Julie McGregor, and jazz poet Chris Hercules. Reservations are recommended for this event, taking place at Hugh’s Room on Sunday, September 16. Article by Ori Dagan, Wholenote Magazine Sept 2012 - The Wholenote Magazine

"The Singer's Jazz Series and jazz's constant companion - Norm Amadio"

ulie McGregor, organizer for the Singer’s Jazz Series has a confession to make. The Sept. 16 Hugh’s Room concert is really about the piano player.

“It should be called, ‘Norm and The Singers,’ ” says McGregor, meaning Norm Amadio, unquestionably the finest accompanist in Canadian jazz history. At 84 and a bit hobbled these days — “my balance isn’t any good” — he still gets the first call from even the newest generation of vocalists such as the silky Sophia Perlman who’s sharing the stage Sunday with McGregor and Vincent Wolfe, the Michael Bublé-like crooner from Toronto.

Amadio was an aggressive bebop player along the lines of Bud Powell when he first arrived on the Toronto scene in the ’40s. A precocious teen musical whiz from Timmins, he soon enough learned to keep his cool when others were losing theirs in the city’s turbulent club scene.

Reliability got him work. Unrivaled musicality gave him stature and clout. Jazz stars arriving in town — Carmen McRae, Miles Davis, Joe Williams or Jimmy Rushing — wanted him. Or even needed him, as the veteran American singer Maxine Sullivan once told me.

Amadio’s secret? “Never outplay the star,” he says.

“He’s such a great musician that he can make it seem it’s not about him,” says McGregor, 53, who remembers catching Amadio at George’s Spaghetti House, the peerless Dundas St. E. jazz bistro and Italian restaurant in the ’70s. “He always considers the singer.”

“Yet he always leads the way,” says Perlman, 27, who was only 4 years old when she heard Amadio playing at a block party near where she was growing up in Kensington Market. “I like that. I like someone who plays with me, not for me.”

Today’s young crop of jazz singers, in Toronto and internationally, stands up well compared to “all those singers who came before.” says Amadio. “Take that Vincent Wolfe — he’s going to be really good.”

Amadio’s friends say he likes to think he invented jazz in the city. Certainly modern jazz had its roots in his many appearances at the House of Hambourg in the ’50s and his seemingly endless number of lounge gigs around town.

Studio work with Moe Koffman and others meant steady work and countless recordings, and CBC TV appearances made him a minor celebrity. There was the ubiquitous Norm Amadio — never, ever “Norman” — a cool presence looming over the keyboard, a fixed noncommittal smile on his face as his meaty, muscular hands stitched together seamless backgrounds.

“Yet he never plays the same thing twice,” says McGregor. “He never plays the same intro, never does the same ending. He solos are always different. He changes rhythms and phrasing. So he makes me pay attention as a singer. He’s always been inventing on the spot.”

The Town Tavern on Yonge was were Amadio carved out his reputation in the 15 years he led the house band. The Town in its rough-and-tumble ’60s heyday made the El Mocambo seem later on like a Sunday school picnic. Hard-core barflies and old rounders still best remember the Town as being the place where Maxie Bluestein, big time bookie, got whacked by Johnny Papalia, an enforcer guy out of Hamilton.

Amadio remembers the earlier night when Bluestein got smacked around outside the club, merely as a warning.

“There was also a fight inside that night with a guy with a blackjack, a guy whose name I forget,” Amadio laughs. “You’ve heard of the Man of La Mancha? I’m the Man from Dementia. Anyway, I was getting chewed out by a star whose name I also forget because we had a new drummer he didn’t like. People are coming in. And it’s getting louder and louder. So I fired myself. I never did know who hired me, anyway.”

The Singer’s Jazz Series is at Hugh’s Room Sun. Sept. 16 with Perlman, Wolfe, McGregor and Chris Hercules. Amadio is on piano and Neil Swainson on bass.

Freelance writer Peter Goddard - The Toronto Star


The Norman Amadio Trio (1963, CTL CTLS-037), with Alleyne and the bassist Bill Britto, and other records as accompanist to Tommy Ambrose, Moe Koffman, and Phyllis Marshall.

Norman Amadio and Friends 2009 - Panada Digitial

MPC - Music 50 years of Norman Amadio



JULIE MCGREGOR host and vocalist of The Singer's Jazz Series

Julie was chosen as a nominee for The New Music Award of Best Jazz for 2011. She has been collaborating musically with Canadian jazz legend Norm Amadio for the past five years who is the featured pianist of the series. The Singer's Jazz Series has featured a long list of wonderful vocalist and spoken word jazz artists to sold out shows at Hugh's Room and other concert venues to very appreciative audiences.

Norman Amadio on Piano
Norm was the first Canadian to play Birdland in New York City in1956. Amadio worked with most all of the greatest artists from the jazz era. Norman was the musical director for the CBC on various Television shows for over 40 years. He has accompanied some of the greatest jazz and musical stars of our time, from Judy Garland to Dinah Washington. To find out more about Norman Amadio, he is now on wikipedia.

The Toronto Star “Reliability got him work. Unrivaled musicality gave him stature and clout. Jazz stars arriving in town — Carmen McRae, Miles Davis, Joe Williams or Jimmy Rushing — wanted him. Or even needed him, as the veteran American singer Maxine Sullivan once told me.” Peter Goddard (freelance journalist).

Norman Amadio has worked with a legion of venerable artists including Miles Davis, Rosemary Clooney, Stan Getz, Carmen McRae, Coleman Hawkins, Flip Phillips, Sonny Stitt, Chet Baker, Joe Williams, Irene Krall, Julie London, Dinah Washington, Ben Webster, Zoot Simms, Anita O'day and Lester Young. Norman worked for over 40 years for the CBC on various Television shows and was the musical director on many others.

For more info:

Duncan Hopkins on Bass
has been likened to the world’s best : “St.Catharines has given the jazz world one important composer…Kenny Wheeler. It may have another one … in the person of Duncan Hopkins”. Globe and Mail Aside from his own projects, he is a popular sideman for a wide variety of artists such as Dianna Krall, Mark Murphy, Norma Winstone, Lester Bowie, Kenny Wheeler, John Hicks, Peter Appleyard, Ed Bickert, D.D. Jackson, Scott Hamilton, Houston Person, Warren Vache and Sam Rivers.