Dobbin's Den

March 2005

Well February has been a memorable month for yours truly, a 70th birthday and a "Masterworks" Award in Ottawa from the Audio Visual Preservation Trust. The other radio awards went to Barbara Frum and Marius Barbeau. Perhaps my acceptance speech will convey my feelings:


I've been a huge fan of radio since I was a child back in the 40s listening not only to Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen, Fred Allen and Easy Aces but also gaining a love of jazz through radio broadcasts of the leading big bands from the US and the "live" Montreal transmissions of the music of the Oscar Peterson Trio from the Alberta Lounge and the Louis Metcalf International All Stars from the Café St. Michel. I vividly remember my excitement 60 years ago at the approach of the first broadcasts of a new radio station in Montreal, that station, CJAD, is one now referred to as a "heritage" station. It's been quite a stretch between, in 1948, at the age of 13, winning a "junior disc jockey" contest with tracks by Dizzy Gillespie and Woody Herman, on WMMW in Meriden, a small town in Connecticut, to this honour -- and to be mentioned in the same breath as Barbara Frum and Marius Barbeau is an honour indeed.

I wish to thank all the jazz musicians for all the wonderful recordings that give me a reason, two days before my 70th birthday, to remain in radio as both host of a weekly two hour jazz show on CKUT and as a researcher for the Dorothee Berryman show on Radio Canada.

Thanks to the members of nominating committee for this honour and to Barry Martin, Peter Sherman and Rob Braide of Standard Broadcasting for allowing me to be part of their team between the years 1972 and 1994. I must also mentioned some of the broadcasters, who over the years, have been an inspiration, in Montreal Bob Harvie, Len Rowcliffe and George Balcan, on the CBC network, Alan McPhee and in NYC, Riverside radio's wonderful Ed Beach, my idea of the ideal jazz broadcaster. Finally, a 1000 thanks to Bill W., who in 1935, the year I was born, began a fellowship that has saved a million lives, mine included. Merci!

Thanks also to all the friends who came out to help me celebrate my birthday for their presence and presents. One of the most memorable lines of the day came during an on-air phone interview on Mitch Melnick's show. It came from an old friend, Stan Fischler, one of the dean's of sports writing. On line from NYC, he said, "Len, you not only made it to 70 but outlived hockey!"

Thanks also to Juan Rodriguez for a wonderful article in the Saturday Gazette on February 19 and to Gordon Beck for the wonderful photograph -- someone quipped that I looked like I walked out of GQ.


Illness prevented me from hearing the combo of guitarist Andrew Scott featuring the wonderful trumpeter Jake Wilkinson and Dorothee Berryman's concert in Brossard. Besides the wonderful recorded music she's been presenting on her two, two hour jazz shows since September 11, she presently touring as a singer. (See March events). Kevin Dean was heard with fellow trumpeter Charles Ellison and the wonderful rhythm team of Andre White, Alec Walkington and Dave Laing at Upstairs followed on Sunday by two wonderful sets of music from Miles' "Birth of the Cool" played by what leader Jennifer Bell called ALTSYS-lite, a nonet.

The following Sunday the pianist in the nonet, Min Rager, presented a wonderfully musical quintet that included Dean and Donny Kennedy. For the birthday celebrations, Andre, Alec and Dave were the host trio and singer Lodi Carr, despite a 10 hour train ride from NYC, sounded in fine form especially on "Yesterdays" that she dedicated to Pepper Adams and yours truly -- it was the song she sang at Pepper's memorial in 1986, the day I first met her. Among those who added to night musically were Vic Vogel (whose 70th is coming up on August 3), Steve Amirault, Robin Greig, a smokin' Lorraine Desmarais and Geoff Lapp – I'm sure I've forgotten someone. Lodi then did two nights to packed houses with Steve, Alec and Andre (switching to drums). Sienna Dahlen closed the month on a high note with backing from Mike Rudd, Sage Reynolds and Michel Berthiaume.


Dorothee Berryman's tour takes her to Beloeil on March 3, Mt. Laurier (11th), Gatineau (12th), Granby (25th) and St. Hyacinthe (26th) -- all with her wonderful sextet headed by Eric Harding.

The McGill Jazz Orchestra can be heard at the Bebop Bistro Bar (1738 St. Denis) on March 1 at 8 pm. Nearby, at Pub Saint-Ciboire (1693 St. Denis), the Ensemble Fleur de Lys begins a series of Wednesday night appearances – the group includes the guitar and arrangements of Sylvain Picard and the vibes of Francois Stevenson, who has been heard of late subbing for Jean St-Jacques with Dorothee Berryman. Bassist Alex Bellegarde continues to lead jam sessions at NYKS (1250 Bleury). Violinist Mireille Proulx with pianist John Sadowy is doing a 2pm concert in Drummondville on Sunday, March 13. Veteran bebop drummer Roy Haynes brings "Birds of a Feather" (Nicholas Payton, Kenny Garrett, David Kikowski and Christian McBride) into the Flynn Theatre in Burlington, Vermont on Friday, March 11 at 8pm.

At Upstairs (1254 Mackay) Sienna is the Wednesday night feature. She's joined by guitarist Jim Head on March 3rd. Weekend attractions are the Richard Ring Quintet with Rick Wilkins, Charles Ellison, Kieran Overs and Jim Doxas (4-5), organist Vanessa Rodrigues (11-12), Kevin Dean Quintet with Francois Theberge [in from Paris] (18-19) and vocalist Denzal Sinclaire (25-26). Sundays here are also attracting crowds and the March lineup is again a strong one. The Christine Jensen Quartet (13), the Janis Steprans Quartet (20) and the Dave Turner Quartet with Dave Gelfand, Claude Lavergne and guitarist NELSON SYMONDS (27). In another not to be missed night, singer MARK MURPHY will be doing two sets on Monday, March 21st (as well as a workshop at McGill on the 20th).

Saxophonist DONNY McCASLIN, whose amazing solo, on Maria Schneider's latest CD, was nominated for a Grammy, will be joining the full Altsys band (Jennifer Bell, Bill Mahar, Aron Doyle, Christian Morissette, Dave Grott, Christopher Smith, Jocelyn Veilleux, Frank Lozano, Colin Biggin, Min Rager, Alec Walkington, Jim Doxas and John Rudel) in another not to be missed event -- Bar Focaccia (2075 University), Monday, March 14 at 9pm.

Jazz continues on a nightly basis not only at Upstairs but at House of Jazz (2060 Aylmer) and at Modavie's two locations, St. Paul at St. Laurent and on the South Shore in Brossard.

March birthdays: Reedman Yannick Rieu (2nd), trumpeter Al Penfold (5), drummer Dennis Brown (7) trumpeter-arranger-composer Wally Dunbar (11) pianists Brian Browne (16) and Paul Plimley (16) guitarist Roy Patterson (20) reed players Sayyd Abdul Al-Khabyyr, Bob Mover and Jennifer Bell (22), guitarist Oliver Gannon (23) pianist Renee Rosnes (25) and pianists Linton Garner and Maury Kaye were born on 25 and 28 respectively.

Finally, my Sunday morning show, "Dobbin's Den" (11am - 1pm) hits # 520 this Sunday, March 6 and will include an hour radio show hosted by the late Barney Kessel, one that focuses on Charlie Christian.

© Len Dobbin 2005
Montreal, Quebec, Canada