The holiday season is a time of cold weather, gifts, and candy canes, but for the adult crowd, it’s also about cocktails, carols, and crooning.
Matt Dusk, the Juno nominated jazz vocalist, will be ringing in the season with a concert at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium on Nov. 29. The show is part of Dusk’s 20-date cross-Canada tour celebrating his most recent release, Old School Yule.
Dusk called the album, which is a mix of classic and original Christmas songs, the type of album you put on just as you’re about to open the door and welcome guests into your home for a classic holiday party.
“It’s a very up tempo record, so I want the audience to have that same expectation, that they are coming in to be entertained on a very high level,” Dusk said in an interview with the Thunder Bay Source. “There will be funny stories, great up tempo music, and it will put them back in that mood of the first holiday happy hour.”
Old School Yule features holiday classics like The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Jingle Bells, and White Christmas. There are also a few twists on the classics and original music, including Dusk’s own, Snowed in With You.
Joining Dusk on several tracks for Old School Yule are celebrated vocalists Sophia Perlman, Emma Lee, and Barbara Lica. And like much of Dusk’s other work, he is accompanied by a full orchestra and big band.
According to Dusk, who has forged a successful career in Canada and around the world with his nostalgia filled jazz infused vocals, holiday songs fit perfectly with his style of music.
“The genre of music I perform is kind of engraved into Christmas,” he said. “When you think about Christmas music, it’s kind of the only standards we have left in modern popular music and that just happens to be in the genre of jazz.”
Dusk has released seven studio albums, several of which have gone gold in Canada and platinum in Poland. He also has radio hits around the world, from France to Japan.
Dusk believes his popularity in places like Europe and Asia is due in part to the uniqueness of his music, which might not be new to North American listeners, but offers something fresh to international audiences.
“The music I sing is American music, it’s the American song book, from the core of that song book,” he said. “I think in Europe and especially in Asia, it’s something unique and something they don’t hear all the time.”
That songbook, which includes so many holiday favourites, is what Dusk wants to bring back to life.
“I just recently had a daughter and I wanted to pass along those songs to her, so it just felt like the prefect timing,” Dusk said of Old School Yule.
But for Dusk, jazz is almost like its own language, using its various dialects and relying on interpretation of each individual artist. It’s about capturing the retro, nostalgic feel of the old-school crooners who performed in front of big band stages, Dusk said, before rock and roll came along and pushed the genre aside.
“Once the mid 1960’s hit with the British invasion of the Beatles and artists like Tom Jones, that music felt almost completely off the map and over time we have only remembered the greats, the Frank Sinatras, the Tony Bennetts, so I wanted to bring back the genre of those lost 1960’s where I believe that the arranging style and the musical choice of songs that came out were really cool,” Dusk said.
“I really wanted to pay homage to that period because I think it’s kind of lost and I think it’s some of the best music.”
While Dusk will only be accompanied by a five-piece band on stage at the Community Auditorium, he still promises that big band feel and a great evening that will hopefully provide the soundtrack to your holiday season.
“For me, my family would always go to my grandparent’s house on Christmas Eve,” Dusk recalled. “I remember as a kid always rushing to the stereo and looking for that vinyl record, Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. I would pull out the record and put it on and it would become the soundtrack for the evening.”
Dusk will be performing at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium on Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m.