Skip to content

Twilight Jazz and Blues Series returns to The Hare Wine Co.

TD Niagara Jazz Festival presents great jazz performances on April 29, May 13 and June 3 all at the Niagara Stone Road winery

The TD Niagara Jazz Festival’s Twilight Jazz and Blues Series takes over The Hare Wine Co. for three dates, starting Monday, April 29 with the Latin sounds of the Laura Fernandez Trio.

The multi-talented Fernandez is an award-winning visual artist, pianist, singer-songwriter, and recording artist with three albums to her name. Born in Madrid, Spain, she spent her childhood in Switzerland and Calgary and is currently based in Toronto, where she hosts the Cafe Latino show on JazzFM.

Fernandez’s 2005 debut album The Other Side led to a prestigious award at the New York International Independent Music Festival and performances at that city’s Madison Square Garden, the Knitting Factory, and The Bitter End. She followed that up five years later with Un Solo Beso, a celebration of her Spanish roots and Latin influences produced by Juno award-winning producer Billy Bryans.

Her latest, 2020’s Okay, Alright, mostly steps away from Latin music in favour of showcasing her pop, jazz and classical influences. Her mellifluous voice is highlighted on numbers such as Breathe Life and Slip Away, while Starry Night could be a perfect lullaby to wind down at the end of the day. Fernandez will be joined at The Hare by Don Naduriak on piano and Alexander Brown on trumpet. 

As a bonus on International Jazz Day, April 30, musical director, conductor, composer, and educator Naduriak will be conducting a masterclass on Brazilian and Cuban rhythms at Ridley College. Admission is on a pay what you can basis for that event.  

The Kate Wyatt Trio is featured for the next date in the series on Monday, May 13. 

Wyatt grew up in Victoria, B.C. where her music lessons as a young girl paid off in high school when the jazz band needed someone to play piano. She immediately put aside her clarinet to take a seat on the piano bench. 

At 17 she moved to Montreal to study music at McGill University. Immediately upon graduation, she began to pick up gigs with local jazz musicians, including a bass player named Adrian Vedady who would soon become her husband and collaborator.

“We formed a band together called Gods of Taste,” she says. “It was a quintet. I played Fender Rhodes, there was a sax player, a guitar player and a drummer. We played all original music, and I wrote most of the music for them. We booked some tours, played the Montreal Jazz Festival, but then Adrian and I ended up having kids.”


Wyatt pushed music aside for a while to raise the couple’s two kids, June and Alden, who are now 19 and 17 years old and both violin players. Finally, in 2022, Wyatt released her long-awaited debut album, Artifact, featuring Vedady on bass, Jim Doxas on drums and trumpeter Lex French. 

Six of Artifact’s seven songs are originals, with two co-written with Vedady. The quartet swings beautifully on numbers such as Short Stories and Lhotse Face, each musician taking a turn to stretch out on their instruments. They also slow things down a bit on Antepenultimate and Underwater Chant, both very romantic-sounding compositions. 

“There’s very little written down,” Wyatt explains about the quartet’s methods. “I will write things bare-boned. I’m playing with musicians that I really trust and love playing with. It’s up to all the improvisers to add their own voice to each song.” 

The one cover song on the album is Billy Strayhorn’s A Flower is a Lovesome Thing.

“He had such a rich sense of harmony,” says Wyatt about the late pianist and composer. “There are gorgeous melodies, always something interesting in all of his tunes. As in improviser and a  piano player, I find all these little points of interest and cool little surprises in the direction of his harmonies.”

When it’s suggested to her that the title cut sounds like something legendary St. Catharines composer and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler might have written Wyatt is flattered. 

Kenny Wheeler was a huge influence on me,” she admits. “While I was at McGill in the mid-1990s, I applied to the Banff Summer Music Program. I was so fortunate that I got chosen to play in his group, to rehearse, play and perform with him. That was a life-changing experience for me.”

Wyatt and Vedady will June and Alden at home when they hit Ontario. Along with Lex French, they play two quartet shows with French and Ottawa-based drummer Nick Fraser. Wyatt, Vedady and Fraser will appear at The Hare as a trio for the local show.  

“We’ll be playing mostly originals,” says Wyatt. “We’re highlighting music from my next album, Murmurations, which is still in production. We’re calling this a pre-release show. We’ll probably do interpretations of a couple of standards, too, because audiences like to hear a few familiar tunes. We haven’t quite planned out the setlist yet.”

The final show in the Twilight Jazz and Blues Series features Serafin LaRiviere, a jazz vocalist with a five-octave range that he applies to a combination of jazz, torch and classical music on Monday, June 3. 

LaRiviere’s third album, 2021’s Unravel, sees him turn classics like A-ha’s Take On Me and I Put a Spell on You, the Screaming Jay Hawkins song covered by everyone from Creedence Clearwater Revival to Nina Simone, into torch numbers. And his tribute to mothers on Mom is an emotional message of love that showcases the spectrum of his vocal talents.   

LaRiviere will be accompanied by Juno-nominated pianist and composer Ewen Farncombe and two-time Juno winner Christopher Plock on saxophone and percussion.  Plock is a former member of Jeff Healey’s Jazz Wizards.

Tickets for any of the TD Niagara Jazz Festival’s Twilight Jazz and Blues Series can be purchased at


Mike Balsom

About the Author: Mike Balsom

With a background in radio and television, Mike Balsom has been covering news and events across the Niagara Region for more than 35 years
Read more