Time to Support Hermann’s Jazz Club in Victoria

March 1, 2017 Comments off

As many of you will already know, Hermann’s, the longest continuously-running jazz club in Canada, is in danger of closing after more than 30 years of operation. Jazz on View, a non-profit society has been formed to raise the funds to save the club.

Victoria trombonist Nick LaRiviere has posted a must-see video supporting the project. I encourage you to watch it now, share it on Facebook and with friends, and visit jazzonview.com to learn how you can help.

Categories: Events

Mike Allen On His New Album Honouring Bob Murphy and His Upcoming Vancouver Island Tour with Miles Black

January 8, 2017 Comments off

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Vancouver saxophonist Mike Allen releases a new duo album January 10 featuring tunes recorded with Bob Murphy and Miles Black. He’ll be touring Vancouver Island with Miles later this month to promote the album. Island Jazz interviewed Mike by email to learn more about the genesis of Bob’s Piano, his tribute to the late Bob Murphy.

1. How did the new album Bob’s Piano come about? 

I wanted to do something that would honour Bob Murphy, who died rather suddenly in the fall of 2015. He and I enjoyed getting together to play duo at his home. We played together in other groups as well but the duo playing was always especially memorable. He often Read more…

Interview with Jon Miller

July 26, 2016 1 comment

Miller-100-108Drummer, drum instructor and band leader Jon Miller lived in Montreal, Philadelphia and Amsterdam before locating to the west coast in 1999. He holds a B. Mus in Jazz Performance from McGill University and has studied drums with Alan Dawson, Martin Bradfield, Peter Magadini, Louis Williamson, Marvin “Smitty” Smith and Barry Elmes. He’s shared the stage with (among others) Jeff Healey, Charlie Hunter, Skip Bey, Vic Vogel and Hugh Fraser. Jon currently divides his time between teaching drums at Groove Studios and the Jon Miller Drum Studio as well freelance playing and leading his own groups including the Jon Miller Quartet. He released a new album this year Three Days in Winter which has enjoyed a lengthy stay on the college jazz charts.  Island Jazz interviewed him recently by email.

How did you get into jazz and what are your main influences?

My parents were into jazz, though not in a major way, still my dad talked about getting a huge kick out of hearing the entire Basie orchestra in a tiny club in New York, and there were Dave Brubeck, Art Blakey and Charlie Bird records in the family record collection. This was the backdrop I guess but jazz really happened for me because Read more…

Marianne Trudel Tours Vancouver Island with Ingrid Jensen

June 21, 2016 Comments off

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“An extraordinary pianist […] Marianne Trudel is one of the most respected jazz musicians in Quebec…” — CBC

“Ingrid (Jensen) plays trumpet and flugelhorn with all the brilliance and fire of a true virtuoso, following the spirit of the muse as she creates… …warm, sensitive, exciting and totally honest…”  – Marian McPartland

Renowned Quebec pianist Marianne Trudel performs in four Island centres this week with her JUNO nominated project La vie commence ici – Life Begins Here,  featuring Nanaimo-born, New-York-based trumpet virtuoso Ingrid Jensen. The quartet includes gifted bassist Rémi-Jean Leblanc and powerhouse drummer Rich Irwin.

This is a not-to-miss show with two of Canada’s most gifted and passionate musicians. Here are the dates:

Wednesday, June 22 : Nanaimo – SIMONHOLT (Quartet feat. Ingrid Jensen) 7:30 pm –  6582 Applecross Rd. 250-933-3338, Tickets $25

Thursday, June 23 : Tofino- Clayoquot Sound Community Theatre (Trio)  8 pm-380 Campbell, 250-266-0133 $20

Friday, June 24 : Parksville- McMillan Arts Centre (Quartet feat. Ingrid Jensen) 7:00 pm. 133 McMillan St., 250-248-8185. Tickets $25 / $22 to OCAC members. Online at www.mcmillanartscentre.com.

Saturday, June 25 : Victoria – Victoria Jazz Festival – Hermann’s Jazz Club (Quartet feat. Ingrid Jensen)  753 View St. – 8:30 pm,  250-388-4423. Tickets $27 www.jazzvictoria.ca

Highly recommended!

 

 

Categories: Events

An Interview With James McRae

June 9, 2016 Comments off

Full-House-Band-108-Edit2Drummer, songwriter, teacher and bandleader James McRae has played with everyone from Colin James to Marc Atkinson and Miles Black. He was born in Toronto but moved to Vancouver when he was fourteen. He’s lived on the Island since the 1980s and has long been an important part of the jazz scene here, including his time in the 1990s with the popular Victoria group Loose. In 2011 he released Slow Down, an album of original songs with a Brazilian flavour that received praise from across Canada. I interviewed McRae by telephone from his home in Nanaimo. An edited version of the interview follows.

How did you get into jazz? 

Between twelve and nineteen I played along to records – Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, The Who – I was more into prog rock actually which was off the beaten path. When I came back from travelling in Europe when I was nineteen, I decided to ask the Musician’s Association who the best drummer in Vancouver was so I could take lessons. They recommended Al Wiertz who played with Lenny Breau and a number of prominent people. He and other drummers in Vancouver, including Terry Clarke, had studied with Jim Blackley. When I went to Al, he said I’m going to teach you to play drums but jazz is the music I grew up on. I would go in and he would play the same three musical groups – the Miles Davis Quintet, the John Coltrane Quartet and the Bill Evans Trio – and show me how to play along through the Jim Blackley method and teaching ideology. After about half a year I realized I was enjoying that music. That was my indoctrination into jazz music.

What’s your musical philosophy?

There’s all these myriad influences you pick up as a musician. I think it’s a reflection of my own personality that I’ve never latched onto one particular sound or style that felt like that was it and that I had to cut everything else out of my life. On the food level the analogy would be liking all kinds of food and being really adventurous.

Everyone is different and you have to find your own place. Most of the people I play music with were born in some kind of suburb in urban Canada and they grew up with a bunch of different North American cultural influences. If you want to be someone who plays bebop – that’s coming out of a whole different cultural backdrop. Not to dishonour someone who wants to pursue a particular musical style … but I want to honour the fact that I live in a relatively small community on the west coast of Canada.  What are my roots? What’s my heritage? And how do I incorporate that?  That’s really my philosophy – getting into who you are and what’s unique about you.

How did your album Slow Down come about?

Ever since high school I’ve always dabbled on the piano – I’ve never taken lessons or studied with anyone formally but over the years, especially when I was living in Jordan River, I noodled on the piano to the point that I learned how to play jazz voicings on my left hand while I could solo on my right hand and that was just a part of me developing my songwriting ability. The evolution of that album is just the ongoing evolution of my ability to have an idea and present it to other people. The idea of Jennifer Scott singing without any words is very much coming out of Chick Corea’s Return to Forever, which goes back to the early influence of the Wayne Shorter album Native Dancer.

How did you choose the musicians for that album?

I had a longstanding relationship with Miles Black – I remember doing gigs with Miles when he was living in Victoria and I always had a positive rapport with him in terms of his outlook on music and so I felt Miles would be a good person to engage. He’d been working with Jennifer Scott and Rene Worst and they’d done some recordings together and I liked what I heard. I’d played a little bit with Rene – in 2000 I did a tour with Barbara Blair up to the interior with Tom Vickery and Rene was on those gigs. But basically it was the rapport Miles had with Rene and Jennifer – I liked that synergy and I thought it would be really good to include them all.

Talk about the recording process.

At the time in 2010 I was doing A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline – we did a lot of shows in the Vancouver area. Going in to do the recording I remember doing a bunch of country gigs and so we never rehearsed for that CD. We basically went into the studio and did the CD in a day. Miles layered some B3 organ on one or two of the songs but with the exception of that it was from the floor onto tape. We did mostly just two takes of the songs.

What about your role as drummer on the album? 

When you play drums, especially in commercial music, you’re playing mostly a supportive role…there’s not the chance to improvise and play out. One of the reasons I think the CD worked really successfully is that I was coming out of that headspace of playing a supportive role [on the Patsy Cline gigs]. I was thinking of that CD as more an opportunity to do my songs, not as an opportunity to say ‘hey, look at me I’m a great drummer.’ Never really felt that way anyway and again that’s a reflection of my personality I suppose.

Notable Quotes from the Interview

“We’re all different and we all have a different place to go and I just want to try to honour that in other people.”

“I do enjoy working with young people maybe because they’re generally more open and less crystallized in their approach to what they’re doing.”

You can visit James McRae’s website, listen to his music and check out his playing dates here.

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