Home > Events, Profiles > Guitarist Oliver Gannon Retires…Into a Whole Lot of Activity

Guitarist Oliver Gannon Retires…Into a Whole Lot of Activity

May 28, 2009

A year or so after retiring from his job with PG Music where he developedoliver gannon materials for the company’s internationally known computer music programs (Band-in-a-Box, etc.), guitarist Oliver Gannon, who has helped define the west coast jazz sound for nearly forty years, is as busy as ever, making the music he loves.

Gannon is best known, of course, for his long and fertile collaboration with saxophone great Fraser MacPherson, a musical relationship that produced some of the best jazz the west coast has ever heard, along with several highly regarded recordings, broadcasts, and extensive tours of Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Since retiring, Gannon has been active with a number of musical projects, ranging from a European tour with the Ian McDougall Sextet back in the fall, to a trio series he launched at The Cellar in Vancouver, where he worked with different bassists and drummers, presenting a show every month.

As well, he continues to work with his regular quartet (Miles Black, Jodi Proznick, and Blaine Wikjord) appearing about four times a year at The Cellar and packing the place every time they play.

By telephone from his cabin on Pender Island, where he is spending much of his time these days, Gannon says the quartet has been talking about putting out a new CD (their third) but he’s so busy it’s been hard to find the time.

“I seem to be very, very busy ever since I retired from PG Music – for one thing they keep calling me back to do things – produce this and produce that – it’s nice to be wanted but there’s a part of me that keeps saying ‘so when is the retirement going to start?'”

“I’m happy about it all – it’s nice to be busy, but sometimes I’d like to have the time to sit down and have nothing else to do but read a book.”

Fortunately, he’s not too busy to take on special projects such as Two Much Guitar with guitarist Bill Coon, a project that will bring him to the Island this Saturday to play at Sylvan United Church in Mill Bay.

Gannon says that the experience of playing with Coon has been very special. “Since the first time we did some dueling guitar stuff at the Alma Street Cafe way back when he first came to town, we always felt that it was really easy to play together – he’s so musical and very receptive– and we just seemed to hit it off … we both like the same types of tunes…either bebop tunes or standards. It’s just a lot of fun and the band (including bassist Darren Radtke and drummer Dave Robbins) just seems to be getting better all the time.”

Stylistically Gannon and Coon are quite different, with Coon being more influenced by Jim Hall and Gannon by Barney Kessell and Wes Montgomery. Gannon likes the merging of these contrasting styles, however, and the interaction (for players and listeners) that results.

“I think it’s good that we have different styles…I would hope that the listener would be able to recognize that this is a different guy playing…there’s a lot of interaction in there and we do very little planning. I usually leave it to Bill to think up what tunes we’re going to play at any given concert and he does a great job…it’s a nice loose kind of a set up.”

The set up may be loose but the music, as evidenced by their 2006 Cellar Live CD Two Much Guitar, is wonderfully tight and inventive. This is a group not to be missed, and the opportunity to see a Canadian jazz legend like Gannon in the process is a heck of a bonus.

For more information on the gig visit Sylvan United Jazz Vespers website at http://sylvanjazzvespers.com/ and to learn more about the group and the recording point your mouse at Bill Coon’s website http://www.billcoon.com/Bill%20Coon%20Two%20Much%20Guitar.htm

Above all, don’t miss the show.

– Rick Gibbs

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