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Volume 21 Issue 1 - September 2015

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  • September
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • Musical
  • Sept
  • Quartet
  • Concerto
  • Orchestra
  • Symphony
  • Violin
Paul Ennis's annual TIFF TIPS (27 festival films of potential particular musical interest); Wu Man, Yo-Yo Ma and Jeffrey Beecher on the Silk Road; David Jaeger on CBC Radio Music in the days it was committed to commissioning; the LISTENING ROOM continues to grow on line; DISCoveries is back, bigger than ever; and Mary Lou Fallis says Trinity-St. Paul's is Just the Spot (especially this coming Sept 25!).

Bill Beard: Shooting for

Bill Beard: Shooting for Pleasure ORI DAGAN Researching the subject of this month’s column, I found myself on the website of the late Herman Leonard, jazz photography master and pioneer, whose work provides a crystal clear window to the smoke-filled Greenwich Village of jazz’s golden age. To name a few examples, Leonard’s soulful stills of Ellington, Parker, Davis and Holiday provide definitive glimpses into each artist’s personality, one magical moment at a time. Google him and you will discover a remarkable career in which this man immortalized everyone from Art Blakey to Zoot Sims. Herman Leonard’s priceless prints are collector’s items that sell for top dollar, which is cool considering that some were shot for free in exchange for the price of admission. Which brings me to my interview with Bill Beard, local shutterbug with a real good eye and a heart to match. His knees are not so good – as we sit to speak at a local Timmy’s he is readying himself for surgery, and disappointed to be missing out on live jazz until he heals up. For Beard photography is a serious hobby which provides both pleasure for himself, and a service to the community. “I was senior project manager in IT for a large bank, but I’d always been photography-minded,” he says. “I was taking city stuff, abstract, some nature. No musicians.” All this changed around the time of his retirement, when his St. Philip’s Anglican Church ● A Month of Jazz Masters Sunday, September 13, 4:00 PM St. Philip’s Jazz Vespers Anglican with the Mark Church Eisenman Quartet | Etobicoke 25 St. Mark Phillips Eisenman Road (piano), (near with Royal Mike Murley York (saxophone), + Dixon) 416-247-5181 • • free will offering Barry Elmes (drums) and Pat Collins (bass). Sunday, September 20, 4:00 PM Jazz Vespers with the Diana Panton Trio Diana Panton (vocals) with Reg Schwager (guitar) and Neil Swainson (bass). Sunday, September 27, 4:00 PM Jazz Vespers with the Roberto Occhipinti Quartet St. Philip’s Roberto Anglican Occhipinti Church (bass) with Hilario Duran (piano), Luis Denis (saxophone), and Mark Kelso (drums) ● Beat by Beat | Jazz Stories Sunday, October 4, 4:00 PM Jazz Vespers with the Bernie Senensky Quartet Bernie Senensky (piano) with Bill McBirnie (flute), Terry Clarke (drums) and Steve Wallace (bass). St. Philip’s Anglican Church | Etobicoke 25 St. Phillips Road (near Royal York + Dixon) 416-247-5181 • • free will offering Alex Pangman brother, a big jazz fan, brought him out to see local jazz group Red Hot Ramble, a unique local quintet that performs music inspired by New Orleans. Beard brought his camera along and began taking photos of the band; before long he became a regular fan and their official photographer. “I took their pictures and got to know them, kept shooting, then I branched out into all sorts of other things. One of the great things about doing this is that I’ve become friends with a lot of these musicians. I remember one night a few months back we were at the Old Mill to see Joe Sealy, and then I said I was going to The Rex, so a whole bunch of these singers and players all joined me. There I was hanging out with these amazing artists and staying out late at night…felt like I was living the life! I certainly never spent nights like this when I was in the corporate world.” Just how did Beard initially begin to hone his craft? “The best thing that I ever did was join a photography club – the Toronto Guild of Photographic Art, as it was called then, back in 2004. Being surrounded by all these amazing photographers, I learned a lot from them, and before you know it they asked me to come along and shoot with them. Me! With them! I couldn’t believe it. I guess it’s kind of like when a musician is asked to sit in with a great band. I loved it and I learned a lot.” Nowadays he greatly enjoys volunteering with JAZZ.FM91. “It’s the greatest gig for someone who’s retired. I get to go to all their shows, meet the artists and photograph them. I’ve learned about so many different types of jazz!” On the challenges of photographing this music: “The biggest one for a photographer is the low light in most clubs, so once you have the right equipment you can get past that. It’s also very important to know the person you’re photographing and the special things they do on stage, so you have to watch for a while, then you photograph them. Everyone has their own special way of singing or playing an instrument and you want to capture their uniqueness. Featuring some of Toronto’s best jazz musicians with a brief reflection by Jazz Vespers Clergy September 20, 4:30 pm A TRIBUTE TO ART BLAKEY by Brian Barlow Perry White (saxophone), Alex Brown (trumpet) Robi Botos (piano), Scott Alexander (bass), Brian Barlow (drums) October 4, 4:30 pm AMANDA TOSSOFF QUARTET Chris Gale (saxophone), Jon Maharaj (bass), Brian Barlow (drums), Amanda Tosoff (piano) Christ Church Deer Park, 1570 Yonge St. 416-920-5211 (north of St. Clair at Heath St.) Admission is free; donations are welcome. BILL BEARD 48 | Sept 1 - Oct 7, 2015

The biggest thing is to watch. It’s like when you go out to do street photography. You don’t just get off the streetcar and start shooting. You always take the time to look around. It’s the same with jazz musicians. Certain bass players will play the bass a certain way, same with horn players and so on. So you’re always kind of waiting for them to do that thing that they do. You want to get that picture that captures their energy.” Red Hot Ramble was the first band that inspired Beard, so they hold a special place in his heart – and a lot of space on his hard drive. “They’re the most fun band I have ever photographed. They’re always having fun on stage. And they’re great people. I know them all now. They’re joking around when they play, and the music is so high energy, it’s contagious fun.” The band’s drummer and one of its founding members, Glenn Anderson, sings Beard’s praises: “Upon retiring, Bill took every opportunity he could, in every venue possible, to photograph Red Hot Ramble. We are a five-piece band, and Bill soon became our unofficial “sixth Rambler,” even travelling with the band to hone his photography skills. Over the past four years, it has been interesting and exciting to compare the parallels in the evolution and growth of both Red Hot Ramble as a band and our friend Bill Beard as a photographer.” Check out Red Hot Ramble’s monthly gig at The Rex Hotel on a Sunday afternoon from 3:30 to 6:30 and it will be difficult for you not to smile all the way home. Oozing charm with every note, Roberta Hunt plays double duty on piano and vocals, while swingin’ firecracker Alison Young on saxophones is an active volcano of fiery soul. Along with the solid-as-a-rock Anderson on drums, the band is made all the more red hot by trombonist Jamie Stager and co-founding bassist Jack Zorawski. I asked leading lady Hunt how the band got started: “Red Hot Ramble was conceived by Jack Zorawski and Glenn Anderson. They imagined the sound of Alison Young and me joining forces long before Alison and I had even met! They wanted to build on their love of traditional New Orleans jazz and blues by adding a saucier, bolder and funkier angle. Turns out their idea was a keeper! New Orleans music is about groove and ensemble playing while leaving room for individuals to share the spotlight. RHR truly is the sum of all parts, kinda like a spicy gumbo of music!” Pangman: Another artist that Beard loves to photograph is vocalist Alex Pangman, who, fresh off a national tour, plays a few groovy gigs this month, from Rimouski to Gravenhurst, and a few Toronto stops too, including the Reservoir on September 10. “I started photographing Alex with JAZZ.FM and later branched out to also photograph her when she sings with her husband Colonel Tom. She’s such a nice lady and so photogenic on stage. Always wears great outfits. And I love her music.” Pangman is a great admirer of Beard as well: “It has been really interesting to watch Bill’s photographic style develop around his ardent appreciation of jazz music, musicians and imagery. More than that, he understands that live music is best. I fully believe he’s in the audience as much to enjoy the music as for the images. He’s there to make a visual record of live shows. We could send his images out in a spacecraft or time capsule so they could see what jazz looked like in Toronto in 2015.” Indeed, you’ll always find Beard taking a moment to contribute to the tip jar in between framing his shots. “The nice thing about it is that I don’t usually work for money…I just find that I come in – I cruise in – I’m one with the artist and I just shoot what I feel in the moment. There’s no preconceived idea about what I’m going to get, because then there’s a pressure that comes along with that. I like it to happen naturally. I’ve had years of corporate pressure. Now that I’m retired it’s nice to go in, watch them, shoot, and give the photos away to them. It’s my way of giving back. They’re giving me so much entertainment.” Ori Dagan is a Toronto-based jazz musician, writer and educator who can be reached at REMEMBERING Archie Alleyne SO LONG, ARCHIE, AND THANK YOU STEVE WALLACE June of this year brought a rash of deaths which rocked the jazz community – locally, bassist Lenny Boyd and drummer Archie Alleyne – and internationally, jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman and third-stream-composer Gunther Schuller. I wrote memorial blogs about Coleman, Schuller and Boyd, who was my bass teacher. These can be read by accessing my site at I wasn’t going to write about Archie Alleyne’s yet: I just didn’t have another obituary piece about such a good friend in me. And then David Perlman – the editor of this publication – asked me to write about Archie in this issue of The WholeNote. Oddly, it was while attending the early spring memorial celebration of Jim Galloway – who used to write in these very pages – that I first learned that Archie was seriously ill. I hadn’t seen Archie in some time and while looking about for him at Jim’s event I was told that he wasn’t expected to live through the summer, a body blow. He didn’t even make it that far, dying on June 8 of prostate cancer. Perhaps it’s just as well he went this quickly, as he was suffering, but the speed of it was still shocking. Archie was such a zestful man, so integral a part of Toronto’s musical scene in so many ways and for so long that it’s hard to believe he’s gone. The palpable gap of his absence from Galloway’s event was a strange kind of rehearsal for missing him, something we’ll all have to get used to. Many readers will already know of Archie’s accomplishments both as a musician and a social activist promoting greater awareness of jazz, black culture and racial issues around these parts; he had tremendous energy and got a lot done. This is more of a personal look: Archie as I knew him and as I’d like to remember him. I first came to know Archie around 1979, when he hadn’t yet begun his comeback as a drummer. He’d left music in 1967 after a nearfatal car accident left him in hospital for almost a year and slightly realigned his handsome face (though he was still a ladykiller). After recovering he went into business as a partner in The Underground Railroad, a soul food restaurant I enjoyed eating in and occasionally playing at. Even though he wasn’t playing in those days, I saw a lot of him at the various Toronto clubs I’d begun working at – George’s Spaghetti House, Bourbon St. and so on. He loved to go out to hear live music and hang out; he was a very gregarious, social guy. Always dressed sharply, laughing, telling stories in that rich Billy Eckstine voice, musicians generally gathered around; he was hard to miss. Being green and new to the scene, I wondered who this hip, dapper character with an elder’s presence might be. Eventually I was introduced to Archie, little knowing that this would be the beginning of a long and eventful friendship. Not long after, he eased back into playing the drums, partly because the restaurant business was starting to flounder, but I suspect also because he missed music and had been itching to return. Either way, the restaurant world’s loss was the local jazz scene’s gain. It took him a short while to get back into playing shape, but if he’d lost anything during his long layoff, it didn’t show much. And besides, Archie was never a flashy technical player; he was mostly self-taught, a “feel” player, a swinger. All that he’d learned as the virtual house drummer at the Town Tavern from 1955 to 1966 came back to him pretty naturally. He and I started to play together here and there with some frequency. We formed a natural musical and rhythmic chemistry, mainly because he was easy to play with. He had a nice, relaxed ridecymbal stroke and played good brushes. His playing could be summed Sept 1 - Oct 7, 2015 | 49

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