IAN BLURTON No one wants to duel this man’s banjo. Check Ian Blurton’s track record. Dude spends the last 20 years or so handling axes in a bunch of nationally loved bands, each different – Change of Heart, Blurtonia, Bionic and now the city’s best rock band, C’mon. Then he one-ups even himself, establishing his signature in the city as a producer who just understands what guitars should sound like. Of course, none of that matters when you catch him live, strumming some psychotropic electric rock ’n’ roll in your face at 60,000 decibels.
NICK “BROWNMAN” ALI Nick “Brownman” Ali is a renegade, a tireless trumpeter whose outspokenness on his genre’s scene – to the dismay of those he’s pissed off – has only increased his profile as one of the city’s most intrepid jazz figures. Of course, the Toronto-based Trinidadian would be nowhere without his tireless, multi-faceted approach (Ali leads four bands), broad cultural span and innovative sensibility. While snobby jazz purists may turn up their noses, Ali continues to embody the music’s true spirit.
HILARIO DURÁN Hilario Durán first came to the attention of many Torontonians as a key contributor to both Jane Bunnett’s Juno-winning Spirits Of Havana disc and her Afro-Cuban jazz group of the same name, but the Cuban-born pianist has since cemented his connection to this city. He moved his family to Toronto in 98 and soon began rocking local venues when not teaching piano at Humber College. However, it all came together this year for Durán when his stellar trio – with Roberto Occhipinti and Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez – walked away with the best contemporary jazz album Juno for their New Danzon (Alma/Universal) disc. This rare combination of skill, creativity and soulful swing can’t be stopped. achievement worth celebrating.
BLOCKS RECORDING CLUB Forget the word “label.” As (who co-founded the collective with Mark McLean two years back) repeatedly insists, labels are for jars; clubs are for friends. Nevertheless, Blocks, whose hard-working members recently took steps to legally incorporate the organization as a full-on workers’ coop, has managed to accomplish all the