Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy Holidays y'all!

Let It Snow Acapella! In 5 Parts + Interpreter (Merry XMas 2013)

Another year, another incredibly late Christmas video. My first 5 part chorale, first video with me horribly singing (have your ears stopped bleeding yet?), first video with my new console (works great, thanks Alvas Music!), first totally solo xmas video. And for those who don't know me, no, I'm not clearly not a singer ahahahahaha.

Hope it brings a smile despite it being super late! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year y'all!

I'll be putting up the chart of the arrangement here in the next few days!

Previous XMas videos:

Sunday, October 27, 2013



#SAVETHEPLATEAU! Complain about the noise complainers...

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version française:
version française facebook:

facebook page:

The Plateau Mont-Royal is full of bars, restaurants, and music venues and is in some ways the cultural and artistic hub of Montreal.  Let's keep it that way!  Let's keep the Montreal scene vibrant!  Please write a letter or email to Monsieur Luc Ferrandez, the maire d'arrondissement of the Plateau in an effort to convince him that this is important.

Monsieur Luc Ferrandez
Maire d'arrondissement / Conseiller de la Ville
Projet Montréal (PM)

Bureau d'arrondissement
201, avenue Laurier Est
5e étage
Montréal (Québec)
H2T 3E6
Téléphone : 514 872-8023

or by email at:,75021584&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL&id=73689589

here is a link to all the representatives of the Plateau area, should you wish to write them:,74690088&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

Sample letter:
Dear Mr Luc Ferrandez,

The Plateau Mont-Royal is full of bars, restaurants, and music venues and is in some ways the cultural and artistic hub of Montreal.  I would like to help keep it that way.  I recently attended a show at Les Bobards (corner St-Laurent and Marie-Anne) and it was unfortunately cut short when the police arrived at 11:50pm to respond to a noise complaint.  The music was stopped and the bar was fined.  Les Bobards, and many other music venues, have been around for years and years and have live music every night of the week.  This is no secret and people moving to the neighbourhood know this.

In order to maintain the rich nightlife of the Plateau, and maintain its status as the cultural hub of Montreal, show venues such as Les Bobards must be allowed to have live music.  Noise complaints cannot immediately result in a fine when, first of all, the music is kept at a reasonable volume and when, secondly, it is the case of a known music venue that has been in existence for a long period of time.

The Plateau is fun and full of life!  I moved here to enjoy what is has to offer!  If venues continue to receive fines for spurious noise complaints they will close, and this neighbourhood will lose the charm it once had.  Please don't let this happen.

A concerned Plateau resident.



#SAUVONSLEPLATEAU! Plaignez-vous des plaignants...

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version facebook:
english version:
english version facebook:

page facebook:
site web:

Le Plateau Mont-Royal est un quartier plein de bars, restos et salles de spectacles.  Dans certains sens, il est le centre culturel et artistique de Montréal.  Laissons-le comme ça!  Maintenons une scène Montréalaise vibrant!  SVP écrivez une lettre ou email à Monsieur Luc Ferrandez, le maire d'arrondissement du Plateau pour essayer de lui convaincre que ceci est important.

Monsieur Luc Ferrandez
Maire d'arrondissement / Conseiller de la Ville
Projet Montréal (PM)

Bureau d'arrondissement
201, avenue Laurier Est
5e étage
Montréal (Québec)
H2T 3E6
Téléphone : 514 872-8023

ou par email au:,75021584&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL&id=73689589

voici un lien à tous les représentants du Plateau, si vous voulez les écrire:,74690088&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

Lettre exemple:
Mr Luc Ferrandez,

Le Plateau Mont-Royal est remplis de bars, restaurants, de lieux musicaux et est sans doute le  quartier culturel et artistique de la ville de Montréal par excellence. Je voudrai faire en sorte qu'il continue d'en être ainsi.  J'ai récemment assisté à une prestation au club "Les Bobards" (Coin St-Laurent et Marie-Anne) et celle-ci a été écourtée par l'arrivée de la police à 23:50 due à une plainte pour nuisance sonore. La musique a été stoppée net et le bar s'est vu imposer à une amende.  Les Bobards et bien d'autres lieux du genre sont implantés depuis nombre années et produisent des évènements musicaux tous les soirs de la semaine. Voilà qui n'est pas un secret pour quiconque vient s'installer dans ce quartier!

Afin de maintenir la vie nocturne du Plateau mais aussi son statut de "Centre culturel" de Montréal, je vous enjoins d'autoriser les lieux de spectacles comme Les Bobards à produire des performances musicales. Les plaintes pour nuisance sonores ne peuvent logiquement se solder par des amendes lorsque:
1° La musique a un volume sonore raisonnable et conforme aux lois en vigueur;
2° Il s'agit d'une salle de concerts reconnue depuis longtemps pour ce type d'évènements.

Le Plateau est un univers plein de vie! J'ai déménagé ici pour profiter de TOUT ce qu'il avait à offrir!  Si ces lieux continuent à recevoir des amendes excessives à cause de plaintes pour nuisances sonores abusives, ils fermeront définitivement leurs portes et ce quartier perdra tout le charme qu'on lui connait depuis des décennies.

S'il vous plaît, faites en sorte que cela n'arrive pas.

Un resident concerné du Plateau


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Keyboard shopping

So for the last many years, I've been using a combination of keyboards for various gigging situations. I'm primarily a saxophonist so I've been able to make do without a great keys setup, but with an upcoming gig with Skinny Bros around the corner, I decided to bite the bullet and invest in something better.

I came into the search wanting to find alternatives to the Nord- everyone uses it but there must be some decent alternatives, right?  Plus I figured given the number of years they've been dominating the market there must be some attempts at competition at this point.

So for those curious about all the nitty-gritty details here's what happened:

  • Went to Steve's, Italmelodie, and Archambault and did lots of side-by-side tests of various keyboards.
  • In particular was quite pleasantly surprised with the Roland V-Combo VR-700.

    This keyboard appears to be a combination of the Roland VK organ tech with the Roland RD digital piano (and ensemble instruments).  Years ago when I first went digital piano shopping (my priorities being 88 keys, weighted action, and good piano sound) the RD series in my opinion had the best piano sound, and the second-best action behind the Yamaha P-series.  Anyway after being impressed in store, I was shocked to find it on special at $1.1k at Italmelodie.  A total steal!

    Its organ and piano sounds sounded great to me.  The real drawbars, Roland D-Beam, mod wheel, and easy access to sounds and options were all big pluses.  However it's a large and heavy keyboard, weighing in at 35lbs.
  • Did more online research at home and discovered the Hammond SK1, which seemed like a really cool contender to the Nord Electro market domination.

    Compared to the Nord it apparently had the ability to split and layer sounds, and a verbose screen.  At the time I also mistakenly thought the Nord Electro did not have the ability to load external samples (which the Hammond SK1 could do) but this was just a misconception.  Sound-wise it seemed comparable (from online demos) and weight-wise definitely in the same category.  Around $2.1k and to be honest this unexpectedly hip 5 over 4 product demo video suckered me in even further.

  • And then of course there was the Nord Electro 4D, the main difference between it and the Electro 3 being its real drawbars.

    Around $2.3k.  Although I would have liked the synth features of the Nord Stage, the price and lack of drawbars were turnoffs- I also knew I could use my old Roland XP-60 for more synthy things.

  • So I continued to do research and returned to the stores, this time with two keyboard geeks in tow.  Spent a lot of time with side-by-side comparisons and go to try the Hammond SK1 and really really liked it.  Was feeling that a real competitor to the Nord domination had finally been found and the slightly cheaper price, ability to split and layer, decent screen, ability to load arbitrary samples, light weight, and real drawbars were all compelling features.  Was feeling very strongly about it.
    Ending up passing on the Roland V-Combo VR-700 purely based on its weight (35 lbs vs the Electro and SK1's 15lbs) however if I were looking for a keyboard primarily for home, it would have been an easy buy at the awesome sale price of $1.1k.
  • Slept on it, and the next day went back to Steve's and plunked down cash for the Hammond SK1.  Floor model was the only one available and managed a $75 rebate.
  • Brought the Hammond home, overjoyed over purchase, plugged it in, started playing it more extensively...  and the joy started fading.  Somehow it didn't sound quite so good at home.  Tried headphones.  Tried my amp.  Not feeling good about my purchase.  Worrying.  Played it more.  Really finding certain toy-like aspects to the piano sound that are not doing it for me.  Discovered that split and layer functionality only work between the organ sound and an ensemble sound, not between two ensemble sounds.  Which is kind of useless.  Serious doubts.  I... think I fucked up.  I... think I bought the wrong keyboard.
  • Slept on it and next day played some more.  Still not liking it.  Went back to the store and tried the Nord Electro.  Oh fuck this sounds SO MUCH BETTER.  I... think I fucked up, for sure now.  Went home and tried the Hammond SK1 some more.  Yep, definitely sounds like a toy.  And thanks to a friend's exploration, discovered a fatal flaw- if the treble knob on the Hammond SK1 is set anywhere other than 0, a very audible static hum can be heard.  Shocked that such a bug could exist, we assumed it was a defect in the floor model, and not a Hammond SK1 bug- how could they ever ship with such an obvious flaw?
    (As it turns out, after some online research, this in fact was a flaw in the initial shipment of the SK1 and was fixed in a firmware revision. I'm still shocked that they could ship with this)
  • Next day, went back in to Steve's and exchanged for the Electro 4D.  So yes, I became one of those red keyboard douchebags.  But WOW does it ever sound great.  Furthermore, the tweaking options for each sound are incredibly rich compared to anything else on the market.  There's a reason why it's the market leader.
Roland V-Combo VR-700 Hammond SK1 Nord Electro 3 Nord Electro 4d Nord Stage 2
Price $1.1k (sale) $2.1k $1.95k+ $2.2k $3.5k+
Drawbars? Y Y N (digital) Y N (digital)
Split and Layer? Y Organ + Ensemble N N Organ + Ensemble + Synth
Tweak** Low (One Param + Mod Wheel + D-Beam) Low (One Param) High High High
Screen? Digits Words Digits Digits Words
Weight 35lbs 15lbs 15lbs+ 15lbs 21lbs+
Organ Good Okay BEST! BEST! BEST!
Organ Types B3 B3/Vx/ Farfisa/Pipe B3/Vx/ Farfisa B3/Vx/ Farfisa B3/Vx/ Farfisa
Synth? N N N N Y
Load external samples? N Y Y (4 DVDs of sample libraries included) Y (4 DVDs of sample libraries included) Y (4 DVDs of sample libraries included)
Other onboard sounds GM + more Band + Strings (No Pizz) + Synth Band + Strings Band + Strings ?unknown?

Touch was about the same across all models, in terms of quality, although each one had a unique feel.
*EQ in the Hammond SK1 is bugged in default firmware (loud hum when Treble knob is at a non-zero setting) but can be fixed by downloading and installing a newer firmware.
**Certain sounds, particularly the clavinet sounds, were superior out-of-the-box on the Hammond SK1 compared to the Nord Electro. However, there is only one parameter that can be tweaked on the various sounds. So on the Hammond SK1, the "regular" clavinet and auto-wah'ed clavinet are two separate presets. On the Nord, you can add an auto-wah to the clavinet through parameter tweaking and have a lot of control on the envelope filter's intensity. Overall this is definitely a win for the Nords.

Note #1
And for a little context, my previous setup was a Casio Privia PX-555R for mostly piano and a little rhodes and wurly and the Roland XP-60 for mostly synth and passable rhodes and passable but not easily tweakable pad-organ. I still use the Roland XP-60 in my dual keyboard setup. The Privia though, although I totally love it and swear by it in terms of price/quality ratio (this is a sub-$500 keyboard!), was just too heavy and massively bulky (88 keys, 37lbs !!, and was a pain to fit in a car). Honestly that was my own fault- if I were in the market today I would have bought one of the much lighter and smaller lower-end Privias without as many features. At the time I didn't understand the value of having a lighter keyboard and wanted the "maxxed out" (sound and feature-wise) Privia. Of course I hardly ever use any of those sounds and features now. For those looking for an 88-key weighted-action keyboard on a budget, I still would recommend the Privia. In the higher price range, I'd go with a Roland FP or RD series.

Note #2
No store in town had the Nord GB61 case in stock, which is just silly. Broke down and ordered it from Steve's ($75) but it will take 10 days. In the meantime I am carting the 61-key Nord around in a massive 88-key padded case.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Live jazz for your event!

Looking for live music for your holiday party, wedding, corporate event, private party, or bar/cafe/restaurant and at a reasonable price? Our jazz musicians represent the finest in the city, with years of experience with musical ambience and mood-settings gigs under our belts. Add a touch of class with top quality live music.

photo by Jeremy Tan

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photo by Stephen Johnson

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- Anne & Adrian

"One of the best decisions Kevin and I made for our wedding was to have the Bagarap Live Trio play throughout our ceremony and cocktail hour. The music provided a wonderful backdrop and added a 'big city feel' to our country wedding. Vincent from Bagarap Booking met with us before the wedding and helped us plan the music and also gave us great tips about other aspects of the wedding that we hadn't thought of. Having the trio really helped us have a custom feel to the music and we received many positive reviews from our guests. The professionalism and knowledge of the musicians really helped put our minds at ease during such a busy day. I would not hesitate to recommend Bagarap Booking to anyone, whether it be for a party, concert or wedding."
- Christine & Kevin

photo by Sophimage