Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

I wish all those who read this blog a very Happy New Year! 2011 has been great for me with many recording and concert projects, wonderful students and colleagues at Capilano U Jazz Studies, and lots of fun with my family.  Next year promises more of the same and, coming very soon, the relaunch of my Third Rail Music Record label in the digital realm.

Len Aruliah sent me a lovely poem by Luis Borges, which I have included here.

End of Year (Final de Año)

Neither the symbolic detail
of a three instead of a two,
nor that rough metaphor
that hails one term dying and another emerging
nor the fulfillment of an astronomical process
muddle and undermine
the high plateau of this night
making us wait
for the twelve irreparable strokes of the bell.
The real cause
is our murky pervasive suspicion
of the enigma of Time,
it is our awe at the miracle
that, though the chances are infinite
and though we are
drops in Heraclitus' river,
allows something in us to endure,
never moving.

-Jorge Luis Borges (translated by W.S. Merwin)

Friday, December 30, 2011

improv insights blog

Long time, no post. Life has been busy, but now I have a little post-Christmas holiday time and no dumb New Year's gigs to spoil it.
My friend Jeffrey Agrell has a started a blog about improvising for 'classical' musicians.  Jeffrey is a very intelligent and creative writer and musician who teaches at U of Iowa.  His books, Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians and Improv Games for One Player are published by GIA Music and are well worth checking out for musicians who grew up in a tradition where music is only what is on the page.

The blog is here

January will be a busy month with some very cool gigs.  I'll be playing with Dave Robbin's Electric Band on Jan. 18 and with Paul Cram on Jan. 25. and with the Capilano U A Band in a Dizzy Gillespie tribute concert on Jan. 27.  More on this soon.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

upcoming gigs

Updates seem to be getting fewer and fewer these days.  This fall has been incredibly busy with a lot of very involved musical projects.  No time to write!
Upcoming gigs include:

  • November 23 -  Offering of Curtis Andrews at Kozmik Zoo. 53 W. Broadway. 9pm. $10 at the door.
  • November 29 - Brad Turner Group at Capilano U.  Brad Turner - trumpet/piano, Jared Burrows - guitar, Dave Robbins - drums, Wynston Minckler - bass. 11:30am, FIR 113. Free admission.
  • November 30 - J Trio at presentation House Studio. James Danderfer - clarinet, Jared Burrows - guitar/bass, Joe Poole - drums.  at Presentation House Studio, 333 Chesterfield, N. Vancouver.  8pm $10 at the door.
  • Dec 6 -  Thordarson/Reed/Burrows  at Presentation House Studio.  Stefan Thordarson - violin, Jared Burrows - guitar, Clyde Reed - bass.  Free playing from three generations of improvisers.   333 Chesterfield, N. Vancouver.  8pm $10 at the door.

Trisurgence concert footage from Nov 4 and 5

Here's a link to some short video footage of the Trisurgence concert I was involved with a few week's ago.  New World Chinese Orchestra, Huayi Choir, and Koan.  Thanks to Brad Muirhead for thinking this up and making it all happen!

The song is "Jasmine Flower", a traditional tune arranged by our conductor, Jin Zhang.  I'm in there somewhere between the erhu section and the french horns....

Watching this video on Youtube should lead you to links to more video of other parts of the evening.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

brief update....

Haven't posted for a while...I've been really busy with some musical projects, the start of the school year, and then dealing with a nasty flu.  Will post something interesting soon.

Upcoming gigs:

  • October 6 Jared Burrows Quartet at Capilano University, FIR 113, 11:30-1:00.
  • October 12 Burrows/Reed/Sawyer at Presentation House Studio
  • October 26 Burrows/Branter Quartet at Presentation House Studio
  • November 4 and 5  Trisurgence concert:  big project with Koan, Chinese Traditional Music Orchestra, and women's choir.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Jazz at Presentation House Studio Returns for third year of concerts!!!

Yes, we're doing it again.  Jazz at Presentation House Studio returns September 21 for our 3rd year of weekly concerts! I hope to see lots of people out to enjoy the music and support the scene.  If you haven't come out to the venue yet, you can look here or click the links in the schedule below to see videos of music performed at this cool space.  Watch the calendar and forum for updates to our weekly schedule.

Jazz at Presentation House Studio
This is an artist-run weekly series embracing the full spectrum of jazz and improvised music from trad to post-bop, free improv to world music fusions. Presentation House Studio is an historic former church with excellent acoustics where the audience can be up close and personal with the musicians. It is easily accessible by public transit and is located just a few blocks from Lonsdale Quay.  Lots of free parking. Come and join us for great music and a relaxed weeknight hangout.
333 Chesterfield Avenue (3rd St. one block west of Lonsdale), North Vancouver
Wednesdays at 8:00pm.
Admission $10 at the door. Free tea and cookies.
contact jaredburrows AT hotmail for more info.


September 21 - Jared Burrows Quartet
Original compositions in the tradition of Kenny Wheeler and Wayne Shorter played by an intensely rhythmic and interactive band. Lorne Kellett (piano) Al Johnston (bass) Stan Taylor (drums) and Jared Burrows (guitar).

September 28 -  Hotfoot Five
Music inspired by Jellyroll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory, Sydney Bechet, and many others. If you like to dance or tap your hot feet to hot rhythms, come check out the Hot Foot Five. Bonny Northgraves (trumpet), Geoff Claridge (clarinet), Arnt Arntzen (banjo), Jennifer Hodge (bass), Andrew Millar (drums).

October 5 -  Chad Leyte Group
A group of our city's young lions play the compositions of guitarist Chad Leyte with Wynston Minckler (bass), Ian Weiss (alto sax), Cam Stephens (drums).

October 12  - Sawyer/Reed/Burrows
Musical friends improvise chamber music, spontaneous poetry, fragments of text and textures, songs and sounds from the depths of heart and head.  Carol Sawyer (voice), Clyde Reed (bass), Jared Burrows (guitar).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Delta Quartet pictures from Jazz Festival 2011

Here are a few shots from the Delta Quartet gig at the Vancouver jazz festival 2011. The gig was outdoors at Canada Place on June 30. Len Aruliah on saxes, Stan Taylor on the drums and Rob Kohler on bass. Tunes from a recent recording are up on my website.

  I don't normally like playing outside, but this gig was fantastic and we had a huge crowd despite the cloudy weather. My son, Isaac took the pictures with Len;s phone so the resolution isn't great, but I'm just happy we got some shots of the band.  We always forget to get pictures of gigs.  Thanks Isaac.

 Many thanks to Ken, John, Rainbow, Lorraine and all the others at CJBS who put on such a wonderful event. Following the festival, the group made another recording. Stay tuned for some sounds from the session when Rob gets it mixed.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Update - recording and guitar building

It has been a while since I blogged.  What I thought was going to be a period of relative ease and rest since last I wrote has turned out to be very busy.  This is a typical theme for me.  I have a hard time relaxing.

On July 20 I played a great gig with Len Aruliah's Sextet at Goldie's Pizza downtown.  The band is Len on soprano and alto saxes, Colin Maskell on tenor,  Lorne Kellett on piano, Joe Poole on drums, and Brent Gubbels on drums.  What a great group of guys musically and personally.  We had a completely full house with lots of my students, many of Len's friends and also a bunch of mathematician friends invited along by Len's brother, Dhavide. There was a massive applied math conference just down the road at Canada Place. What a treat to play for a packed house and such an attentive and hip audience. Goldie's is a nice room to play, with a baby grand that is kept in good shape by my pianist friend Bruno Hubert.  The pizza was pretty good too.   After the gig we found ourselves at the Congee Noodle house until 2 in the morning - not too many options at the time of day on a rainy Wednesday in Vancouver.  The Congee featured a huge menu with some interesting and unique menu items including "Bible Tripe" and "Silverfish Omlette".  I tried neither, though Colin and Joe each ate a huge meal of very colourful chinese food.  I can't even think about eating things like that at that time in the morning, but it was a great 'musicians life' moment.

The gig went so well we decided we needed to record the music so we set up a session for July 25.  The recording took place at the Birch Theatre at Capilano University and I hauled all of my recording gear plus some rental stuff and engineered the session as well as playing guitar. We recorded 2 takes each of 7 different tunes which is an amazing amount of music to play in a 4-hour session, especially given the challenging nature of Len's music.  I think Len was very pleased to get the band documented as he has been working very hard on new tunes and really beautiful arrangements.  Everything went very well indeed.

I left the recording gear set up and the next day played and engineered a session with bass trombonist, Brad Muirhead and Stan Taylor on drums.  I play bass in this band.  The music was very different from  the day before -very open and wild - but that session also turned out really well.  Since then, I've been finishing my latest electric guitar commission and trying to get it done before we go to Alberta on Thursday.  Maybe then I can rest.....

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rest at Last!

After nearly three weeks of intense activity playing, rehearsing and teaching almost every day I finally have a chance to slow down and get some rest.  The Vancouver Jazz Festival gigs were great and the weather cooperated. Hearing Atomic play on the final day of the fest was a highlight for me.  Immediately following that I had a fantastic week running the South Delta Jazz Workshop followed by two days in the studio with Len Aruliah, Rob Kohler, Stan Taylor, and Ed Orgill.  Ed and Rob have headed back Stateside now and so I have my basement office back to do a little blog posting.  It is sad to see everyone go home, but also good to have a little more space in the house I must admit.  The Workshop this year was really successful and both of my kids participated for the first time as students.  Some cool family jams were had at the old homestead as well.  More pictures to follow as they come in from various sources.....

Some students at SDJF jam session at Petra's Cafe

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Canada Day

Happy Canada Day!
This is a great country and I feel very privileged to live in it.  We have our problems to be sure, but I have yet to go anywhere where I'd rather be.    I've been talking to lots of musicians from around the world this week and so many of them have said how they would like to find a way to come and live here.  Jazz fest time always reminds me of what an amazing scene we have here in terms of the depth and quality of creative musicians.  I have felt in the last few days a profound sense of gratitude for the life I have and where and how I get to live it.

I've just finished three very cool gigs in the Jazz Festival.  The weather cooperated very well for all three and the music was great.   Lots of friends and musicians showed up for every gig. Thanks to Stan, Brad, Len, and Rob for the great music. Pictures coming soon.
South Delta Jazz Festival and Jazz Workshop is coming up next week. I'll be updating the blog with news from that event as it happens.
.Projection of North America with Canada in green

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jazz Fest Is Upon Us

Tomorrow is the start of the 26th annual Vancouver International Jazz Fest.  I have been playing the festival every year since 1993 or so, missing one year at some point during my three-year stint in Oregon.  Coastal Jazz and Blues does an amazing job with the event.  I always hear a few things that surprise,interest, and inspire me and the artist pass has enabled me to see literally hundreds of shows over the years.  Many thanks to Ken Pickering, John Orsyk, Rainbow Roberts, Lorraine Hamilton and all the other good folks who make it happen.

My gigs during the Fest are as follows:

June 24, 12pm, Synergy (Brad Muirhead Trio) @ Canada Place
June 29, 9-midnight, Len Aruliah Quartet @ El Barrio (not an official Festival venue but cool nonetheless)
June 30, 12 pm, Delta Quartet @ Canada Place

Following the Vancouver Jazz Fest, my own South Delta Jazz Workshop happens, then some recording with Len Aruliah, a gig at Goldies with Len' sextet July 20, then some holiday time.

I'm especially looking forward to seeing Rob Kohler who gets in to town in a few days.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Colin MacDonald Pocket Orchestra - Modus Operandi

I have an amazing gig coming up with Colin MacDonald's Pocket Orchestra.  We are playing a house concert which will be simultaneously broadcast on the internet.  I hope you'll come along in person if you live in Vancouver or tune in remotely if you're not.  Details below.  Seating is limited so get tickets early.
Colin MacDonald's Pocket Orchestra
Modus Operandi
June 19, 2pm PDT
Yarilo Contemporary Music Studio
34 Shoreline Circle
Port Moody, BC
Tickets $20/15 at the door or online at

Livestream at
Colin MacDonald and David Branter (saxophones), Geeta Das (trumpet), Brad Muirhead (bass trombone), Danny Tones and Martin Fisk (percussion), Jared Burrows (bass guitar), Anna Levy (piano), Elyse Jacobson and Stefan Thorardson (violins), Stefan Hintersteininger and Doug Gorkoff (cellos).
Yarilo Contemporary Music Society is excited to present the Colin MacDonald Pocket Orchestra in a program of energetic post-minimalist music by British and Canadian composers.

Formed in 2006, the Colin MacDonald Pocket Orchestra is unique in the Vancouver contemporary music scene. This 12-member chamber orchestra specializes in the music of post-minimalist composers, and its repertoire includes works by Michael Nyman, Terry Riley, David Lang, Graham Fitkin, Steve Martland, Michael Gordon, and bandleader Colin MacDonald. Live performances by the ensemble are exciting to behold as the group performs rhythmically virtuosic music without a conductor, an experience once described as "tap-dancing on a tightrope without a safety net."

With Modus Operandi the Colin MacDonald Pocket Orchestra continues its mandate of presenting genre-defying contemporary music that blurs the lines between jazz, rock, and classical. British composers lead the way in energy and drive, starting with Graham Fitkin's playful take on familiar symphonic themes in "Beethoven 7". Michael Nyman, world-renowned for his Oscar winning score to The Piano, brings us music from the soundtrack to Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books in the dancing rhythms of "Yellow Sands". The usually hard-edged sounds of Steve Martland are softened somewhat in "Mr. Anderson's Pavane", a study in texture and tonalities wrapped in an archaic dance form. Canadian composers add to this exciting program, starting with the lively "Shameless", by Pocket Orchestra cellist Stefan Hintersteininger, an audience favourite at its premiere in 2009. Orchestra leader and saxophonist Colin MacDonald presents two new works, including the world premiere of the modally-textured "Modulo", and a new arrangement of his paean to the moon, "Vers la Lune".

UPDATE - the gig went well and has been recorded and archived.  Check it out online at

The South Delta Jazz Festival Approaches

It hardly seems possible, but another year has flown by and preparations are well underway for another South Delta Jazz Workshop and Jazz Festival, our 8th annual event held July 5-9.  The Workshop is a summer music program focused on jazz improvisation and small ensemble playing. The Festival provides a variety of jazz concerts and events centred around and easily accessible to the community that supports us. Students learn to play jazz through intensive small ensemble rehearsals, daily faculty concerts, masterclasses, ear training and improvisation classes in a fun and friendly environment that nurtures our student’s unique talents and abilities. Both audience members and students get a chance to develop relationships with our amazing group of teacher and performers from Vancouver, the US and the UK. The teaching component of SDJW and many of our concert events take place in and around the very relaxed riverside community of Ladner Village.
The Workshop is open to players of any instrument and singers age 12 and up, but jazz camp isn’t just for kids! Adults are very welcome at SDJW and we always have a strong contingent of mature players around. For many of our students, SDJW is a great opportunity to take a week off from their regular jobs and just focus on music. Musicians of all levels from beginner through college and university are welcome. We provide a fun and friendly environment that nurtures each student’s unique talents and abilities. Registration is open now.
Our schedule of events this year is looking good. As you can see, we feature the SDJW faculty musicians in a variety of contexts as well as providing a jam session and two student outdoor concerts.
  • Tuesday July 5 – Brad Muirhead and Faculty Band. Free noon concert @ Ladner Community Centre.
  • Wednesday July 6 – Dr. Ed Orgill and Faculty Band. Free noon concert @ Fisherman’s Hall, Ladner.
  • Wednesday July 6 – SDJW senior students. Free concert @ Diefenbaker Park, Tsawwassen, 7pm.
  • Thursday July 7 – Rob Kohler and Strings. Free noon concert @ Ladner Community Centre.
  • Thursday July 7 –Open Jam Session @ Petra’s Koffee Kafe in Tsawwassen, 7pm.
  • Friday July 8 – Bill Clark and Faculty Band. Free noon concert @ Ladner Community Centre.
  • Friday July 8 – Art in the Garden @ Delta Community Music School, 1-5pm.
  • Friday July 8 – SDJW Octet with guest, Len Aruliah @ All Saints Anglican Church, 7:30 pm. Tix $10 @ door
  • Saturday July 9 – SDJW Student Concert and Picnic @ Delta Hospital Grounds – 12 noon – 3pm.
I’m really excited about the great musicians who will be in residence at this year’s workshop. We have a really diverse and exciting group of musicians coming to play and teach. My old friend, Bill Clark (trumpet), will be making a visit from New Mexico back to his home turf, Rob Kohler (bass) will be up from LA, and Dr. Ed Orgill (saxes) will be coming all the way from Westfield College in Massachussetts to join us for his second visit to SDJW. Our usual core faculty will be there too of course: Brad Muirhead (trombone), Stephen Robb (piano/clarinet), Stan Taylor (drums), and me (guitar). UK-based saxophonist and composer, Len Aruliah, was here in Vancouver earlier in the spring and will be coming back in July to put together a concert of music arranged especially for the SDJW Faculty Octet.
I’m looking forward to another great year of music in South Delta. Hope to see lots of you out at concerts and as students!

Monday, June 6, 2011

To Hell With Cultural Relativism

This week I am taking a very different direction and making a political statement. I promise to go back to music-related stuff soon.

The CBC has been covering a story about luxury condo residents who don't want a palliative care facility built next to their luxury apartment building on the UBC campus.  Read about it here:

Apparently, having sick and dying people nearby brings 'bad energy' and offends their traditional Chinese cultural beliefs.  The spokesman for a group of condo owner and Chinese community leaders, David Choi, has asked for a more 'humanistic solution' meaning, as I understand it, that they should just build the thing elsewhere.  This kind of garbage just infuriates me.  The idea that all cultural beliefs are somehow to be automatically valued and respected is ridiculous.  There are traditional cultures who hate gays, who kill female children, who enslave other people, who hate on the basis of skin colour, who abuse their children as a matter of course, who treat animals inhumanely etc etc etc.   Are these ideas to be respected and valued in our country? NO.  Some cultural traditions and beliefs are simply not worth keeping.  They have no place in our society.  Thank goodness that some of the negative cultural values brought here by my ancestors (including racism, homophobia, and classism) are no longer accepted by the majority of Canadians.

Palliative care facilities are there to provide comfort and care to the sick and the dying and to give them a calm and quiet place to spend their last moments.  The beautiful environs of UBC are an ideal location for such a facility.  I have been to a few places like the one planned for UBC.  The feeling in and around them is beautiful and tranquil and many of the people who work in them are wonderfully kind and caring.  The design of this hospice appears to be very attractive and aesthetically in balance with the neighbourhood. The residents of that hospice are certainly not going to be making a lot of noise with loud parties or taking up a lot of street parking.  Real estate values will not be affected except in the case of potential buyers who harbour ignorant and backward beliefs.  As far as I can see, there are no legitimate reasons to oppose the builiding of this facility.

To Mr. Choi and the members of his group I ask a simple question.  Where and how do YOU want to die?  Should we ship you off to some dark corner of an industrial park where your dying won't offend someone's delicate sensibilities? If you don't want to live in a country where we treat sick and dying people with the utmost love and respect, then go live somewhere else.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Messaien Improvisation

I'm just back from a short but restful holiday and thought I'd ease back into the blogoshpere by simply posting a youtube clip.  This is Olivier Messiaen improvising at the organ of Sainte Trinite in Paris.  Because he was so important and influential as a composer and teacher, comparatively little fuss has been made over his improvising skills.  This man was simply an incredible musician.  The second, longer piece that begins around 6:30 was mind blowing for me. If I could hear music like this in church every week I'd convert to Catholicism tomorrow.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Merci, monsieur Truffaut.

Earlier this week Nancy Tod,  a student of mine at Cap, posted a link to some Truffaut films on Youtube.  As I mentioned in my post a few days ago, one of the great perks of my job is having super hip and intelligent students.  With the semester now finished I finally have a little bit of recreational time and have been watching Truffaud's "Antoine Doinel" series.  I'm trying to get my french skills back in better shape and having fun torturing my children by speaking to them seulment en francais.  Truffaut's work is really amazing for a number of reasons. Compared to today's films, Truffaut's work relies on very simple resources in terms of sets, camera gear, extras etc.  He relies on carefully chosen camera angles, the classic elegance of Paris cityscapes, good writing,and a small cast of talented actors to tell stories.  No special effects required.  The elegance and unassuming beauty of the women in the "Antoine Doinel" series is especially striking. 

Unlike many of today's film and TV characters who live in giant mansions and seem to have inexplicably endless financial resources, Truffaut's characters live in little Paris apartments with shared bathrooms, borrow money from friends, run out of milk, and work at mundane jobs as record or book store clerks, violin teachers, and civil servants.  Their external, material lives are simple and seemingly devoid of excess 'stuff' that clutters every space today's films and living situations.  Most of the action takes place around the things that count: romance, love, friends, relationships, humour, music, ideas, and food. Of course the films are not meant to be educational or even overtly philosophical, but they have a strong, unified aesthetic that is enlightening in some way.  Having watched a few of these films this week, I found myself re-evaluating what really counts and enjoying some of the simpler pleasures of life.  Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Truffaut!