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Gruvasylum at Pepper Jack's next Saturday


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Just a reminder that Gruvasylum will be playing at Pepper Jack Cafe next Saturday. It's a jazz/groove band with a freestyle rapper. Nick "The Brownman" Ali steals the show as far as I'm concerned however. I hope many of you can make it.

PS: For the Afrobeat fans, Femi Kuti will be performing at Massey Hall in July. Saw him a few years back at Harbourfront and it was the best show I've ever seen.

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heard great things for years about Gruvasylum

\/\/illy trade the phrase:

"freestyle rapper"


"deep, dark, poetic, soulful and rhythm based vocal improvisation presented by a true, pure and natural talent"

and come on out

Warsawpack were one of the best bands to come out of Hamilton (Canada for that matter), would've been a shame if you missed out because you heard the singer rapped

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I have the same reservations as Willy, I was looking forward to this until I heard the rapper part...

My advice to both of you is to stop being a pair of pussies who are frightened away from going out because of silly, pre-conceived notions of something you've never heard before, and come out and see a rather good band.

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Yeah, I will probably still be there to check things out... it's just been to my experience, with rare exception, that any music I've seen with wrapping I tend not to like... but I'm not saying that there is any less talent there, just my personal taste.

But with bands like the Chilli Peppers whom I love, the rhythm section for me often compensates for the parts of the music that I don't like.

But I hopefully be there, with an open mind, and still dancing away.

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Opening Musicians:

Tim Turvey - Drums

Colin Fisher - Sax & Guitar

Jay Hammer - Upright Bass

We will be playing an assortment of freejazz and other nifty morsels to warm you up before Gruvasylum. If you haven't seen the likes of Colin Fisher or Jay Hammer, you will be pleasently delighted. These guys are into experimentation, as I too dispose unto such practice. I am quite excited to be playing with these guys.

PS> I find most write up's about bands to be somewhat distracting from the true nature of their actual music, so ignore the wordy catch phrases designed to lure in a crowd and come enjoy the sounds of some dedicated people doing their best to play quality music for you.


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Scott McLaren, host of "THE JAZZ JOURNEY" on CHRY radio writes:

"Born on the small Caribbean island of Trinidad, schooled in New York and now based in Toronto, Nick "The Brownman" Ali is one of the most in demand, young jazz studio trumpet players in the country. At the age of 25, he is also an accomplished composer/arranger and the recipient of the 2002 Canadian National Jazz Award (NJA) for " Jazz Composer of the Year ", also clocking in as first runner-up for " Jazz Trumpet Player of the Year "; his highly acclaimed latin-jazz group CRUZAO was also nominated at the NJAs in 2002, 2003 & 2004 for " Electric Jazz Group of the Year ". 2001 saw him win the coveted Montreal Jazz Festival's "General Motors Grand Prix Du Jazz Award" which led to his being signed to the prestigious Justin Time Records label. He was also the recipient of the 2001 CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award". 2004 would bring CRUZAO a nomination at the Canadian Independant Music Awards for "Alternative Latin Artist of the Year" and his 10-man salsa outit - MARRÓN MATIZADO - would be honoured with the Silver Medal by SalsaSPOT.com for "Toronto's Favourite Salsa Band".

Brownman is one of the first calls for not only jazz and urban recording sessions (having affiliations at both SONY & UNIVERSAL Recording Studios), but also appears in the horn sections of countless latin groups. His recording credits sit at well over 100 CDs (many nominated for Junos) and he is currently composing and arranging actively for 5 groups of his own, all of which have gained critical acclaim in their own diverse idioms - the award-winning latin-jazz unit CRUZAO, jazz-hip-hop group GRUVASYLUM, mainstream hard-swinging threesome The NICK ALI TRIO, eclectic and electric modern improvising drum'n'bass trio The ELECTRYC TRIO, and the 10-piece Salsa powerhouse MARRÓN MATIZADO.

Testimony to his extreme versatility, his close-to 130 CD studio recording credits are in styles ranging from Be-bop to Acid-jazz to Hip-hop to Brazilian Samba to Cuban Salsa as well as performing on a number of major motion picture soundtracks, music videos and live television broadcasts. His sound has been called Freddie Hubbard meets Randy Brecker & Clifford Brown with hints of Woody Shaw and is quickly becoming familiar to jazz, latin & urban music fans in Toronto and across the country as recordings he's appeared on spread. His movie credits also now include a cameo appearance in the Jennifer Lopez movie "Angel Eyes" and the new 2002 CBC pilot "In A Jam"

Amongst a long list of mentors, Brownman has studied (and performed) with multi-Grammy-winning recording legend Randy Brecker (of The Brecker Brothers) in New York City, Brazilian samba master Claudio Roditi , Canadian flugelhorn great Guido Basso and with British jazz icon Kenny Wheeler while attending the prestigious Banff Center For The Arts 1995 International Jazz Workshop (one of only 3 trumpet players selected from world-wide auditions).

Brownman has performed (or recorded) with the likes of John Scofield, Kenny Wheeler, Randy Brecker, Wayne Shorter, Charlie Hunter, Danilo Perez, Hugh Fraser, Don Thompson, Kirk Macdonald, Pat Labarbera, Kelly Jefferson, Mike Murley, Marc Rogers, Daniel Barnes, William Carn, Shelly Berger, Rita Di Ghent, Gord Webster, Stich Wynston, The Philosopher Kings, Grüvoria, John Blackwell (drummer for Prince), Kyprios, Fito Blanko, Divine Earth Essence, The Pocket Dwellers, Juke Joint, Jason Wilson & Tabarruk, Chucho Valdes & Irakere, Dominicanada, Maninho Costa, Cruzao, Banda Bella, Energia Latina, Bestial, Ricky Franco, Cimarron, Macondo, Pacande, Dominicanada & far too many more to list here.

As both sideman and leader, this fiery young musician has played every major Jazz Festival and Latin venue in Canada, toured both this country and the U.S. extensively and is one of the hottest names in Toronto today. Watch for him!"

Scott McLaren,


CHRY radio (105.5FM)

" One of the next voices in the new generation of jazz improvisors"

- Randy Brecker, multi-Grammy winning jazz trumpet legend

" Remarkable writing and burning energy coming out of this young trumpet player"

- John Scofield, multi-Grammy winning jazz guitar icon

" Energy is never in short supply in Nick Ali's world. This Toronto/Trinidadian trumpeter loves skipping from style to style almost as much as he digs mixing it up with the jazz elite"

- NOW magazine (cover story)

"Nick Ali... a warm, personable soloist displaying an engaging mix or quirks and lyricism."

- Mark Miller, Globe and Mail

"Nick Ali... Brownman... Marrón... this young trumpet player has as many names as he has skills"

- Picante Xpress Latin Magazine

"... deliciously quirky & invigorating... CRUZAO seethes with energy, particularly showing off the skills of trumpeter Ali and his brother Marcus on alto sax."

- Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star

"Nick Ali & CRUZAO... the finest latin-jazz group Canada's ever produced"

- latinjazznet.com

"CRUZAO breaks down the boundaries between latin, jazz and funk in the most innovative way I've seen yet"

- New York University faculty member and Latin-jazz icon Memo Acevedo

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I really like the jazz/groove part but the 'freestyle rapper' part scares me. Any advice?
Don't be scared,its all good!!!!These guys are great,they use to play at the baccus lounge in london all the time.They have alot of enery!!!Nick the Brownman also has a twin brother that plays in some other band in toronto(can't remember the name of the band?)that are also very good!!!It's been a while since i have seen these guys,i think it's about time!!
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I hope there has been some serious improvement from the London days (2003) where they were playing what seemed like every weekend. Always the same friggin' show... Got old real quick!

I hear ya!!!We went to the Baccus lounge alomost every weekend(was the only place in london with good live music,at the time),Gruvasylum played there way too often!!So yes it got old real quick.It will be interesting to hear some new material. ::

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Hmm. The thing about Gruvasylum is that all their music is improvised, so no two shows are alike. Enlight will occasionally throw in some non-improvised lyrics ("live the life of love...") and they will probably play a few bars from Freddie Hubbards "Red Clay". But other than that, it's a whole new experience every time you see them.

As for the ones who have reservations about rappers. I don't dig rap myself. However, Enlight is not a bling-bling rapper. And he doesn't dominate the band. I would have to say he splits the spotlight with Brownman on trumpet. Brownman is the centrepiece as far as I'm concerned, but Enlight is really something too.

I guarantee you will all love it.

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Here's an article in The View about Gruvasylum.


right on, great article...

A lot of the grooves are really

intense, it’s very danceable, it’s not something that

you’re going to want to sit down and cross your legs to.”

But don’t take Brownman’s word for it. “I’ve seen a 65–

year–old women sit at the back of a club with her fingers

in her ears, but when it’s over come up and go ‘I really

enjoyed what you guys did, I never thought I would like a

rapper. You reminded me of the time I saw Duke

Ellington.’ Then she has this crazy story about that time

she met Duke at the Sands, and I think that’s so heavy.

Then you’ve got the 15-year-old kid who’s going ‘whoa

dude, you guys are, like, off the hook man, that rappers

like ridiculous.’ And those two people will approach me

back to back, 65 and 16. That means were doing

something right. It means the music has become more

than just an idiom or a genre, it’s become a force that

touches people. And when a force touches people, they

don’t care what it is.”

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