ISJAC – International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers

ISJAC, the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers ( is a new organization worth checking out. Membership in the organization is free. Just go to the site and sign up!!

The Mission of the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers is threefold:

  1. To unite and serve the international community of jazz arrangers and composers
  2. To advance the understanding and appreciation of jazz composition
  3. To stimulate the creation, performance, and dissemination of new works and research

I have been invited to be curator of the blog for ISJAC and would love to have you visit the site and check out what is there already. We have two posts by jazz composer and arranger, John La Barbera, and an additional post by Adam Benjamin who is a composer and is the keyboardist with the exciting band, Kneebody.

New articles are posted on the 1st day of every month and will be written by a wide variety of notable arrangers and composers. In addition, there will be additional posts going up mid month as they become available. I think you will find all these and future posts both interesting and inspiring. Occasionally there will be video posts on the blog.

Also, in another section of the site, there are video interviews with prominent composer/arrangers. One video you can view right away is composer Omar Thomas interviewing Darcy James Argue.

Lots more to come. Stay tuned and visit the site often.


1975 York Mills Collegiate, North York, ON student band

Today I listened and watched with awe, to a DVD of my York Mills Collegiate Institute (1975) jazz band. I was 27 at the time. We were playing a lift I had done from Woody Herman’s “Giant Steps” album (yes it was vinyl) of Chick Corea’s “La Fiesta”. The arrangement was done by Tony Klatka, as I recall, and I thought it was so cool, I transcribed it and presented to the young guns at YMCI> They killed it. These were teenagers trying to sound like 25-30 year olds. And they did a fine, fine job. Actually a killer job. Piccolo: no problem. Soprano saxophone: no problem: key of E (and A) concert: no problem. Up tempo 3, no problem. They played the drawers off this thing. Names I remember: Gary Boigon (tenor sax and soloist), Doug Buchanan (fender rhodes), Harry Blount (piccolo and baritone saxophone), Cathy Erwin (flugelhorn and trumpet), Janice (Jan) Dique (trumpet), Tom Cross (alto saxophone) John Johnson (alto saxophone and soprano solo), Steve Dick (drums), Marilyn Zeldin (trumpet). And then my memory fails. It was 40 years ago. In the event that anyone reads this blog and can add names, please drop me a line at


Thanks to Sheila Anderson-Massé, I can add a few more names to those listed above:

trumpets: Richard Haberman, Joe Lin
trombones: Fred Lehner, Bill Meeker, Colleen Sheppard,Bryan Sher, Steve Vogler (did we have 5 trombones? Is one of these a tuba player or French horn?)
guitar: Ken Bassman
bass: Richard Stark


Winner of the 2015 Muriel Sherrin Award presented by the Toronto Arts Foundation

Today, May 28, 2015,  I was named the recipient of the 2015 Muriel Sherrin Award for International Achievement in Music by the Toronto Arts Foundation. I am excited to receive this honour, particularly because I had zero expectations of winning the award. Thanks to all those who have called or sent messages of congratulations! For more information on the event please visit

Toronto Arts Foundation, a charitable organization, provides the opportunity for individuals, private and public foundations, corporations and government agencies to invest in and strengthen the arts in Toronto. They invite you to join in strengthening the City of Toronto through investment in the arts, enhancing and enlivening our city and enriching the lives of those within it.

Photo below was taken by Denise Grant.

TAF logoPaul-Read-photo-by-Denise-Grant

Mayor’s Arts Lunch this coming Thursday.

As one of the finalists, I had my name posted on a page today:

Honored to be considered!!

Selected as a TAF 2015 finalist

Last night (May 6, 2015) I attended a wonderful party put on by the TAF (Toronto Arts Foundation). I am proud to say that I am one of three finalists for this year’s Muriel Sherrin Award for International Achievement in Music. The other finalists are David Buchbinder and Vineet Vyas and I am very proud to be in such wonderful company. This is a career recognition for me and I have really been reflecting on all the years teaching and making music and all the rich experiences. How lucky I have been!!

More Stravinsky

From “An Autobiography” by Igor Stravinsky (1936)

The book wasn’t THAT well written but I did find some gems. (PR)

“It is very doubtful whether Rimsky-Korsakov [his teacher} would ever have accepted Le Sacre, or even Petroushka. Is it any wonder, then, that the hypercritics of today should be dumfounded by a language in which all the characteristics of their aesthetic seem to be violated? What, however, is less justifiable is that they nearly always blame the author for what is in fact due to their own lack of comprehension, a lack made all the more conspicuous because in their inability to state their grievance clearly they cautiously try to conceal their incompetence in the looseness and vagueness of their phraseology.”

Stravinsky, Igor (2011-05-24). An Autobiography (Kindle Locations 2190-2195). . Kindle Edition.

And when Stravinsky refers to “the hypercritics of today” remember this book was published in 1936.

THE BOOK IS IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN and is free to read on a Kindle.

Stravinsky Notes (3)

From “An Autobiography” by Igor Stravinsky (1936)

“For me, as a creative musician, composition is a daily function that I feel compelled to discharge. I compose because I am made for that and cannot do otherwise. Just as any organ atrophies unless kept in a state of constant activity, so the faculty of composition becomes enfeebled and dulled unless kept up by effort and practice. The uninitiated imagine that one must await inspiration in order to create. That is a mistake. I am far from saying that there is no such thing as inspiration; quite the opposite. It is found as a driving force in every kind of human activity, and is in no wise peculiar to artists. But that force is only brought into action by an effort, and that effort is work. Just as appetite comes by eating, so work brings inspiration, if inspiration is not discernible at the beginning. But it is not simply inspiration that counts; it is the result of inspiration—that is, the composition.”

Stravinsky, Igor (2011-05-24). An Autobiography (Kindle Locations 2169-2175). . Kindle Edition.

Stravinsky Notes (1)

From “An Autobiography” by Igor Stravinsky (1936)

I have just read this autobiography and I found many interesting comments and anecdotes. Here’s one:

“I should like to quote a remark of Rimsky-Korsakov’s that he made later on when I became his pupil. I asked him whether I was right in always composing at the piano. “Some compose at the piano,” he replied, “and some without a piano. As for you, you will compose at the piano.” As a matter of fact, I do compose at the piano and I do not regret it.”

Stravinsky, Igor (2011-05-24). An Autobiography (Kindle Locations 41-43). . Kindle Edition.

Stravinsky Notes (2)

From “An Autobiography” by Igor Stravinsky (1936)

“I can never concentrate on my work if I am where I can be overheard, so that it was impossible for me to settle down with my piano in the boarding house in which I was staying with my family. I therefore chose this isolated place in the hope of finding peace and solitude, free from all importunate neighbors.”

Stravinsky, Igor (2011-05-24). An Autobiography (Kindle Locations 1786-1788). . Kindle Edition.


THE BOOK IS IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN and is free to read on a Kindle.

Morton Gould

In a recently viewed YouTube video of Bob Brookmeyer rehearsing his new music for the most recent Vanguard Jazz Orchestra cd (obviously his last recording), Bob mentions that he is a fan of Morton Gould. I have been checking out: Morton Gould: Orchestral Music recorded by the Albany Symphony. Terrific music and I definitely see the relationship with Bob’s approach to orchestration and structure.

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