Wednesday, July 15, 2015



“From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 4:17

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew First and also for the Greek.   For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, and it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’.”- Romans 1:16-17

“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

“Thomas said to him (Jesus), “Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how an we know the way? Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth and the life.   No man comes unto the father except through me”- John 14:5-6

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.   If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.” – Revelation 3:20

“Whoever is ashamed of me and My words (Jesus), of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in His own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the Holy Angels.” – Luke 9:26


Heavenly father, in the name of your son Jesus, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of the heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and redeemer.    I do not seek approval or praise from no one.   I don’t look for titles, prestige, or anything that glorifies me and not you.    May the only thing these readers see that my hope and glory lies is in the cross of Jesus Christ.   My ultimate prayer is through the global audience that I have, may people take heart the words YOU want me to say and let it produce fruit that bears 30, 60, and 100 fold returns of blessing.   In the name of Jesus Christ, Messiah Yeshua, our Lord and Saviour, Amen.


One of my favourite preachers and teachers of the word of God, Dr. David Jeremiah, wrote a book that should be required reading for those who are concerned about the times that we are in.   The book is called “I Never Thought I See The Day”.   It explores all the changes that is going on that not only is affecting contemporary culture, but also creeping into the contemporary church.    For a young man like myself who was basically saved, sanctified and reared in the Christian faith and the church all my life despite some drama and pain, I have begun to see that from when I grew up until now, things have changed drastically, and unless the church and society comes back to the moral principles found in the Bible, it is only going to get worse.

It has become a sad day when the majority of people that I encounter in my daily walks of life ascribe more to atheism and secularism then a faith system.   A shocking stat is in Toronto; only 7% of the population attends religious services.   It is also a sad time where the church is mired in the fleshly deeds of greed, lust, pride, envy and strife to the point where the truth has been drowned out or superseded for the love of filthy lucre (money). 

It has also become a sad day that Christians and non-Christians have very casual, lax views regarding sexual issues and matters of our time.   The apparent Biblical norm of sex within the confines of a heterosexual marriage relationship is thrown out the window in favour of one’s “rights and privileges” as an advanced free citizen of society.   Virginity is now seen as something to be ashamed, not highly valued.   In other words, the chief end of man or woman is to “get on up and turn it loose”, not “waiting to exhale”.  

Recently there have been some blog posts, commentary and discussions from people that suggest I “hate gays” and I am “anti-intellectual”.   To clarify something.   I do not hate gays, and I am a highly educated person who graduated on the Deans List in my graduate class at university.   For me, I take grave concern when I see Christians and non-Christians twist and turn the truth of the scriptures to satisfy their interpretive agendas.

To close, I want to pose two challenges.    One is for those who profess a belief in Messiah Yeshua or Jesus Christ.    The other is for those that don’t know him.

For the believer:  This is not the time to play games, back up, put up or shut up in the face of opposition.   The road to heaven is a narrow one, and if we really want the Lord’s blessing, we ought to DAILY take up our crosses and follow him WHOLEHEARTEDLY.   We must learn to fight the good fight of faith and put on the whole armour of God to stand against the devil.   We got to be mission-minded believers whose mandate of Matthew 28:20 to go into all the world and make disciples (not converts) and if not able, seek to actively support those who are doing God’s work.  Remember, the harvest is plenty, the labourers are few.   Pray for harvest workers, since the coming of the Lord is near.

For the non-believer: Please know that I have nothing but love, joy, peace and grace to you coming from Jesus.   I pray that you would come to accept his unconditional love and grace that he has provided for you when dying on the cross and trust in him alone for your salvation.   Jesus is the ONLY way to direct communication to God, since he did it all through is life, death and resurrection.  

I hope and pray that in all this, you would seek to choose life in the spirit in these last days, and not death.   

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Over the years, Canadians have decided to trek to the big city of opportunities, New York City, to learn, build, and thrive in the world of jazz and creative music.    Some come back home to build up Canada’s scene, while others stay and let their talents and careers blossom in a huge cultural hotpot that is New York.  

Among those crop of artists is Manhattan School of Music graduate and scholarship fellow Curtis Nowosad.    Curtis is emerging as one of the most exciting, creative, and deeply engaging drummers and composers incubated in the New York education and jazz scene.    Originally hailing from Winnipeg Manitoba where he studied jazz, he is carving a great niche for himself in the New York jazz community and his composition and playing chops is fresh, rooted in tradition, and never stops swinging.

In a set comprising of originals, standards, and a Pink Floyd composition, Curtis and his quartet shift through tight grooves, engaged in tight interplay, and brought an energy and excitement to jazz music which is nothing short of electric.  

The opening number, Thelonious Monk’s classic composition “Evidence”, elevated the concepts of the bebop language into the 21st century with its Freddie Hubbard/Woody Shaw inspired solos and passages by trumpeter Derrick Gardner, single hand harmolodism on the piano by pianist Will Bonness, and a Jimmy Garrison influenced attack on the bass by Steve Kirby.   Curtis, through the whole performance, holds it down with an aggressive attack on the drums and even takes a fiery drum solo to set the pace for the evening.

On both of his compositions, aptly named “Empirically Speaking” and “Gleaning and Dreaming”, Curtis is highly influenced by the Blue Note eras through his writing material.   The first tune was even homage to a Blue Note stalwart, the producer/pianist and composer Duke Pearson, which brought depth, swing and pizzazz to the performance.   “Gleaning and Dreaming” is more of a modern influenced composition with its mellow grooves, bringing a cool element into 21st century jazz.

The most intriguing piece of the set would have to be Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine”.   I am not familiar with Pink Floyd’s music, but as evident through this performance, I can tell that the group Pink Floyd is a master of complexity and richness in songwriting and composition.   Through this jazz arrangement, those elements are brought forth with atmospheric effects of Will’s Rhodes, exploratory trumpet by Derrick, and shifts from Latin, hip-hop funk and swing by both Steve and Curtis.

Closing the set Curtis’ quartet did a brief but engaging take on the classic standard “I Remember You”, which propelled the swing and fire of jazz in lightening speed and leaves the band members inspired and hungry for more.

Bands such as the Curtis Nowosad quartet make me happy because it really shows that jazz has a viable and thriving future among the youthful, millennial generation.  A day will come where mainstream society will be weaned from the likes of saccharine, lifeless pop music and into real music that has substance, style, class and pizzazz.   Curtis’ quartet has all of the above and more, and I really can’t wait to see the great new talent that is emerging from the jazz capital of the world.


 (Curtis, Derrick, Steve and Will performing "Evidence")

Monday, July 6, 2015


Last Monday evening, I was treated to a glorious night of tight, swinging jazz by a fine, sexy young lady who knows how to swing and carry a tune.  I am talking about up and coming vocalist Kalya Ramu and her Hot Four.

With a tight, well oiled band consisting of young trumpeter Andrew McAnsh, pianist Ewen Farncombe, and bassist Alex Lakusta, Kalya and the gang proved that everything old can be new and fresh again, and that the millennials are taking the jazz scene in Toronto in full force and in creative new ways.

From the start of the first tune “Honeysuckle Rose”, Kalya’s voice has a maturity that is drenched with sass, class, and pure sensuality that leave the listener begging for more.    What is also evident through her set of songs is that she chooses standards and material that hasn’t been done to death, like “He’s a Tramp” from the Disney Movie “Lady and the Tramp”, “Pennies from Heaven”, Benny Goodman’s “Don’t Be That Way”, “Skylark”, “No Moon at All” and Blossom Dearie’s obscure but cooking blues swinger “Sweet Love No More”.  

The backup band is no laughing matter, with Andrew’s solos full of pep and fire, Ewen’s piano playing cooking, swinging, and supports the singer very well, and Alex’s sturdy, reliable bass playing that provides a solid anchor for Kalya’s deft explorations in rhythm, blues and swing.

I have heard many singers (and I mean many), who do not a thing for me but just sing the song straight and not adding any personality or a "je ne sais quoi" to the bigger picture.   Kalya is part of a crop of young vocalists that manages to wow me with their sense of pure adventure and risk, and not being afraid to show off and get into the tune with her band members.    Probably one of the finest vocal jazz performances I have ever been to, and I really can’t wait to see how Kalya matures and develops into a true force in the Toronto jazz scene and beyond.


(Ewen Farncombe)

(Alex Lakusta and Andrew McAnsh)

(Kalya Ramu and Alex Lakusta)

Saturday, July 4, 2015


As there is a bright future and hope for the state of jazz in the millennial generation, the same goes true for singers who are pushing the limits into further creativity and unpredictability.   One of these singers is vocalist extraordinaire Laura Swankey.

Laura is a real risk taker and a game changer in the world of jazz vocals.   First, in her band, she only employs a bassist and drummer, treating her voice as a harmolodic entity with her band members.   Second, she has a horn-like approach with her voice, with the uncanny ability to think like an instrumentalist instead of just a pretty face singing words.   Thirdly, she is a forward thinking singer/songwriter who has a grasp of language and advanced wordplay a la Joni Mitchell.

The repertoire performed last night was nothing short of exploratory and rapturous.   Starting with “A Sleeping Bee”, Laura feels the lyric, treats us to a tasty scat solo, and provides the framework for bassist Malcolm Connor and drummer Robin Claxton to get into the groove of the music and dig deeper into its inner regions.    On “East of the Sun”, it shifts from a Latin groove into 4/4 swing.   “Smile”, Charlie Chaplin’s timeless classic, is a real showstopper of a tune where it is set in 5/4 time and Laura captures the positivity and the sheer emotion of the lyrics to the song.

In her original material, she shines with the creative wordplay on tunes such as “Autumn Woes”, a contrefact of Autumn Leaves with its sheer sense of the blues and melancholy; and “Quiet”, which starts off in free jazz territory before zeroing in on a straight eighth groove and clever poetic lyrics by Laura and the band members.

The rhythm section team of Malcolm Connor and Robin Claxton is rapidly becoming one of the most dominant, supportive and reliable teams that Toronto is producing in its millennial jazz scene.   Well known for their fame in David Rubel’s quartet, the rapport that they have amongst each other is telepathic and communicative it is nothing short of a revelatory experience. 

A great night of a new, fresh look at jazz vocals from three artists who refuse to play it safe and take bold and new risks. 



(Malcolm Connor, Laura Swankey, Robin Claxton)