Posted on | January 2, 2013 | No Comments
by Nou Dadoun
A previously unavailable interview with Mary Lou Williams has just surfaced recently and it seems like a good idea to pull together the full story of Mary Lou Williams visit to Vancouver in 1977.
Our fearless leader Brian Nation ran the Vancouver Jazz Society for five years from 1975 to 1979, a full listing of the shows that the VJS presented is available here. During that time, Vancouver audiences were treated to an incredible array of the creative music of the day from Sam Rivers to Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) to Don Cherry to the last performance of Warne Marsh paired with Lee Konitz.
However Mary Lou Williams was at least a generation or two removed from all of the other artists presented by the VJS during this period. The connection oddly enough came through Cecil Taylor – Al Shimokura brought Cecil Taylor to Oil Can Harry’s as described in Brian’s blog posting about the late David S. Ware. The extensive David S. Ware Sessionography maintained by Rick Lopez corrects the date for Cecil Taylor at Oil Can Harry’s to early April 1976.
While Cecil Taylor was in Vancouver, he gave Brian’s phone number as his Vancouver contact number and Brian “got some very interesting calls for him including from Alvin Ailey and Mary Lou Williams“. Mary Lou Williams and Cecil Taylor were planning a duo concert which eventually came to fruition in April 1977. Never one to miss an opportunity, Brian asked Williams if she would be willing to come to Vancouver to perform for the VJS. (Brian often made his own opportunities – he told me once that when he wanted to bring Lee Konitz to Vancouver, he simply looked in the New Yorker magazine to find out which club Lee was playing in, called the club when he thought there would be a break, and asked to speak to Lee!)
Brian kept in touch with Mary over the next year, as evidenced by this letter from Mary dated August 1976:
Mary Lou Williams came to Vancouver and played the Vancouver Jazz Society venue at 4th and Trafalgar for 4 evenings Wednesday May 11 through Saturday May 14th 1977 with a children’s concert on the Saturday afternoon – see poster below. (In the interim, Cecil Taylor returned to play the VJS venue in March 1977 and Cecil Taylor and Mary Lou Williams did their infamous Embraced concert at Carnegie Hall in April 1977.)
According to Brian: “Larry Gales was booked to play with her in a duo setting but cancelled at the last minute so I hired Wyatt [Ruther]. Wyatt was a great player in his day but Mary Lou was not happy with his playing on this gig.
“The children’s concert was absolutely wonderful. Mary Lou played for an hour, talked to the kids, answered their questions, etc. I had hoped to do these kid’s concerts with more visiting players but this was the only one that worked out.”
The recording of the Saturday afternoon Children’s Concert has been posted on this site before, but for completeness it’s available here –
Play (right-click to download):
Mary Lou Williams Childrens Concert May 1977
While Mary Lou Williams was in Vancouver, she also appeared with Wyatt Ruther on CKVU-TV (see photograph at top) interviewed by Pia Shandel. Unfortunately it appears that that performance and interview is lost.
However recently exhumed from the CBC archives by Senior Producer Michael Juk is a long forgotten interview that Mary Lou Williams gave to Bob Smith for the Vancouver CBC Jazz program Hot Air. (When I told Brian about it, he didn’t remember it.) It’s a fascinating almost half-hour discussion in which Mary talks about her work with Duke Ellington, piano players, her four-stage history of jazz, women in jazz and many other subjects.
The recently rediscovered interview is available here – the interview refers to (but unfortunately omits) a number of recordings from the (at that time) recently released Mary Lou Williams recording on the Chiaroscuro label called Live at the Cookery. She also refers to the aforementioned concert with Cecil Taylor hinting at what she told Brian explicitly: “She hated so-called avant garde or ”free” jazz. I asked why she agreed to play with Cecil. “Cecil Taylor is a genius,” she said. But she hated the concert they did. Cecil dominated the performance – wasn’t listening to her at all. Surprising since he worshiped people like Mary Lou Williams, Duke Ellington, etc. ”
And the final word from Brian: “This was all one of the greatest experiences in my life. Mary Lou Williams was, of course, practically the history of jazz personified. I feel very blessed to have been able to hang out with her and hear, first hand, great stories of her early years with the Andy Kirk band, the Kansas City era, and on to the days when Monk, Bud Powell, et al, were hanging out at her New York apartment.”
Posted on | November 16, 2012 | No Comments
Thursday, November 22 – 8 pm
Jeff Younger’s Unsupervised and Tony Wilson’s Long Hand Trio
Tickets: $20/general, $15/members, $5 students
Friday, November 23 – 8 pm
Orkestra Futura under the Direction of Coat Cooke with Special Guests George E. Lewis and Giorgio Magnanensi
Tickets: $25/general, $20/members, $5 students
Saturday, November 24 – 8 pm
NOW Workshops Ensemble Concert – Come and hear the two new 15 piece bands that have exploded out of the workshops this fall!
Three nights will serve as the perfect setting for three unforgettable concerts. The first night will feature a pair of improvising groups each led by a brilliant guitarist. Jeff Younger’s Unsupervised and Tony Wilson’s Longhand Trio are blazing examples of Vancouver’s rich and vibrant scene. The second night will feature our own Orkestra Futura with two very special guests. We will be joined by legendary composer/improviser/instrumentalist George E. Lewis and composer/electronics artist Giorgio Magnanensi. Along with Coat Cooke, each of them will be presenting new work! Orkestra Futura features a stellar lineup: Lisa Miller (keyboards); DB Boyko (voice); Peter Hurst (voice); Jesse Zubot (violin); Brad Muirhead (bass/trombone); Kristian Naso (trumpet); Lee Hutzulak (electronics); Chad MacQuarrie (guitar); Clyde Reed (bass); and Skye Brooks (drums). Finally, our third night will feature our Workshops Ensembles. We will bring over 30 musicians from our annual Improvised Music Workshops to play at our Hear It NOW concert series for the first time.
The Society’s flagship ensemble is Orkestra Futura. With a 25-year history of playing improvised music as a large ensemble –originally known as the NOW Orchestra,– Orkestra Futura has gained international recognition and collaborated with Canadian and internationally renowned master musicians. Artistic Director Coat Cooke has toured Canada, the USA, Mexico, and Europe, collaborated on memorable projects with spoken word, dance and mixed media artists, and performed with many of the world’s great improvisers including George Lewis, Marilyn Crispell, and Wadada Leo Smith.
About New Orchestra Workshop Society
With a long history of innovation on the West Coast music scene, New Orchestra Workshop has been making waves internationally for 35 years. Their activities include commissioning new works, presenting improvised music in concerts, recording, and touring Canada and beyond under the direction of Coat Cooke. The New Orchestra Workshop provides key opportunities for musicians to gain musical experience and exposure to an improvisational community of creative artists and audiences.
The Society’s flagship ensemble is Orkestra Futura. Witha 25-year history of playing improvised music as a large ensemble (originally named the NOW Orchestra) has gained international recognition and collaborated with Canadian and internationally renowned master musicians such as Oliver Lake, Marilyn Crispell, Barry Guy, Wadada Leo Smith & Butch Morris.
New Orchestra Workshop is committed to and has been successful over the years in developing a growing, sophisticated audience looking for new and challenging musical experiences. The West Coast musical idiom is being shaped as a response to, and a reflection of our audience’s decree for innovation in music. West Coast Sound is eclectic – a product of what we see, think and produce in the early 21st century.
Posted on | November 13, 2012 | No Comments
A concert featuring music inspired by drummer Claude Ranger, performed by Buff Allen • Bernie Arai • Miles Black • Paul Blaney • Bill Clark • Phil Dwyer • Kevin Elaschuk • Bruce Freedman • Miles Foxx Hill • André Lachance • Bob Murphy • Clyde Reed • Ron Samworth • Dave Say • Stan Taylor • Brad Turner • Tony Wilson • Dylan van der Schyff • Rene Worst
TWO NIGHTS! 8 pm, Friday and Saturday, November 16-17
235 Alexander Street
Tickets: $20 per evening for general admission (or $30 for both nights);
$15 per evening for students/seniors
Buy tickets online: ranger.brownpapertickets.com
or buy tickets at the door – CASH ONLY – box office opens at 7pm.
For these two concerts in tribute to Claude Ranger, we will re-unite the community of players who worked with the master drummer during his West coast tenure and present a regional celebration of Ranger’s music and the musicians he touched and inspired.
Ranger is a Canadian jazz legend whose intensity, virtuosity, and creativity rank him among the greats. He began his career in Montréal in the 1960’s and moved to Toronto in 1972 where he was a fixture on the scene for fifteen years – accompanying top Canadian and US musicians in the city’s jazz clubs. Claude moved to Vancouver, living here for a decade or more from about 1987 to early 2000 (at which time he disappeared). He worked as a sideman, collaborator, mentor and bandleader, inspiring the numerous musicians he played with and audiences who heard him during his Vancouver tenure.
This is a two-night tribute to this brilliant musician – seven sets of music – a different ensemble per set, by the alumni of his various projects – the small groups and the larger Jade Orchestra. The musicians who will be involved constitute the cream of the modern mainstream as well as the avant-garde, representing the full range of Ranger’s artistry. The programmed material will draw upon some of Claude’s original compositions, and will also feature original compositions, arrangements and improvisations by the featured musicians.
This event promises to be a heartfelt and thoughtful acknowledgement of Claude’s unique gift to the world of music.
FRIDAY: Buff Allen, Kevin Elaschuk, Miles Foxx Hill, André Lachance, Bob Murphy, Clyde Reed, Campbell Ryga, Ron Samworth, Dave Say, Stan Taylor, Dylan van der Schyff
SATURDAY: Bernie Arai, Miles Black, Paul Blaney, Bill Clark, Phil Dwyer, Bruce Freedman, André Lachance, Clyde Reed, Stan Taylor, Brad Turner, Dylan van der Schyff, Tony Wilson, Rene Worst
Posted on | November 3, 2012 | 1 Comment
Brandi Disterheft Trio
1050 Granville Street
Sunday, November 11th @ 8pm
Tickets $15 & $18
Juno Award winner Brandi Disterheft returns to her roots to perform at Vancouver FanClub on Sunday, November 11.
Brandi will be touring behind her latest release Gratitude on Justin Time Records from Montreal. From her deep, resonating upright bass lines and potent improvisations, it’s clear that 27 year-old Vancouver native Disterheft who currently resides in New York City has a healthy respect for the jazz tradition. Her bass mentors include Don Thompson, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen and Ron Carter demonstrating the artist’s low-end pedigree.
Gratitude, the artist’s third release features an all star crew including Renee Rosnes, Vincent Herring, Anne Drummond, Sean Jones and Gregory Hutchinson. This latest recording is an increment leap from the 2007 Juno Award-winning Debut and 2009’s Second Side. From the up-tempo and fiery “Portrait Of Duke” to the self-penned “Blues For Mandela,” Disterheft demonstrates her mature approach to her musical craft, bringing out the “Mingus soul” in her bass playing while her ambient voice takes the listener down the path of lover’s lane.
Presently continuing her studies in orchestration at Julliard, Brandi has taken time out to tour Europe, Japan, China, Haiti and even a show at Carnegie Hall. Currently in the middle of a western Canadian tour that takes her to several towns and cities in British Columbia, Brandi Disterheft is as captivating as ever with her fiery bass playing and singing in both French and English with her ambient and dreamy vocals.
Vancouver FanClub is a brand new club with southern style cuisine conveniently located at 1050 Granville St. Advance tickets are available at the club or by phone at 604 689 7720 or through Tickets Tonight at 604 684 2787 Doors at 6pm and show at 8pm.
Posted on | October 30, 2012 | 2 Comments
Tickets for the Ross Taggart benefit event are now available online.
Or phone: 604-990-7810
Posted on | October 28, 2012 | 8 Comments
Ross Taggart, one of Canada’s finest jazz pianists and saxophonists, and a dear friend to many of us, is in hospital battling renal cancer. A benefit concert featuring Vancouver’s finest jazz players will take place on Mon, Nov 26 at the Capilano University Theatre. Stay tuned for more info! If you would like to make a donation immediately to assist Ross in his recovery, you can do so either by e-transfer to email@example.com (please do not send him a personal e-mail at this time) or by sending a cheque payable to Ross Taggart. If you cannot send a donation at this time, his friends ask that you send your positive thoughts to him! : )
Cheques can be sent to:
c/o Vancouver Musicians’ Association Local 145
Suite 100-925 W.8th Ave
Vancouver BC V5Z 1E4
North Shore Credit Union Centre for the Performing Arts
November 26 2012
Tickets – $30.00 General Admission
2055 Purcell Way
North Vancouver B.C.
A Benefit Concert – An Evening Performance of Jazz – in tribute to our friend and colleague ROSS TAGGART who is currently battling Renal Cancer
The evening program will feature contributions from 6 of Ross’s favorite internationally acclaimed Vancouver/Victoria based Jazz Groups. Each group shares the honor of having Ross Taggart as a founding member.
The concert will feature:
Ian McDougall Sextet
Hugh Fraser Quintet
Bill Coon Quartet
Jill Townsend Big Band
Bob Murphy Duo with Campbell Ryga
There will be a host rhythm section before and after the concert, providing an opportunity for Ross’s many additional friends in music, to contribute musically to the spirit of the evening.
Come early and stay late to enjoy the pre and post concert Jazz involving Ross’ friends in music.
The pre-concert music will start at 6:30pm.
Posted on | October 26, 2012 | 7 Comments
by Guy MacPherson
The sad news of the day is that trumpeter/valve trombonist Carse (Carswell) Sneddon passed away in his sleep at age 84. I can’t say that I knew him well but I did play some “casuals” with him and did some gigs for him when he was contracting. He was a good bandleader and an excellent player and his gigs always paid very well and he was on time with his cheques! He underestimated himself as a Jazz player but when he had the opportunity to play some Jazz there was no doubt. His favourite trumpet player was Roy Eldridge but he played with a more modern bent. I once heard him at a jam session situation at The Cellar (the original club) and it was his turn to solo and he blew everyone away. Check out his playing on Fraser MacPherson’s album Our Blues on the Just A Memory label and you’ll see what I mean. Carse in recent years had moved with his wife to the Maritimes but the memories of his time on the Vancouver music/Jazz scene remain. RIP Carse.
– Gavin Walker
On Sunday, October 21, 2012, Carse Sneddon passed away in his sleep at the age of 84. Sneddon was a first-call trumpet player in Vancouver in its hey-day from the 1950s through the 1980s. His reputation extended across the country, too. In 1959, he was selected along with Chris Gage, Dave Robbins, Lance Harrison and Dave Pepper as the Vancouver representatives in the Canadian All-Star band, a TV special featuring Maynard Ferguson.
On November 18, 1964, Sneddon became the leader of the house band at the Marco Polo, one of the three premiere supper clubs in Vancouver, located on Pender St.
In a March 13, 1965 story in the Province newspaper on the three clubs’ bandleaders – Sneddon, Fraser MacPherson of the Cave, and Bobby Hales of Isy’s – they talked of getting off work at 2 am every night. “And then we usually sit around and gas with the boys for a while before we go home. Every time I arrive at my place, I have to tippy-toe so I won’t wake my wife and daughter,” Carse said.
It was a good life, despite its drawbacks, as he admitted in the story. “You get used to a lot of things. Like not taking vacations, for example.” But perceptions got to him: “Some people say ‘Gee, it must be a bad life, you know, staying out and never seeing your family, and not making much money and like that.’ I almost get to feeling sorry for myself. But I don’t suppose these ones are as bad as the ones who keep telling you what a marvelous life you’re leading, what with all the parties and free booze and girls and the whole bit. They really bug you.”
In a Vancouver Sun story from September 3, 1965, Sneddon added, “Your ability is your security in this business. You have to keep on trying. There are so many expenses, from horns to suits to music, that you don’t really put enough money aside so I expect I’ll still be playing at 55 or 60, though I’ll also have to branch out to something else.”
Sneddon’s solos were fiery. A Sun review singled him out in a Bobby Hales concert, describing his solo as “showy”, but they didn’t mean this in a negative way. Perhaps he developed this style to wake up some of the apathetic crowds he played to over the years.
In the same Sun story from 1965, he talked about his philosophy of choosing numbers when doing the dance portion of the show at the Marco Polo: “I believe in starting things out with a kind of shocker and take things from there,” he said. “You see, it always used to drive me mad to see the way people didn’t even notice the band during the early dance sets, so I decided to be different and introduce the numbers and have the players sing along in unison. This is also why I use something like that Bill Haley number you heard to liven things up and establish contact with the customers. There are still nights when for no reason at all you get a full house as quiet as pussycats, but as you can see, it usually works.”
Sneddon was originally from Nanaimo, and grew up on the island playing in dance bands there and in the prairies (notably with Jerry Gage’s ensembles) before moving to Vancouver.
“We grew up in the big band era and got our experience in sections,” he said in the Sun story. “Unless a player gets the opportunity to play in a section and learn his instrument properly, it’s not easy to play in a band. As for myself, I got on the road with bands from the beginning; it’s all I have ever done, learning through the school of hard knocks, like Fraser and Stu [Barnett].”
In 1948, Sneddon was in a 17-piece band led by the Gage brothers. Alto saxophonist Jerry Toth told author Mark Miller, in Jazz in Canada: Fourteen Lives (University of Toronto Press, 1982), that Chris Gage was “so far into music that you couldn’t say he was on the ground. Carse Sneddon was just as bad. The two of them used to walk along so engrossed in talking about music that they’d walk through puddles. We used to call them ‘Null and Void’ – but not in any derogatory sense.”
Sneddon reflected on those days in a phone interview in 2007 with me from his then-home in St. Albert, Alberta, prior to the release of “Our Blues”, on which he played trumpet and valve trombone in the Fraser MacPherson Quintet from 1962-63 (here’s a track from the album where he plays muted trumpet on Round Midnight). “We got in the paper a lot. Jack Wasserman used to write about us like we were celebrities.”
But all things must come to an end. “We all got along and drank together and played tricks on each other. You never think of tomorrow. Like that old Ellington song (Sophisticated Lady), ‘Drinking, smoking, never thinking of tomorrow, nonchalant.’”
Sneddon is survived by his wife of 25 years, Shirley.
– Guy MacPherson
Posted on | October 21, 2012 | No Comments
From Thursday’s Georgia Straight:
Vancouver folk musician Wyckham Porteous is hoping the rally he is organizing later this month will send a message to operators of some local venues. Calling the event “Occupy Music”, Porteous is planning to stage a march along Commercial Drive next Thursday evening (October 25), to draw attention to what he describes as an inability for many local musicians to make a living wage.
Posted on | October 11, 2012 | No Comments
Brazilian jazz vocalist Luciana Souza performs at the NSCU Centre, accompanied by the “A” Band and NiteCap school ensembles on Friday, October 26, 2012 at 8 PM.
Grammy award-winner Luciana Souza is one of jazz’s leading singers and interpreters. Hailing from São Paulo, Brazil, she grew up in a family of bossa nova innovators. Her work as a performer exceeds traditional boundaries, offering a solid foundation in jazz, with a sophisticated lineage in world music, and an open-minded approach to classical repertoire and respect for showcasing new music. Souza released two new recordings on Sunnyside Records this August – The Book of Chet, and Duos III. Both recordings offer Luciana’s personal and contemporary takes on the material in the collections. On The Book of Chet, Luciana pays homage to Chet Baker, performing gems from the Great American Songbook. On Duos III, Luciana closes her Brazilian Duos trilogy, singing traditional songs from the Brazilian repertoire with three master guitarists – Romero Lubambo, Marco Pereira, and Toninho Horta. As a leader, Luciana Souza has eight previous releases with four picking up Grammy nods – Brazilian Duos (2002); North and South (2003); Duos II (2005); and Tide (2009). Souza has performed and recorded with greats including Herbie Hancock on his Grammy winning record River – The Joni Letters, Paul Simon, Bobby McFerrin, Maria Schneider and Danilo Perez. Her longstanding duo work with Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo has earned her accolades across the globe.
with “A” Band and NiteCap
Musical Direction: Brad Turner (“A” Band), Réjean Marois (NiteCap)
Friday, October 26, 2012 @ 8 PM
North Shore Credit Union Centre for the Performing Arts
2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver
BOX OFFICE Tickets + Information: 604.990.7810
Posted on | October 4, 2012 | No Comments
This past Tuesday Jesse Cahill’s Nightcrawlers played the first of four weekly gigs at The Cellar that are being recorded for a forthcoming double CD release. Cahill is asking for financial support via crowd-funding web site, indiegogo. Cahill explains in this video.« go back — keep looking »