Born: December 10 Primary Instrument: Piano
Fern Lindzon’s eclectic interests, her skill and her versatility as a pianist, singer, composer and arranger have made her a vital and valued member of the Toronto music community, both with her own jazz ensembles and in klezmer and other World Music settings.
From an early and extensive background in classical music, and through studies over the years with vocalists Elaine Overholt and Neil Semer and with jazz pianists Don Thompson, Frank Falco, Marilyn Lerner, and master classes with Fred Hersch and Barry Harris, she has moved freely into, and now comfortably beyond, contemporary jazz.
Her debut CD, Moments Like These (2008), which found her in duets with Don Thompson (vibraphone), Reg Schwager (guitar) and George Koller (bass), received considerable radio play across Canada and brought her praise from the Canadian jazz critics Mark Miller, Len Dobbin (Montreal Mirror), Jim Galloway (The WholeNote) and Marke Andrews (Vancouver Sun), as well as the American author Scott Yanow (The Jazz Singers: The Ultimate Guide). She was the subject of a feature article by Michael Posner in The Globe & Mail.
Fern’s second CD, Two Kites (2011), with George Koller, saxophonist Mike Murley and drummer Nick Fraser, again reflects clearly her range as a musician--from the Brazilian lilt of the title song (by Antonio Carlos Jobim) and the Portuguese lyrics of Ate Quem Sabe to the Yiddish traditions of her suite of Yam Lid, Lustige Chasidm and Balkan Bellabusta, and on again to the standard jazz stylings of My Romance and Basin Street Blues and the contemporary jazz leanings of Distance and Dona Dona. The CD will be launched at Lula Lounge in April 2011, an event that has been selected, by jury, to receive the promotional support of the TD Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival as one of the festival’s Special Projects initiatives.
Fern has appeared in recent years with her jazz ensemble at the Montreal Bistro, Old Mill Homesmith Bar, Chalkers, the Rex, Trane Studio, Reservoir Lounge, in cabaret shows at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts and at the Toronto, Markham, Distillery, Barrie and Burlington jazz festivals. Further afield, she has led trios at the Cellar in Vancouver and Hermann’s Jazz Club in Victoria. Her quartet was recorded in 2009 for CBC Radio’s Canada Live, and Fern herself is the subject of a profile, currently in preparation, for Bravo TV’s Arts and Minds.
In 2009 Fern received a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to explore the fusion of Yiddish music and contemporary jazz, and in September 2010 she led a klezmer/jazz sextet to particular acclaim at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Bell Lightbox Theatre in four performances of her original score for Buster Keaton’s silent film classic, Sherlock Jr. Her next major project, Forgotten Melodies, which infuses jazz with klezmer/Eastern European, Yiddish and classical, will have its debut in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Arts in March 2011.
Fern is a member of Toronto’s award-winning Sisters of Sheynville (“Vocal Group of the Year,” 2008 Canadian Folk Music Awards), an all-women sextet that has performed at klezmer and Jewish music festivals throughout Canada and in the United States. She was a featured soloist in David Buchbinder’s Jerusalem Salon at the Canwest Cabaret Festival in 2008 and has collaborated with many other jazz and klezmer musicians in club and concert performances.
Fern’s involvement in the Toronto music community is further reflected in her work at Havergal College, where she directs the jazz choir and teaches piano, and in her place on the advisory board of the Jazz Performance and Education Centre.
Awards:Toronto Downtown Jazz Special Project Award, 2011 Canadian Folk Music Award, 2009 Canada Council Grant, 2008
“Lindzon has emerged as a rare and fascinating talent, combining an artful and adventurous approach to her piano and vocals.” Irwin Block, Senior Times Montreal, July 2011
“A talented jazz singer-pianist from Toronto, Fern Lindzon has a warm and haunting voice that displays the influence of both classical and folk music along with excellent technique on the piano and an adventurous spirit... Two Kites serves as a particularly strong overview of her talents and it makes for a very enjoyable listen.” Scott Yanow, Los Angeles Jazz Scene, June 2011
“Toronto’s Fern Lindzon has been steadily honing her chops in the city’s jazz scene for a number of years, and on her varied second album the classical-turned-jazz singer/pianist delivers adventurous originals as well as some artful twists on classics... The album’s strongest moments come during the lengthy instrumental jams, where her stunning piano work and imaginative improvisation move into the spotlight.” Carla Gillis, Now Toronto, May 2011
Fern Lindzon has chosen her material, and her collaborators, with unerring instinct. Each piece is musically shaped with great warmth and directness. KATIE MALLOCH, Tonic, CBC Radio 2
Take a sensitive singer/pianist, choose an imaginative set of songs, add George Koller on bass, guitarist Reg Schwager and Don Thompson on vibes - but only one of them on each number- and you are already rounding third and heading home. It is difficult to choose favorites from this CD and Lindzon has created an album that might just be too good to be popular, but real listeners to the music will find a great deal of pleasure in this tasteful collection of superior lyrics and melodies. JIM GALLOWAY, Whole Note Magazine, April 08
A very talented pianist and singer from Toronto, Fern Lindzon has released a rather unusual debut CD. She is featured in duets with either guitarist Reg Schwager, bassist George Koller or vibraphonist Don Thompson. Duets, even more than solos, are particularly tricky because they leave each player very exposed, and the two musicians must work perfectly together or their missteps will be obvious. There is nowhere to hide.
But with musicians of this caliber, there is no reason for anyone to hide. Fern Lindzon, who takes vocals on eight of the 11 duets, is not shy to take chances yet she makes it all sound easy. She sings her own lyrics to Wayne Shorter's Infant Eyes (which is retitled To See Through Infant Eyes) and her vocalese to Moments Like These which she uses as a prelude to her lyrics to Stolen Moments. She turns the Jewish piece Re'i into a haunting ballad, contributes the playful You Really Shouldn't, But… (a thinly disguised Well You Needn't), and takes Where Do You Start as a solo piece. Everything works.
Clearly Fern Lindzon deserves to be better known on this side of the Canadian border. Moments Like These, which is available from www.fernlindzon, is a keeper. SCOTT YANOW, Los Angeles Jazz Scene, April 08
“Up next was the sultry vocal-jazz stylings of another top- notch Toronto-based pianist, Fern Lindzon, backed by the sublime guitarist Tony Quarrington and Ben Miller on bass. Lindzon’s delicate voice and Quarrington’s feathery guitar work together to make quiet music with a powerful impact.” -Sebastian Cook, “A beautifully eclectic chorus for freedom in Burma” The Live Music Report, December 2007
“…Then there's the Yiddish classic Chiribim…the middle section is infused with great jazz solos by saxophonist Jane Fair and pianist Fern Lindzon…I must mention the outstanding rhythm section… These ladies are terrific! They shift between swing, bulgar, Latin, and contemporary jazz with ease and absolutely nail each style…I really liked the musical arrangements of Fern Lindzon, who has a great understanding of the varied musical styles on the album.” -Keith Wolzinger, Sheynville Express, Sisters of Sheynville, Klezmer Podcast, December 2007
“Not to be missed is Tisch Nign II, which stands out as a short, sad and beautiful divergent piano composition by Lindzon and should be listened to and absorbed with eyes closed.” -Andy Levy-Ajzenkpf, Lithuanian Empire CD a cause for celebration, Canadian Jewish News, August 2007
“…beautiful and pensive hard-bop style jazz piano…Fern Lindzon’s solo performance begins with a short and subtle doina followed by a lovely classical style arrangement with hints of Shostakovitch’s innovative harmonic pairing…great solos by Fern on piano. It’s perfect.” -Eric Zaidins, The Lithuanian Empire, www.klezmershack.com October 2007
“Singers are the hot item these days, with lots of new voices on the scene; but we shouldn’t forget those who have established themselves over the years, proving themselves to be no flash in the pan. One such singer is Fern Lindzon. - Jim Galloway, WholeNote Magazine, April, 2005
“Critic’s choice” notices, WholeNote Magazine (Jim Galloway, 2003, 2005), Toronto Sun (Mary Dickie, 2006), Toronto Star (Geoff Chapman, June 2006; Ashante Infantry, October 2007) Interviews, Ralph Benmergui, Jazz FM91, Toronto, 2005
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Willing to teach:
Havergal College, Toronto- jazz choir, private piano and vocal students
the art of self-accompaniment and jazz improvisation. As a jazz pianist/vocalist I demonstrate how to accompany yourself on an instrument an improvise at the same time!