Friday, February 25, 2011

Odds and ends

Mens Mezlan Clive
Last night, some of my students mentioned that they are actually reading my blog.  I have been quite delinquent in my blog writing duties of late. Despite the fact that Capilano U is on reading break this week, I have been quite busy with my usual range of performing activities and other teaching jobs.  I did take a morning to buy myself some lovely new Italian shoes (on sale of course!).  That made it feel a little more like a holiday.  My wife and kids often tease me about the number of shoes that I have, but for someone who performs all the time it is actually pretty important to have some options for the stage. Shoes and chocolate are really my only serious vices.

On Wednesday I had the perfect opportunity to put those new shoes to work as I played at Presentation House Studio with Joe Poole (drums), Coat Cooke (saxes) and Clyde Reed (bass).  Joe is a fellow shoeist and he thoroughly approved of my purchase. The music was superb.  Clyde and Joe were in particularly fine form, grooving very well together and creating a kind of buoyant, joyful swing feel that such as I have rarely experienced.  Coat was really wailing as usual.  His sound is always so powerful and his ideas very original and fluidly connected.  It was a privilege to make music with them.

Last week the jazz choir I direct at Cap U, the 'Combo Choir'  (must think of a catchy name...), performed with Len Aruliah at two concerts, one at Cap and one at the West Van Community Centre.  Both gigs went very well and the students did a fine job with Len's music.  Len had a very good time as well and was impressed with the ability of the students to playing such difficult music.  I spent yesterday arranging a whole new concert worth of music for the group: five Kenny Wheeler tunes.  I think these will be great fun for the students.

I have no big plans for the coming week.  For a change there are no gigs or significant projects.  I will just enjoy my teaching and get some practicing and composing done.  Lastly, Adrian Caballero finally sent me a picture from the gig I did last month with the Australian saxophonist Jason Thornton.  Jason has now asked me to play on some tracks for his new recording.  It should be fun to send digital tracks back and forth across the world.  From left to right: Jason, Me, Joe Poole, Brent Gubbels.  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Len is Here

My good friend, Len Aruliah, has arrived from London.  As I explained in an earlier post, Len is a saxophone player that I have known for over 20 years and with whom I have played a lot of great music.  We'll be making a lot more music in the next few weeks.  Next Wednesday is a quartet gig at Presentation House with Len, Stan Taylor, and Clyde Reed.  Earlier that day Len will be a guest artist with a jazz choir at Capilano University.  I have arranged his "Full Circle Suite" for the student group and they are doing a great job with his music.  This group will also be performing on Friday at West Van Community Centre.  The following week we will try to do some recording with the aforementioned quartet. Usually Len is only here for a couple of weeks and his schedule is busy but this time he will be around for a few months so I'm looking forward to hanging out and creating some new things!

In other news, I had an amazing gig with Sound Image Net last night.  I talked about this band in an earlier post. The show went very well and Krista brought in a very fresh and interesting repertoire of new images.  Gregg Simpson, Carol Sawyer, and Clyde Reed are such excellent musicians.  They are always so responsive and empathic in their improvising.  It was a very satisfying gig in every respect and helped me clear out some musical cobwebs that have been gathering in my brain.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

8th annual South Delta Jazz Festival

Preparations are once again underway for the South Delta Jazz Festival and Jazz Workshop. The Workshop is a summer jazz camp with thirty-five students, seven full-time faculty members, and two TAs.  The Festival comprises seven concerts during the week of the workshop and the concerts feature faculty musicians and guest artists.  Last year was our seventh annual event.   My friend, Stephen Robb, and I started this event back in 2003 with the idea of providing ourselves with some summer teaching work and a chance to get together and play music with our friends.  Since then it has grown to be the most significant arts event in Delta.  
The workshop takes place at Delta Community Music School which is situated in a very cool old heritage house in the Ladner Village (at left).
This year we welcome back  our usual core faculty Stan Taylor (drums) Brad Muirhead (trombone),  Stephen Robb (clarinet/piano), Rob Kohler (bass).  The very creative and cool Bill Clark (trumpet) will be joining us this year, as well as a great saxophonist, Dr. Ed Orgill.  These folks are all wonderful performers and very experienced educators.  I'm really looking forward to playing and teaching with them this summer.  The Infinitus String Trio will also be in residence both as students and as performers on some of the concerts.  We'll have our usual jam session at Petra's Arts Cafe, outdoor shows at Diefenbaker Park and Delta Hospital Grounds, lunchtime shows at Ladner Community Centre, and an evening concert at local church. 
It hardly seems possible, but this will be our 8th year for SDJF.  I am really proud of the work we have done to make this event so successful and especially happy with the way it has become integrated into the community in a kind of organic and natural way.