Dobbin's Den

MARCH 5, 2003


This year's 24th edition takes place from June 26 through July 6 and on March 5, they announced the following bookings: on Thursday June 26, the Wayne Shorter Quartet (Danilo Perez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade) will appear at Theatre Maisonneuve at 6pm, the Ray Charles big band is due in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at 8:30 and Roy Hargrove tentet, 'RH Factor' hits at 9:30 at the Spectrum. The 27th sees the Joe Zawinul Syndicate booked in the Spectrum, again at 9:30. On the 28th, Bobby McFerrin brings his voice, a four octave instrument, into SWP at 8:30. Veteran bassist Dave Holland's big band comes into Theatre Maisonneuve on the 29th at 6pm and the big winner at this year's Grammy Awards, vocalist Norah Jones appears in SWP on July 2nd at 8:30, the same night at 9pm, Ben Harper is at the Metropolis and guitarist Mark Knopfler is due at SWP on July 4th at 8:30. The following night Cape Verde's treasure, singer Cesaria Evora is in that hall at the same hour. The 'Invitation' series, one that goes back 14 years to the 1989 Charlie Haden concerts, is always interesting, this year it's split, four nights each, between pianist Brad Mehldau and drummer Jack DeJohnette. They appear in a variety of settings - the dates and the guest artists still to be announced.


This important film festival runs from March 13 through 23. Among the films scheduled for this year, the following would look like they might be of interest to readers of this column: "The Miles Davis Story" a 125 minute documentary, "Gene Kelly:Anatomy of A Dancer", "Richard Rodgers:The Sweetest Sounds", "Glenn Gould:The Russian Journey", "Martha Argerich:Conversation Nocturne", "Ladies and Gentlemen, Renee Fleming", "Benjamin Britten - The Hidden Heart", "(Robert) Roussil Ou Le Curieux Destin d'un Anarchiste Impenitent", "Riopelle, Ficelles et Autres Jeux" and a double bill of "Georgia O'Keefe - A Life In Art" and "La Mer by Claude Debussy". For photography buffs, in the "Contacts" series there are films on Elliott Erwitt, Shelby Lee Adams, Ralph Ellison, Robert Capa, William Klein and Henri Cartier-Bresson. For more info go to


Back in 1985, in notating Reg Schwager's "Resonance" CD for the Justin Time label, I did an overview of the guitar scene in Canada. When it came to this city, these were my words: "The contingent from Montreal (always a hotbed for guitarists) includes Greg Clayton, Mike Gauthier, Bill Coon, the late Bill White and internationally renowned Sonny Greenwich - as well as ex-Maritimers Ivan and Nelson Symonds." I also made mention of Peter Leitch and the late Rene Thomas, a Belgian of great importance to the jazz scene during the five years, beginning in 1956, that he resided here. Of those names, the only one regularly active in Montreal these days is Clayton, whose 1997 CD "Live At Boomers" has been reissued, in a beautifully remastered version, by the String Jazz Recordings label based in England. One can hear Greg along with singer John Labelle and bassist Alec Walkington at the Modavie Restaurant [1 St. Paul W.] on Fridays and Saturdays with a drummer added the second night. Two names who have arrived in a big way since those liner notes were written are Kenny Bibace and Jon Gearey and they can also be heard at Modavie, Kenny, Monday through Wednesday and Jon on Sundays, both backed by Solon McDade, one of the better of the younger bassists currently making Montreal home. All this makes the Modavie Restaurant in Old Montreal a guitar fanciers' dream.


The weather has been mostly of the frigid variety in Montreal but the music has added much warmth. Some of the memorable events here in Montreal in recent weeks have included the excellent sextet of pianist / composer JOSH RAGER with Kelly Jefferson [in from Toronto], Kelsley Grant, Bill Mahar [a last minute substitute for Ingrid Jensen], Fraser Hollins and Dave Laing and Theresa Tova, who sings standards in both English and Yiddish, and who you catch on a pair of CDs, "Telling Tales" and "Live at the Top O' The Senator", where she's joined by some of Toronto's best: pianists Mark Eisenman and Richard Whiteman, reedmen Alex Dean and Perry White, bassists Artie Roth, Steve Wallace and Kieran Overs and drummers John Sumner and Daniel Barnes. She was back in Montreal for a superbly paced evening of song at the Maison de la Culture Cote des Neiges with the Jeff Johnson trio (Dave Watts and Thom Gossage) and her special guest Philippe Noireault.

The McGill Jazz Club presented it's "McGill Jazz Festival" - to use the word 'annual', I suggest they wait till next year, a two evening event that took place in the Player's Theatre on the 3rd Floor of the Shatner Building, on the McGill Campus. On Thursday, February 20, it was The McGill University Chamber Jazz Ensemble, a 14 piecer directed by Jan Jarczyk, in music by Kenny Wheeler, Miles and Gil Evans, and a Kevin Dean Organ Quartet with the saxes of Dave Turner and Gordon Foote with Andre White on drums, that were in the spotlight while the following night featured 'Junk', a quartet, and 'Nerph', featuring the Doxas brothers, Jim and Chet, Steve Amirault, Joel Miller and Morgan Moore.

Upcoming in March, on the 7 and 8, a Dave Young Quartet featuring Kevin Dean, Michel Lambert and Phil Dwyer will be at Upstairs [1254 Mackay] where a foursome led by trombonist Kelsley Grant appears the following night with George Mitchell on bass. Carol Welsman appears on the 14 and 15 and the club will have a "New York" style policy those nights, two separate seatings. The 16th is a night to look forward to as pianist Minjung Suh [Mrs. John Rager] will be showcased with an excellent quintet consisting of Adam Overs, Jon McCaslin, Donny Kennedy and a relative newcomer to town in Steve McKnight, a superb bebop trumpeter from Pittsburgh, who is currently enrolled at McGill. Joel Miller hits on the 28 and 29 and Coral Egan does her regular stint at the club on March 30.

Tomorrow night, March 6, drummer Jon McCaslin appears at O Patro Vys [356 Mt. Royal E.] with a quintet made up of Kenny Bibace, guitar, Paul Shrofel, piano and the McDade brothers, Jeremiah, tenor and Solon, bass. "McCallum's Island", Jon's debut CD as a leader will be released that night as well. On March 7th vocalist Nneena Freelon will be on stage at the Flynn Theater in Burlington, Vermont where on Saturday, March 29, my buddy Joe Lovano will be joining Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes. Pianist Lorraine Desmarais plays a solo concert at the Outremont Theatre [Bernard, west of Park] on March 15. The trio of Jean Derome, Normand Guilbeault and Pierre Tanguay are at the Bistrot Culturel le Va-et-Vient [3706 Notre Dame W] on March 21. The next night French guitarist Bireli Lagrene hits at the Spectrum with his 'Gypsy Project'. McGill activities include appearances by three large ensembles, Big Band I directed by Gordon Foote, appears on the 19th, Big Band III, under Bruce Pepper hits on the 24th and Big Band II led by Ron DiLauro on the 26th. As well, the students in Joe Sullivan's Advanced Music Class can be heard on the 31st - all in Pollack Hall [555 Sherbrooke W]. At the Casa del Popolo on March 13, cellist Tristan Honsinger's String Project appears with Jean Derome also featured. Keep April 1st open as that night at Sala Rosa on St. Laurent, just South of St. Joseph Blvd, the ICP [Instant Composers Pool] will be in from Holland. Made up of Misha Mengelberg, Ab Baars, Michael Moore, Toby Delius, Thomas Heberer, Wolter Wierbos, Mary Oliver, Honsinger, Ernst Glerum and Han Bennink, the Orchestra can always be relied on for a memorable night of music. The ICP also appears on April 3 in Ottawa at the National Library and on April 4 at the Flynn. Worbos and Glerum return to Montreal on Sunday, April 6th to join Tom Walsh and Thom Gossage at the Casa del Popolo.

Oscar Peterson Hall [7141 Sherbrooke Street West], on the Loyola Campus of Concordia University was a busy spot in March, on the first, Vivienne Deane, a most underrated singer, appeared in "An Evening of Song - From Parker to Puccini", a very diverse evening that featured Tim Jackson, Daniel Lessard, Wali Muhammad, Eval Manigat, Lazaro Rene and Ryan Enright plus 27 members from the U of M and 'Out Of NDG' gospel choirs. The following night, Sunday, March 2nd, it was another memorable concert by 'Altsys', a large ensemble directed by Jennifer Bell - this time the music and guitar of Vancouver based, Bill Coon, a one time Montrealer and band member, was featured. Youngster Cam Wallis was impressive on baritone, a chair formerly held down by Colin Biggin. Watch for the band's next outing on Sunday, May 4 when American saxophonist Donny McCaslin will be featured.


Musicians important to the Canadian jazz picture born in March include:

Tenorman Yannick Rieu (43), trombonist / leader / educator Dave McMurdo (59), trumpeter Alan Penfold (63), drummer Dennis Brown (75), trumpeter /arranger/composer Wally Dunbar [see archives] (69), bassist / pianist Nick Aldrich, pianists Brian Browne (66) and Paul Plimley (50) former Oscar Peterson bassist, Ozzie Roberts, altoman Dale Hilary, arranger Buster Harding, guitarist Roy Patterson (49), reedman Sayyd Abdul Al-Khabyyr [nee Russell Thomas] (68), influential reedman Bob Mover (51), pianist Renee Rosnes (41), Erroll's brother, pianist Linton Garner, still active in Vancouver (88) and a man most important to the Montreal and Toronto jazz scenes, Maury Kaye.

Among the composers born in March, Kurt Weill (2), Irving Kahal (5), Will Hudson (8), Peter DeRose (10), Joseph Meyer and Allan Roberts (12), Bob Haggart (13), Edward Heyman (14), Don Raye and Sammy Gallop (16) Mort Dixon (20), Stephen Sondheim (22), Don George (25) and Jay Livingston (28)


Justin Time has the memorable, "Tchat" by Remi Bolduc and Kenny Werner, while my favourite living jazz singer, Sheila Jordan, has "Little Song" with the Steve Kuhn trio, David Finck and Billy Drummond and special guest Tom Harrell - it's on HighNote and she and Steve on the rumour list for the Jazz Festival. The same label has David "Fathead" Newman's "The Gift" with John Hicks on piano. "The Drummonds" on True Life Jazz features a trio of Ray and Billy Drummond and the latter's wife Renee Rosnes. Bassists Ron Carter and [left handed] Earl May are also represented, "Eight Plus" on Dreyfus Jazz is Carter's latest while "Live at Shanghai Jazz" [EMQ] features May's swinging combo with Larry Ham on piano and vocalist Catherine Russell, the daughter of famed bandleader, Luis Russell. The jazz flute [and in the first case, tenor] is well represented in new releases by Lew Tabackin, "Tanuki's Night Out" [TKCK], a trio outing with Boris Kolzov and Mark Taylor and Toronto's Bill McBirnie's "Nature Boy" [Extreme Flute] with Mark Eisenman, Steve Wallace and John Sumner. The MRC is an unusual trio of drums, violin and cello (Barry Romberg, Hugh Marsh and Rufus Cappadocia) and "Tribal Dance" is on Romhog records. Montreal pianist Philippe Noireault's trio with Daniel Lessard and Christian Pomerleau has "Terrain Vague" [DSM], a live outing while Montreal born Richard Whiteman has "Solo Piano" [Cornerstone]. The same label has a beautiful duo CD, "Duologue" which features reedman Mike Murley and guitarist David Occhipinti. Bassist Kieran Overs' "For The Record" [Unity] is an overdue release of a live session with Alex Dean, Brian Dickinson and Ted Warren. Kieran's wife, pianist Nancy Walker has "Levitation" [Unity] with Kieran, Romberg and Kirk MacDonald and it's amongst a slew of jazz CDs with women headlining.

These include, "Exit 13" [Etoile] by drummer Sylvia Cuenca with guitarist Dave Stryker and organist Kyle Koehler, the much talked about pianist Deanna Witkowski has "Wide Open Window" [Khaeon] with Donny McCaslin, Jonathan Paul and Tom Hipskind, Francesca Tanksley, another pianist, has "Journey" [Dream Caller], a trio with Clarence Seay and Newman Taylor Baker joined on one cut by vocalist Judy Bady. Speaking of singers, newly arrived are items by the superb Katie Bull, "Conversations with the Jokers" [Corn Hill], Kari Gaffney's Satin Doll" [Verbatim] and a number by Canadian based singers, "The Language of Love" [Savoy Jazz] is by Carol Welsman, Adi Braun has "Delishious" [AB] with Doug Riley, Tony Quarington, Steve Wallace and Terry Clarke and B.C.'s Joani Taylor has three, "The Art of The Ballad" with Bob Murphy, "The Wall Street Sessions" with guests Campbell Ryga, Ross Taggart and Brad Turner and "A State of Grace" with Taggart, Jack Stafford, Ken Lister and Buff Allen - the last two on Roadhouse. "When Love Goes Wrong" [Verve] is a vocal lovers delight, a compilation put together by Ken Druker, it features the likes of Frank D'Rone, Jimmy Scott, Johnny Hartman, Billy Eckstine, Beverly Kenney, Helen Merrill and Billie Holiday.

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© Len Dobbin 2003