8 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 8 - May 2006

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Jazz Notes by Jim

Jazz Notes by Jim Galloway It 's May! It's May! The lusty month of May! .. Lerner and Loewe. May Days - May Days It has always seemed to me as a horn player, that the piano is a more difficult instrument on which to develop a personal sound. Certainly, it is possible to identify, say, Thelonious Monk, Ray Bryant or Fats Waller after listening for a few bars, but, by and large, it is a less personal instrument than a saxophone played by, for example, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins or Johnny Hodges. They have a trademark sound that is recognisable after only a few notes, and you can say the same about Louis Armstrong or Clifford Brown on trumpet. The physical act of blowing gives the opportunity to make the notes personal at source. It is much more difficult to imbue a piano with similar characteristics, added to which a pianist is playing on a different instrument on almost every engagement, and often on an inferior one. But it seemed to me, sitting here in mid-April and contemplating the summer ahead, that, in the jazz world, the month of May in Toronto was shaping up to be "let's celebrate piano" month. Consider this - Hank Jones, Barry Harris, Kenny Barron, Jay McShann, Oliver Jones - all significant contributors to jazz are all scheduled to perform in Toronto in May, and all are able to make a piano "personal". The first three names will be part of the Art Of Jazz series at Young Centre for the Performing Arts in the Distillery District from the 17th to 20th. There is a famous jazz number called "Four Brothers", but even more important were the Three Brothers - Elvin Jones, Thad Jones and big brother Hank Jones, who is quite simply one of the great names in piano jazz, and, incidentally, one of the main influences on our own piano great, Oscar Peterson, who openly acknowledges his debt to Mr Jones. Barry Harris has devoted his life to the advancement of Jazz and when he's not holding his weekly workshop sessions in New York he travels the world spreading the word. Philadelphia born Kenny Barron is a wonderfully individual voice on piano and a long-time favourite with Toronto audiences, largely through his appearances at the Montreal Bistro. For information on the Art Of Jazz Series which also features A Tribute to Don Thompson with Jim Hall, John Handy, Dave Holland, Terry Clarke & Phil Dwyer, you can call 416-840- 7663 or 416-866-8666. And, yes, there are four Jones's - but this one, Oliver is not related to Hank, although he shares more than the name in that he is also a great musical talent. Oliver Jones and his trio will be in town for the Ken Page Memorial Trust annual fundraiser at the Montreal Bistro on May 15th. For information call 416-515-0200. (Now comes the not so good news. Jay McShann, master of the blues, Kansas City style, who was scheduled to be at the Bistro with me the first weekend in May, had an accident and broke a bone in his foot. At time of writing he is undergoing therapy and unable to travel. It is a huge disappointment to his many friends here, but taking his place will be another old friend of Toronto jazz fans, someone who held the fort at Castle George in George's Spaghetti House for many moons, a very soulful and swinging piano player, Brian Browne.) But we're not finished yet with the brighter side! Let's not forget the piano talents we have rig_ht here in town. Hilario Duran will also be part of The Art Of Jazz Series when Salsa Meets Jazz on the 20th. On May 13 the Mark Eisenman Trio has a 20th Anniversary Concert at Walter Hall, 80 Queen's Park and earlier in the month on the 6th. the Classic Jazz Society presents Jack Hutton, an old friend of mine from the old Sapphire Tavern and a devotee of the music of Fats Waller. The concert will be at Estonian House on Broadview Ave. WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM 'Bubbles' When I mention The Sapphire, (the sign did have two "p"s in it), it brings back memories of playing there in the early 70s with someone who was very special to me, Ron Sorley. We knew him as "Bubbles". He was for many years a sales rep for Clifton Cosmetics and bubble baths were part of the line, so "Bubbles" it was. He was an unassuming, gentle man of immense talent, playing in the Teddy Wilson style and I was amazed by his vast knowledge of the standards and a surprising number of obscure songs. At the time we met, I was casting around for the right piano player with the "Metro Stampers". Ron was Mister Right! He and I began a happy relationship that was to last until his passing a few weeks ago. In the early 70s we had a steady engagement at "The Sapphire", (complete with double ("p"). Well, playing regularly with Ron was not only a treat musically for me, but we developed a sometimes uncanny level of communication with each other, to the extent that on several occasions I can remember thinking of a number and Ron would start playing it without any verbal exchange between us. Scary! In recent years Ron would regularly go to Sunnybrook Hospital often with drummer Don Vi~kery, and play for the residents. Eventually Ron himself was living in the Veterans' Wing - he was a navigator in the Air Force during WWII - and continued to give his popular concerts. I joined in a couple of times and marvelled at his dexterity at age 90. "The fingers are working fine, but the rest of me is falling apart!", he told me one day. Well, on April 7th. of this year, Don Vickery went to Sunnybrook for Ron's regular Friday concert, and there was no Ron. He died later that evening, probably regretting that he had missed his gig, but if anyone was a personal expression of the joy of music, it was Ron Sorley and whatever piano he happened to be playing. Featuring some of Toronto's best jazz musicians with a brief reflection by Jazz Vespers Clergy Sunday, May 14 • 10:00 a .m. JAZZ MASS for MOTHER'S DAY THE BRIAN BARLOW QUARTET and THE PARISH CHOIR Sunday, May 28 · 4:30 p.m. Musicians to be announced Christ Church Deer Park, 1570 Yonge Street (north of St. Clair at Heath St.) 416-920-5211 Admission is free. An offering is received to support the work of the church , including Jazz Vespers . •••

BAND Stand by Merlin Williams somewhere above the mid-Atlantic It seems like international band trips are all the rage this year. The Brampton Concert Band is visiting Italy and Austria this July, having been invited back to perform at the Mid-Europe Festival in Schladming, Austria. I couldn't go on the band's previous sojourn to Austria, so I'm looking forward to the beer. .. er. .. scenery that I missed last time. The Thornhill Community Band has scheduled an exchange with an Italian Concert Band, October 4-13, 2006. The trip includes visits to Venice, Florence and Rome, and concert performances in Sassuolo, Maranello and possibly Rome. Cost is about C00 per person and includes flight, transfers, coach transportation, accommodation, all breakfasts and some dinners. The more people that join the trip, the cheaper it is. To reserve, contact the Thornhill Community Band, 22 Carmel Ct, North York, ON M2M 4B4, or e-mail for more info. I received contact info from a band that is new to me: the Ayr­ Paris Band in Ayr, ON. Their website is Full listing info will be included in our upcoming annual Bandstand roundup of community bands. The Ayr-Paris band is also going abroad this summer - to Ireland and Scotland, July 21st to August 6th. Good luck with the trip; we'll be coming back from Austria the day you leave, so we'll make sure and wave somewhere over the mid-Atlantic. There's a wide variety of band concerts to attend in May. Here are some worthy mentions from the complete listings: East York Concert Band. Music from the Movies! May 1st. Toronto Youth Wind Orchestra. Anniversary Concert. May 5th. North Toronto Collegiate. Maytime Melodies, 60th Anniversary. May 11th & 12th, Celebrating 60 years of music at North Toronto Collegiate. 70 Roehampton Ave. 416-393-9180 x20100. , (st/sr). North Toronto Community Band. Spring Rhythms. May 13th. Hope United Church. Northdale Concert Band. May 14th. If you would like an upcoming band event to be featured in the Bandstand column, f eel free to contact Merlin by e-mail, or phone 416-803-0275. To count on being included in the WholeNote listings section, though, don't count on Merlin to do it. Send listings direct to by the 15th of the month before. Oh, and here comes one more worthy straggler! May 26 8:00: Metropolitan Silver Band. Sounds of Silver. Wide variety of musical selections in a program to celebrate spring. Guest: Malcolm Sinclair, baritone. St. Luke's United Church, 516 The Kingsway. 416-239-3401. Free will offering. All proceeds donated to Habitat for Humanity. .J"""!""""~HARKNETT Musical Services Ltd. MUSIC BOOKS BEST SELECTION OF POPULAR & EDUCATIONAL MUSIC Piano· Guitar· Instrumental Brass - Woodwind - String Instruments - Guitar Buy direct from the Distributor AUIHORIZED DEALER FOR: Armstrong, Artley, Besson, Benge Boosey & Hawkes, Buffet, Conn Getzen,Jupiter, Keilworth, King Ibanez Guitars, Scher! & Ruth String Inst. M AY 1 - )UNE 7 2006 Mid-Town Store 416-423-9494 943 Eglinton Ave. E. (W. of Leslie) (Next door to Robert Lowrey's Piano Experts) Main Store 905-477-1141 2650 John Street Gust North of Steeles) Holland (~l America \t__~/ A TRADtTION OF EXCELLENCE 10th Annual Jazz Cruise with Host - Ted O'Reilly Featured performers include Juno award winner, Guido Basso, Jackie Richardson, Pat LaBarbera, John Sherwood, Dave Young & Kevin Dempsey 10 night Caribbean cruise from New York on Holland America's newest ship, MS NOORDAM, sailing October 25th, 2006 Ports of call include Turks & Caicos, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, St. Thomas & San Juan. Your package includes: e 10 night cruise on Holland America's new NOORDAM • A minimum of 6 performances I chat sessions with Guido Basso & the All Stars • Airfare from Toronto (with other departure points available) • All meals & snacks each day while on board the ship • An exclusive Cruise Holidays' Cocktail Party with the entertainers • Onboard activities & amenities, Broadway style shows & entertainment • All taxes, government fees & transfers Fares start at ,539 CDN for an inside cabin, based on double occupancy. This price includes air from Toronto to New York on American Airlines, all port, air and government fees. Space is /1miled, so call now to reserve JCRII/Sc.!:Jr.... Cruise Holidays of Toronto West 655 Dixon Rd. #10, Toronto, ON "iiHOL/0.lilSi ? 416-245-4411 Or 800-268-4002 TICOn04324513

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