You know, it happened a long time ago (released in 1960 on Atlantic Records, catalogue SD 1311) but ‘Giant Steps” for all its rave reviews, critical reviews, detractors, supporters, worshippers, for all the tenor saxophonists who have practiced the first take solo to death, for all the reviews…..it is a momentus, gigantic recording that has a very narrow but Mile High seat of importance in the history of our music. Unique. Flawless. Impressive. Mind boggling, (add your own adjectives). SO LISTEN TO IT ONCE IN A WHILE, as though you’ve never heard it before. Imagine it recorded last week. IT STILL AMAZES. Trane…we love you!
I want to encourage anyone reading this message to check out the cd by Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge (plus orchestra) recording, “River Runs: A Concerto for Jazz Guitar, Saxophone and Orchestra“. Now this is a master composer, orchestrator, arranger who sees the possibilities in writing for jazz soloists, orchestra and big band all together.
I LOVE this recording and hope that it wins both Grammy’s it is nominated for. They nominations are not in the jazz category (but should be). Instead, they appear in the Instrumental categories – which is, of course, perfectly correct. Treat yourself to one of the great accomplishments of bringing together – successfully – all the possibilities of the large orchestra and the groove of small group jazz.
I say baseball again, because on my older site (now gone to the special place in techno heaven where these things go) I talked about baseball from time to time. I am an absolute nut about professional baseball and while my closest allegiances go to the Toronto Blue Jays (guess where I live), I also like the Red Sox, the (dreaded) New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers, and host of other teams. I just love the game played well and wished that the Blue Jays could provide that night after night….not so.
I am reading “Wherever I Wind Up” by now Blue Jays vaunted knuckleballer, R.A. (Robert Allen) Dickey. The book is extraordinary and I am glad to add to my collection of superior baseball books: “Ball Four”, “The Long Season” (my all time favourite- by Jim Brosnan) et al. And while I mention it, I must encourage any of you baseball nuts to read this classic. I bought it first, when paperbacks were 0.25 cents. I’ve replaced that copy with a lovely twenty year old paperback that is, at this writing, in pristine condition. Back to the Dickey book: it is an amazingly detailed book with no attempt to sugarcoat what was a difficult childhood. I love that Dickey and David Price faced each other night (Cy Young winners in the same year).
As much as I love baseball today, and the modern game, I also read many older books, which allow you to savour the traditions and the myths of earlier times.
All for now.
The recent newsletter I sent out indicated that Trish Colter (v), Chase Sanborn (trpt), Pat Collins (bass) and I (piano) performed at the Home Smith Bar (Old Mill) in Toronto on October 4. For some reason I forgot to post it to this Blog. Website activity should be a regular activity, but I haven’t got that through my thick skull yet.
Anyway….It was a fun night. So there you go.
I have agreed to write an accessible (easy-reader, as my late friend Frank Mantooth used to call it) jazz band arrangement for the Coalition for Music Education in Canada. This will be the fourth year I have have been invited to participate in this and there are many reasons for doing so. First and foremost of course I want to support the Coalition’s efforts. I have been a part of music education in one capacity or another for 42 years and have seen first hand the joy that music brings into the lives of young people.
But a reason nearly as compelling for me is that this presents a significant challenge from an arranging point of view. Writing an easy-reader is a daunting task. It’s okay to make it easy. And it isn’t a problem throwing in interesting stuff. But to make the two happen at the same time is challenging indeed.
Trish Colter (jazz singer) and I (pianist) will be performing an early evening performance at The Railside in Port Hope as part of this year’s Port Hope All-Canadian Jazz Festival. The date and time: Sept. 22 (Saturday) from 6-9 pm at the Railside , address:
112 Peter Street Port Hope, ON L1A 1C5
We hope that you might be there and have some time before the evening concert to swing by and check out some music at The Railside.
Earlier last month (August 2012) I attended the 2012 Jazz Composer’s Retreat @ Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus (of the University of Saskatchewan). Yeah, Retreat! It makes me think of what I’d like to do when composing is difficult or worrisome. “RETREAT!!”. Okay, not that kind of retreat…this was the good kind. Getting away…being in a beautiful natural setting…hanging out with other composers and talking about everything: from writing procedures to life experiences, and just generally having a great time. Oh yeah, there were concerts and jam sessions and impromptu rehearsals of new music.
The brains and brawn behind the event was Dean McNeill, a marvelous trumpet player, composer and professor of music in the music department at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada. His vision and his commitment to the project made it come together beautifully – a big success from all perspectives. Roughly 30 musicians were in attendance with a wide range of experience in jazz composition. The focus of the week was playing new music for jazz orchestra (big band) but also included pieces written for smaller instrument combinations including some work for the Birth of the Cool (Re-Birth of the Cool) instrumentation.
Highlights included the two public concerts, talks delivered by a number of composers there and one particularly singular event, a solo piano performance by the pianist/composer David Braid for a small but ecstatic audience. It served as an encore performance after the second big band concert. David held us all in the palm of his hand for a good 45 minute set, in which he played ‘prepared piano ‘pieces (using chopsticks placed ingeniously among the strings). To appreciate this, I heartily recommend David’s latest solo cd, “Verge” recorded in 2010. Highly creative and tremendously skillful and compelling playing. Treat yourself and check it out at http://www.davidbraid.com/verge.php.
Hopefully it will run next year again, or possibly in 2 years. Congrats to Dean McNeill for a stellar effort and accomplishment.
Today (June 3, 2012) we celebrate the 89th birthday of one of Canada’s great musical treasures: clarinetist, composer, band leader and music educator, Phil R. Nimmons. It has been my good fortune to have had a close relationship with Phil for many many years and , despite our familiarity, I am in awe of what he has accomplished and continues to accomplish as an active, creative performing musician. Along with 37 year old David Braid, a former student of ours (University of Toronto Jazz Program) he performs completely improvised full concerts! Not one idea, thought or preconceived notion happen before they play. Their soon to be released CD Suite St. John’s – Falling Through is eloquent, puzzling, dazzling, moving and intensely interesting from the first note to the last. Watch for the release of this gem in the near future.
Here is a painting I did of Phil in 2008. Happy Birthday, Phil!!
The Paul Read Orchestra returns after a brief hiatus, on May 14, Saturday, at 9:45 (2 sets) at the Rex Hotel.
This gig will be also a celebration of the release of the band’s debut CD, Arc-en-Ciel.
The Rex Jazz Club is situated at 194 Queen Street West in downtown Toronto.
Paul Read Orchestra (PRO)
Addo Jazz Recordings AJR005
Saxophones and Woodwinds: Andy Ballantyne, Tara Davidson, Alex Dean, Quinsin Nachoff, Bob Leonard
Trumpets: Jason Logue (lead), Chase Sanborn, Lina Allemano, Jim Lewis
Trombones: Terry Promane, William Carn, Andrew Jones, Larry Shields (bass tbn)
Rhythm Section: Geoff Young (g), David Braid (p), Andrew Downing (bs, vc), Kevin Dempsey (d)
Voice: Trish Colter
Composer and Conductor: Paul Read
For information, purchase or to check out excerpts, please visit