Way North is the best kind of musical collaboration, one born out of the joy of playing together. Way North was formed in Brooklyn in 2014 by three Canadians – saxophonist Petr Cancura (Down Home – JUNO nominee), trumpeter Rebecca Hennessy (Women’s Blues Revue bandleader/Hobson’s Choice), bassist Michael Herring (Peripheral Vision – JUNO nominee) and one American, drummer Richie Barshay (Herbie Hancock/Chick Corea). The band brings together four musicians who love to use jazz and improvisation as a means of exploring folk and world music. Their debut CD, Kings County, was launched in 2015 with an Ontario tour and it was picked by the Ottawa Citizen as one of the best Jazz CD’s of 2015. You can hear the influences of a wide range of folk genres, including the blues, old-time, Balkan, Brazilian and Calypso. In January 2016, Way North was invited to perform and teach at Danilo Perez’s Panama Jazz Festival. While in Panama they were also invited to the Mamoni Reserve in the jungle where they performed and collaborated as part of the NGO Earth Train’s Geoversity campaign.
Way North is:
Rebecca Hennessy – Trumpet
Rebecca Hennessy is a Toronto based trumpeter and composer active in many different genres of music, focused mainly in jazz and creative music. Rebecca’s newest band, FOG, is a New Orleans brass band party with the intricacies of a modern jazz group. This band features the brassy frontline of tuba, trombone and trumpet alongside energetic electric guitar, rich piano harmonies and deep drum beats that will take you through sounds inspired by funky blues, old country, folk tunes and chamber/modern jazz. Recently, Rebecca spent seven months in NYC composing and studying with world-renowned trumpeters/composers Ralph Alessi and John McNeil after being awarded the OAC Chalmers Professional Development Grant. Rebecca is a member and co-leader, composer of Toronto’s chamber-jazz quartet, Hobson’s Choice and is the musical director of Massey Hall’s annual Women’s Blues Revue. She can also be heard performing regularly with The Woodshed Orchestra, Drumhand, as well as Viva Mexico Mariachi. Rebecca has a jazz performance degrees from University of Toronto, and Malaspina College, and in 2007 participated in the International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music directed by internationally renowned trumpeter Dave Douglas
Petr Cancura – Saxophone and Clarinet
Born in Eastern Europe, brought up in the wilderness of the Great White North, and later thrusting into the urban Jungle of New York City, it is no surprise that Petr Cancura’s musical pallet is as wide as it is. A saxophonist with a vast knowledge of Jazz, Balkan, African and American folk traditions, Petr performs on banjo and mandolin as well as on the medium format black & white camera… all of which influences each other into a Roots Song & Improvising music machine with a visual sensibility.
Petr Cancura has performed with Grammy-nominated Danilo Perez, Grammy-nominated Julian Lage, Bob Moses, Joe Morris, Jacek Kochan, Kathleen Edwards, Kenny Wollesen, Joe Maneri, Cecil McBee and the Juno award-winning Mighty Popo. He is currently performing as part of the Ghost Train Orchestra, The Richie Barshay RB3, The Forro Brass Band amongst others. Petr’s source of expression is most focused on his blend of Americana roots music and jazz in his groups Big Sky and Down Home.
The adventure continues with Petr Cancura’s position as the Programming Director of the Ottawa International Jazz Festival, crafting together a world class festival with hundreds of shows annually. You may also find Cancura in the classroom giving workshops all across the US and Canada.
Michael Herring – Bass
Michael Herring is a double-bassist and composer based in Toronto who writes, performs and records across genre lines, equally comfortable in jazz as in roots settings, including folk, world, and pop/rock. Herring leads or co-leads a number of ensembles which feature his original compositions, including: Michael Herring Quartet, a chordless two-saxophone band drawing inspiration from 1960’s jazz, especially Mingus and Ellington; Peripheral Vision, a modern-jazz quartet co-led with guitarist and long-time collaborator Don Scott. Peripheral Vision has recorded two albums and maintains a busy touring schedule, recently winning the Galaxie Rising Star Award at the Montreal Jazz Festival; Michael Herring’s Vertigo, a modern-jazz sextet which recorded two albums featuring New York’s David Binney – the first was included in All About Jazz New York’s Top 5 Debut albums of 2006; The Uplifters and Harrington (New Orleans/Roots), two groups where you can hear Herring’s lyrics, and lead and backing vocals; and God’s Gift to Yoda (indie jazz-rock). Herring has performed, toured and recorded with such great musicians as Ab Baars (ICP/Amsterdam), Ken Vandermark, Dave Clark, David Braid, Kirk MacDonald, Mansa Sissoko (Mali, Africa), Bucky Pizzarelli, Mike Murley, Percy Sledge, and Ernest Ranglin. He was a recipient of a Chalmers Arts Fellowship (through the Ontario Arts Council) for an extended stay in New York City.
Richie Barshay – Drums
Percussionist Richie Barshay, noted for his work with the Herbie Hancock Quartet, has established himself as a prominent musical voice of his generation and is regarded as “a player to watch” by JazzTimes magazine. On tour and recordings his diverse résumé includes Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Esperanza Spalding, The Klezmatics, Fred Hersch, Kenny Werner, Lee Konitz, Natalie Merchant, David Krakauer, Fred Wesley, Claudia Acuña, Bobby McFerrin and Pete Seeger among others. Since 2004, he has led outreach projects as an American Musical Envoy with the U.S. State Department in Asia, Africa, South America, and Europe. Now based in New York City, Richie began playing Jazz and Afro-Caribbean music during his youth and has expanded his focus to Indian rhythmic concepts and tabla, inspiring his 2007 recording debut Homework on Ayva Records. “Homework introduces a major rhythm voice on the rise” says Downbeat magazine, and The Guardian (UK) praises “the arrival of a major innovator who also knows how to have fun.”