Canadian crooner Dusk goes full swoon in special Valentine concert

Waterloo Region Record

KITCHENER — Matt Dusk is to Valentine’s Day what Santa is to Christmas.

With a meltingly beautiful voice, the Canadian crooner’s music is perfectly suited to the season of love and this weekend Dusk performs with his friend, songstress Eleanor McCain, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony at Centre in the Square.

The performance “The Music of Love” celebrates all things romantic, and will be Dusk’s debut with the symphony, a backup band with a lot of oomph.

“You get that big sound, that lush Hollywood sound,” said Dusk in a phone interview from his Toronto home, where he’s having a short hiatus from touring.

It seems the world loves the music he sings, songs made famous by people such as Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Dusk’s personal favourite, Chet Baker, jazz standards that have staying power. It’s the kind of music that never becomes dated despite being frequently performed and recorded.

“On Valentines, ‘The Great American Songbook’ (music) is the cornerstone — it’s dining rooms, candlelight, wine and sex,” said Dusk. “You’re not playing Metallica for a romantic evening.”

“The Great American Songbook” is the collection of popular and jazz standards considered the most influential early 20th century music, and with Dusk’s own five-person band backed up by a full orchestra, the music is meant to stir the soul and perhaps the loins.

Despite the seductive nature of the music, most of his audiences tend to be older. He said there will never been an auditorium filled with teenagers listening to his music, and he’s OK with that. They will come into the fold sooner or later.

Dusk connects changing tastes with maturity, like the first time a young person has a taste of vodka and thinks “yuck” but in 20 years, a glass of the much more powerful Scotch will taste pretty good.

“Your pallet changes,” he said. “You want to experience new things.”

For this concert, Dusk performs with McCain, a triple East Coast Music Award nominee and a longtime musical collaborator. Dusk likes to have a duet partner on stage, someone he can connect with on both a personal and musical level.

“It’s a little odd when you’re on stage, you look out at that vast mass of people sitting there listening to the music,” he said. “It’s not an intimate conversation.”

Having a duet partner allows him to feel a kinship as the singers look at each other’s eyes and blend their voices, something he can’t do with the audience or musicians.

“We’re in it together,” he said. “Jazz is all about the conversation.”

He also feels comfortable having his own band, five musicians he has worked with for many years.

“When you’re with the same band, there are two parts: there’s the skill set as musicians and the other is being a decent human being,” he said. “Once you’ve found that combination, you don’t let it go.”

The 37-year-old singer will perform music from his 2013 album “My Funny Valentine: the Music of Chet Baker” familiar tunes such as “All the Way” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.”

Dusk just released his latest 12-track album “Matt & Florence: Quiet Nights” with another duet partner, Quebec-born Florence K.

vhill@therecord.com