Saturday, December 1, 2012

Skip's Official Jazz Friends Revealed!!

CONGRATULATIONS TO SKIP'S OFFICIAL PICKS FOR HIS BRAND NEW PROJECT "Skip's Jazz Friends...Vol.1".  It has been a fantastic show of support and interest from all out entrants and the SJF Panel sat down over the last few weeks with Skip Prokop himself to determine the chosen artists for the first inaugural SJF Project.

The release will be due out later in 2013 and distributed to selected retailers and online sales depots across the great cyber-divide.


Bill McBirnie - "I'm Walkin"
Laura Fernandez - "Mi Amor"
Jason Raso - Hot Priorities & Cold Dice"
Robin Banks - "Lover Man"
Steven Hardy - "Life Is Good"
Johanna Sillanpaa - "Find U"
Trevor Dick - "Come Thou Fount"
Paul Hoffert  - "Poli's Blues"
Russ Little - "Tutu" (Marcus Miller)
Janet MacEwen - "Here For You"
Jessie Ross - "One Step At A Time"

Skip will also be making a sound appearance on the CD as well.  

The team at Team Prokop and SJF are really looking forward to showcasing these wonderful artists and exposing more people to the ever evolving and undying world of Jazz.  Our hope is to continue to advocate for the Jazz genre and all the wonderfully colourful music that is produced under such a vast banner of talent and ingenuity. 

All chosen artists will be contacted with further details.  Thank you to all that submitted and good luck next year!! 

Team Prokop / Team SJF

Wednesday, October 3, 2012



Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to see details on how YOU can become part of Skip's Jazz Friends Compilation CD due out later this year.  Or go to the JUNE archive to see info.

Check out some of the newest entries and don't forget to check out some of the ones from our Summer collection. 

Born in Toronto, Canada, trombonist Russ Little was raised on the island of Jamaica for the first few years of his life before moving back to Canada to attend Malvern Collegiate Institute and the University of Toronto where he attained (in 1966) his honours degree in the Humanities, with special emphasis on History and English.  It was during his time at Malvern Collegiate that he was taught trombone (and inspired by) the legendary teacher-trombonist George M. McRae.  By 1968 he was touring with the Woody Herman Orchestra as lead trombone
and featured soloist and later, with the Count Basie Orchestra, he filled a similar role.

While touring with these famed jazz orchestras, he found time to become an original member of Canada's famed Rock Orchestra, "Lighthouse", a band with which he continues to perform. For fans of classic rock, "Lighthouse" hits include such monsters as "Sunny Days", "One Fine Morning", and "Hats Off To the Stranger".

Through the early '70's, Russ Little performed in the world famous "Boss Brass", while pursuing a very successful career as conductor/composer/arranger for the CBC, CTV and Global television networks in Canada. He was also constantly busy writing and conducting for NBC, ABC, General Motors, NFL Football and the famed SCTV comedy series in which he worked closely for many years with John Candy, Eugene Levy and Martin Short.

A consistently busy session-musician throughout his career, Russ decided that after a lifetime spent performing on other people's CDs, it was time to create his own. "Snapshot" was the first result of that decision. His second album "Footwork"debuted in 2006 to critical acclaim and worlwide sales.  His third album, "On the Shoulders Of Giants" was released in the Spring of 2008 and has been received with great interest, praise and excitement by musicians, critics and fans, alike. In the early Spring of 2011 Russ Little released his 4th album, "Slow Burn" to world-wide acclaim for what has been described as its "effortless ease of virtuosity" and "its vast range of appeal to all jazz fans and musicians".

Paul Hoffert has the soul of an artist and the mind of a scientist.  Mr. Hoffert is Digital Media Professor at York University, Chair of Screen Composers Guild of Canada, Chair of the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund, and President of the Glenn Gould Foundation (US). He is former Faculty Fellow at Harvard Law School, President of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, Chair of the Ontario Arts Council, and a founder of the Canadian Independent Record Producers Association (CIMA).

By the time he was twenty-six, Mr. Hoffert was an established jazz recording artist, television performer, off-Broadway musical author, film composer, and had studied mathematics and physics at the University of Toronto. That year (1969) he co-founded Lighthouse, a rock band with horns and strings that sold millions of records, toured the world and earned three Juno Awards as Canada’s # 1 pop band (1971-1973). Hoffert continues to perform regularly with Lighthouse and as a jazz pianist.

Hoffert has parallel achievements in science and technology. He was a researcher at the National Research Council of Canada in the 1970s and in 1992, he founded CulTech Research Centre at York University, where he developed advanced new media such as video telephones and Internet distribution of CDs and DVDs. From 1994 to 1999, he directed Intercom Ontario, a $100 million trial of the world's first broadband-connected community that landed him on the cover of the Financial Post and in the Wall Street Journal.

He was inducted into the Canadian Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, received the Pixel award as the New Media industry’s “Visionary of the Year” in 2002, and received the “Order of Canada” in 2005 for his contributions to music, media, and society.

Hoffert has authored best-selling books on the Digital Age, a textbook on composing music for videogames, and is an entertaining and popular speaker, bringing clarity to new perspectives to complex issues.


Jessie Ross performs regularly in local clubs in London, Ontario, and has performed in the United States and Europe. While in Italy, she made two international television appearances on RAI, Italy's National Broadcaster. She also performed an original composition at theParalympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Jessie was awarded the International Young Soloist Award from the Rose Kennedy Foundation following a performance at the Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Skip's Summer Jazz Friends

The team at IAM Studios and "Project SJF" would like to thank all the artists that submitted their work recently for the new "Skip's Jazz Friends" cross-Canada compilation.
Please continue to support this project by posting links to the blogspot on your social networks and if you know someone that is a jazz artist (any field) please let them know about this opportunity.

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE FIRST BLOG POST in the archive for JUNE "Skip's Jazz Friends: The Search Is On" for details on how you can be Skip's Jazz Friend and be featured on the CD if chosen by you know who!!

Here are a few NEW features for this Summer:


Trevor Dick is a popular electric and acoustic violinist. His playing evokes images of Jean Luc Ponty, Hugh Marsh, Mark O’Connor and Mark Wood (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) all melded together.  With such amazing versatility on his instruments, including the five-string electric violin, Trevor is a master at reaching any audience. He is mainly known as a solo artist, but has also played and toured with Paul Coleman (Newsboys), Robin Mark, Lynda Randal (Gaithers), Carolyn Arends, Amanda Falk and Geoff Moore.

Since 2005, Trevor has acted as a Compassion Canada artist and actively promotes the cause of child poverty at his concerts. He and his band have been featured on national television programming such as 100 Huntley Street, Living Truth, and the Wav. File. As one audience goer commented: “listening to your music last night was the most soul-provoking experience ... your concert brought tears to my eyes ... thank you so much for sharing your gift of music.” Patricia Paddey, a Canadian freelance journalist states:  “Trevor’s flying bow stirs hearts and ... when he creates his music ... the impact on his audience is profound.” His last album, entitled Yahweh, won four GMA Covenant awards in 2011 including best instrumental album of the year and best instrumental single of the year. 


Described as “a bluesy Erykah Badu with a marvelous voice that begins in the smoky lows of Norah Jones and effortlessly climbs into the powerful, confident ranges of Lisa Stansfield, Johanna performs slick soul, funk and jazz to dig your heels into and her velveteen voice and eclectic sound slides over the air carrying with it a sensual, deep groove.

Sillanpaa and her Jazz groove ensemble have played everywhere from the intimate jazz joints in their small-but-tight musical community of Calgary to the Montréal Jazz Festival’s 60,000-plus crowds.  Beyond filling venues in Canada and abroad, Sillanpaa’s sound has also drawn its fair share of accolades and award nominations, including a 2012 Western Canadian Music Award nod in the Urban music category. At the 2010 Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards, she was nominated for Best Female Vocalist and Group/Duo of the Year with Sillan & Young.



MISS ROBIN BANK$ has her roots deeply dug. Clearly comfortable with Jazz, Classic R&B and Soul, even Reggae, she's also known for her bold and brassy, classy but sassy, Texas and Chicago electric Blues style. She has 4 independently released CDs and one single to her credit and makes regular tours to Europe and the Caribbean, but recently made Toronto Canada her home. A master of tone and phrasing, ROBIN BANK$ has a vocal style, strength and clarity that has been compared to Etta James and Dinah Washington. She is a recipient of a Maple Blues Award for New Artist of the Year and was three times nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year. 

She gave a stunning performance at Massey Hall in Toronto as part of the celebrated annual Women's Blues Revue event in 2010. A true artist, ROBIN BANK$ is known in the industry as "the real deal" International Jazz & Blues Recording Artist.

Bill McBirnie has achieved something decidedly unlikely for a Canadian flutist who was raised in the small town of Port Colborne, Ontario.  Despite an uneventful musical beginning, Bill has succeeded in attaining an international standing as one of the foremost flutists in jazz today—all whilst rarely setting foot outside of what is now his native city of Toronto, Ontario.

What has made his slow but steady progress possible has been a long and diligent study of both jazz and classical techniques which Bill combined with a patient determination to make the instrument sound entirely natural and, at the same time, entirely convincing in jazz and other non-classical formats.  His continuing efforts have earned him unequivocal  critical acclaim as well as numerous awards; for example, here in Canada as Flutist of the Year (Jazz Report Awards) and Best Jazz Album (Toronto Independent Music Awards) and abroad as well as a winner in the Jazz Flute Master-class and Jazz Flute Big Band Competitions (National Flute Association) and a nomination for Best Jazz Album (Independent Music Awards in the USA).

In testimony to his singular place in the international flute community, Bill was identified and solicited personally by no less than Sir James Galway to serve as his resident Jazz Flute Specialist at Sir James' official web site―and this despite Bill’s rather limited renown and virtual seclusion in Canada.

Born in Madrid, Spain, based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada: singer, songwriter, pianist, music producer, painter, award-winning illustrator and designer, radio host/producer.  Laura was born in Madrid into a family that boasted Laura’s great grandfather as the mayor. She lived in Switzerland as a child, and her parents migrated to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she spent her youth. Laura’s father was an architect, engineer and a painter, and as a result, Laura grew up in a household where art, creativity and culture were valued and encouraged. Laura excelled in academics and ultimately dedicated her life to art. She graduated from the Alberta College of Art with honours and moved to Toronto, Ontario to begin a successful career in illustration, and where she launched her music career.

On October 27, 2010, Laura Fernandez released her second CD,Un Solo Beso. For producer, Laura found her musical soulmate in Montreal born, Toronto based JUNO Award winning Billy Bryans, who is recognized as one of Canada’s leading Latin and world music promoters, DJ and also the co-leader and percussionist of the internationally acclaimed Canadian band, The Parachute Club.  Billy helped ensure cohesiveness within such an eclectic album. Un Solo Beso features some of Toronto’s most vibrant and highly acclaimed musicians including  Hilario Duran,Roberto Linares BrownLuis Mario OchoaNoah Zacharin,Glenda Del Monte Escalante,  Alberto Alberto,  Elmer Ferrer,Luiz DenizRoberto Riveron , Joaquin HidalgoChendy León,Jalidan Ruiz, and Alexis Baro.

Laura Fernandez video links

Jason Raso has a funk heart and a jazz head. They are hard wired together by the 4 strings of his bass guitar, and an innate ability to craft music that will turn you into a bobble head. It’ll make you feel like you’re the coolest cat on the block. For over 20 years Raso has pursued the groove to such excellence that Exclaim Magazine declares, “Jason Raso’s bass is a full-on orchestra of ground vibrating pleasure.”

Jason Raso has just released album number 6, The Red Arrow, a debut with Summit Records. His creative energy has expanded to include another layer of composition that explores his jazz sensibilities. If that weren’t enough, he doubles on electric guitar, as well as the acoustic double bass, demonstrating his skill as a musician and love for jazz guitar. In an interview with !Earshot, Jason says, “I still want a groove, and hope that those two sides continue to blend.”

Above all Jason Raso continues to grow as a musician and composer. His talent and originality are expressed by ongoing mastery of his instruments, and an appetite for musical knowledge. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Skip's Jazz Friends "The Search Is On!!"

Hey Everyone!!  You are probably wondering what "Skip's Jazz Friends" is all about.  Well...if you have heard  of "Big Shiny Tunes" or "Now" or "Wow" you will be getting hotter!! 

Skip's Jazz Friends is a compilation concept that has Skip himself searching across Canada for today's best Jazz musicians and unknown "up and comers" to put together a CD filled with great musical styling and tones that will be sure to please the listeners.  The compilation will be a mix of traditional and smooth contemporary may even have some fusion on there for all we now!!

Here is how the whole thing works. If you are a Jazz musician that has done professional recordings in the past or more recently you need to send in:

1. Your top 3 songs in the form of an MP3 (please us 192kbps to 320kbps)

2. Short bio incld'd in email on your musical endeavors (no more than 1 or 2 short paragraphs...THIS MUST BE TYPED INTO EMAIL to avoid formatting issues on the site)

3. Picture of yourself (does not have to be HQ. smaller is better)

4. If possible a link(s) to a website, blog, youtube clips, or facebook account (artist page personal pages)

YOU CAN SUBMIT MORE THAN ONCE!! However, you must only send 3 songs at a time in each email entry.  After the original email is received with all of your information it is only necessary to send Mp3's in your following emails along with your full name.

Once we begin accepting entries, Skip and and his team will review the material to see if it's "Jazz Friend's" worthy.  Unfortunately we can't put everyone on the 1st compilation, but don't be discouraged if you are not contacted and picked for the album...keep sending away for the follow-up CD's to come in the future.

There will be 2 stages of competition before you are chosen to appear on Skip's compilation CD. If you are chosen to appear on the SJF's blog site, we will feature your top song along with all the other tidbits of info required above in a profile so other's can see and find out more about you.  The last stage will be contact from the email below saying you have been officially chosen for a spot on "Skip's Jazz Friends" which will distributed across Canada in early 2013.  From that point a member of Team Prokop will be in contact with you to discuss the legalities and publishing information.

If you are chosen for the CD an uncompressed, unmastered stereo mix of your song in .wav or .aiff format would be optimal, but if all you have is a mastered copy of the song (.wav, .aiff or HQ Mp3) that will suffice.  Your song will be remastered to equal the level of all the other winning entries at no cost to you. Low quality Mp3's (below 192kbps) will not be accepted.