November 25, 2002
This week in Montreal there a pair of student big band concerts at McGill's Pollack Hall [555 Sherbrooke W]. Tonight Ron DiLauro leads McGill Jazz Orchestra II in a program that will include Thad Jones' "Tip Toe", Horace Silver's "Song For My Father", "On Green Dolphin Street" arranged by Mike Abene, "What's New" in a Bill Holman chart, a Lennie Niehaus arrangement of "Long Ago and Far Away" and the marvelously titled, "The 4,679,385th Blues In B Flat" by Rob McConnell. On Wednesday, it's McGill Jazz Orchestra I under Gordon Foote. Among the arrangements in their book are items by Bill Potts, Alex Clements, Bill Evans and Clifford Brown. On this occasion they will also be releasing "Conundrum" by the bands of academic years 1999-2000 and 2000-2001. It's # 7 in a series of CDs. Both concerts have 8 pm starts as does one by Joe Sullivan's students on Monday, December 2--an evening of Thelonious Monk compositions in the Clara Lichtenstein Recital Hall in the same building. Their last concert, which included works from the Miles Davis sessions, now known under the umbrella title, "Birth of the Cool", was a memorable one.
Upstairs [1254 Mackay] has singer/pianist Ernie Nelson featured on Thursday. The weekend attraction will be Kevin Dean, a prof at McGill, best known for his trumpet playing. Of late he's been making appearances on the Hammond B-3 organ and it's on that instrument that he's featured Friday through Sunday. The first two nights he will be joined, on tenors, by Mike Murley, in from Toronto, and McGill grad Steve Kaldestad, who's currently living in England. On Sunday the latter is sole tenor soloist. Weekend attractions here in December are singer Johanne Desforges with the Brian Hurley trio, bassist Normand Guilbeault with Jean Derome and Pierre Tanguay and the Jean-Francois Groulx group.
Biddles [2060 Aylmer] will be closing in early 2003 as owner George Durst is planning major renovations that will see the spot enlarged considerably. Presently, Sunday night is jam session night under the direction of reedman Dave Turner [a prof at Concordia]-- his pianist John Roney [in from Toronto and studying for his Masters at McGill], is another good reason for a visit. On Mondays and Tuesdays, "The Paradise Band" is the attraction with the unsung Richard Parris featured on tenor--the man should be a National icon. Johanne Desforges is here on Wednesdays and Geraldine Hunt, Thursdays. The trio of Steve Amirault, one of my favourite pianists, is the early attraction on Thursdays and Fridays and the weekend feature, Fridays and Saturdays is the quartet of singer/tenorman Johnny Scott with the excellent Geoff Lapp on piano--they are joined by vocalist Stephanie Biddle.
Other spots include L'Escogriffe [4467 St. Denis] where keyboard player Daniel Thouin and tenorman Yannick Rieu appear tonight. On Wednesday there's a Jimmy Smith homage and on Sunday, December 8th, "The Fat Tuesday Brass Band", a relatively new group, appears. The band includes sousaphone player John Dodge, trumpeter Dave Mossing and trombonist Bruce Pepper. Their repertoire includes music by Sun Ra, Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus. The trio of tenorman Malcolm Travis is the Sunday attraction at Else's on Roy at De Bullion and "The Savoy Ellingtons", with Robin Greig on piano, continues, Thursdays and Fridays at the Monte Cristo Cigar Lounge, 1466A Crescent. This Saturday, November 30, the city's great blues guitarist Michael Jerome Browne opens for the Stephen Barry Blues Band at the Kola Note [5240 Park]--that's at 8:30. Speaking of the blues, Lulu Hughes is at the Spectrum, Tuesday, November 26 at 8pm.
Nancie Banks, a vocalist, bandleader, composer, arranger and music copyist, died in Manhattan, she was 51. Her "Nancie Banks Orchestra" appeared at the Mary Lou Williams Women In Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. recently.
Hadda Brooks, a vocalist and pianist--a boogie woogie specialist--died in L.A. on November 21st. She helped put the Bihari brothers "Modern" label on the map back in the mid-40s. She appeared in the Bogart film, "Out Of The Blue", and Travelled with the Harlem Globetrotters. Retired in 1971, she made a comeback in 1987 and recorded "Time Was Then" for the Virgin label 1995.
Cornetist Ruby Braff and tenorman Harold Ashby are both ailing. If you'd like to send them some letters of encouragement, you can write Braff at: Liberty Commons, 390 Orleans Road, North Chatam, Mass. 02650 USA and Ashby at: Timberlake Care Center, 12110 Holmes Road, Road 215, Kansas City, Mo. 64130, USA.
The Justin Time label has issued music from a superb Oscar Peterson Trio [Herb Ellis, Ray Brown] appearance at the 1958 Vancouver Jazz Festival. "Tenderly" will be followed by a second volume, due out before Christmas. Speaking of Christmas, if you attended last year's Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir concert at St. James United Church, you'll want to know that it was recorded by Justin Time and now available as "Goin' Up Yonder."
From the Toronto area come a number of new releases: Jane Bunnett's latest for Blue Note is "Cuban Odyssey" which features the Afro-Cuban Rumba All-Stars, Merceditas Valdes and her new discovery, the young pianist, David Virelles. The excellent Dave McMurdo big band has "Just For Now" , a double CD on the Sackville label. Recorded live at the Montreal Bistro in January of last year, it features soloists like Alex Dean, Mike Malone, Kevin Turcotte, Perry White, Reg Schwager and Don Thompson. The same label has "Live at Mezzetta" featuring the Schwager-Thompson duo. "Time Warp", one of Canada's finest combos has a new Cornerstone release". Warp IX" has Turcotte, Al Henderson, Barry Elmes and, replacing Mike Murley, another McGill grad, Kelly Jefferson. Alex Pangman, who was here in October for the "Silence En Jazz" series, has a number of [good] obscure songs on her "Can't Stop Me From Dreaming" CD on the Sensation label.
From Vancouver, another wonderful singer, Lorraine Foster, who for years was a resident here, has songs from the War years on "We'll Meet Again" [Philor Productions] that includes guest appearances by a pair of pianists well known to Montrealers, Oliver Jones and [Erroll's older brother] Linton Garner.
RCA/Bluebird has just reissued a two CD set "This Is Oscar Peterson", all the material he recorded for the label during the years 1946 through 1949--49 tracks [including alternates] in all with musical support from the likes of Al King, Wilkie Wilkinson, Clarence Jones and Ozzie Roberts and the Verve label has reissued Ella Fitzgerald's "Wishes You A Swinging Christmas", a 1960 date with the orchestra directed by Russ Garcia, 18 tracks--three previously unissued.
This week's radio version of "Dobbin's Den", 11am-1pm, Sunday, December 1, on CKUT 90.3 fm / www.ckut.ca in real audio will include music by reedman P.J. Perry, who celebrates his 61st birthday on December 2, as well as music by tenorman Ted Brown and pianists Thelonious Monk and Wynton Kelly.
© Len Dobbin 2002