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Volume 26 Issue 4 - December 2020 / January 2021

  • Text
  • Choir
  • Composer
  • Jazz
  • Symphony
  • Recording
  • Toronto
  • Orchestra
  • Musical
  • January
  • December
In this issue: Beautiful Exceptions, Sing-Alone Messiahs, Livingston’s Vocal Pleasures, Chamber Beethoven, Online Opera (Plexiglass & All), Playlist for the Winter of our Discontent, The Oud & the Fuzz, Who is Alex Trebek? All this and more available in flipthrough HERE, and in print Friday December 4.

Venue Snapshot The Oud &

Venue Snapshot The Oud & the Fuzz community-building in challenging times CURIOCITY GROUP MEGHAN GILHESPY When I first walked into The Oud & the Fuzz, it was a profoundly sensorial experience. The aromas of incense and Armenian cooking envelop you. Black-and-white photos of weathered brick buildings in the city of Gyumri, Armenia, catch your eye. Music wafts you through the entrance to the back patio. There, silent listeners are engrossed by groove-based music, or Armenian jazz, or cross-cultural cello improvisations. Though the type of music varies from day to day, its familiar low pulse always seems to force you into movement. Every sensory feature of the experience has been carefully selected from within a community of like-minded people. Armenian photographer Aren Voskanyan shot the images specifically for the venue. The incense was bought in Kensington Market, and the food is from Karine’s – an Armenian restaurant run by a mother and her two daughters a few blocks away. And the music that determines the space’s atmosphere is created by some of Toronto’s top musicians. The Oud & the Fuzz is a family affair, owned by Armenian-Canadian brothers Shaunt and Raz Tchakmak. Twenty-eight-year-old Shaunt books, manages, and curates the music in the space. Shaunt had a revelation when he first heard John Berberian and The Rock East Ensemble’s 1969 track “The Oud & The Fuzz.” After hearing this music, he tells me, he felt that he started to make sense of his existence as an Armenian living in North America. From the album Middle Eastern Rock, the song is a hybrid of traditional Armenian music and psychedelic rock and jazz. Inspired by the musical hybridity of Berberian’s music, Tchakmak opened his venue, reverently named The Oud & the Fuzz, to feature music that, according to him, “tries to cross boundaries between timelines and cultures.” Community is deeply important to Shaunt. “Our business would not have survived if it were not for a community, if it weren’t for people making the decision to spend their money where it matters to them,” he says. “I’m super grateful for the city.” But the city changed drastically with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. “There is a big difference between sustaining and starting a business during a pandemic,” Shaunt explains. The Tchakmak brothers gained possession of the space in January 2020, and had planned an illustrious opening event for March. That obviously couldn’t happen. They ended up guardedly launching their business in late June. Shaunt and Raz have meanwhile sustained their other business Antikka, a cafe and record shop on Queen Street West that has remained afloat throughout the pandemic. While optimistic, Shaunt notes that The Oud & the Fuzz has not been eligible for rent subsidies, as Antikka has. However, he says, “My landlord is a very decent human. This project would not have started if she weren’t, and she’s maintained her decency over the last four months. That played a huge role in us being here and doing what we do.” The Oud & the Fuzz is fittingly located just north of the corner of Kensington Avenue and Dundas Street West: the southeast corner of Toronto’s eclectic Kensington Market. And yes, the music has been as wide-ranging as the businesses in its neighborhood. Shaunt has booked residencies Wednesday through Sunday, often with two different groups per night. Every Saturday this fall, Toronto band WAPAMA has played in weather that ranged from 21 to -two degrees. The band’s exploratory sound, which WAPAMA members describe as African-inspired and groove-based, fits The Oud & the Fuzz impeccably. Other resident artists included Leen Hamo, who plays Arabic jazz, Sarah Jane Riegler, who spins Armenian deep house, and vinyl reggae DJ Brigadier Shazbad, who spins with live trumpet player Rudy Ray. Artists such as Ahmed Moneka, Icedmistoplease, and the George Crotty Trio also graced the stage during The Oud & the Fuzz’s short open stint. While the venue features live music, DJs, or a mixture of the two every open night, it is also a space for activities that transcend the musical and foster the sense of community that Shaunt values so deeply. The Oud & the Fuzz hosts fundraisers supporting the Indigenous people of Artsakh in their defense from Azeri and Turkish aggression (a Kensington Market tailor donated patches to sell in support of the cause). The venue has also hosted Armenian food pop-up events, catered by Armenian pizzeria Mamajoun. Artist David Setrakian sells his works at the venue, and donates his profits, also in support of the Indigenous people of Artsakh. 28 | December 2020 / January 2021

Bandstand Time to Reminisce JACK MACQUARRIE ISHKHAN GHAZARIAN Razmik (L) and Shaunt Tchakmak, in front of The Oud & the Fuzz Our business would not have survived if it were not for a community, if it weren’t for people making the decision to spend their money where it matters to them. Shaunt has made the live music experience at The Oud & the Fuzz as safe and enjoyable as possible. To keep live music going in cold weather, he’s added heaters for patrons and musicians, and has built a covering to protect everyone from the elements, while still allowing for ventilation and circulation. As well, the venue allows no talking during performances in order to reduce the risk of airborne virus transmission that can occur from loud speaking. Still, Shaunt is realistic about the challenges of running a musical venue during a pandemic. “We don’t want to hide from the truth,” he says. “We don’t want to hide from reality, but we don’t want to live in fear. And I think there is a way to exist that gives us an opportunity to do the things that we love, without ignoring the truth.” More information about The Oud & the Fuzz is available on their website at This story appeared first in our our mid-November e-letter HalfTones and simultaneously on our blog at As always, before visiting an in-person space, please check the venue website for up-to-date information related to COVID-19 municipal and provincial public health advisories and regulations. Meghan Gilhespy is a vocalist, teacher, and writer from Vancouver, based in Toronto. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Jazz Studies at the University of Toronto. Here we are at December, with all of the closures and quarantines having pretty well confined most musical groups to such measures as Zoom sessions. We even hear that Christmas will be delayed until some time in January, so Santa can quarantine for two weeks. So, with time on my hands, and since December happens to be my birth month, I decided to do a bit of reminiscing instead. Early band days My plan was to start by referring to a band photograph I’ve been looking at from time to time for the past many months. Of course when I actually went to get it to refer to it, Murphy’s Law prevailed. It has disappeared and is not likely to reappear until this column has arrived at the printer. Ergo, rely on memory. My band days began in Windsor when two school pals told me about the band that they played in. Jimmy Rees (cornet) and Keith Finney (tuba) took me to a rehearsal and introduced me to Mr. Arthur Laley, bandmaster of the High Twelve Boys Band, an all-brass band in the British tradition. As the name implies, the band was sponsored by the local High Twelve Club – High Twelve being an organization of Master Masons placing a special emphasis on youth support, and so-named because, long ago, noon was known as “high twelve” and the time to call off from labour for lunch. The band owned all its the instruments, so there would be no significant financial problems for me. Having been given a small toy drum some years earlier, I mentioned that I would like to play drums. Mr. Laley diplomatically informed me that the band did not have an opening for a drummer at that time. He suggested that he could both provide a baritone horn and that he could teach me how to play it. Thus began a lifelong interest in brass instruments. Most young bands at that time were “Boys Bands”. However, at High Twelve there was a difference. Two of Mr. Laley’s three children were girls. One was the lead cornet, the other was the lead trombone and the son was the lead euphonium. In addition to the weekly band rehearsals, there were sectional rehearsals in Mr. Laley’s basement on other nights. Our summer months were busy too –. with parades, small tattoos and competitions in various towns in Southern Ontario, to which we were usually fortunate to have a sufficient number of interested parents to drive us. The Wychwood Clarinet Choir invites you to our New COVID Concert Series, with YouTube Live Intros LAST SUNDAY OF EVERY MONTH!! Visit for details December 2020 / January 2021 | 29

Volume 26 (2020- )

Volume 26 Issue 1 - September 2020
Volume 26 Issue 2 - October 2020
Volume 26 Issue 3 - November 2020
Volume 26 Issue 4 - December 2020 / January 2021

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volume 25 Issue 9 - July / August 2020
Volume 25 Issue 8 - May / June 2020
Volume 25 Issue 7 - April 2020
Volume 25 Issue 6 - March 2020
Volume 25 Issue 5 - February 2020
Volume 25 Issue 4 - December 2019 / January 2020
Volume 25 Issue 3 - November 2019
Volume 25 Issue 2 - October 2019
Volume 25 Issue 1 - September 2019
Volume 24 Issue 8 - May 2019
Volume 24 Issue 7 - April 2019
Volume 24 Issue 6 - March 2019
Volume 24 Issue 5 - February 2019
Volume 24 Issue 4 - December 2018 / January 2019
Volume 24 Issue 3 - November 2018
Volume 24 Issue 2 - October 2018
Volume 24 Issue 1 - September 2018
Volume 23 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2018
Volume 23 Issue 8 - May 2018
Volume 23 Issue 7 - April 2018
Volume 23 Issue 6 - March 2018
Volume 23 Issue 4 - December 2017 / January 2018
Volume 23 Issue 3 - November 2017
Volume 23 Issue 2 - October 2017
Volume 23 Issue 1 - September 2017
Volume 22 Issue 9 - Summer 2017
Volume 22 Issue 8 - May 2017
Volume 22 Issue 7 - April 2017
Volume 22 Issue 6 - March 2017
Volume 22 Issue 5 - February 2017
Volume 22 Issue 4 - December 2016/January 2017
Volume 22 Issue 2 - October 2016
Volume 22 Issue 1 - September 2016
Volume 21 Issue 9 - Summer 2016
Volume 21 Issue 8 - May 2016
Volume 21 Issue 6 - March 2016
Volume 21 Issue 5 - February 2016
Volume 21 Issue 4 - December 2015/January 2016
Volume 21 Issue 3 - November 2015
Volume 21 Issue 2 - October 2015
Volume 21 Issue 1 - September 2015

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)