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The Music Scene Vol. 1 No. 1
Jazz Tracks, a Cross-Country Roundup

by Marc Ch?nard Tuesday, October 22, 2002

With the summer drawing to a close and festival fever finally subsiding, it is time to look forward to some autumnal musical activities. Notwithstanding the steady stream of recordings being released these days, both new and old, there are plenty of live acts slated around the country, and the following list of events only scratches the surface.

Guelph--For almost a decade, Guelph has been home to one of Canada''s more innovative musical events. Now in its ninth edition, the Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF) is set to go from September 4 to 8. Beyond its program of about 30 concerts, this music-friendly event with a definite edge includes a three-day colloquium and workshops that enable scholars and performers to share their insights with the general public. Unlike any other festival in the country, the GJF fulfills an educational mission as well, thus putting it in a class of its own. Headliners this year include the formidable all-American rhythm team of William Parker (bass) and Hamid Drake (drums) appearing in various settings, the new music guitarist par excellence Fred Frith with his Maybe Monday Trio, British saxophonist Trevor Watts'' multi-kulti Moire Music Orchestra, the Hassidic New Wave from New York, and much, much more. Info at www.guelphjazzfestival.com or by phone at 519-763-4952.

Toronto--Slightly east of the city, the town of Port Hope actually hosts the last of the summer''s jazz events, aka the Port Hope All Canadian Jazz Festival, from September 20 to 22. As its name says, the program is national in scope, with an emphasis on mainstream jazz. Toronto band leader Rob McConnell with his tentet and Montreal vocalist Ranee Lee head the bill. Info at www.allcanadianjazz.com.

In the Queen city itself, there is more mainstream fare to be heard at its two main nightspots, the Top of the Senator (416-367-7517) and the Montreal Bistro (416-363-0179). While both venues have brought in name acts from the States in the past, their programs will be more focused on local and Canadian talent for the upcoming season. And finally, American pianist Fred Hersch will be in town on October 4 at Walter Hall (University of Toronto) for a solo concert.

Vancouver--Home to one of the most noteworthy jazz festivals on the continent--or anywhere on the planet for that matter--British Columbia''s metropolis also sports one of the more dynamic local scenes around. Thanks to the encouragement and promotion of the festival''s organizing body, the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society, Vancouver''s jazz lovers and musicians have something to look forward to year round. True to its form, the CJBS already has its main shows lined up for the months to come, starting with three events on tap for the latter part of September, the first being the quartet of Norwegian bassist Sigurd Ulveseth (19), the second Toronto guitarist Tim Postgate''s Some Stories (20) and lastly, fellow Torontonian and pianist David Braid with his All Star Sextet (28), including saxman Mike Murley. From the local scene, the Ornette Coleman tribute band To Be Ornette to Be will perform on October 17, preceded by the Trio Safa on October 9, a group that blends Western and traditional Persian music. Also passing through are three American bands, drummer Bobby Previte''s Bump (October 25), bassist Mark Helias'' threesome Open Loose (October 30), and the Herbie Nichols Project (November 1). From distant Norway, once again, the trio of free improvising saxophonist Frode Gjerstad will play on October 18, and Dutch violist Ig Henneman encounters the Toronto/Montreal duo Queen Mab (Marilyn Lerner, piano, Lori Freedman, clarinets) on November 9. For times and places, call 604-872-5200 or check in at www.coastaljazz.com.

On and off the record

No sooner than the first seasonal chill appears so does the Holiday Season, at least in store windows. In the music business, of course, this brings on the usual deluge of CD releases. Yet, in a time when the majors are drastically cutting back on new productions and banking mostly on reissues, small and medium sized independent labels are more than making up for the shortfall. There are many items to watch for on the new issues front, and some interesting repackaging of older material as well.

  • On ECM: Dave Holland Big Band, What Goes Around; Keith Jarrett, Always Let Me Go (2 CDs); and Rarum Series, individual CDs of selected pieces by ten artists on the label, including Jarrett, Holland, Metheny, Surman, and Gismonti, graced by their own liner notes.
  • On RCA Bluebird: Dave Douglas, El Trilogy (music for two dance pieces by two ensembles and a combination of both groups for a third one).
  • On Marsalis Music: Branford Marsalis, Footsteps of our Fathers (including new renditions of the "Freedom Suite" by Sonny Rollins and Coltrane''s "A Love Supreme").
  • On Sketch Records (France): Steve Lacy with Mal Waldron and Jean-Jacques Avenel.
  • On Justin Time: Hugh Ragin, Feel the Sunshine
  • On Effendi Records (Canada): Fran?ois Th?berge 5 with Lee Konitz plays the Music of Lee Konitz.


  • John Coltrane, A Love Supreme (Complete Recordings series)--with a couple of alternate takes of the first movement from a recently unearthed session with Archie Shepp, plus a live Classic Quartet version from France in 1965.
  • Herbie Hancock, box set (Columbia Legacy)--featuring both his acoustic period (discs 1, 2) and electric period (discs 3, 4). Unissued material from the VSOP Quintet.
  • Thelonious Monk, Live at Newport 1963-1965 (Columbia Legacy)--1965 concert not previously issued.

For further listings of upcoming releases, look through this very extensive website: home.att.net/~lankina/jazz/newjazzreleases.html

On the international scene

Instituted in Denmark in 1990, the Jazz Par Prize is the world''s most prestigious award granted to a jazz musician. Selected from a shortlist of candidates chosen by an international jury, the winner is awarded a cash prize of US$ 35,000 (!) and an opportunity to perform a series of concerts with Danish musicians and to record his or her own music for commercial release. Joining the list of past winners--David Murray, Lee Konitz, Gerri Allen, Tommy Flanagan--is the American pianist Andrew Hill, one of jazz''s true originals and a largely under-recognized composer. He will travel to Denmark in April of next year to receive his prize and perform. You are urged to check out his brand-new release on Palmetto Records, Andrew Hill Sextet +11 A Beautiful Day. *

(c) La Scena Musicale