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Don’t let the picture lead you astray. Amy will sing, William will play the trumpet and Mark will play the piano! And it will be three whole sets of us, so we will surely play your favourite song at some point. Please join us for a lovely evening.

Friday, March 8th, 2013 from 7:30 – 10:30PM

The Old Mill Inn & Spa, 21 Old Mill Rd, Toronto 416 236 2641

No reservations • No cover • $20 minimum • Full menu • Free parking • Steps to subway

The debut record from singer Amy McConnell and trumpeter William Sperandei, with producer Douglas Romanow and executive producer Feisal Patel, is a stylish romp through 20th century music originating from a range of genres and eras. The title, Stealing Genius, is a reference to Oscar Wilde’s quip “talent borrows; genius steals.” But since covering other songwriters’ work is standard practice in the world of jazz, the quip could be reworked as “talent borrows; jazz artists assume ownership.” In this case, the victims of the thefts are varied and sometimes unexpected such as Elvis Presley (Suspicious Minds), Led Zeppelin (Thank You) and James Bond (From Russia With Love).

McConnell’s background in theatre shows in her vocal phrasing and approach — she has a big sound and emotions are expressed in broad strokes that play to the back of the house. Her accent is beautiful and convincing on the few French offerings including, of course, Piaf’s La Vie en Rose. Sperandei’s nice, bright sound blends well with McConnell’s and his soloing is confident and concise. Singer/stride pianist Michael Kaeshammer’s guest turn on the Ink Spots’ I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire is inspired. But the real genius is in having Larnell Lewis and Rob Piltch play drums and guitar on this record. Lewis’ exuberant precision and Piltch’s subtle musicality elevate many of the songs from stylish to artful.

JAZZ: Thank You
Amy McConnell and William Sperandei, from Stealing Genius

The title of an album of adventurous jazz covers was motivated by an Oscar Wilde quote about theft and borrowing, and the breezy, graceful piano-and-trumpet take on a Led Zeppelin classic does right by the original. “Inspiration is what you are to me,” it goes, “inspiration, look and see.” When the dreamy singer McConnell and the sublime brassman Sperandei say Thank You, messrs. Plant and Page can only reply, “Most welcome.”

Sunday December 30, 2012
Tickets: $22.50 Advance/$25 Door (includes HST)
Performance: 8:00pm


Jaymz Bee

Amy McConnell/William Sperandei Quintet
performing songs from their new CD “Stealing Genius”

Don Francks meets Roger Clown
 Tony QuarringtonGreat Bob Scott and more


Amy McConnell / William Sperandei Quintet perform songs from their brand new CD, “Stealing Genius” which is being played on JAZZ.FM91 and radio across the country.

“Sperandei’s playing is lush and well-matched to McConnell’s voice. Pianist Mark Kieswetter’s arrangements are intuitively right and Douglas Romanow’s production brings a big-money feel.” – Peter Goddard, Toronto Star

“Amy McConnell brings a strong voice—breathy on one end, brassy on the other…William Sperandei (trumpet-flugelhorn) blows solid jazz licks, blue and cool, that embellish Amy’s impressively controlled vocal lines in a Chet Baker kind of way.” – Stanley Fefferman, Opus One Review

“Versatile-voiced chanteuse Amy McConnell joins forces with noted trumpeter William Sperandei on this beguiling vocal jazz debut for the duo. The eclectic selections range from Songbook standards to Piaf, Zeppelin (“Thank You”) and George Harrison. A standout duet with Michael Kaeshammer on “I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire” has jazz radio play guaranteed.” – Kerry Doole, New Canadian Music

Vocalist Amy McConnell and trumpeter William Sperandei released their debut album “Stealing Genius” to a sold out room and eager crowd at The Gladstone Hotel a month ago. If you missed this show now is your chance to see these two talented individuals live at Hugh’s Room on December 30, 8PM.

“Stealing Genius” is the brainchild of executive producer Feisal Patel who heard William Sperandei playing in a tiny Toronto club late one night and has been wanting to record with him ever since.  William and Feisal both wanted to record with a singer and began the search for the right one.

Five years later, at a local jazz jam, Feisal discovered Amy’s incredible voice and the result is “Stealing Genius”, a collection of covers of great songwriters.  While the songs are all familiar, several are rarely covered.  Amy & William chose with care.  They wanted beautiful melodies and poignant lyrics and did not limit themselves to standards.  Their repertoire moves from ‘40s pop to ‘50s R&B to ‘60s musicals.  Covering Elvis, Edith Piaf and Led Zeppelin, the unifying thread is their distinctive sound and approach to the music.

Don Francks 
is an actor/singer/jazz musician.  He began his music career playing Toronto hotspots such as The Colonial Tavern and George’s Spaghetti House before moving to New York to record and perform with guitar legend Lenny Breau. He was “discovered” by Jackie Gleason whose quote became the title of his seminal sixties recording called “There Is No One On Earth Like Don Francks”. Although he has often played villains on shows such as Mission Impossible, The Wild Wild West, Man From U.N.C.L.E. and countless others, he is an affable, unthreatening man on stage while singing his unique style of jazz. Don will be joined by fellow actor-crooner Roger Clown, who has himself starred in countless films, television commercials and has sung for everyone from Pope John Paul II to the Queen Mum. Expect the unexpected for this show featuring Tony QuarringtonGreat Bob Scottand other fearless musicians.

For its jaw-dropping chutzpah Stealing Genius deserves a Juno. The nerviness begins with the Oscar Wilde aphorism used for its title. It continues as singer McConnell, who sings in French and English, and trumpeter Sperandei take on the A-list of musical egos: Elvis Presley (“Suspicious Minds”), Edith Piaf (“La Vie en Rose”) and Robert Plant and Jimmy Page (“Thank You”). The pluckiness hits warp drive, though, when the pair bring an upstart brashness to “From Russia With Love” that’s entirely absent in Matt Monro’s original crooning of the Bond flick’s theme.

There are moments in this 13-song offering that leave you a little shaken, mostly when McConnell hits high notes; other moment can stir you, however. In “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” fromThe Fantasticks, she’s cool, calm, breathy and collected. Sperandei’s playing is lush and well-matched to McConnell voice. Pianist Mark Kieswetter’s arrangements are intuitively right and Douglas Romanow’s production brings a big-money feel.

Peter Goddard, The Toronto Star–album-reviews