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JazzYYC Youth Lab Band Director

Q: Can you please explain and describe what the Youth Lab Band is, what kind of commitment is involved, and some intended highlights of the upcoming season?

A: The Youth Lab Band is an opportunity for aspiring young jazz musicians to immerse in the jazz medium through performing, coaching, and connecting with jazz artists in the vibrant Calgary scene and beyond.  Through multiple performances and repertoire cycles, the students hone their skills, develop their improvisation, experience different eras and styles and nurture their passion for jazz.  The band rehearses weekly and can often perform more than once a month.  This upcoming season certainly offers some unique challenges and opportunities and our performing opportunities will depend to great extent on restrictions.  Our hope is to perform at the end of April at the Jazz YYC International Jazz Days Festival and once again at the June Summer Festival.  We also intend to make a virtual recording as a means of exploring recording processes and best practices.

Q: Please share with us your favourite live music memory, either as a performer or in the audience.

A: It is really hard to label my favourite musical memory as there have been so many moments I am grateful for that have richly shaped my life.  But one that stands out was a performance I attended at the 2008 International Trumpet Guild Conference in Banff.  Growing up, Bill Chase was one of my idols.  He had so much power, flare, and verve.  As I grew older I learned of the tragedy that took the lives of several members of the band including Bill.  Since he died before I was born, I always wondered what would have been if he had been able to create more, or to see him play live.  I got close to that in 2008 – the concert was a tribute to Bill Chase put together by a couple of trumpeters who had painstakingly transcribed a large part of the band’s charts.  They also  brought in Terry Richards the lead vocalist.  The concert began with a live recording of Bill playing the opening solo to “Get It On” and blended into the band playing the chart live.  Tears were streaming as I listened to this music in person, played so genuinely – it was incredibly powerful and stays with me to this day.

Q: What are your top 3 “desert island” albums and why?

A: Top three desert island albums:  Louis and the Good Book – Louis Armstrong playing spirituals – deeply moving and calming, Diz and Getz – just shredding!, Chase – Bill Chase’s first album, just burning – plus the lyrics always make me giggle a little!

Q: What was your motivation to go into teaching music especially with a focus on young adults?

A: Going back to moving experiences, I love teaching for the opportunity to bring young people into the full experience of playing and hearing great music.  One of the great joys in music is also creating with and experiencing other musicians’ creativity and passion in person as you play together.  To foster these experiences and opportunities for students to access those transcendental moments is a huge motivation for me.  

Q: What made you fall in love with jazz?

A: As with many musicians, I first started listening to jazz by following my idols on my instrument.  But it was really when I first started listening to Ella Fitzgerald that my ears really opened up to the soul of jazz.  Her phrasing and style was (and is still) just overwhelming.  I hope one day I might be that cool!

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