Friday, March 18, 2011

MP3s from Wednesday's Gig

I recorded the gig on Wednesday night (the subject of my previous post).
I had a great time and Kristian and Stan played amazingly as usual.  The recording was made with one of these little Zoom H4 recorders and the sound quality is pretty decent, though I had to downsample substantially to get the longer tracks to work on my website.

Three mp3s are available for listening at my website here:

There should be more to come as I get some time to process and upload them.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I'm playing a gig tonight at Presentation House Studio with one of my favorite groups, a trio with Bulgarian-Canadian pianist and keyboard player, Kristian Alexandrov and my old friend Stan Taylor on drums.  A little over a year ago, Kristian showed up at one of my quartet gigs and introduced himself and gave me a CD.  After hearing him play I immediately thought of how much fun it would be to play in a trio with Kristian.  He is a virtuoso keyboard player and a great composer as well.  It always amazes me when pianists, organists, and keyboard players can simultaneously improvise melodic lines and accompany themselves by playing independent bass lines.  Kristian does this extremely well and has a great groove with Stan.  He's a very versatile player who is comfortable doing rock, funk, jazz, classical, R&B; you name it and he can do it authentically with energy and passion. As I've mentioned in previous posts, Vancouver really is loaded with great players and I feel very lucky to be able to make music with so many of them.
I'm really looking forward to the gig tonight.

Here's a youtube video of a gig from last year featuring our hit version of Besame Mucho in 5/4 time.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I played a lovely gig last night with Len Aruliah (saxes) and Lorne Kellett (piano).  I hauled out my electric bass for the first time in nearly a year.  The event was an in-class concert for my Douglas College "Intro to Music" class.  Len brought in a few standards "That Old Feeling" and Alone Together", plus a few of his tunes and a few by Kenny Wheeler and Lee Konitz.  Of particular note was Len's contrafact on the chord changes of "I Can't Get Started", a thing that he calls "Initiation".  He wrote a really beautiful and inspiring melody.  As usual, it was a lot of fun to play with Len.  Lorne was in especially fine form and the two of us really stretched the standard material; almost to the breaking point at times.  I had forgotten how much fun it is to play bass and have the ability to affect the harmony and time feel in such a fundamental way and I also enjoy the extra sustain that the electric bass gives in comparison to the guitar. I think I will be playing more bass this year. The students had a great time listening and asking questions and we had a lot of visitors from outside the class.

On the way home I was thinking about how energizing and life-affirming it can be to play swinging music with such great musicians.  Every once in a while, I have an experience like this that reminds me that it is a privilege to be a musician and to have ready access to this kind of profoundly human creative interaction. I will now coast through a peaceful weekend on that high and try to relax a bit.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Don't just stand there.....

Some local and 'ex-pat' Vancouver musicians have once again been wondering aloud in their blogs, on forums and facebook why Vancouver doesn't have more jazz venues.  It seems another round of complaining and moaning is beginning again.  I really don't get this.  Yes, there is absolutely no doubt that jazz venues are thin on the ground in this city and that the arts in general are treated with utter contempt by our provincial government.  Yes, the liquor laws are antiquated, real estate and lease rates are incredibly expensive, taxes on small business are high, most people here seem to like kayaking and skiing more than going out to hear a concert etc.  And yes, it certainly can't compare to New York or London  as a center for artistic creation (can anyplace compare?).

My response to all of these issues is, SO WHAT?  What are the complainers doing to change things, to create venues, to find innovative ways of getting the music heard?  There are plenty of people here doing positive things to keep the music happening: Ken Pickering and the Coastal Jazz and Blues folks, David Pay and Music on Main, Cory at the Cellar, the 1067 collective, Coat Cooke and NOW, Cole Schmidt's series at El Barrio, Clyde Reed and I with Presentation House.  I'm sure there are many others of whom I am unaware.  Just imagine what would happen if everyone who opened his or her mouth to complain used that energy to create an opportunity for playing music.

Vancouver is a wonderful place to live.  It is, as everyone seems ready to admit, a very, very beautiful place. For many of us that counts for a lot.  The arts here are not well supported by government or the general public but, for whatever reason, there are huge numbers of great musicians, dancers, painters, film makers and other cultural producers here making great work.  It is not London, New York, or Toronto and, for many of us who live here, that is exactly the point!

Here is my challenge for anyone who doesn't like the way things are:  Do something to improve the situation!  If every musician in this town made some small attempt to create an opportunity to play, lobbied their local MLA, MP or Arts Council for increased funding, and actively supported others who are already making things happen (asking other people for gigs doesn't count as support) just imagine the changes that would take place.