By Claudia Cheung
To celebrate World Jazz Day, VIBE 105 FM recently interviewed jazz musicians Jordana Talsky and Joanna Majoko, and asked them to share their jazz music stories.
A professional musician for over 10 years, Jordana Talsky started in opera during high school and trained as a classical singer. Later, she attended law school - but was not very happy. She then found a jazz club in the city she studied in and decided to try to play jazz with them. When she came back to Toronto, she visited open jams and got to know musicians in the city. Eventually, she played for gigs and clubs in Toronto - and all over the country.
“Jazz is about being fearless and jumping into something where you don’t know exactly where you’re headed, but being able to find a grounding and excitement in that.”
- Jordana Talsky, Toronto based Jazz Artist
Talsky dropped law to pursue her career in music. At the same time, it was hard to make a living as a musician.
“There’s no easy answer, it’s very hard. It’s something you signed up for if you are going to do this,” she said.
Talsky enjoys mixing other genres with jazz. Despite not being able to perform in a live space because of COVID-19, she is making music on her own - and with her looping machine.
Talsky will release a vocal looping record very soon. Her first single (release day: May 14), is called Oh Yeah. According to Talsky: “It's a very fusion sound… A new kind of thing where it's just me and my voice, making beats and making sounds, and I'm really excited for people to hear it.”
© Jordana Talsky / YouTube
Joanna Majoko is from a Zimbabwean and German background. Majoko has moved and lived around the world since a young age. She went to pre-law at university and took jazz history as an elective, only to fall in love with the genre. Later, she moved to Winnipeg to study jazz studies at the University of Manitoba.
“The essence of jazz is about freedom of expression.” - Joanna Majoko, Jazz vocalist, composer and bandleader.
“Jazz gives you a set of tools, theoretically, harmonically language-wise. Now, formulate your own sentences, your own language. Who are you as a musician, as a jazz artist? This is what I love about jazz, it’s truly the freedom to create what you want,” said Majoko.
© Joanna Majoko / YouTube
Talking about the stigmatization she experienced as a vocalist being a woman of colour, Majoko said: “There is a notion that you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re not capable of keeping up with an instrumentalist. So, I am constantly dealing with pre-thought-out criteria that people have with me. My professor in university taught me to kill them with kindness. You stay true to who you are, because the minute you start to think about defending yourself in such situation, you start to forget about the music.
© Joanna Majoko / YouTube
Majoko’s recent debut EP No Holding Back is about honesty. Led by expression of love and showing other love, each song is about showing the world who you are and not holding back. “You’re always being told and fed how to be you - and it can be conflicting with who you are inside,” she explained.
Back in the 50s, jazz was popular music. Many people today, misconstrue the evolution of jazz and many different colours of the genre. Jazz is experimental and exploratory. It is about the fusing of ideas.
Jazz is about the attitude.