Dobbin's Den

February 2005

There is jazz activity galore with Upstairs, Modavie (now in both Montreal and Brossard) and House of Jazz providing music on a nightly basis. As well the Montreal International Jazz Festival has announced a number of bookings for their 26th edition including the Dave Holland big band on July 1, Bobby McFerrin on July 2, a great double bill of Mavis Staples and the Blind Boys of Alabama on July 1 and singer Madeleine Peyroux, who is described in the promo material as resembling someone called "BILLY" Holiday – I'm afraid I'm not familiar with his singing. The ever-busy Dorothee Berryman continues to present four hours of jazz on Radio Canada, 100.7 (Montreal) – that's Saturdays and Sundays from 6:05 – 8 pm. She both hosts and selects the music for these programs – I am privileged to act as her researcher and, in the last ratings, the Sunday edition was the highest rated radio show emanating from Montreal on "Espace Musique". Beginning on January 29, she is embarking on a singing tour in Valleyfield. By the first of May she will have Travelled through Shawinigan, Brossard, Iles d'Orleans, Drummond, Beloeil, Mont-Laurier, Gatineau, Granby, St-Hyacinthe, Magog, Joliette, Terrebonne and Ste-Therese.

January at Upstairs was highlighted by a one night appearance by my favourite jazz singer, Sheila Jordan joined by the trio of bassist Kieran Overs with pianist Steve Amirault and drummer Andre White on January 21 (the next two nights she was in Ottawa at Café Paradiso with Kieran and Andre [this time on piano]). The Montreal engagement ended with a most moving rendition of her "The Crossing", a song she seldom sings in nightclub appearances. (Someone should reissue her CD of the same name). Others heard to advantage here were the John Roney trio with Zack Lober and Jim Doxas and the Jeff Johnston trio with Dave Watts and Jim Hillman – the month closes with trombonist Kelsley Grant with special guest, U.S. altoman Myron Walden. February also features a strong lineup beginning with guitarist Andrew Scott (whose debut CD "This One's For Barney" has just been released on Sackville) joined by trumpeter Jake Wilkinson, John Sadowy, Clint Ryder and John Fraboni on 4-5, the Kevin Dean Quintet on the 11-12 and Chris Tarry with Brad Turner, Kelly Jefferson and Dan Wise hit on the 18-19. The week beginning February 20 is a special one for yours truly, on the Monday I'll be in Ottawa receiving a major award for my work in radio and then I'll be celebrating my 70th birthday on Wednesday, the 23rd (the actual date) and on the Friday and Saturday. The 23rd will spotlight the Andre White Trio and many guests including singer Lodi Carr who'll be coming in from NYC -- her last appearance in Montreal was in 1990 when she appeared at the Jazz Festival with Art Blakey's Messengers). Lodi stays in town and will be featured with the Steve Amirault trio on the 25-26.

Also Sundays at Upstairs will include the Bill Mahar Nonet on the 13th, the Min Rager Quintet on the 20th and Eric Hove on the 27th and mark March 4-5 on your calendar as Richard Ring is scheduled with Rick Wilkins, Charles Ellison, Kieran Overs and Jim Doxas. The club celebrates its 10th anniversary come April and special celebrations are planned. Mondays and Tuesdays it's Fresh Jazz, nights put aside to spotlight McGill music students, singer Sienna and various friends are featured on Wednesdays and the following night it's Ernie Nelson.

Besides regulars like Nancy Martinez, Johnny Scott, Michele Sweeney and the Monday jam sessions headed by Chet Doxas look for Linda Niles, Johanne Desforges and Rachelle Jeanty and Sunday night Latin sets with Delfin Marzal at House of Jazz.


BOXED SETS: The "Proper Box" label (England) has seven new 4 CD sets. Bessie Smith's "Chattanooga Gal" has 95 tracks by Bessie including "Empty Bed Blues", "Trombone Cholly" and "Gimme A Pigfoot". "Handful of Keys" has an equal amount of Thomas "Fats" Waller including his "London Suite", "Your Feet's Too Big" and wonderful piano pieces like "Muscle Shoal Blues", "Numb Fumblin'" and "Viper's Drag". Benny Carter is well represented on "The Music Master", 88 tracks including "Symphony In Riffs", "When Lights Are Low", "Blues In My Heart" and a wonderful "I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me". "Little Jazz: Trumpet Giant" spotlights Roy Eldridge on 97 tracks that include ""Sittin' In", "Stardust", "Body and Soul", "Let Me Off Uptown" and of course "Little Jazz". "The Young Rebel" is by bassist Charles Mingus, 78 examples recorded between 1945 and 1953. These include sessions with the Red Norvo trio (Tal Farlow), Billy Taylor, Jackie Paris, Oscar Pettiford, Charlie Parker, Stan Getz and Bud Powell. The 95 tracks on "Jazz and Velvet" should please Mel Torme fans. Included are items like "County Fair", "They Didn't Believe Me", "Skylark" and "September Song" – over the four CDs he's joined by the likes of the Red Norvo Trio, Peggy Lee, the Mel-Tones, Page Cavanaugh trio, Artie Shaw and Pete Rugulo. Finally "The Arranger's Touch" is a collection of scores, 1926-1953 beginning with Jelly Roll Morton's "Grandpa's Spells" and ending with Gigi Gryce's "Bum's Rush" arranged by Quincy Jones. Represented in between are Bill Challis, Don Redman, Eddie Durham, Edgar Sampson, Sy Oliver, Mary Lou Williams, Ben Homer (who I once met on Main street in his hometown of Meriden, Ct. where I spent many a summer as a youth), Eddie Sauter, Strayhorn, Bobby Sherwood, George Handy, Gil Evans, Ralph Burns, Tiny Kahn and a man I share a birthday with John Carisi -- a treasure trove of great writing.

Also very much worth noting are Concord's "Tony Bennett -- The Complete Improv Recordings" -- 76 tracks from that label that include Bill Evans, Torrie Zito and the Ruby Braff-George Barnes Quartet. "Seven Steps: The Complete Columbia Recordings of Miles Davis 1963-1964" is a wonderful seven CD set with a variety of tenormen, George Coleman, Sam Rivers and Wayne Shorter, pianists Victor Feldman and Herbie Hancock and drummers Frank Butler and Tony Williams -- Ron Carter and Miles are the constant throughout. With February 14th approaching, don't miss the two wonderful versions of "My Funny Valentine", one with Coleman, the other (in Japan) with Rivers.

The Montreal jazz community was saddened with the news of the death of drummer Chris Driscoll, 21, in a skiing accident in Vermont on January 9 -- he was in his last year of jazz studies here at McGill and his group "Mobile Pried" had been heard at Upstairs and at last year's North Sea Jazz Festival in the Hague. His (private) teacher, drummer Chris McCann called him, "a very positive human being. He was either smiling or ready to smile most of the time. For Chris, it was music and life and music again." Reedman Joel Miller called him, "fearless and mischievous."

© Len Dobbin 2005
Montreal, Quebec, Canada