When the question is posed, "What comes to mind when you think of New Orleans?", several things jump out at you .... the weather! the food! the people! and oh so importantly, the music! The birthplace of jazz ... a glorious combination of African American field songs, the blues, southern Gospel music ... mix in some military style rhythms and some ragtime along with a multitude of Afro-Cuban music styles .... Cajun favourites! ... Dixieland! ... Rhythm & Blues! ... Zydeco! ... you name it, it seems to have its origins in Crescent City in some way! The music of New Orleans is as diverse and delicious as its food, as hot as it's weather and as cool as the beautiful people of NOLA.
Leap north just past the 49th Parallel to Toronto ... one of the most diverse cities in the world in so many ways, with a music scene to prove it!! Five years ago, two friends and rhythm section comrades with a long standing presence in the Toronto Traditional Jazz scene decided to create a musical entity that would pay homage to the music of New Orleans but in a manner that reflected their own musical experiences and influences here in Canada ... a fresh approach to not only traditional jazz but everything from the blues to second lines with original music and lyrics written to compliment a repertoire that possesses a common "gold, green and purple" thread of New Orleans weaving its way throughout.
Longstanding pianist and vocalist Roberta Hunt who had spent 14 years with legendary Traditional Jazz band 'The Happy Pals', (a literal institution of traditional jazz every Saturday afternoon at Grossman's Tavern for over four decades on the Toronto music scene) decided to step out and try new musical adventures ... one band's 'loss' was another's huge gain and Glenn and Jack knew they had the 'voice' and pianist of their new band. Both Glenn and Jack had long been sidemen in the band of jump/blues musician/songwriter 'Big Rude Jake' who began employing a rising star on the music scene, sax player Alison Young. It quickly became clear that Glenn, Jack, Roberta and Alison had a certain chemistry that quickly translated into a new band on the Toronto music scene ... the band is called Red Hot Ramble! When the band recorded its first CD, 'Red Hot Ramble' another Big Rude Jake alumni was invited to play trombone on a few cuts ... his name is Jamie Stager. Red Hot Ramble became a quintet and recently celebrated their 5th anniversary of performing wherever people and music come together!
Red Hot Ramble performs traditional jazz, blues, funk, along with second lines in the spirit of the great city of New Orleans but with a distinctly Canadian flavour!! Music that is as at home in a jazz club as it is a music festival or a wedding and yes, even a funeral! Red Hot Ramble is music about people ... their ups and their downs ..their loves and their hates ... their blues and their celebrations of life! Guaranteed you won't be able to sit still when you come to one of our performances ... in fact Red Hot Ramble is a much for dancing as it is for listening and singing along too!
To borrow an old Louisiana saying, "Come as You Are, Leave Different", Red Hot Ramble has a well earned reputation for their performances living up to that motto!
With her personal and exuberant approach, Roberta adds her own voice to the jazz and blues repertoire. The over 15 years spent as rhythm pianist with the legendary New Orleans Jazz band ‘Kid Bastien’s Happy Pals’ (Grossman’s Tavern, Toronto) nurtured her love of New Orleans music which she now takes to the next level with Red Hot Ramble!
With a rootsy and bluesy style, Roberta was described by one music writer as “Mix big piano with beautiful voice, add some attitude and a lot of charisma. With a penchant for those you-done-me-wrong songs and her musical roots in the jazz and spirituals of New Orleans: a picture of Roberta Hunt starts to emerge…”
In addition to time spent songwriting and solo vocal/piano performances, Roberta stays active in the Toronto/Southern Ontario music scene with Red Hot Ramble, Bertie and the Gents and sit-ins with various ensembles. Roberta has also participated in the French Quarter Festival in New Orleans; Davos Sounds Good Festival, Davos; Rapperswil Jazz Festival, Switzerland; Jazz in Mortigliano, Italy as well as Southern Ontario jazz festivals over her career.
Alison has emerged as one of the Toronto music scene’s hottest and most sought after reed players. Born in Ottawa and starting her career with rhythm and blues bands, Alison continued her studies at the University of Toronto with Canadian sax greats Mike Murley and Kirk MacDonald. She now shares her energetic and adaptive approach in her performances with a varied number of artists: Alysha Brilla, Joe Sealy, Heillig Manoeuvre, Big Rude Jake, Colin Hunter, Mary Mackay, Shuffle Demons, Kelly and the Kellygirls and many other GTA ensembles… including Red Hot Ramble! Alison can also be heard leading her own groups in duo, quartet and quintet format - keep an ear out for her fiery style on saxophones, melodica and tambourine.
Jacek "Jack" arrived in Canada from Poland in 1986 and wasted no time establishing himself in the Toronto traditional jazz scene. As a young man, Jack travelled all throughout Europe playing "Dixieland" music gaining valuable experience that has served him well in the Toronto music scene, throughout North America, and Japan. Toronto has long had a vibrant traditional jazz scene and Jack has played bass with just about every band since '86! In addition to traditional jazz, Jack has also established himself as a versatile bassist leading his own "piano trio" releasing his CD entitled 'First Train' in 2006, and working with legendary and versatile performers such as pianist extraordinaire, Bernie Senensky, the great Peter Appleyard, fellow countryman, the legendary composer, violinist, saxophonist and lyricon player Michael Urbaniak, and many years with jump/jive/blues singer/songwriter Big Rude Jake. As a founding member of Red Hot Ramble, Jack has not only provided his wonderful bass playing , he has established himself as a prolific composer of original songs now in RHR's repertoire!
Born and raised in Toronto, Glenn has been playing drums for close to four decades now.Well known for his hard swinging, yet sensitive drumming, Glenn is a favourite rhythm section member for many vocalists in Southern Ontario, including such artists as blues-jump musician/songwriter Big Rude Jake and Canada's 'Sweetheart of Swing' Alex Pangman & Her Alleycats. In addition, Glenn performs with various instrumental ensembles ranging from trios to big bands like The Galaxy Orchestra led by reed master/pianist/arranger Ross Wooldridge. Duke Ellington was quoted as saying "There are two kinds of music, good and the other kind" ... Glenn can be found performing with traditional country group Colonel Tom & The American Pour at The Dakota Tavern in Toronto or on tour with legendary jazz pianist Gene DiNovi at The Parry Sound Festival of Music ... it's all good music as Duke says! As a young kid, Glenn heard many a record at home of some of the greatest traditional jazz artists of our lifetime and he fell in love with the music of New Orleans.... fast forward to Toronto where Glenn has been a mainstay of The Excelsior Jazz Band for close to 30 years and has and continues to perform at some point with almost every Traditional Jazz band in Toronto over the years! In 2003, Glenn released his first CD under his name entitled "Swingin' The Blues". In 2011 Glenn and his long time friend and rhythm section bassist Jack Zorawski decided it was time to put together their own band with a decidedly fresh approach to the music of New Orleans from a Canadian perspective - Red Hot Ramble was born and Glenn has, along with his band mates, introduced a vibrant, exciting and inviting band to the Toronto music scene and beyond.
A rare and powerful combination of wit and musical prowess, Jamie bursts at the seams with enthusiasm while on stage. Trombonist Jamie Stager is frequently heard in concert halls, festivals and nightclubs in a wide variety of musical settings including symphony orchestras (Toronto Philharmonia), musical theatre (Shaw Festival and Soulpepper Theatre), world music (Moda Eterna, Caché), and jazz groups (Big Rude Jake, Red Hot Ramble). His performing career has taken him to festivals and concert venues throughout North America and Europe. Jamie has appeared with a diverse list of artists including the Temptations, the Four Tops, Big Sugar, Matt Dusk, Ben Heppner, Michael Burgess, NOJO, and many others. A highly sought-after teacher, Jamie teaches music theory and history at The Royal Conservatory of Music and York University. Jamie is also pursuing a doctorate in musicology, with research focussing on jazz improvisation, pedagogy and phenomenology.
Red Hot Ramble
Red Hot Ramble reflects the New Orleans music that inspires the ensemble, each performer adds their own flavour to the musical gumbo they create together.