This week, I decided I was going to write about an artist – any artist – who is playing in Maine this week but whom I’ve never heard of and know absolutely nothing about.
To get ideas, I perused websites of various venues and finally landed on Tia Brazda, who has a Thursday night show at the Stone Mountain Arts Center. I hadn’t received a press release or any other information about this show but decided to take a chance on Brazda by listening to her latest album, “Daydream,” over the course of a few days.
The reward was immediate. The first track, “Right on Time,” opened with the lines “Go ahead, stand tall, you’re stronger than it all/Falling down in the past, but were saving the best for last.” I’ll tell you more about the absolute ray-of-sunshine album in a moment but the first order of business is to answer a key question: Who is Tia Brazda?
Brazda is a Canadian jazz singer known for her retro singing style that is the breath of fresh air I didn’t know my ears were longing for. I went to her website, figured out who her publicist was and requested some intel on this fabulous artist. Within an hour, I had my answers. Brazda released her debut EP, “Cabin Fever,” in 2012. It reached the No. 1 spot on the iTunes Canada Jazz Chart. Brazda hit that same spot in 2015 with the full-length album “Bandshell.”
A Toronto native, Brazda found her footing in the city’s club scene and has since toured all over the globe including at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, California’s San Jose Jazz Summerfest, Lancaster Music Festival in England and Iboga Summer Festival in Spain, along with Festival International de Jazz de Montreal and the TD Toronto Jazz Festival in her home country.
As for “Daydream,” listening to this album makes me want to toss my hat in the air like Mary Tyler Moore and put on a vintage cocktail dress for a night out on the town. “Moondust Baby” is sheer delight, complete with horns, xylophone and a synthesizer solo: “It’s a game of chance I guess, don’t waste it on regret/When today can be the best for you and I.” These words are marching orders to set aside, if only for a few sweet moments, all that ails you and let the song be the ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles that just got handed to you. I’ve tucked “Moondust Baby” in my secret “favorite songs of 2018” file because it really is that delightful. In fact, during my third listen to the song a co-worker was walking by my desk. I motioned for her to come over and without a word, handed her my headphones and waited. Seconds later her face lit up, and she was snapping her fingers asking me, “Who is that?” I rest my case.
The listening experience of “Daydream” continued with “Un Amour Boheme.” The song makes me want to catch the first flight to Paris to find the city’s most secret little coffeehouse where I’ll switch from coffee to wine on a warm spring evening. Care to join me? “Perfect Distraction” has Brazda singing about a beautiful day spent with one’s sweetie. A continuation, if you will, of Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me,” as both offer sweet as pie invitations. “Irreplaceable” is a modern day “Unforgettable,” and “Livin’ Easy” is a lively, piano and standup-bass-heavy tune. The closing track is “Brand New Day,” and it’s positive and uplifting without being corny.
What’s the moral of the story? It’s to take a chance and challenge yourself to discover new artists. They’re like flowers waiting for you to stop and smell. You might not like them all, but once in a while, one will sweep you off your sweet, and on an otherwise dreary and rainy Thursday afternoon, you just might find yourself smiling and digging the heck out of a saxophone. You just might find yourself swaying in your chair and sinking into some sensational vocals and the steady sweep of a snare. Tia Brazda can count me among her newest fans, and I have happenstance to thank. Can you think of anything better? Me neither.
8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18. Stone Mountain Arts Center, 695 Dugway Road, Brownfield, $20. stonemountainartscenter.com