Dobbin's Den


February 2004


We celebrated the 82nd birthday of longtime jazz enthusiast GLORIA FRENCH with an evening out at Upstairs to hear an excellent DANIEL LESSARD group that included Yannick Rieu and Kevin Dean. The following weekend at that locale it was a spirited JOEL MILLER Quartet with Steve Amirault, Fraser Hollins and Michel Lambert. On the 24th Dorothee Berryman, with Zack Lober subbing on bass, warmed up Salle Andre Mathieu in Laval on a very cold night. The next night more superb playing at Upstairs by a JANIS STEPRANS (on alto) Quartet with Geoff Lapp, Alec Walkington and Andre White. There was another New Jazz / Emanon Jazz Society reunion at Amazona on the 26th with Florence Thomas, the daughter of guitar great Rene Thomas, in attendance. A pretty hazardous trip to the Flynn Theatre in Burlington was rewarded by some really fine playing by an all-star group: James Moody, James Carter, Randy Brecker, Howard Alden, Cedar Walton, Peter Washington and Lewis Nash heard in various combinations. Moody, ever the comic, spoke of loving the same woman for 30 years and then added that he'd ask no one mention this to his wife. His web site reads: "Blessed are they that run around in circles, for they shall be called big wheels". Great to hang for a bit with James who I first met at Birdland in 1955 just prior to Charlie Parker's death. Wonderful warm person. Back in Montreal, more great music at Oscar Peterson Concert Hall with CHARLES ELLISON, Noubar Karadjian, Kelsley Grant, Jean Beaudet, Alec Walkington and Chris McCann. On the last day of the month it was back to Upstairs for music by a superb bassist and great addition to the Montreal scene, veteran KIERAN OVERS with a quartet with a guitarist we should be hearing more from, Jim Head, and the Doxas brothers, Chet and Jim.


The month began on the right foot for me when Dorothee Berryman became the first guest to appear on "Dobbin's Den" since it first aired in 1995. We had a great deal of fun listening and discussing a real cross section of singers and songs including sets on music from films, sets of Cole Porter, Cy Coleman and Irving Berlin and the voices of people like Mark Murphy, Sheila Jordan, Marlene VerPlanck and Caetano Veloso. Dorothee, even on six hours sleep, is a witty and erudite guest--we hope to do this again, perhaps in June to celebrate the births of Cole Porter and Cy Coleman, two of the composers she turns to often.

On February 4th, trumpeter (and sometime saxophonist) RODNEY MILLINGTON died. In Oscar Peterson's autobiography "A Jazz Odyssey" he's mention by O.P. as an important early influence here in the Montreal of the 40s. He was given a touching send-off at Union United Church, one which began with "Misty" and ended with "Take The 'A' Train". CHRISTINE JENSEN was back at Upstairs on February 6 with a quartet of Steve Amirault, Zack Lober and Dave Laing and there I ran into Claude Thibault who heads a valuable web site, On February 9, major talent, singer, composer CORAL EGAN launched her first Justin Time CD at the Lion D'or to an (over)packed house and last night it the aforementioned Berryman opening at the Cabaret.


On "Dobbin's Den", [Sundays, 11 am – 1 pm, CKUT, 90.3 fm, ], I will have a pair of special shows, on February 22nd the show will spotlight my favourite living jazz singer, SHEILA JORDAN and on the 29th it will be a celebration of the musical life of RENE THOMAS, a guitarist very important to Montreal jazz history. Sheila will be at Upstairs [1254 Mackay] on February 27-28 with Steve Amirault, Kieran Overs and Andre White and the following night she's in Ottawa at Café Paradiso on Bank Street with Overs and Greg Clayton. Reserve now and don't miss this event. A couple of quotes: The NY Times, "simply beyond the emotional and expressive capabilities of most other vocalists. She can be so heartwrenching that conversations stop cold and breathless listeners hang on her every inflection" and -- "Her timing, intonation, and sense of color and line would make her a great singer in any idiom. The emotion that comes through is breathtaking." -- Rolling Stone, and my MIRROR review of her newest CD on High Note began: "Worth a thousand Norah Jones"

The Boston-based "Either/Orchestra" is due at the Flynn in Burlington on February 13. The "Jazz au Feminin" series at Salle Andre-Mathieu [475 Blvd. de l'Avenir] in Laval, besides Ms. Berryman, has "Suzie Arolie" (sic) on February 21 and Carole Welsman on March 28. On Thursday, February 12 at Salle Gesu, altoman Remi Bolduc will be joined by a rhythm section of John Roney, Zack Lober, Dave Laing and guests Chet Doxas and in from New York the always inventive Seamus Blake, one of top tenor players currently active in the jazz world. Blake was the 2002 winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone competition and has recorded under his own name as well as with drummer Victor Lewis and as a member of the Mingus Big Band and his 2003 Montreal appearances were the high point of the concerts attended by this listener. The day prior to that JOE SULLIVAN presents his big band in concert and releases his debut CD with that organization (Effendi records) and on Valentine's Day, vocalist MARTINE CARRIERE appears with the JEAN BEAUDET trio, both also at Gesu.

At Upstairs besides Stevie Vallance, the 13th and 14th, and Sheila Jordan, you can catch a JOE SULLIVAN Quintet featuring Yannick Rieu on the 20-21, Chicago's "Ethnic Heritage Ensemble", the 22nd and the JEAN BEAUDET trio on the 29th. Unfortunately it's pretty quiet on the 23rd, my upside down birthday. Sullivan has released "Big Band", his first orchestral CD, it's on Effendi. That superb little label also has "Lapon Baleze" by veteran Quebec City reedman MICHEL COTE.

Last night DOROTHEE BERRYMAN opened a five day stint at the Cabaret on St. Laurent, one that runs through Valentine's Day and there's a large Modavie connection here, the guitarist on her latest CD "P.S. I Love You" was Greg Clayton and, when Greg was unavailable for the current 18 concert tour, the superb Jon Gearey took over that spot except for three evenings when Kenny Bibace is in that slot. Ms. Berryman just gets better and better and her voice is even better than on that superb recording done only last September -- a few glitches opening night, mostly with the light man bringing down the lights before songs were ended -- minor. "Jack Paradise", a film based in part on the life of BOB LANGLOIS, a marvellous Montreal jazz pianist, opens in Montreal on February 20th. It has a score composed by people like James Gelfand and Wray Downes and among its cast are Dawn Tyler Watson and, you guessed it, Ms. Berryman. If you're in the Quebec City area Dorothee appears at the Grand Theatre de Quebec on February 18-19 and she's in Rouyn, February 27 and Ville-Marie, the following night.

Jazz is featured on a nightly basis in Montreal at Upstairs [1254 Mackay] and at House of Jazz [2060 Aylmer] and Modavie [St. Paul at St. Laurent].

© Len Dobbin 2003
Montreal, Quebec, Canada