Press – Moments Like These

by Keith Wolzinger,, Oct 30, 2008

I first became aware of Fern Lindzon about a year ago. When I learned that she was releasing this, her first CD, I was immediately intrigued. Not really sure what to expect from her, when the CD arrived I started listening to it right away. And listened again. And again. Moments Like These is a collection of intimate duets with Lindzon on Piano/Vocals; Reg Schwager, Guitar; Don Thompson, Vibes; and George Koller, Bass. Normally, I would say that this would make for a great sounding quartet, but the idea of doing these songs as duets is both bold and inspired.

Lindzon pays tribute to some great jazz artists such as Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Thelonious Monk, and Oliver Nelson, as well as legendary singers Ella Fitzgerald and Shirley Horn. The songs are selected from a broad range of Standards, Showtunes, plus a few surprises.

Lindzon is a truly outstanding performer. She has the ability to hold the listener’s attention throughout the album. The music never gets in the way of her floating voice, but provides a perfect background for her inventive style. In addition, the outstanding musicianship of everyone is on display during the instrumental breaks and on the three non-vocal pieces. Here we find quality jazz, a nice touch, considering that instrumental tracks are a rarity on vocal albums in general.

Another aspect of Lindzon that is not immediately apparent is her innovative approach as a composer and lyricist. As she says in the liner notes, she likes writing lyrics to standard jazz tunes. She displays this talent with great aplomb on the title track, “Moments Like These/You Belong To Her,” where she sings an original vocalese as an intro to her own lyrics set to the tune of one of my all-time favorite songs, “Stolen Moments,” by Oliver Nelson. She also sets original lyrics to Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes” on her version called “To See Through Infant Eyes.”

Her composing and arranging abilities are on display with the Chick Corea-inspired “Children’s Lullaby,” which serves as a wonderful prelude to her beautiful rendition of “Never Never Land,” arranged in 5/4 time that reminds me of Dave Brubeck. Another Lindzon composition is the inventive “TR7,” a 12-tone blues that is actually a very nice piece. Just don’t try to sing along, you might hurt yourself (Just kidding, Fern).

My favorite song on the album is “Re’i.” This is quite a departure from the rest of the album. Lindzon sings the song in Hebrew, which adds a touch of mysticism to the smooth lines of the melody. Just as we settle into the slow groove, we are treated to a perfectly matched Vibes solo from Don Thompson. Another song with a twist is “You Really Shouldn’t, But…”. As a tribute to Thelonious Monk it is a great Piano piece. But again, Lindzon puts her own stamp on it by using a slight Bulgar rhythm as the background. The Bulgar is a traditional Jewish dance, and gives new direction to what is otherwise a mainstream jazz piece.

The 6-page foldout booklet is nicely done, with photos; liner notes by Mark Miller, a noted jazz critic; thank yous and credits; and song descriptions. The track personnel and times appear on the back tray card.

I must say that I was very impressed with the audio quality. The vocals are clear, with just the right amount of reverb; the Piano, Guitar, and Bass are clear and distinct; and the Vibes have great presence. Vibes can be troublesome to record properly, but I give a lot of credit to the audio team of Chad Irschick and Michael Haas for the outstanding results the have achieved.

Moments Like These is a welcome introduction to the artistry of Fern Lindzon. And especially for those not familiar with her work, have a listen, immerse yourself in the music, and seize the moments that this album offers. Moments like these don’t occur very often.

cd_momentsby Tracey Nolan, Coda Magazine, May 2008

Veteran Toronto singer and pianist Fern Lindzon has taken an interesting approach to her debut recording Moments Like These. Completely made up of duets with noted musicians Don Thompson (here on vibraphone), bassist George Koller and guitarist Reg Schwager, Lindzon achieves a sense of intimacy on this recording that is pleasing and rare.

Lindzon’s vocals are rich, elegant and, thanks in part to her many years of stage experience, delivered with a sense of confidence and ease. Her piano playing is very much in the jazz tradition (she has a great swing feel), but is also contemporary in tone. The temptation when playing duet might be to play more, if only to fill empty spaces, but Lindzon maintains a judicious style.

Vocally, Lindzon is most effective on standards like Irving Berlin’s Let Yourself Go, where she performs a clever rendition of the rarely heard verse. Of the duets that are strictly instrumental, standouts include a spirited conversation between Schwager’s delicate guitar and Lindzon’s piano on You Really Shouldn’t, But… and the opening track Like Someone In Love, where Thompson’s mile a minute vibes provide an effective counterpart to Lindzon’s clean piano lines.

by Michael Posner, The Globe and Mail, April 2, 2008

Inspired by Ella
Fern Lindzon was on her way to becoming a classical pianist until she unexpectedly fell in love with jazz. Now, she’s one of Toronto’s most popular performers

When Fern Lindzon was eight years old, her mother, Toronto artist Rose Lindzon, started piano lessons. “I used to lie in my bed listening to her play,” Lindzon recalled, “and by the time I was 9, I was really champing at the bit to learn.” About a year later, her mother abandoned her adult avocation (although she had already made it to Grade 5), and daughter Fern began. She has never really stopped.

Now, four decades and a long musical journey later, she’s releasing her debut CD, Moments Like These, a compilation with three jazz heavyweights – bassist George Koller, Don Thompson on vibes and guitarist Reg Schwager.

Former Globe and Mail jazz writer Mark Miller, a critic careful with his praise, describes Lindzon on her website as “an engaging pianist and singer who brings an unassuming authority, an inquiring spirit and a natural grace to contemporary jazz.”

The album includes standards (On the Street Where You Live and Where Do You Start?); tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter’s To See Through Infant Eyes, for which Lindzon wrote, with his permission, the lyrics; the haunting ballad Re’i, written by a mixed Israeli/Muslim band called Sheva; a klezmer take on a Thelonius Monk-like tune called You Really Shouldn’t,But; and Tr7, a bluesy Lindzon composition using Schoenberg’s 12-tone row. It has been a particularly busy and satisfying year for Lindzon. She has appeared on two other CD releases, one self-titled effort by the klezmer group the Lithuanian Empire, and another, Sheynville Express, by the Sisters of
Sheynville, a sextet whose work is a fusion of swing, klezmer and Yiddish. The reviews for work on those albums have been glowing.

This month, she has numerous Toronto gigs, starting with an appearance with Koller this evening at the Rex Hotel (the first of four dates there), followed by a klezmer brunch on April 13 at the Free Times Café with the Yiddish Swingtet, and a Sisters of Sheynville gig at the Gladstone Hotel on April 17. She’s scheduled to perform and sign CDs at Toronto’s Manulife Centre Indigo store on the evening of April 10.

And though she says she’s less active than she used to be, Lindzon remains a formidable Scrabble player, plays regularly at the Toronto Scrabble Club, the oldest of its kind in North America, and was once the top-ranked female Scrabble player in Canada. “It’s not so much about vocabulary,” she says of her talent for the game, as it is a perceptual ability to see the board and its possibilities. Her April calendar also includes two nights as a volunteer at Scrabble fundraisers, where players pay $50 for tips from Lindzon.

Trained as a classical pianist, Lindzon studied music history at the University of Toronto, specializing in 20th-century works. She concedes that she never had any particular affinity for jazz until one night, in her late teens, she and a girlfriend stumbled into a jazz club (in pursuit of a young man) and heard a combo that included pianist Ted Moses and guitarist Lorne Lofsky.

“I’d never heard music like that,’ Lindzon recalled during a recent interview. “And I immediately thought, this is what I really want to be doing.” Her instincts were confirmed when she heard Ella Fitzgerald’s 1973 album of duets with Joe Pass, Take Love Easy.

She started studying jazz, going to clubs and buying jazz albums. Then, to clear her head, she took a year off and went to Israel, spending nine months on a kibbutz in the Jezreel Valley. When she returned, she plunged headlong back into jazz, studying both piano and voice – a dramatic change from the classical lieder she had previously sung. She spent three years studying with the multi-instrumental Don Thompson.

“Don was great,” Lindzon says. “The thing about Don is, he doesn’t have an agenda. He knows how to work with whatever you bring. I remember one of the first things he said was, ‘From now on you’ll never play another note that doesn’t mean anything.’ And at the time, I was playing a lot of piano bars and that can be very damaging, if you go on automatic pilot.”

For years, while raising two children, Lindzon played and organized music for corporate and organizational events. It was only about three years ago, she says, that she decided to raise her personal bar. “It was around the time of my birthday and I just thought, ‘Well, it’s now or never, in terms of really performing. I’m not going to say no to anything.’ ”

A few weeks later, she was playing and singing around town at Ben Wicks jazz club and soon after at the Montreal Bistro, the Rex and other venues. She hasn’t looked back.

The album’s title alludes to the seminal musical moments that have shaped her life, including, at the age of 9, only a few weeks after she started piano lessons, hearing Arthur Rubinstein play Chopin at Massey Hall. “This seemingly ancient man, whose unbounded energy and passion scared me to death. I thought for sure he would have a heart attack and I would have to replace him.” Such moments, she says, “make sense of our life, create euphoria, open a doorway, make us feel like we’ve come home.”

cd_momentsby Jim Galloway, WholeNote Magazine, April 2008

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.

cd_momentsby Marke Andrews, Vancouver Sun, April 2008

Toronto singer-pianist Fern Lindzon’s debut disc divides her repertoire into 11 duets and one solo number, all of which are performed with great taste and musicality. During the pairings –four each with vibraphonist Don Thompson and bassist George Koller, and three with guitarist Reg Schwager — the musicians complement each other, never intruding on their partner’s space.

Lindzon and Schwager take a spare approach to Wayne Shorter’s ballad Infant Eyes, lending weight to the notes, and she and Thompson have the same modus operandi performing Oliver Nelson’s Stolen Moments.

As a vocalist, Lindzon has a clear voice that resonates in the lower register and makes direct hits on octave jumps without sliding her way up.

As a pianist, she plays in the comfort zone of someone used to accompanying her own vocals, but then she surprises you.

cd_momentsby Scott Yanow, Los Angeles Jazz Scene, 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.

by Addi Stewart, NOW, February 21, 2008
Fern Lindzon
Moments Like These: Duets With Don Thompson, Reg Schwager And George Koller (Iatros)

Interesting how such a basic set of instruments can create such divergent thoughts and feelings. A vibraphone, a guitar, a bass and a female voice add up to more than the sum of their parts on Lindzon’s debut.

Maybe her admitted admiration of Ella Fitzgerald explains why the first step isn’t so assured, but by track two, On The Street Where You Live, she settles into the crevices of the sound more comfortably. She challenges herself by singing in Hebrew one moment and inserting a few instrumental pieces the next, evening out the listening experience. The 12-tone-row used on TR7 intrigues the ear, even if it is a little abstract and heady. Lindzon’s voice may need more fleshing out to join the ranks of her idols, but her potential is evident, and the album is more inventive than might initially seem.