York instructor has great jazz ideas, says New York reviewer

“The best new singers I’ve heard have depended not so much on pure sonic pleasure or vocal emotion, but on ideas,” wrote jazz columnist Will Friedwald in The New York Sun Dec. 9. One of them is Rita di Ghent (BFA ’83), who teaches jazz vocals in York’s Music Department. “The three albums I’ve heard by her (on Groove Productions), all have new ideas on them,” wrote Friedwald. Her latest album is Standard Sessions II, in which she does Jacques Brel’s “Ne Me Quitte Pas” as a jazz ballad with string section and solo bass – a sound reminiscent of Charlie Haden’s recent albums, said the reviewer. “Di Ghent’s most engaging idea is the sound she calls ‘sprawl,’ in which she starts with a standard, like ‘He’s Funny That Way,’ and departs from it in an original passage that’s somewhere between rap and poetry recitation,” wrote Friedwald. “These variations make vintage songs seem contemporary without sounding like she’s stooping to conquer. Now that’s a new idea.”

Bullies gather audiences

Debra Pepler, a psychology professor with York University’s Faculty of Arts, agrees that schools need comprehensive programs to stop bullying, including addressing children who witness bullying, reported the National Post Dec. 11. She was commenting on a new study out of UCLA that found children watch the bully, not the child being harmed. Pepler, who received $600,000 in federal funding to develop a nationwide program to fight bullying, said it has to do with the status and dominance in the group. “Children want to be on the side of status. They don’t want to be the next victim. I also think it’s engaging, it’s very arousing. Children become very excited. The more children who are in the audience, the longer it continues.” When a child intervenes to stop the bullying, the bullying stops within 10 seconds 57 per cent of the time, said Pepler. “There’s tremendous potential to engage children in addressing these problems.”

Crooning for York alumnus

Awaiting the release of his major label debut on Universal/Decca Records, Toronto crooner and York University alumnus Matthew-Aaron Dusk performed recently at the club, On The Curve, reported The Mississauga News Dec. 10. “It’s like if Frank Sinatra and Alicia Keys got together and had a kid, I’d be the kid,” the singer said about himself, with a chuckle. “It’s swing style, mixed in with modern production.” The Etobicoke native has been playing the clubs for the past several years with a five-piece band. He’s only 25, but Dusk seems well-versed for such crooning. As a youth, he spent 11 years with the acclaimed St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto and he obtained a music degree at York University (BFA ’02). He has worked with several Toronto big bands and Universal/Decca has released two singles off the album, including “Cool Yule,” which is featured on the Christmas For Lovers compilation.

Lens on York

The North York Mirror printed two York-related photos Dec. 10. One was of novelist Yann Martel, author of Booker Prize-winning Life of Pi, chatting with York University English Professor John Unrau, who invited Martel to participate in the Canadian Writers in Person series at York Dec. 4. The photo was taken by York University communications officer Cathy Carlyle.

The other was of York University Lions’ Jason Pinizzotto (second-year Faculty of Arts student) avoiding a check from Waterloo Warriors defenceman Eric Ibey during Ontario University Athletics second period hockey action at the Beatrice Ice Gardens recently. The Lions hockey squad is currently enjoying its holiday break but will resume action Jan. 9, when they face Brock for top spot in the Ontario University Athletics’ Mid West Division, reported the Mirror.

On air

  • Wes Cragg, director of the Business Ethics Program at York University’s Schulich School of Business, talked about the 2000 mutiny of employees at RBC Dominion Securities, who went to Merrill Lynch Canada in Cranbrook, BC, in a case that is now in the courts. He discussed what obligations employees have and unfair competition, on CBC Radio’s “The Current” Dec. 10.
  • Andrea Davis, coordinator of Latin American & Caribbean Studies in York University’s Faculty of Arts, discussed a new report that says racial profiling exists in all aspects of society, on Global TV’s “Global News” Dec. 10.