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An artful, adventurous approach to music

Irwin Block Special to The Senior Times

July 2011

A funny thing happened to Fern Lindzon on the way to a university degree in musicology at the University of Toronto: After stumbling on a jazz club in Yorkville and hearing guitarist Lorne Lofsky, pianist Ted Moses and flutist/vocalist Kathryn Moses perform, Lindzon saw the light.

“This is what jazz is? This is what I want to be doing!” Lindzon said, explaining her conversion from the classical stream.

After further study with several masters—pianists Fred Hersch in New York City, Marilyn Lerner in Toronto and Alan Bern in Germany—Lindzon has emerged as a rare and fascinating talent, combining an artful and adventurous approach to her piano and vocals, writing and arranging, and leading various groups in a variety of genres, from post-bop jazz to klezmer and Yiddish.

Fern Lindzon at the keyboard

We discovered Lindzon via her latest CD, Two Kites (Iatros). This collection of 12 songs features Lindzon’s clear and delectable voice and her artful extensions of the thematic material on piano, enhanced by clearly inspired playing from saxophonist Mike Murley, with rhythmic variety from drummer Nick Fraser and bassist George Koller. With their support, Lindzon soars with musical delight on Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Two Kites, and gets to the core of My Romance, with her own Moon in the Sky vocalese prelude, never sounding maudlin. She renders the classic Dona Dona, in Yiddish and English, dramatically, as it should be, using an odd time signature to create tension with “the winds laughing.”

I loved her longest piece, a three-part medley of Yiddish songs with a delightfully modern treatment.

At Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill, she played in a trio: complex, challenging pieces rendered with precision and purpose, her improvisations adding colour and depth to each piece. Lindzon was kind enough to give us her debut CD, Moments Like These (Iatros), which features exquisite duets with vibraphonist Don Thompson, guitarist Reg Schwager and bassist George Koller.

We next met Lindzon with her Yiddish swing klez band, Sisters of Sheynville, in mid-June, having fun in three-part harmony à la Barry Sisters, with fellow vocalists Lenka Lichtenberg and Isabel Fryzsberg. They were dancing in the park opposite the YM-YWHA in Snowdon as the shvesters frolicked on stage, having fun and rebranding such classics as Yid’l mit’n Fid’l, Shayn vi di Levoneh and Di Grine Kozineh.

Sheynville Express (SOS), is available at ; Two Kites at



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