Kitchener-Waterloo Jazz Vocalist, Voice Teacher, Educator

“Pazzano Hits the High Notes on Jazz History”

22 January 2016

Pazzano hits the high notes on jazz history

Waterloo Region Record

Stylish 1967 movie romance “Two for the Road” chronicles the tumultuous 12-year marriage of Mark Wallace (Albert Finney) and Joanna Wallace (Audrey Hepburn) through a series of exquisite cars and witty non-linear couples vignettes as they journey through married life, from the passionate fast lanes of early love on the French Riviera to his-and-hers emotional potholes in London, England, years later.

“Oh my God. That is one of my favourite movies,” exclaims jazz-singer/classic movie buff Mary-Catherine Pazzano.

That’s why Pazzano included the film’s title love-song in her ballads set list. She loves taking “underperformed little gems” and jazzing them up so they are “a little more hip” for the 21st century.

“Film has always been my jumping point,” she notes. “Oh, who wrote that? Cole Porter? Let’s look up his library of songs. Then you go down the rabbit hole and never stop,” she says with a laugh.

“Sometimes my bass player or piano player will bring a song to me,” she said, referring to veteran musician/longtime collaborator John McLelland on keys, in addition to acclaimed bassist Mike Grace, who has played with many jazz legends, from Henry Mancini to Dizzy Gillespie.

“For instance, they introduced me to (1944 Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn composition) ‘Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry,’ which I immediately fell in love with because I never knew that song,” she admits.

This bittersweet jazz standard, first sung by film actress Jane Withers, comes from a stage show called “Glad to See You” that never made it Broadway. Pazzano makes it her own with a vocally opulent modern interpretation of this classic torch song.

The singer says jazz first caught her attention in high school.

“I studied classically so I did the whole legit training,” says Pazzano, also a music teacher who runs jazz workshops and programs in local high schools. “But then immediately after I graduated I started latching on to jazz players (like McLelland) who really helped and mentored me. Then, as the jazzers say, I ‘went left’ and never went back.”

Pazzano, who also studied drama, says singing these standards is like being an actress, be it “scatting” her way through the bossa nova tune “No More Blues,” or losing herself in childhood singing idol Judy Garland’s beloved classic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

“The lyrics are so rich. You get to delve in and find something new in that lyric that works for you. You deliver that to the audience and that is why I think there are so many great recordings of standards that always sound so fresh.”

Pazzano, who plays many notable jazz clubs from Toronto’s Rex to Guelph’s Manhattan’s, is also the featured soloist on (McLelland’s) Phoenix Jazz Group CD “Intrinsic Values” which comes out in February.

The Jazz Room show featuring McLelland, Grace, and Steve James on drums will showcase songs from “major players and composers” of The Great American Songbook evolving through the decades to the premiere of Pazzano’s newer material from sassy uptempo beats to sultry slow-down ballads.

“There is definitely another place that takes over,” says Pazzano referring to her performance process. “I am not even sure where that it is. I know that I always feel most at home in that place. You almost go up into this other world. Then you come back down to reality after you are finished singing a song when you are really into it and you are really connected to the lyrics. So I am always trying to imagine where that character will be in that lyric.”

Jazz Room: January 15, 2016!

4 January 2016

Come join us! General admission is $15, and if you’re under 30, you can come for $8! Get your tickets here!

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Matao Video Compilation

20 June 2015

Matao Jazz Trio

Mary-Catherine Pazzano, Vocals

John McLelland, Piano/Keyboard

Mike Grace, Bass

Jazz at the Library: Thornbury Paper Review

25 May 2015

By: Jon Svec

It was a packed house in the gallery of the L.E. Shore Memorial Library on May 22, as folks gathered to witness the second installment of the Jazz at the Library series. The theme was The Great American Song Book, and the event saw three talented musicians perform their interpretations of a number of influential songs that were written in the first half of the 20th Century.

“It takes a little bit of explanation, because this is not just a book with 20 or 30 songs,” commented event organizer Tony Bauer. “The Great American Song Book is an institution – it’s a legacy of an incredible amount of talented people who, in a short period of time, in one place, changed musical history.”

He went on to describe some of the players, touching upon the lives and works of Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Richard Rogers, and a number of other legendary artists.

“It’s not that certain songs are in and certain songs are out,” he said. “Every artist, every singer, every musician, will have his or her own version of the Great American Song Book.”

As the sold-out crowd watched on, the musicians then dove into a stunning performance.

Don Buchanan, who performed at the inaugural Jazz at the Library event, took the helm at the piano. Buchanan has been part of the Grey-Bruce music scene for over 35 years, and on Friday night his command and love for the music was again apparent.

Mike Grace positioned himself at the upright bass for the evening, providing the deep tones and a number of stellar solos. Grace has an impressive resume, including a nod as Educator of the Year by the University of Michigan Musical Society after retiring from the Ann Arbor Michigan Public School system. Mike has performed with artists such as Dizzy Gillespie and Mel Torme, and it was easy to see on Friday night why these famous artists would want him in their bands.

It was also easy to identify him as an educator, as Grace took a few moments during the show to interject with some interesting insights into the structure of the songs they were performing.

“There are some really good reasons why we, as jazz musicians, like to play all of these standards,” he said. “They hold up.”

pazzanoAs impressive as these artists were on Friday night, it was singer Mary-Catherine Pazzano who truly stole the show. Whether she was scatting her way through a fast number or slowing things down for a powerfully belted tune, Pazzano had the audience enthralled throughout the entire show. Her performance was probably best summed up in the quiet moments that occasionally appeared between the notes, when the room sat in anticipation of her next line – completely silent and breathless.

As always, the library’s gallery served as the perfect venue for the event, with the painted sunsets and landscapes providing the backdrop, the great acoustics, and the room’s high ceiling doing its absolute best to contain Pazzano’s expansive voice.

There’s no telling what the future holds for the Jazz at the Library series, but with two impressive, sold-out shows under its belt, it has already proven to be a great addition to the area’s arts and culture scene.

May Gigs!

8 May 2015

May 10, 2015

Schneider Male Chorus Concert

-With Paul Stouffer on keys, Mike Grace on bass

May 22, 2015

Thornbury Library, Thornbury

-With Don Buchanan on piano, Mike Grace on bass

May 28, 2015

Manhattans, Guelph

-Time: 7:00-10:00 pm

-With John McLelland on piano, Mike Grace on bass

May 30, 2015

Southampton United Church, Southampton

-With Don Buchanan on piano, Mike Grace on bass

April 30! International Jazz Day at Manhattans!

29 April 2015

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April Gigs!

31 March 2015

April 5, 2015

Church service, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Cambridge

-Time: 10:00 am

April 9, 2015

Westin Hotel Trillium House, Collingwood

-Time: 7:00 pm-10:00 pm

-With Don Buchanan on piano, Mike Grace on bass

April 10, 2015

Workshop, Noteworthy Singers, Waterloo

-Time: 9:30 am-11:00 am

April 12, 2015

Church service, Knox Presbyterian Church, Waterloo

-Time: 10:00 am

-With John McLelland on piano and Mike Grace on bass

April 17, 2015

An Evening of Jazz and Poetry, Queen’s Square, Cambridge

-Time: 6:30pm-8:30pm

-With John McLelland on piano

April 30, 2015

Manhattans, Guelph

-Time: 7:00-10:00 pm

-With John McLelland on piano, Mike Grace on bass

March Gigs!

3 March 2015

March 6, 2015

Southampton Care Centre, Southampton

-Time: 2:00pm-4:00pm

-With John McLelland on keys, Mike Grace on bass

March 6, 2015

Tramonto Restaurant, Kincardine

-Time: 7:00pm-10:00pm

-With John McLelland on keys, Mike Grace on bass

March 7, 2015

Jazz in the Schools: Cameron Heights Swing Dance Fundraiser, Kitchener

-Time: 6:00pm

March 14, 2015

Easy Pour Wine Bar, Cambridge

-Time: 7:00pm-10:00pm

-With Mike Grace on bass

February Gigs!

3 February 2015

February 8, 2015

South Stables Coffee Shop, Southampton

-With Mike Grace on bass

February 14, 2015

Easy Pour Wine Bar, Cambridge

-Time: 7:00pm-10:00pm

-With Mike Grace on bass

February 25, 2015

Noon Hour Concert, Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo

-Time: 12:30pm -1:20pm

-With Mike Grace on bass

Jazz in the Schools: Building Community Through Performance

13 January 2015

I have been lucky enough to be part of the K-W Music community for almost my entire life. As a vocal teacher, jazz educator, and singer, I have been surrounded by amazing musicians and people who have dedicated themselves to building meaningful music communities: school teachers, conductors, professors, bandmates. There are so many musical individuals that I have looked up to over the years that have changed me as a person and a musician. Many of them still play large roles in my life: as ardent supporters, lifelong educators, confidantes, and friends.

The first time I remember truly feeling the impact of a community built through and by music was at Bluevale Collegiate, my high school. For the first time in my school-going life, I felt a sense of belonging. I found my home away from home, and my second family. Thanks to our life-changing, tireless, passionate music teachers (Nancy Kidd, John McLelland, Cam McBain), the students who went through our music program are now forever linked. No matter how far apart we now might be, we will forever be linked, as part of that community that made music together.

When I talk to fellow graduates of our program (some of whom are my very closest friends, and some of whom I am reunited with each week with Nancy’s community choir, Age of Majority Singers), we reminisce and say: “Remember that time we got to sing in Carnegie Hall?” “Remember Friday music trivia day in Instrumental class?” “Remember the lunchtime hangouts in the vocal room which often turned into bonus choir practice?”

There’s something that all those reminiscences have in common: we remember the time we spent together, not alone. We remember the times with each other: singing together in the stairwells, crying together, laughing together, travelling together. We remember the community, maybe even more than the specific music we actually made together. I remember those days so fondly, and they shaped who I became and who I am: a professional musician and music educator.

Now, 8 years later, with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Bachelor of Education under my belt, I feel like it’s my turn to step into the role as “community leader”: to shape and build my own musical communities, and give back to this wonderful region of musicians that has given so much to me. Who better to start giving back to than to high school students? If my life journey changed course because of my Bluevale music community, why not pay it forward to current high schoolers? So, I have started a Jazz in the Schools program. Thanks to the support of Josh Hill and Megan Brenneman at Cameron Heights Collegiate, I recently started up the Jazz program to supplement and further shape the community that is already being built in the wonderful Cameron Heights music program. While teaching the fundamentals of jazz performance, we are also teaching the fundamentals of community interaction: teamwork, collaboration, listening to each other, creating a meaningful artistic experience together.

It is my hope that this program (which I hope will expand to even more schools and communities!) will create lasting memories like the ones I have from my high school years. Hopefully, they will have fond memories of their first public jazz gig, or their first school concert. Hopefully, they will come together as a supportive community of singers and instrumentalists to create a beautiful finished product, learn how to collaborate with and listen to each other. Hopefully, they will be proud of themselves and the accomplishments of their peers. It is my hope they remember their time together just as much as the music they make together.

Maybe, 8 years from now, the Jazz in the Schools students will be having coffee together, and say, “Remember…?”

 

 

 

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