Westjet turns Gate 28 into jazz club

About 110 passengers heading for Toronto got a Christmas surprise when they reached Gate 28 at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Sunday.

WestJet had turned the departure lounge into a jazz club, complete with a performance by Juno-nominated singer Matt Dusk, a visit from “Mrs. Claus” and a buffet of food and drinks.

Oh, and five people also won gift cards for a return flight to anywhere WestJet flies.

The event was Day 9 of the WestJet Christmas Miracle: 12 Flights of Christmas project.

Quinn Clancy was one of those who won a big prize, given out as a reward for being willing to step up and dance with Mrs. Claus while Dusk sang traditional Christmas carols.

“It’s pretty cool,” Clancy said. “Amazing. Totally caught us off-guard but it’s pretty cool.”

Clancy and his wife Brandi were on their way home to Barrie, Ont., on Sunday, and were tickled pink to encounter the WestJet-blue-clad Mrs. Claus. Volunteers wearing Christmas hats of the same shade were abundant, as were glasses filled with similar-hued drinks from the buffet table. White leather sofas were arranged in rows in front of an intimate stage setting where Dusk performed in a trio with Stephen MacDonald on saxophone and and Martin Anderson on piano.

Clancy said he travels fairly often. Although he now lives in Ontario, he was born in Halifax.

“My family’s here, so I’m here quite often,” Clancy said.

The electrician said they were in Halifax for his brother-in-law’s surprise 60th birthday party. It was a quick visit, coming in Thursday, but the airport festivities topped it off nicely.

“Awesome,” Clancy said of his return-flight gift. “(I) might have to put it to good use New Year’s Eve.

“We were talking about going to Vegas over the holidays because the Maple Leafs are playing the Las Vegas Knights New Year’s afternoon. So, that’s probably going to be a destination for us.”

The other passengers weren’t left out. They all got Christmas stockings with copies of Dusk’s Christmas CD and noise-cancelling headphones.

Leslie Duffy and her daughter Madeline were on their way back to Guelph after visiting Halifax to check out Dalhousie University as a possible school for the teen.

“This is amazing,” Leslie said. “It’s absolutely wonderful. You’d never expect to come to the airport and have something like this happening.

“It’s my daughter’s 17th birthday so it just kind of makes the morning extra-special.”

She said if they weren’t fully in the Christmas spirit before, they are now.

“Just coming to Halifax this weekend started to get us into the spirit but this really kicks it off.”

It also helped Madeline anticipate making Halifax her home.

“It’s really cool,” the high school senior said. “I really wasn’t expecting it.”

Dusk appreciated how much the passengers got into the spirit of things with him.

“As a performer, it’s like a conversation with someone. If you’re in a bar and you go up and say ‘hi,’ they give you information and you give it back, you can have good dialogue and this audience was giving me a lot of dialogue,” Dusk said. “In my opinion, Christmas music and holiday music is all about a collective. As a kid we used to go door-to-door carolling. So this is kind of like bringing me back to those moments as a kid.”

It’s the sixth year for WestJet’s Christmas Miracles promotion. The videos have been viewed millions of times around the world. This year, the company is hosting 12 such events over 12 days at different locations across the country with different special guests and prizes. Halifax was the ninth location. Previous events this year have already been held in Montreal, Calgary, Toronto, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Edmonton, Ottawa and Vancouver.

WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said the Halifax leg turned out to be a fantastic event.

“Everybody was truly surprised to see Matt Dusk appear on the stage and I think the one thing I’ve seen in the past nine days is it’s been fantastic that people are slowing down, getting off their phone and just taking some time to just enjoy the moment. I think that’s really part of what we’re trying to do is surprise people but also get everyone in the Christmas spirit and it definitely happened today.”

Each event is posted online through Facebook Live and video is later available at the Christmas Miracle portal on the WestJet website.

Matt Dusk: “My Daughter is really my litmus test for music”

I’m not one of those guys who is like, “Here’s a picture of my daughter! And here’s a picture of her on a horse!” Every parent thinks his or her kid is the most blessed child in the world and the cutest, and when they see other cute babies, they get jealous.

My kid, she’s great. We keep her on our schedule, so she is up really late and goes to bed around 1 a.m. She is always around adults. The issue is, when you want to go out, it becomes a little more stressful because I don’t want to go to a restaurant and have her crying and throwing crap all over the place. We want to be courteous to other people. We don’t want to be those parents that are like, “This is natural!” There are a lot of things that are natural that we don’t want to share with everybody.

It makes me want to stay home more. Friday and Saturday nights were always for having people over, but now I don’t want anybody over on Saturday nights. I just want to sit and take a breather. Maybe I’m just getting old and lazy.

She is very animated. Her facial expressions are like a mime. When she gets a gift, her eyes open wide and it’s over the top. Usually, when I give someone a gift, they’re like, “Oh, thanks.” She is like, “Woahhh! A ball!”

What’s really cool is that she loves music, so she is really my litmus test for music. If I start writing a song and she starts dancing and trying to sing, then I know I’m onto something.

When I had Kaia, I wanted to relive the Christmas traditions I grew up with, and a big part of that was music. I can remember going to my grandpa and grandma’s house. I was five or six years old and the first thing I would do is rush over to the record player and pull out Bing Crosby’s White Christmas record. I would put it on and the thing would just loop ad nauseam for the whole night.

Eventually, somebody would play piano and we would sing carols. Now we just say screw it and go straight to YouTube and do karaoke, and whatever comes out comes out.

I feel that, especially as you get older, you can’t choose your family. You really are stuck with them, so you have to make the best of it. When you start to give people a chance, you just develop better bonds with them over time.

Matt Dusk’s collection of holiday standards, Old School Yule!, is out now on CD and vinyl and available on all streaming services. His Old School Yule! Holiday Tour plays across Canada through Christmas Day.

Hello! The Last Word

Christmas is coming and Matt Dusk is READY!  One of Canada’s best belters of standards (not to mention one of its spiffiest) the recoring artist, 38, is getting into the spirit of the holidays with Old School Yule!

What singer Matt Dusk is watching, reading and looking forward to

If you hear what Matt Dusk is hearing, it’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas. On Nov. 3, the popular Canadian crooner is set to release Old School Yule!, a 16-track collection of Kringle-season classics, recorded with a 60-piece orchestra and 50-piece choir. Old school, Sinatra-style. Outside of holiday standards, Dusk reveals what else has been jingling his bells lately.

What he just saw:Blade Runner 2049. I never saw the original until well into my adult life, and after seeing it, I wondered what all the hoopla was about. It wasn’t until the third or fourth viewing I realized how deep, dark and poetic the movie was for its time. Nothing brings closure to a movie than the line ‘All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.’ Blade Runner 2049 goes even further with more questions unanswered, amongst a beautiful eye-candy experience. Oh, and how does Harrison Ford age so well?”

What he’s reading:Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth by Nick Murray. Just plain old simple investing advice: low and slow always wins. No shortcuts, no get-rich-quick schemes.”

What he’s looking forward to: “Here: Locating Contemporary Canadian Artists, at the Aga Khan Museum for the rest of the year. Not everybody knows of or has been to this Toronto gem. One of the most refreshing and stunning venues, full of culture and history. As a frequent traveller, it continually surprises me how incredibly diverse Toronto and Canada is. So much beauty found in our own backyard.

Matt Dusk Swings Into Orillia!

The venue may be called the Orillia Opera House, but Canadian Matt Dusk is ready to sing there… and swing!

“Let’s turn back the clock,” the 38-year-old Toronto-born crooner, tells BarrieToday. “Do you remember the time when the Concorde was the fastest passenger plane on earth? When it was possible to travel from Paris to New York in three-and-a-half hours? Those were cool times, when cocktails tasted good and you didn’t think of an eventual headache afterwards, when you didn’t have to think how to dress because there was only one way.”

Finally, he says, “they were times where they only played one kind of music…Our kind of music!”

Dusk, who regularly recreates the feel of a Sinatra performance in everything he does, hits the Opera House stage Friday, Oct. 13. You’re excused if your first thought of Matt hearkens back to the Mark Burnett-produced reality show The Casino.

Dusk says that’s all right with him, considering the double-edged nature of a TV show.

“The positive side is you get mass exposure,” he says, “For example, while I was on The Casino, some episodes were viewed by as many as 20 million people in North America. The downside is that television focuses on your personality and not your artistry, therefore some people don’t take you seriously as a musician.”

Even so, Dusk reckons, “I still think it was a great platform to help launch my career on a global scale. People still remember me from The Casino and I still keep in contact with a few of the people on that show.”

It’s also just fine, thanks, that people spot the vocal and physical similarities between him and Frank, Dino and the rest of the crooners of that era. Like fellow Canadian crooner and rival Michael Buble, Dusk shows a good deal of respect for the time when that style of singing was in its heyday.

“(They were) guys who were well dressed, liked a good martini, could sing, and were always hanging around beautiful people. Today, their lives have been romanticized to a bygone era, where things were easier and where everyone was having a good time. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?”

One of his more recent efforts was a duet album, Just the Two of Us, with the Polish singer Margaret. Duets are among Matt’s favourite projects.

“The idea of collaborating with other artists is exciting, as I treat it like a dance… always figuring out how connect one step at a time. Margaret, although a big pop star, was trained classically and played jazz in high school. All I was doing was bringing her back to her early youth,” he recalls with humour.

“Now I know how Tony Bennett feels singing with Lady Gaga.”

And, while not exactly ready for the rocking chair himself, Dusk figures Margaret’s youth worked in her favour when they made the CD.

“Although I’ve improved over my years, I can get set in my ways. When you’re young you can throw caution to the wind and just try everything. She helped me become a little less stubborn… and for that reason alone I’d definitely record with her. And I know we will.”

Dusk is known for his debut album, Two Shots, and its follow-up, Back in Town, both of which went gold, is in process of cutting two new albums, and is off-the-charts enthused about them. For him, “it’s like 1962 all over again! My band and I are always trying out new music!”

Matt Dusk plays the Orillia Opera House Friday, Oct. 13. To learn more, click here.

Jazz singer Matt Dusk spins his ‘Old School Yule’ album on vinyl

We don’t know much about Canadian jazz singer Matt Dusk. But we know one thing for sure — he’ll get very excited when you place his new holiday album, Old School Yule, on your turntable at home or in the office.

That’s because, as Dusk points out, he and his team “overlooked a minor design flaw” when creating the vinyl edition of his album, a Magic Records release that spotlights 16 jazz covers of familiar holiday classics like “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.”

That design flaw, as you can see below, revolves around the vinyl issue’s center sticker. The picture shows Dusk leaping in the air, innocently enough, but the hole removed for the center post spindle is positioned by his groin. Which gets properly filled in by a bulging knob when the album is on the record player.

We’ll assume this is all an accident, unless Dusk is looking to replace the late Blowfly as the king of raunchy holiday songs. But we think this was not intentional.

“Bring on the creative hashtags,” Dusk tweeted.

Listen to this year’s Juno jazz nominees mash up Drake, The Weeknd, Alessia Cara and Shawn Mendes

Awards shows don’t usually spawn friendships. But when Toronto crooner Matt Dusk was nominated for a Juno Award in the Vocal Jazz Album category, he called up his competitors and invited them to spend a day with him in the studio. Along with singers Heather Bambrick and Barbra Lica, Dusk recorded a swinging, big-band mash-up of five pop songs by some of his fellow Juno nominees: Drake, The Weeknd, Alessia Cara, Shawn Mendes and Sia. It’s bizarre—and whole lot of fun.



2017 Juno Nomination

Congratulations to Matt Dusk and Florence K on their Juno nomination for their duet album Quiet Nights.  This marks the third nomination for Matt and the second nomination for Florence.

See the awards here

Old School Yule: Review

Matt Dusk instantly became Canadian jazz music royalty when his debut album, Two Shots earned him a certified gold album upon its release in 2004. For the past decade, Dusk has been touring the globe, recording quality studio albums, and entertaining loyal fans non-stop. In November 2004, Dusk released the holiday inspired EP, Peace on Earth. Dusk has since carried on his Christmas spirit with countless tours and performances centred around the holiday season. Dusk is finally showing off his charming and charismatic vocals once again with his full-length holiday album, Old School Yule! Now available at most major music retailers, Old School Yule! is a complete homage to some of the best Christmas’ songs known to music.

Released in both standard and deluxe edition, Old School Yule! is a track-by-track walk down a holiday musical and magical memory lane. From the first few chimes of “Happy Holiday” to the final note of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” the album is pure holiday joy, and easily fits into any collection of Christmas tunes. Keeping a great balance between both the traditional classic holiday sounds, and fresh and unique arrangements of the Christmas songs we have come to know and love, Dusk does not disappoint with Old School Yule!

Enlisting the help of fellow Canadian artists, Dusk invited some of the industry’s best vocalists to accompany him on some beloved duets. Toronto’s own Sophia Perlman (Santa Claus Is Coming To Town), Emma-Lee (Baby Its Cold Outside), and Barbra Lica (Let It Snow!) join Dusk and lend their vocal skills to Old School Yule! creating harmonies and luscious duets. As alumni of the St. Michael’s Choir School, Dusk is also joined by their current roster of choir members to create an astounding version of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” as well as acknowledgement of his eleven years spent as a member of the choir.

From Bing Crosby to Nat King Cole, Dusk dives into the world of Christmas music and simply pulls out the best of the best. From the cozy sounds of some of Irving Berlin’s biggest hits (Happy Holiday, White Christmas, and I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm) to the absolutely iconic Bob Wells and Mel Tormé tune “The Christmas Song,” Dusk has gift wrapped something special and musical for everyone on this album.

With retro inspirations and Dusk’s smooth and powerful vocals, Old School Yule! is one swinging performance after another. Backed by over a hundred talented artists and musicians, Dusk ensured that Old School Yule! maintained the highest calibre of production quality that his fans have come to enjoy and expect from his musical work. Old School Yule! consistently maintains the integrity of each song, and allows Dusk to show off his personality with each high quality track. Dusk knows exactly what he is doing as he navigates you through years of Christmas music, and effortlessly revives the musical spirt of Christmas with each note on Old School Yule! Whether you need some songs while trimming the tree, are looking for some great party tunes, or simply want to enjoy the sounds of the holiday season, Old School Yule! has a little musical something for everyone.

Kicking off a busy season with tour dates spread out across Canada, Dusk has stops scheduled in most major cities between Saskatchewan and Quebec. Have some fun, spread some holiday cheer, and join Dusk while he hits the road to bring Old School Yule! directly to you.

it’s also about cocktails, carols, and crooning.

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.