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)

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