IlluminAqua June 14, 2013, with the incomparable Matt Dusk. Photo by Heidi Grzesina
Sweet, sweet sounds filled the air in Welland June 14 as IlluminAqua featured its two-day 2013 Jazz Festival. Opening for the incomparable Canadian crooner, Matt Dusk, was Welland native, Adrianna Polito, but sight unseen yet upon the approach to the canalside park, one would easily have thought Catherine McKinnon might be on hand. The angelic sound of Polito’s voice, who dreams of being an opera singer and is most inspired by Italian singer, Cecilia Bartoli, mesmerized festival goers and in one song, while paying tribute to her grandfather, his emotional facial response nearly brought tears to everyone nearby.
The half an hour break between opening singer, Polito, and headliner Matt Dusk, had raw anticipation for Dusk visibly hanging in the crowd and when he made his entrance, festival goers, including Niagara College President Dan Patterson and six presidents of colleges in China who accompanied him, erupted in applause.
Canadian crooner and Juno-nominated Dusk is the first male Jazz singer to ever top the pop charts.
Born in Toronto, Dusk has become world renown with two certified gold albums, Two Shots and Good News and three number one radio hits, Back in Town, All About Me, and Good News.
Thrilling the crowd with his latest songs from Live From Las Vegas and My Funny Valentine: The Chet Baker Songbook, Dusk moved across emotional spectrums from one end to the other, as always, reinforcing his mantra that life is simple; just have fun. The Chet Baker selections were delivered Matt Dusk style, capturing the intended emotions but delivered with endearing equilibrium.
And, as only Matt Dusk does, he emerged from the floating stage to engage with his fans directly, singing, dancing, clapping and encouraging sing-alongs.
Anyone who asks if he is all show quickly discovers Dusk to be quite authentic and very sincere, he truly enjoys interaction with his fans and he truly has the same magnetic personality off stage as well as on. He loves to laugh.
The talent is indisputable.
Originally performing opera and classical music, Dusk’s road changed direction with exposure to Tony Bennett, Bob Fenton and Sarah Vaughan and he graduated from York University with an honours degree in music after being awarded the university’s Oscar Peterson Scholarship.
Recording four independent CD’s in the next two years, Dusk’s 2004 release of Two Shots went gold in Canada. Back in Town was released in 2006, recorded with a 58-piece orchestra, conducted by Patrick Williams and Sammy Nestico, with Grammy winning engineer, Al Schmitt recording.
2008 saw the release of Good News, a contemporary delivery of the 1940s to 1960s jazz era.
The soundtrack to a TV series, Call Me Fitz, was Dusk’s next recording in 2010 and later that year, a live DVD concert special for PBS, Live From Las Vegas, was recorded live and released as a double CD/DVD.
2013 brought the release of My Funny Valentine: The Chet Baker Songbook, featuring an 80-piece orchestra and numerous special guests.
Dusk is Canadian gold, his influence reaching worldwide. Loved dearly in Poland and Japan, Dusk recently joined Lang Lang in a “first time ever hosted concert” at Carnegie Hall, to benefit his charitable foundation, The Lang Lang International Music Foundation. Together with Lang Lang and artists such as Dee Dee Bridgewater, Joshua Bell, Renee Flemng and Danish pop diva, Oh Land, $1.3 million was raised for the foundation.
Dusk was named “most beautiful” by Hello Canada magazine in 2009, and while he takes the award in stride and with his usual comedic quips, any time spent with him at all, clearly shows why.
Dusk, in his usual style, was immediately available after the concert to talk to and take pictures with his fans, old and new. CDs for sale on a table nearby were “flying off the shelf”, as they say, with Dusk contributing a portion of the sales to two brave breast cancer survivors who took to the stage, fundraising, prior to Dusk’s performance.
IlluminAqua continues June 15, with an afternoon lineup including Juliette Dunn and Peter Shea, followed by headliner Emilie Claire Barlow with opening act, Roger Clown’s Jazzroots Tutorial 101.
IlluminAqua will present its Folk Festival July 5 to July 6, featuring Current Swell with opening act, Street Pharmacy July 5 and Sarah Harmer with opening act, The Treasures Band, July 6.
For more information, see the following websites:
Matt Dusk’s website: