Dobbin's Den

(Montreal and vicinity)

May 17, 2003

April and May have been a most musical months with more to come. The BARRY HARRIS concert was all of what one has come to expect of an evening with one of the great living bebop players. An added touch was the fact that KEVIN DEAN scored a number of Barry's compositions for the quintet and Barry got to play his own music for a change - he was genuinely excited about this and was ably assisted by Dean, Terry Lukiwski, Alec Walkington and Dave Laing. I had the pleasure of having supper with him prior to the concert, a chance to talk about many of our mutual friends, many of whom are no longer with us. ROGER FETHER, a longtime supporter of the jazz scene in Montreal has moved onto Vancouver. John Labelle, Geoff Lapp, Johnny Scott and myself were able to have a sendoff lunch in mid-April. Over Easter weekend tenorman JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BENEY was at Upstairs with the excellent trio of STEVE AMIRAULT, Fraser Hollins and Greg Ritchie. The latter a very much in demand young drummer. On Easter Sunday, reedman CAMERON WALLIS brought an excellent group into the same club - his compositions were an added bonus.

It's always exciting when PHILIPPE HUDON leads his MONTREAL JAZZ BIG BAND in a live event and April 22nd at Club Soda was no exception. It was an evening that included some of Hudon's own arrangements and one that also leaned towards the Latin or Afro-Cuban side of the music and these exciting pieces were clearly heard thanks to a marvellous job by the soundman who allowed us to hear each of the Latin instruments distinctly. Among the composers represented were Dizzy Gillespie - Tunisia and Manteca, Juan Tizol - Perdido and Caravan, Miles Davis - Donna Lee along with lesser known pieces by Charlie Otwell, Michel Camillo, Ray Barretto and Alberto Dominguez. A pair of guests, vocalist Anne Carriere in the first half and pianist LORRAINE DESMARAIS, in the second, added much to the evening. This one ranks with the band's evening some years back, the one saluting the music of Chico O'Farrill. Watch for the band, peopled with Montreal's finest players and writers, at the Rimouski Jazz Festival where the Chico O'Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite will also be heard.

The plush, newly renovated, Biddles, reopened the weekend of April 25. A preview "musician's night" was held on the 23rd and many of the musicians who have played the spot in the last 20 years were unhand, Oliver Jones, Wali Muhammad, Dave Turner, "Boogie" Gaudet among them - singer Sienna Dahlen was particularly impressive. The club's present weekly lineup has singer DAWN TYLER WATSON, Sunday; a jam session night with DAVE TURNER, Monday; RICHARD PARRIS featured with the Paradise Jazz Band, Tuesday; singers JOHANNE DESFORGES, Wednesday and GERALDINE HUNT, Thursday with the STEVE AMIRAULT Trio in the early slot (6:30) Friday and Saturday followed by a JOHNNY SCOTT Quartet featuring pianist Geoff Lapp. Monday through Thursday, pianist/vocalist MANON ROBERT is featured from 5-7. The enlarged premises now offers excellent site lines from wherever you choose to sit.

My first trip to La Va et Vient [3706 Notre Dame West] was a memorable one. It featured a rare appearance by veteran musician EMILE "CISCO" NORMAND, who was heard on vibes, piano and drums in the company of Marc Villemure, Normand Guilbeault and Claude Lavergne. We returned on May 10 for a fun evening featuring DAVID AMRAM (on any number of instruments including the French horn) joined by Guilbeault, Lavergne and the wonderful voice of MARIE-CLAUDE LAMOUREUX and a number of poets and writers. RONNIE CUBER created some exciting music with the trio of organist VANESSA RODRIGUES with guitarist Cordell Henebury and drummer Jean-Pierre Levesque at Alize over two nights. April 29th marked the 104th anniversary of Duke Ellington's birth and that event was marked with a big band tribute at Upstairs.

There has been plenty of music to hear in Montreal in early May. The new MIKE ALLEN trio were in town appearing on Friday with guest YANNICK RIEU at the Chapel on Sherbrooke East and they then joined Kevin Dean at Upstairs for two nights. On Sunday, May 4th, at Oscar Peterson Concert Hall, the Jennifer Bell-directed band ALTSYS, which included newcomers Cameron Wallis on baritone and Marjolaine Goulet on French horn, were joined by NY-based tenorman DONNY McCASLIN in a program that included works by John Carisi, Kenny Wheeler, Robin Eubanks and Dave Holland - most arranged by Bill Mahar.

After the concert most of the band trekked down to Upstairs to catch Mike Allen.

The "No Name Jazz Sextet" had a CD launch on May 5th followed by a concert at Salle Gesu on May 10th. The FIJM announced their impressive indoor schedule on the 6th (they announce the complete 2003 schedule on June 3rd and watch for the "Off Festival" lineup shortly thereafter.) Bassist BRIAN HURLEY has been heard at Mango Bay on Bishop Street of late. DAVE TURNER, on baritone, led an exciting and musical quartet at Upstairs, the weekend of May 9th, with trombonist DAVE GROTT, Vanessa Rodrigues and drummer Jim Hillman.


Upstairs has a May lineup that's probably their best scheduling ever - the Mike Allen and Dave Turner bookings will be followed by drummer KARL JANNUSKA's Quartet with Fraser Hollins and a pair of Toronto-based reedmen, Kelly Jefferson and Brodie West on May 16-17 with pianist John Sadowy added on Sunday. TIME WARP, with Barry Elmes, Al Henderson, Kevin Turcotte and (again) Jefferson, is in for May 23-24 to be followed by another superb combo (from NYC) led by pianist BRYN ROBERTS with SEAMUS BLAKE, DREW GRESS and MARK FERBER. JEAN-FRANCOIS GROULX opens the June schedule with a Sunday appearance on the first, followed by a three day stay for CHRISTINE JENSEN beginning June 13.

In other local events pianist JOHN RONEY gives his Masters recital at Pollack Hall on May 20 - Zack Lober and Jim Doxas help out and there will be a tribute to legendary Montreal folk singer, PENNY LANG, at Sala Rossa on May 23. CAROLE THERRIEN will launch her debut CD "Oracle" at 8pm, May 27 in the Savoy Room of The Metropolis.

In FIJM news, DAVID SANCHEZ has cancelled and MICHAEL BUBLE's concert of July 5th will be moved from the Cabaret Music-Hall to Theatre Maisonneuve of Place des Arts at 8 p.m.


This annual event takes place in nearby Burlington, Vermont from June 2 to 8. Among the headliners are a ANDREW HILL Quartet with Gregory Tardy, John Hebert and Nasheet Waits, Monday June 2; the Salsa band of violinist ALFREDO DE LA FE, June 3; the trio of JEAN-MICHEL PILC and the RAY ANDERSON "Pocket Brass Band", June 4; the MATTHEW SHIPP trio with William Parker and Mat Maneri, and bluesman JOHN MAYELL on the 5th; a reunited "SNEAKERS JAZZ BAND" appears on June 6 as does SONNY ROLLINS; the DAVE HOLLAND Big Band hits on Saturday, June 7th and TREY ANASTASIO appears both Saturday and Sunday and also on June 8th is a DUKE ELLINGTON Sacred Concert and an appearance by the Sons of Glory, a Gospel group and the trio of pianist MATTHEW SAVAGE, who just celebrated his 11th birthday at home in New Hampshire. Info at: [802] 863-7992.


On May 15th, the 50th Anniversary of the famed "Massey Hall" concert, a quintet of HERBIE HANCOCK, Roy Hargrove, Kenny Garrett, Dave Holland and Roy Haynes will appear on that same stage - Max Roach, who along with "Bird", Charlie Parker, Dizzy (Angela Pacienza of Canadian Press spelled it "Dizzie") Gillespie, Bud Powell and Charles Mingus, appeared at the original concert sponsored by the Toronto chapter of the New Jazz Society, will be the guest of honour - he's 78. I heard "Bird" in Montreal that February but the only time I attended a concert in Massey Hall was years later when SONNY GREENSWICH opened for a THELONIOUS MONK Quartet - I went in the company of Pepper Adams, who was in Toronto with a Lionel Hampton band that included Andy McGhee and Jimmy (or "Junior" as Pepper called him) Owens. That later visit found Toronto hopping what with Jimmy Rushing, Brownie and Sonny, Zoot Sims, Willie "The Lion" Smith and Don Ewell and the Muddy Waters band with Otis Spann and James Cotton all in town during the week I was there.


Born in May were: Clarinetist Ed Hall, pianist Ellis Larkins, bassist Bonnie Wetzel and trumpeter Joe Gordon, [who played a Jazz Workshop concert the Montreal's Chez Paree in the early 50s] the 15th, bandleader Woody Herman, pianist Marlowe Morris, trombonist Eddie Bert and singer Betty Carter, the 16th, pianist Little Brother Montgomery, vibraphonist Joe Roland, trumpeter Lee Katzman, tenorman Dewey Redman and Jackie McLean, alto, the 17th, bartender, singer Big Joe Turner and Danish trombonist Kai Winding, the 18th, bassist "Pops" Foster, the 19th, trumpeter Louis Smith, the 20th, Bill Barber, the tuba player from the "Birth of The Cool" sessions, tenorman, composer, arranger Bill Holman and drummer Larance Marable, the 21st, Sun Ra and both drummer Elaine Leighton, who worked with Jackie and Roy, and Jackie Cain herself, the 22nd, Artie Shaw is 93 on the 23rd, a birthday he shares with England's Humphrey Lyttelton and Rosemary Clooney. Street musician, Louis Thomas Hardin, better known as "Moondog", was born on the 24th as was trombonist Charles Greenlea, who played the Tete de l'Art in the early 60s with Philly Joe Jones, violinist Mike White, who along with Prince Lasha, also lived in Montreal in the 60s and Archie Shepp. Ellington reedman Jimmy Hamilton, trombonist Milt Bernhart and Miles Davis were born on the 25th, Harold "Shorty" Baker, one of Miles' early idols, Ziggy Elman, tenorman / flutist Lew Tabackin and singer Peggy Lee were born on the 26th, folk singer Brother John Sellers, who, again in the 60s, sang at an early Montreal Jazz Festival held at the Comedie Canadienne [now the TNM] and altoman, flutist Bud Shank, who played the Coliseum near Guy Street with the 1950 Stan Kenton Innovations Orchestra, pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Dee Dee Bridgewater, the 27th, bandleader Andy Kirk, British pianist, composer Reginald Foresythe, tenorman Arno Marsh, who played the Seville Theatre as a member on the Woody Herman band in the 50s and pianist Russ Freeman, the 28th, bassist Eugene Wright, who was heard with a Buddy DeFranco Quartet [pre-Brubeck] in the 50s at the Latin Quarter on Mountain Street [a group that also included Sonny Clark], pianist Freddie Redd, who wrote the music for the original staging of the late Jack Gelber's "The Connection" and Chicago tenorman, Sandy Mosse, the 29th, bandleaders Benny Goodman and Bobby Sherwood, pianist Dave McKenna and a trumpeter based in England, Harry Beckett, the 30th and Ellington reedman Otto "Toby" Hardwick, guitarist Jimmy Shirley, drummers Albert Heath and Louis Hayes, the 31st. Among the notable losses in May: THE Voice of America, Willis Conover [75] in 1996, superb Canadian reedman, Ron Park [26] in 1971 ( he was heard as a bassist at Rockhead's), renowned Ellington trumpeter, Bubber Miley [29] in 1932, Ellington himself [75] in 1974, as well as sidemen Paul Gonsalves [53] ten days earlier, drummer Denzil Best [48], who also composed and played with both Lennie Tristano and George Shearing, in 1965 [48], pianist (and trumpeter) Mike Pyne [54] in 1995, reedman Barney Wilen [59] the following year, pianist Jimmy Rowles [77] in 1996, Canadian trombonist and vibraphonist , Bob Stroup [58] the same year, jazz host Don Warner in 1999, Paul Desmond [52] in 1977 and Basie bassist Eddie Jones [68] in 1997.


Born in May were guitarist Ivan Symonds [17th], pianist Lou Hooper and trumpeter Walter Batagello [18], reedmen Georgie Auld and Michael Blake [19], pianist, drummer, engineer Andre White [20], drummers Walter Bacon and Jim Hillman [22], bassist Frederic Alarie [25], pianists Gene DiNovi [26] and Aaron Davis [27], drummer Norman Marshall Villeneuve (aka Griffith) [29], trumpeter Ken Dean [30], tenorman Billy Robinson [31] and in early June, pianists Jean Beaudet [1st] and Milton Sealey [2], clarinetist Phil Nimmons celebrates #80 [3], trombonist Butch Watanabe, pianist/vibraphonist/teacher Art Roberts and trumpeter Larry Cramer [7].


Recently arrived CANADIAN material has included vocal outings from JOHN LABELLE, a regular at Modavie Restaurant in old Montreal. On his self produced, "Too Close For Comfort" [JLP], on material like "Skylark", "When In Rome" and "I Concentrate On You", he's joined, as he is at that spot, by guitarist GREG CLAYTON's trio with Alec Walkington and Dave Laing. From the West Coast, there's KARIN PLATO's latest "The State of Bliss" [Stikjazz Music] is a mix of her own songs and standards like "Up With The Lark", "Pennies From Heaven" and [in duets with DENZAL SINCLAIRE, who himself has a new CD due out on Verve] "Let's Take An Old Fashioned Walk" and "I Hear Music". Major talent among the backing here includes Campbell Ryga, Bill Coon, Brad Turner, Ross Taggart and Dave Robbins. If you're bilingual, try CAROLE THERRIEN and LYNE TREMBLAY. Carole's "Oracle" is on Effendi, a label she helped found and McCoy Tyner's piece of that name is among the highlights here. Alexandre Cote, Dave Mossing and Ugo Di Vito, a fiery little drummer and her husband, label head, Alain Bedard are among the musicians heard here. Lyne is backed on "Break 'n Enter"[Trevans Music] by the trio of Scott Marshall and Guido Basso is among the guests. For a cross section of Canadian distaff singers try "Real Divas" [7 Arts], 14 tracks by the same number of singers - they include Plato, Kate Hammett-Vaughan, Melissa Stylianou, Alex Pangman, Susie Arioli, Jennifer Ryan and Carol Welsman - the only carp being the lack of identification of the many fine musicians providing the backing here.

The eponymous CD by the NO NAME JAZZ SEXTET [Effendi] is in the hard bop vein but with originals in that genre written by group members. These include Alexandre Cote, Roberto Murray, Aron Doyle and Ugo Di Vito. Veteran reedman MIKE ALLEN is heard on "Dialectic" [Almus] with a strong new trio of Paul Rushka, bass and Julian MacDonough, drums - originals plus items by Trane, Frank Foster, Cole Porter and Monk. SEAN CRAIG, a young tenorman and composer around town debuts on "Underglass" [ORA] with an unusual quintet of KENNY BIBACE, Greg Ritchie and bassists Zack Lober and Sage Reynolds. With the exception of "Nature Boy", originals are the bill o' fare here. "A Lazy Afternoon" [Justin Time] is a beauty of a 1997 session engineered by the late PHIL SHERIDAN and featuring the duo of GUIDO BASSO and the Hammond C3 organ of "Dr. Music", DOUG RILEY. DON THOMPSON's "Forgotten Memories" [Roadhouse] is an important release, wherein the leader (on piano) is joined by KENNY WHEELER, Phil Dwyer, DAVE HOLLAND and the superb Claude Ranger. Thompson, on bass, along with drummer Terry Clarke, turns up on "Jim Hall Live!" [Verve], a reissue of an important meeting in Toronto in 1975 at Bourbon Street. The banjo and mandolin playing of GUY DONIS is up front on "Balade Imaginaire" [Banyan], a trio date with Francis Covan, violin, mandolin and accordion and Martin Roy, bass.

From SOUTH OF THE BORDER come a number of items of interest. The often overlooked pianist BILL MAYS is joined by bassist Martin Wind [who I had the pleasure of hearing with Peter Leitch at Walker's] and drummer Matt Wilson [who'll be at the Festival with Konitz] on "Going Home" [Palmetto]. Universal has "The Prestige Trio Sessions" [Prestige] comprising two sessions from 1964 by pianist / composer, BOBBY TIMMONS, one with Sam Jones and Ray Lucas, the other with Keter Betts and Albert Heath. JACK WEST is a California based guitarist worthy of larger exposure, we Montrealers discovered him during two visits here, both of which were connected to the death of his friend CALDER SPANIER. "Around About Now" [Ahead Behind Music] is the latest from his group "Curvature". High Note now has Volume Three of "Live" [recorded in 1977 is Keystone Korner] - this WOODY SHAW outing has him joined by Steve Turre, Stafford James, Victor Lewis and splitting the piano chores, Mulgrew Miller and Larry Willis on pieces like "Organ Grinder" and "Little Red's Fantasy". AHMED ABDUL-MALIK, who was born Jonathan Timms and not Sam Gill, was an early exponent of what's now known as a "world beat" musician, besides the bass, he was one of the first jazzmen to record on the oud and his early 60s, "Jazz Sounds of Africa" [Prestige] also includes the work of cellist Calo Scott - ten of the leader's compositions are here along with "Don't Blame Me" and "Out Of Nowhere". As a bassist, the leader is best remembered for his work with Thelonious Monk and Randy Weston - he played the Comedie Canadienne here with Herbie Mann. The combination of REGINA CARTER and "Paganini's" violin are heard on "Paganini: After A Dream" [Verve] which mixes Ravel, Debussy and Faure with Bonfa and Piazzolla. Drummers BOBBY PREVITE and RALPH PETERSON turn up as leaders on a pair. Previte's "Counterclockwise" [Palmetto] includes my favourite electric bassist, STEVE SWALLOW along with Marty Ehrlich, tenor, Curtis Fowlkes, trombone and pianist Wayne Horvitz while Peterson's "Subliminal Seduction [Criss Cross] has a couple of exciting young hornmen in trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and saxophonist Jimmy Greene with Orrin Evans, piano and Eric Revis, bass. The aforementioned JEREMY PELT debuts as a leader on "Insight" [Criss Cross] joined again by Greene with Myron Walden, alto, Rick Germanson, piano, Vincente Archer, bass and Peterson on drums.

A number of reedmen have recent CDs well worth a listen: DALE FIELDER is a real find, based in the L.A. area, he plays baritone, tenor, alto and soprano and "Howling Monk" [Clarion Jazz] is a live recording at that club done with his quartet of Danny Grissett, Trevor Ware and Thomas White. Two CDs worth of exciting playing [particularly on baritone] on the leader's "Suite: Clarity" and items including Trane's "Moments Notice" and Pepper Adams' "Ad Astra". RICH HALLEY is joined by the trumpet of BOBBY BRADFORD on "The Blue Rims" [Louie], a quartet outing with Clyde Reed and Dave Storrs, recorded in Oregon. There is [to no surprise] an Israeli feel to GILAD ATZMON's "Exile" [Enja/Justin Time] recorded in England. JIM SNIDERO's "Strings" [Milestone] has the leader on alto and flute joined by the likes of RENEE ROSNES and her hubby, drummer Billy Drummond while KENNY GARRETT's latest "Standard of Language" [Warner Bros.] has him in the company of pianist Vernell Brown, bassist Charnett Moffett and drummer Chris Dave, replaced on the title piece by Eric Harland.

There is also plenty of new material for the vocal fan – JOHN PIZZARELLI and his trio are captured on "Live At Birdland" [Telarc], a 2 CD outing - some three dozen tracks with brother Martin and Ray Kennedy. CHRIS CONNOR, remembered by big band fans for her work with Stan Kenton, has "I Walk With Music" [High Note] with Mike Abene and Bill Easley and her earlier CD for the same label "Haunted Heart" also features those two plus some outstanding playing from INGRID JENSEN. Newcomer RENE MARIE shows up on "Live at Jazz Standard" [MAX JAZZ] with John Toomey, Elias Bailey and T. Howard Curtis III. She includes her look at "Nature Boy" and Leonard Cohen's SUZANNE turns up as part of a medley with Ravel's "Bolero" - a 10 minute track. JANIS SIEGEL, of Manhattan Transfer fame, has "Friday Night Special" [Telarc] with Joey DeFrancesco and Houston Person and the same label has a Peggy Lee tribute "A Woman Alone With The Blues" by MARIA MULDAUR.

In the CLASSICAL field there are three CDs of material conducted by Herbert Von Karajan on Deutsche Grammophon: Dvorak | Smetena; Vivaldi | Bach and Ravel | Debussy | Saint-Saens; Vladimir Ashkenazy and Kyung Wha Cheng are featured on Concertos for Piano and for Violin [Decca], Telarc have film music on "Celluloid Copland" by the EOS Orchestra and "Encores" is a great sampling of the work of the EMERSON STRING QUARTET whose cellist DAVID FINCKEL is the son of Ed Finckel who wrote for the Gene Krupa and Boyd Raeburn Orchestras of the 40s - "Leave Us Leap" and "Boyd Meets Stravinsky" were his dad's more famous compositions.

© Len Dobbin 2003
Montreal, Quebec, Canada