NOW Magazine - Best of Toronto - - Music -

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

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