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Two Much Guitar Comes to the Island

May 4, 2009

coongannonGuitarists Oliver Gannon and Bill Coon perform with Darren Radtke on bass and Dave Robbins on drums at a special Sylvan United Jazz Vespers gig in Mill Bay on Saturday, May 30.

Gannon, a legendary west coast guitarist who performed with the great Fraser MacPherson and is a member of the Ian McDougall Quintet, teamed up with Coon, a Juno and National Jazz Award nominated guitarist, composer and arranger, to record Two Much Guitar, a Cellar Live Release, in 2005. Since that time they’ve done a number of gigs together and recorded a second as yet unreleased disk.

Last year Coon appeared with his trio at Hermann’s in Victoria and Gannon played at the Jazz in the Garden event at Milner Gardens in Qualicum, but, according to organizer Pat Selman, this will be the first time the two have appeared on the Island together since forming their group with Radtke and Robbins.

I interviewed Coon in conjunction with his Hermann’s gig last fall, and at that time he told me that although he and Gannon are from a slightly different generation and draw on different influences, they have a lot in common.

“There’s a real common ground there, a real chemistry,” says Coon. “As soon as we play I feel like we’re sort of hitting the ground running and that chemistry happened in the very beginning which is really nice.”

Coon first met Gannon at the Alma Cafe in Vancouver when Gannon had a regular weekly gig there back in the 1980’s.

Coon does note stylistic differences, however, pointing specifically to the influence of Jim Hall, whom Coon studied with for two years. “Although Ollie likes that style of playing, which I would refer to as more of a motific way of development, I don’t think he loves it. I think he’s coming more from Barney Kessel.”

Gannon, in fact, confirms the Kessel influence, noting that when he studied at Berklee in the 1960’s, one of his teachers nicknamed him “Barney” because he sounded so much like the great guitarist.

Coon will also conduct an all day guitar improv workshop on the same day for intermediate to advanced players. The fee for the workshop is $80, which includes a ticket to the afternoon performance with Gannon. At the time of writing space is still available. Contact Pat Selman at 250 743-4301 or by email at patsel@shaw.ca for more information.

Advanced tickets for the concert are on sale now for $15 and are available through Selman. The show will cost $20 at the door on the day of the performance.

Coon and Gannon will also headline the Salt Spring Jazz Festival in June. Island Jazz will run a story on that event soon.

You can learn more about Bill Coon at http://www.billcoon.com/ . Information on Oliver Gannon can be found at http://www.olivergannon.com/

– Rick Gibbs

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