Fr. Stan Fortuna’s Renewal tour hits Toronto

may 10, 2012 • Written by Evan Boudreau for the catholic register

TORONTO - The funky former professional jazz musician Fr. Stan Fortuna from New York’s Community of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal will perform two shows in Toronto this month.

Fortuna and his Fodera five-string bass will first appear on May 18 at the Poetry Jazz Cafe in Kensington Market.

“I’m going to be playing with a young Catholic-Italian pianist, Carmen Spada, and a drummer,” said Fortuna, ordained in 1990. “It’s going to be great, we’re just going to improvise and play some jazz standards and I’ll do some of my stuff too.”

Cover for the event is $5 per set, 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

His second performance, 8 p.m. on May 19 at Dante Alighieri Academy Auditorium, is a two-hour Fortuna solo set where he can fully show off his new album Renewal. The recently released record celebrates the 25th anniversary of Fortuna’s non-profit production company Francesco Productions.

Renewal contains 13 of Fortuna’s most popular compositions, reworked with an added Brazilian spice.

“Brazilian has had, and still has, a huge influence on me and my new CD. You can really taste and see this influence when you listen,” said Fortuna. “You’ll hear the introduction to some of these songs and say ‘What the heck is this?’ and then all of a sudden you’ll say ‘Oh.’

“Then you’ll recognize the composition, completely brand new, enhanced and spontaneous.”

While most of the album draws on past works, track 14, ty4 Twenty Five, is the one genuinely fresh piece of music.

“It’s a minute-and-a-half instrumental with just some little lush background vocals,” said Fortuna, who explained the title stands for thank you, God, for 25 years. “It’s like ‘thank you’ in the midst of some lush string arrangements and some fresh bass solo stuff.”

Renewal features Ray Charles’ former trumpeter David Hoffman and a rare upright bass session by Fortuna.

“I wanted the whole production and arranging element of the CD to itself be a celebration,” he said. “It starts on an upbeat and works its way down all the way to the end. So it’s got a great feel, the whole CD has a great feel and sound to it.”

As always, revenue generated by Francesco Productions from both shows and sales of the new CD will go towards helping the impoverished.

“That’s where God sends me,” said Fortuna, who said he was inspired by his hero, Blessed John Paul II, to mix contemporary culture with ministerial work. “John Paul said, ‘If we hold back from culture, the Gospel itself will fall short.’ ”

For more information, visit, like him on Facebook or follow @frstan on Twitter. Contact (416) 599-5299 for information on the May 18 show, (647) 774-5437 for the Dante Alighieri concert.