Dobbin's Den


March 2004

The period from February 25 through April 3 augurs to be an exciting one in the Concordia University building located at 1400 de Maisonneuve West. February 24 was the date for the well attended vernissage, in the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, of an exhibit combing the paintings of Jack Beder and memorabilia from the Concordia Archives. "City Lights" is a collection of paintings by Beder including those of Montreal night life scenes from the 30s and 40s and these are complimented by club memorabilia from the same period culled from the Archives, which are headed up by Nancy Marrelli.

On the eve of St. Paddy's Day, Tuesday, March 16th in the same locale there will be a Montreal "Open City" evening beginning at 6 pm at which time there will be presentations by Tina Brereton, a dancer from that period, one showcased in the NFB film SHOW GIRLS by Meilan Lam, Andrew Homzy, Professor of Music in Concordia's Jazz department and yours truly, Len Dobbin, jazz radio host, web columnist and jazz historian. Ms. Marrelli will also be on hand that evening.

On Saturday, March 27 in the de Seve Cinema in the same building there will be an afternoon film program beginning at 3 pm of jazz oriented films including Lining The Blues with music by Joe Sullivan, Beyond Dull Care, a Norman McLaren animated film with music from the Oscar Peterson trio of 1949 with Jack Kostenuk on bass and (Mark) "Wilkie" Wilkinson, drums as well as the aforementioned Show Girls with Ms. Brereton, Olga Spencer Foderingham and the late Bernice "Bunny" Whims. Admission is free to all of the above.


Drummer WALTER PERKINS died on February 14 at the age of 72. The funeral took place on Thursday, February 19 in Jamaica, Queens, N.Y. at Merrick Park Baptist Church. Perkins was born in Chicago, Ill. on February 10, 1932 and studied at famed DuSable High School. He was heard around his hometown working with Ahmad Jamal in 1956 - 57 and with Coleman Hawkins at the 1959 Playboy Festival. In 1960 he formed the "MJT + 3" with Frank Strozier on alto, Willie Thomas, trumpet, Harold Mabern, piano and Bob Cranshaw, bass--musicians from the Chicago and Memphis areas. They moved on to New York and disbanded there in 1962. Around that time Mabern and Strozier came to Montreal with drummer Roy Haynes for an engagement at the Tete de l'Art. Perkins was in Montreal the following November with the Art Farmer Quartet with Jim Hall and Steve Swallow, then playing acoustic bass. I particularly remember that stay as the Friday night of that engagement at the Penthouse was also the day of the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas, November 22, 1963. Among Perkins other employers were singer Carmen McRae, 1961-63, Sonny Rollins, '62, Teddy Wilson, '64, Billy Taylor, '65, Mingus, beginning in '67, Erroll Garner in the 70s and Illinois Jacquet in the '80s. He later taught in the NYC public school system and at York College and beginning in 1985 with Mus. for Young Adolescents.

His recorded legacy includes "Pike's Peak" in 1961 with a Dave Pike Quartet that included Bill Evans on piano, sessions with Gene Ammons in the early 60s, Ray Bryant, "Out Front" with Jaki Byard in '61, with a Sonny Criss group that included Wynton Kelly and Cranshaw in "59, "Exultation", a '63 Booker Ervin session that also included Strozier, a couple of Art Farmer sessions, one recorded in New York at the Half Note, a month after the Penthouse engagement, Rashaan Roland Kirk's "I Talk With The Spirits" in 1964 with Bobby Moses on vibes, "Strings", a '67 Pat Martino session featuring Joe Farrell, the great "Lover Man" session with Carmen McRae in 1961 with Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Cranshaw, a session the same year with George Shearing and the Montgomery Brothers and couple with Lucky Thompson in 1965, "Happy Days" and "Lucky Meets Tommy (Flanagan)". They are also sessions with J.J. Johnson, Billy Taylor, Clark Terry, Sonny Stitt, Johnny Coles, "Count 'em 88" with Garner and with Charles, "Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, etc." for Impulse.


Last night Dorothee Berryman opened a five day stint at the Cabaret on St. Laurent, one that runs through Saturday. Ms. Berryman just gets better and better and her voice is even stronger than on that superb recording done only last September--last night was the best I've ever heard her. "The Barbarian Invasions" won an Oscar for best foreign film (she's "Louise") and "Jack Paradise", a film based in part on the life of BOB LANGLOIS, a marvellous Montreal jazz pianist, opened 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. She and her superb sextet (Eric Harding, Dave Watts, Camil Belisle, Normand Bock, Jean St. Jacques and Jon Gearey) will be back at the Cabaret on March 24, 26-27.


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 then it was the aforementioned Ms. Berryman opening a five day stay at the Cabaret. In a busy week at Salle Gesu, the JOE SULLIVAN big band did a concert and released its first CD (on Effendi), REMI BOLDUC brought Seamus Blake in from NYC to join Chet Doxas for a three saxophone front line on some selections and on Valentine's Day, it was singer MARTINE CARRIERE joined by the trio of pianist JEAN BEAUDET. At Upstairs that weekend it was a most musical one with singer STEVIE VALLANCE. At that spot the next weekend it was JOE SULLIVAN again, this time with a quintet with Yannick Rieu on tenor. The month ended with a highlight of my long listening career, four (sold out) sets by my favourite jazz singer SHEILA JORDAN with a superb trio of Steve Amirault, Kieran Overs and Andre White (who made his scat singing debut). Over the weekend Sheila wowed her regular listeners and added many more with her combination of humour (she really had a good time), songs which drew laughter were there along with the more serious material, her tale of her battle with personal demons, "The Crossing", brought tears to the eyes. Besides the usual jazz lovers who frequent the club, a large number of singers and musicians were in the house as well as people from other fields, photographers Diane Dulude and Robert Walker as well as renowned painter Katherine Porter, were in evidence. I've never seen the owner and staff looking happier. "Dobbin's Den" (CKUT FM) two hour programs on single artists, Sheila Jordan and Rene Thomas drew great responses--the latter brought a ton of email from Belgium.


Besides the aforementioned Berryman concerts, guitar great SONNY GREENWICH with a superb quartet (Don Thompson, Jim Vivian and Barry Elmes) is at Upstairs on March 5-6 with another guitarist JIM HEAD with Josh Rager on piano. KEVIN DEAN is due and singers LANA TURNER and JERI BROWN are unconfirmed. In April singer Isabelle Wolfmann is due (from France) with guitarists Mike Rud and Kenny Bibace and bassist Tim Nolan. LORRAINE DESMARAIS is at Salle Gesu on March 5th with Jane Bunnett, Ingrid Jensen and Rosemary Galloway in tow. Part II of the Rene Thomas salute airs on "Dobbin's Den" (CKUT 90.3FM) on Sunday, March 7th--11 am - 1 pm. On March 10, director Joel Katz will be showing his superb documentary "Strange Fruit" in room C201 of McGill's Strathcona Music Building, 555 Sherbrooke W and The Montreal International Festival of Films on Art will include items focusing on Cecil Taylor, Japan (with Makoto Ozone), Bobby McFerrin--Chick Corea and Caetano Veloso--see their schedule for venues and on the web.

Again, 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