Stories From Home

Every week, the TD Toronto Jazz Festival asks a different local artist to provide their unique perspective on the pandemic experience from a musician’s point of view Educators, composers and partners bassist Paco Luviano (PL) and vocalist Hannah Burge Luviano (HBL) discuss successful pivots, the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and using technology to bridge distances.

PL: For the first time in memory, my work has decreased. My collaborations and tours were cancelled, and they haven’t yet been rescheduled. I’ve been collaborating with artists via Zoom, pre-recording tracks, working on live streamed videos, playing concerts to low or no audiences and finding my way around plexiglass stages. 

HBL: Several of my jazz research trips were cancelled over the last years, including a return to Havana, and stays in Mexico. Planned recording sessions have been postponed, and I’m working to get them back on the books. We put aside a proposed tour to Mexico City and Acapulco, and postponed an international collaboration with Paco’s brother, Rudy Luviano. Finally, my work pivoted towards a position as a professor at Humber College, where I teach vocal performance, music history, and ethnomusicology. 

HBL: We have spent plenty of time in Prince Edward County, maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Spending time in nature and eating local food has been good therapy for Paco, the children, and I. I have been connecting with jazz musicians, predominantly women and non-binary folks, across the country and I’ve learned that distance doesn’t separate us from supporting one another. 

PL: I’ve utilized new means to incorporate technology. I have been able to reach other musicians across borders, to continue and strengthen connections. I also realized it’s completely doable to have an online teaching practice to connect with folks here and internationally. 

PL: We’ve experienced a lot of new music. Because of social distancing, Hannah and I have been playing more with our trio, which includes Tony Zorzi on guitar. We did a fun mini-concert for JazzFM91 earlier this year. We are rethinking smaller formats for groups. I’m working on a new record with Kuné: Canada’s Global Orchestra, which we are recording in smaller sections, to keep social distancing during the pandemic. I just released my first track as a bandleader on Bandcamp – It’s a Latin jazz song called, “lucky”. And I’ve been playing with Howard Reese (piano) in the Prince Edward County region, which has been a return to my roots. I grew up playing jazz with my dad, and played a lot of swing and blues at York and U of T - returning to this music feels like returning to a beautiful place. 

HBL: This summer, I collaborated with Juno-winner Jocelyn Gould on a duo project - this music will be released in the coming weeks (Ryan McNabb engineer, Justin Gray mastering). I have been working with Paco on a new collaboration and percussionist artist extraordinaire, Luis Orbegoso (Peru). And I’ve been writing music for a new collaboration, a project which includes great artists - women from across the country.

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