Article Review

Will’s Rundown: January 8, 2021

Descartes for Sheila by Descartes; “When You Go” – Okay Mann; “Steel Toe Boots” – The Carbons

If you want to catch up on last week’s Rundown, read it here.

Descartes for Sheila – Descartes

This jazz album is a live duo recording by Jessica Heaven (vocals) and Jake McIntyre-Paul (electric bass). The performance took place in Salmon Arm, BC, and Bill Buckingham did the post-production in Vancouver.

Is it the first Vancouver jazz album release of 2021?

I’ll go track-by-track but not necessarily in order.

“Centerpiece” reminds me of many nights playing gigs in Metro Vancouver, enjoying the vocal standards we knew and scanning the audience for friendly faces. It makes a great opening track.

“Strasbourg St. Denis” stuck out not because of how the tune saturated my generation of jazz students, but how the vocal register in this arrangement is quite high. And the tempo is rather quick, given the speed of the lyrics. Listen to the cover of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” to hear Heaven in the lower register, sounding more comfortable.

The way Heaven pronounces the word fire in “I’m On Fire” lifts up the Bruce Springsteen cover. It’s my favourite track on the album, but her version of “It’s Only a Paper Moon” is also great.

The verse of “Night and Day” and the bass’ pedal point drew me into their rendition of the jazz standard. And “Sandu” has Heaven’s most lively scat solo.

“I Saw Her Standing There” fits the Beatles-jazz cover canon, but it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. They even have some power chords in the bass solo!

The second-last track offers a contrast in groove. I wasn’t familiar with the song “Better than Anything” in the mashup, and I discovered that it’s a deep cut from the vocal jazz universe.

And the last track’s tenderness reminds me of another bass-voice duo, George Koller and Laila Biali.

“When You Go” – Okay Mann

Okay Mann sounds like the dream act for my folk band to play back-to-back with on a festival stage.

On this single, he mixes the loud choruses of grunge and alt-rock with the kind of sensitive fingerpicking that gets you on playlists.

And I understand that in doing so, Okay Mann has found an audience not only in North America but in Norway!

He’s international: lives in Alberta, came up in Winnipeg bands, works with engineers in London, and recorded this track in New Westminster.

So, I’m not sure what he means when he sings about being “stuck in this town”, given everywhere he’s been.

A Winnipeg breakup song?

I hear that Winnipeg has the best music scene, and by its exports, I could be convinced.

“Steel Toe Boots” – The Carbons

“This one goes out to our brothers in the trades,” say The Carbons in their video description’s first line. They’re a groove-rock band from Kelowna: a trio led by Tomy Thisdale. “This runs deep around my roots,” he sings in the lyrics.

Hearing this tune today is my introduction to the band. I’m doing the homework and discovering that Thisdale is quite good at defining who he’s trying to reach with the project.

The Carbons recorded “Steel Toe Boots” at The Record Room in Kelowna. The engineer Dan Harden co-produced it with them. To put the special sauce on top, they got it mastered by Juno-winning engineer Phil Demetro.

They collaborate with the right bands (The Trews, Sloan), they get played on the right radio stations, and they gig at the right venues.

I’m not a rocker, but I know a comprehensive artist statement when I see it.

Can anyone name the location of that cover image?

By Will Chernoff

William Ross Chernoff—known as Will to friends and colleagues—is a jazz musician, podcaster, YouTuber, and writer. He records and performs under his own name, William Chernoff.