What's so good about Alex Samaras?

Submitted by Josh Grossman on Mon Nov 25 2:05pm
Alex Samaras

Okay so before I get too far along with this post I have to declare a fairly strong bias. Alex Samaras is one of my favourite singers. He's performed with my big band on numerous occasions. I've seen him perform in a variety of settings. And I've booked him for the Festival. As far as I'm concerned, from a fundamental quality of instrument standpoint, from a musical interpretation standpoint, from an emotional connection to the music standpoint...he's simply one of the best. All of which, in short, answers the title of this post.


Channeling the textural experimentalism of electronic music, the catharsis of tragic opera, the growl of punk rock, and the urgency of polymetric grooves, saajtak “smelts its sonic influences into a maelstrom almost orchestral in nature and theatrical in its depth” (Sonic Circuits, Washington, D.C.) With a repertoire of compositions that range from complex epic forms to short frenetic noise pieces and a heavy incorporation of improvisation, the quartet is constantly developing environments that defy genre and the traditional roles of each instrument.

Hyper+ featuring Nick Fraser

Nicola Fazzini, alto sax
Alessandro Fedrigo, acoustic bass guitars, effects
Nick Fraser, drums

Hyper+ is a recent trio interested in a research on timbres and sound, on new techniques of
improvisation, using new rhythmic and melodic elements and playing acoustic instruments with effects
and much more. In this “music lab” Nicola Fazzini, Alessandro Fedrigo and Nick Fraser developed a creative
vocabulary that they apply to both original pieces and standards.

Rebecca Hennessy

Rebecca Hennessy is a highly sought-after Toronto-based trumpeter, composer and bandleader who has been performing, recording and touring with various projects since moving to Toronto in 2003 from Vancouver Island, BC. As a leader and co-leader, Rebecca has released eight albums to date and has toured Mexico, Panama, Sri Lanka, Europe, USA and extensively in Canada. She has also performed and recorded with internationally recognized artists including Adele, Ron Sexsmith, Andy Kim, Owen Pallett, Broken Social Scene, Feist, Ab Baars and Ken Vandermark.

Avishai Cohen (trumpet) Quartet

Acclaimed for his tone, phrasing, energy and melodic approach, Avishai Cohen has been voted a Rising Star-Trumpet in the DownBeat Critics Poll for four years. He has been a member of the prestigious SF Jazz Collective for six years, and tours the world with The 3 Cohens Sextet with his sister, clarinetist-saxophonist Anat, and brother, saxophonist Yuval.


Riverrun is a quartet made up of some of Toronto's strongest musical personalities. Their sound has been described as Electro-chamber-jazz and Minimalist-avant-garde- pop. Cinematic, delving and disciplined, Riverrun cuts across stylistic boundaries and goes deep into the moment.

Hugh Marsh

Violinist, composer, dreamer Hugh Marsh is widely regarded as Canada's leading improvising violinist. He studied classical violin from age 5 until 20, however it was picking up the saxophone in high school that led him to exploring other musics, especially jazz, funk, and r&b. It was Marsh's father who suggested he apply his newfound love of improvisation on the saxophone to the violin and one day Hugh returned home from school to discover a Balilla amp and a DeArmond pickup for his violin in the living room.