Sunday, 31 August 2014

Back to work?

Back to work! Today is the last day of a one year sabbatical away from my job at Mount Royal University. It's been a good year and a strange one. The program I have been a part of for the last 10 years was suspended by the University after a budget cut (more on that in the future). Prior to that I was granted a sabbatical, and when the cuts came I was given the option to stay and teach (while receiving funds for the leave) or take the sabbatical. I took the sabbatical and left the teaching for fellow faculty. My departure left quite a few classes available and more work for everyone else.....not as selfless as it sounds, as I needed the break and did not want to be around for the dismantling of the program I helped build (more on that too).

During the past year I spent a lot of time pondering my next move, I sure had a lot of questions....

Did I want to teach another 20 years?
Did I want to stay at Mount Royal?
How long could I live in Calgary without a job?
Is Calgary an arts friendly environment?
As an Educator that supplements my income as a musician could I make enough just as a performer?
What do I need?

I spent the entire year focused on my pursuits with a lot of time dedicated to planing my next move, but little did I know there were some extremely helpful people working behind the scenes to have me re-deployed to a new department, and on St. Patrick's day while in Dublin Ireland I received an email:

CONGRATULATIONS  You have been redeployed to the faculty of Teaching and Learning!

It felt good! but after the initial happiness, I was struck with the idea that all of my stress, concern and planing about the future was a waste.....but then again, was it?

I learned a lot about myself this past year, things I might not have ever realized.

Now I need to learn a lot about the new topics I am going to be teaching in a few days!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Sugar Rum Cherry!

Well, it's that time of year....time to get the clarinet out and play some excellent Duke Ellington music. If you aren't aware of Duke's arrangements of the Nutcracker Suite I recommend you stop reading this post and make arrangements to purchase this wonderful work of art. I have to admit that I like Christmas music and right at the top of my favourite albums is Duke's interpretation of the Nutcracker Suite! This upcoming weekend I will have the opportunity to perform the complete suite with the Craig Brenan Big Band at the National Music Center (Nov.29/30) I believe the concert starts at 7, if you are a fan of Christmas music you will not want to miss this show...seriously!

The following week (Dec. 6/7) I will be performing with the Yardbird Suite all-stars (Craig Brenan t-bone, Jim Brenan-saxophone, Bob Tildsley Trumpet, Sandro Dominelli-Drums, Chris Andrew-Piano and Chris McCann-Bass) in Edmonton at the Yardbird Suite! We will be playing the music of Joe Henderson. I have been working on the arrangements for the past few months and am really looking forward to this gig as well.......what a diverse musical landscape we live in in Alberta. One week it's a burlesque show with Quinn Lemley the next big band the next a modern Jazz sextet, and following that AFRO-Beat (more on that later).
 I love the diversity! There is a lot going on in the province these days.... a few of my friends (Rubim De Toledo, Carsten Rubeling, and Jon McCaslin) are playing the Music of Mingus with the Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, definitely worth checking out

Better Get Hit In Your Soul
Dances inspired by the music, life and times of Charles Mingus
November 22 – December 1, 2013
Big Secret Theatre, EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts back to that pesky clarinet! 


Monday, 4 November 2013

The week that was....will be

This past weekend I had a great time playing with the (mostly) 70's rock band Alter Ian! We played two nights of some well known and lesser known hits from the 70's. I really enjoy playing with the guys, the music is always a challenge. I really took note of how some of the tunes had such inventive chord progressions....progressions that are not always the easiest to just hear on the fly. I had managed to put together a bunch of charts so I could reference the most needed horn lines, but at times I really had to focus, especially when the leader would point at me to solo. Often I had no idea exactly what changes were that I would be soloing over. I love this kind of ear training....I also love the challenge of playing in a genre. I am really looking forward to the next gig with these guys.

This upcoming week I'll be playing a concert at the National Music Center with the Invertigo trio. We have done a handful of gigs, and when possible we get together just to play...sessions with this group are always satisfying. Rubim and Jon are my favourite Bass/Drums combination in Town!

This weeks concert is with the guitarist Peter Bernstein. Peter is one of the finest jazz guitarists on the planet.

That's kind of all that needs to be said about that. He's fantastic and if you can you should try to attend the concert just to see him.

Tuesday, November 5th


National Music Centre
134 11th Ave SE
Calgary, AB

$20 General Admission
$15 students

Here is a great clip of Ahmad Jamal performing superstition from his 70's album "Ahmad Jamal 73" one of the first albums I bought (5$ at sound connection) great things can happen when you take a chance.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Wayne Gretzky/Peter Bernstein

Last week was great!!

I'd have to say meeting Wayne Gretzky was definitely a highlight. Once a month I play in a duo at the Paliser hotel: Wednesday nights in the lounge. We play standards and generally try to be as quiet as possible. Last wednesday on the first set break Wayne Gretzky walks in. Having grown up Canadian and originally from Edmonton I spotted him right away- as he walked by I said "excuse me" we shook hands and he was on his way.......

I'm not sure how we played but it was a great gig! oh yah, Nelly Furtado's band and the cast of degrassi jr. high were there as well as a band called Down with Webster....but it was all about Wayne!

This week I am preparing for a gig with the incredible guitarist/musician Peter Bernstein!! This is one of those once in a lifetime opportunities, I'm really looking forward to it!! It features a group that I have been working with for a few years with Rubim de Toledo Bass and Jon McCaslin drums, The INVERTIGO TRIO

Monday, 21 October 2013

A busy week!

Gigs!?! it's a good week for me as I am playing at the Pasiler hotel from 6-9 on Wednesday, then I'll drop by the Wine-Oh's jam session from 9-11:30, Thursday my chordless trio meets up and Friday and Saturday I am playing with John Gray's tribute to Ray Charles Orchestra. With John I get to play the Baritone saxophone, something I love to do but have so few opportunities (full disclosure: I Do prefer playing the Tenor), at any rate it's always fun to play and really fun to be playing in so many diverse groups!


Here is a great track featuring one of my all-time favourite saxophone players: Sonny Stitt, his bari playing was exceptional!!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Meta Mofo!!! Sell OUT!

whew!!!! this past Saturday I had the great pleasure of playing with an amazing new Afro beat band. The first gig was to a sold out crowd!! In fact the room was sold out about an hour before we even played!
The grooves were infectious, the music was creative and everyone had a great time. Our next gig is Dec. 13th (Friday the 13th Christmas party) at Mikey's Juke Joint in Calgary, AB. If you do come, you may want to show up early ;)

As well as afro-beat I have been -playing a lot with two great musicians; Jon McCaslin, Rubim De Toledo and I are taking the stage again at Wine-Oh's this Wednesday (October 16th) Please come down and bring your horn, the more the merrier!

more updates to come, in the mean time I hope you enjoy this great Afro beat clip from KOKOLO!!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Embraceable you

From my latest trip to Russia

Embraceable you featuring Richard Jackson. I had a great time in Russia!