Dobbin's Den

May 2005

Once again the readers of Mirror have voted Upstairs the “Best of Montreal’s - Best Jazz Bar.” The weekly publication added, “There would be indeed something wrong if Upstairs, the city’s premier jazzbo joint, didn’t take its usual number-one spot in this category.”


Through June 30th, the club has its regular early-week lineup with appearance by the John Labelle Duo on Mondays, Robert Ahad on Tuesdays, Sienna and Friend on Wednesdays and Ernie Nelson on Thursdays. The Friday and Saturday bookings are as follows: The Eric Hove Quartet with John Roney, Miles Perkin and Thom Gossage, June 3rd and 4th, the Sarah Latendresse Quartet, June 10th and 11th, the Charles Ellison Quartet, June 17th and 18th, singer Diane Nalini’s group, June 24th and 25th. On Sundays, it’s the Billy Bouffard Quintet on June 5th, Cabaret with Amanda Mabro on June 12th, the quintet of singer Willow Quig on June 19th and the Jeff Johnston Quartet featuring Mary Jo Rudolf on June 26th. All these events have a 9 pm start. The club’s annual Jazz Festival Jam Sessions run from June 30th through July 9th and once again pianist Jeff Johnston's trio is the host group for these events. Start time is 11 pm.


The Gillett Group jump starts the season with a May 25 concert at Club Soda (St. Laurent below Ste. Catherine) featuring singer Karrin Allyson. Ms. Allyson has a number of CDs on the Concord label.

Festival Musique de Chambre Montreal celebrates its 10th Anniversary with a series of concerts at the chalet atop Mount Royal from May 25th through June 18th. Artist director Denis Brott has once again brought Oliver Jones on in that same capacity for a series of Friday night jazz presentations. On May 27th, there will be a concert celebrating the music of Gershwin and Jobim featuring a group including the Doxas brothers, Chet and Jim, Mike Berard, John Sadowy, Morgan Moore and singer Eli Haroun plus the FMCM Big Band which will include vocalist-pianist John Gilbert, a man of a thousand songs, Bill Mahar, Muhammad Abdul Al-Khabyyr, Dave Grott, Andre Leroux, Colin Biggin and Jennifer Bell. June 3rd is entitled “After Hours” and will feature vocalist Coral Egan with guitarist Jay Atwill as well as the renowned pianist Dick Hyman in a sextet for piano and strings with bassist Zack Lober and the Festival String Quartet. On June 10th, guitarist Ben Charest, whose music for the film “Les Triplettes de Belleville” garnered an Academy Award nomination, makes an appearances joined by the likes of Jean Derome, cellist Sheila Hannigan and again Bill Mahar and the Doxas brothers. The final jazz presentation for this year takes place on June 17 with Oliver Jones heading an all-star band that is scheduled to include Eric Lagace, Wali Muhammad, Richard Ring and a rare appearance by tenorman Richard Parris, a national treasure. is their web address.

The 22nd annual Discover Jazz Festival runs from June 3rd to 10th in various locations in nearby Burlington, Vermont. Once again, Boston-based Bob Blumenthal will be conducting ‘Meet the Artists’ events throughout the festival. The lineup is indeed impressive and includes singer Madeleine Peyroux with Sam Yahel on both Hammond B-3 and piano, the Discover Jazz Festival Big Band featuring trumpeter Randy Brecker in famed arrangements of ‘Porgy & Bess,’ ‘Sketches of Spain,’ and others written by Gil Evans for Miles Davis. Bill Charlap and the unrelated Washingtons, Peter and Kenny, one of the most memorable trios currently working in the jazz field, will be doing two concerts in Flynn Space. Matt Wilson, a most musical drummer, is joined by trumpeter Ron Miles, organist-pianist Gary Versace and bassist Dennis Irwin who may just also pick up the clarinet during the course of the appearance of Wilson’s Arts and Crafts group. Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel will be joined by top-notch players in drummer Jeff Ballard and a superb, underappreciated bassist, Joe Martin, who’s played Montreal in the past with Steve Hall and Andy Bey. A rhythm team of Phil Markowitz, Cecil McBee, and Billy Hart (Pepper Adams’ favourite drummer) will join the three jazz tenors Joe Lovano, Michael Brecker, and Dave Liebman in a Saxophone Summit and the McCoy Tyner trio with Charnett Moffett and Eric Gravatt will appear in an NEA Jazz Master concert. Also on hand will be Bela Fleck, Jean-Luc Ponty, Sonny Fortune, Rashied Ali, and Bobby Few. is the address for more info.

It’s Year 25 for the Ottawa International Jazz Festival and they also have an impressive lineup in store. Among those headed for Ottawa between June 23rd and July 3rd are Harry Connick Jr., David Murray, Sonny Rollins, Benny Golson, Diana Krall, Doug Wamble, Terence Blanchard, Pucho, Joshua Redman, and David Sanchez, as well as renowned Canadians including the Jean Derome–Normand Guilbeault–Pierre Tanguay trio, Hugh Fraser’s VEJI and guitarist Andrew Scott. For a full schedule go to

The 26th edition of the Montreal International Jazz Festival will be a delight for Pat Metheny fans as he makes a number of appearances during the period, June 30th through July 10th. Metheny appears in a trio with Scott Colley on bass; with David Sanchez, Enrico Rava, and Colley; with Charlie Haden (‘Beyond The Missouri Sky’); in a reunion with Gary Burton and Steve Swallow, in a double bill with Dewey Redman (also featuring John Menegon and Matt Wilson), and in a duo with Mick Goodrick. Other interesting visitors include Dave Holland (big band), Charles Lloyd, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Mavis Staples, Fred Hersch, Randy Weston and Candido (in an homage a Chano Pozo), Geri Allen, Haden and Gonzalo Rubalcaba (‘Land of the Sun’), Rava, the Charlap Trio, Bill Frisell, Odean Pope, Toots Thielemans and Kenny Werner, Rollins, Paolo Fresu, Swallow, Sanchez and Redman. Among the Canadians well worth checking out: Francois Bourassa with Derome and Tanguay, the amazing Harry Manx (guitar and Mohan Veena), Altsys Nonet (doing material from ‘Birth of the Cool’), Ranee Lee teamed with Oliver Jones, Remi Bolduc and the Vic Vogel Big Band featuring Joanne Blouin (at the Casino). The announced appearance by Cesaria Evora has been postponed until April 2006 and Annie Sellick, a wonderful jazz singer from Nashville, is due on an outdoor stage. The full concert schedule will be announced on June 7. Go to for more info.


April was an awful month for losses in jazz and related fields. Bassists Ben Brown (on Oscar Peterson’s initial record session), the superb Roy Eastman, NHOP, Jimmy Woode and Percy Heath, reedman Arnie Lawrence, arranger-composer Robert Farnon, Benny Bailey, Stan Levey, Curly Vergil, not only a drummer but a renowned schoolteacher, and now the news that singer Monica Zetterlund died in a fire.

It was also a month where here in Montreal one could hear singer Diane Nalini with Mike Rud, Dany Roy, Dave Watts, and Jim Doxas, bassist Miles Perkin with John Roney, Thom Gossage, Eric Hove, Chet Doxas and guest Dave Gossage, the wonderful McGill Big Band I under Gordon Foote, the Julie Lamontagne Trio with Watts and Richard Irwin, Kevin Dean with Joel Miller, Christine Jensen, Jeff Johnston, Alec Walkington and Andre White, the unveiling of the Lorraine Desmarais Big Band, Jan Jarczyk with Walkington and Dave Laing, Kate Hammett-Vaughan with Jim Pinchin, Chris Gestrin, Andre Lachance, and Tom Foster (in a Montreal debut) that had people like Dorothee Berryman, Elsie Osborne and renowned mystery writer Kathy Reichs in attendance. Former members of the Emanon Jazz Society had their monthly reunion – the next is scheduled on Wednesday, May 18 at Amazona on Cote St. Luc Road at Girouard at 2pm. Feel free to drop by. Joel Miller and Christine Jensen joined forces leading a quintet of Jim Head, Miles Perkin and Robbie Kuster, Bobby Bradford played in Montpelier, Vermont, and premier bebop pianist Barry Harris appeared at Café Paradiso in Ottawa with Kieran Overs and Dave Laing – a memorable event! John Labelle became a Monday night fixture at Upstairs, usually with Steve Amirault on piano. Remi Bolduc put on a great concert at Club Soda with Zack Lober and Laing joined by Ben Monder and Seamus Blake – the latter’s ‘Body and Soul’ was magnificent! Singer Jeri Brown made a rare club appearance at month's end adding singer Yvie Pierre to her trio of Simon Sloutsker, Remi-Jean Leblanc, and Isaih Ceccarelli – keep an ear out for Leblanc, a wonderful young bassist. This show had many in attendance on both nights.

May 1 saw singer Dorothee Berryman in Ste. Thérèse, ending a tour that began back in late January. She continues to both host and pick the music for her weekly jazz shows on Radio Canada’s ‘Espace Musique’, heard on Saturday and Sunday evenings from 6:05 – 8pm in Montreal and across Canada on the network. She also did her usual wonderful job hosting an homage to Oscar Peterson in Montreal and Gatineau. The concerts featured a youth band from the EBU directed by Vic Vogel – impressive! After 13 concerts in Europe, they were a very together ensemble. The City of Montreal opened a Jazz exhibition at the Old Fire Station on Youville Square and singer Sonia Johnson launched a CD at House of Jazz the following evening. Woman was in the spotlight at the Spectrum when pianists Mimi Blais, Lorraine Desmarais, and Joanne Brackeen were presented in concert. That same weekend, the wonderful Annie Selleck was also in town with the Jeff Johnston trio. Flutist-composer Francois Richard was heard at Salle Gesu with a double quartet. Geoff Lapp, Frederic Alarie, and Michel Lambert and a string quartet were joined by guest Yannick Rieu and Thom Gossage’s group Voices opened a two day-stand. Upcoming in May, the Joe Sullivan big band featuring Remi Bolduc are at Bar Focaccia on May 19th at 9pm, the Dave Turner Quartet featuring Nelson Symonds return to Upstairs on Sunday May 22nd following a two day stand by the Jeff Johnston trio. Guy Nadon is the feature here on May 27th-28th.


Reissues and Vintage Material
For vocal fanciers the two-CD “Cocktail Hour” series from the Allegro Corporation has interesting compilations by Mildred Bailey, the Boswell Sisters, Frankie Laine, and a set of duets by Bing Crosby. Ella Fitzgerald ‘Live – Lady Be Good’ [Just Jazz] has music from a 1947 Carnegie Hall Concert with the Dizzy Gillespie big band and 1955 material with Louis Armstrong. ‘Havin’ A Good Time’ [Hyena] is a live Joe Williams set featuring Ben Webster.

More vintage material includes sessions from the CBC archives that can be found on ‘Ready or Not’ [Do Right Music], which includes are Cisco Normand, Nick Ayoub, Pierre Leduc, Billy Robinson, Kathy Moses, and Pierre Nadeau. Collectables have reissued ‘The Jimmy Giuffre Clarinet,’ originally on Atlantic. New Blue Note reissues in the Rudy Van Gelder series included Art Blakey’s Messengers (Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter) with ‘Like Someone In Love’, ‘Dial “S” for Sonny’ by Sonny Clark with Art Farmer, Hank Mobley and Wilbur Ware, guitarist Grant Green’s ‘Feelin’ The Spirit’ with Herbie Hancock, Hancock’s own ‘Speak Like a Child’ with Thad Jones and Jerry Dodgion, Wayne Shorter’s ‘Night Dreamer’ with Lee Morgan and McCoy Tyner, Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers with Blakey, Kenny Dorham and others on “The Preacher”, “Doodlin’,” and others. Also on Just Jazz is the ‘John Coltrane Quintet featuring Eric Dolphy’. The Saga label has an excellent 3 CD collection of Bird, ‘Charlie Parker Retrospective 1940-1953,’ that has a full CD of live material. The Storyville label has a couple of musts for Ellington fans, ‘The Jaywalker’ from the mid-60s and ‘At The Hurricane,’ 1943 airchecks from the spot on Broadway.

Big band fanciers might want to check out the following items. Mel Torme, George Shearing and Gerry Mulligan appear with a big band on ‘The Classic Concert’ [Concord] and Kevin Mahogany ‘Big Band’ is on his Mahogany Jazz label. The wonderful Mark Masters Ensemble is back with some Gershwin on ‘Porgy & Bess Redefined’ [Capri]. Dave Holland has released ‘Overtime,’ a big band set, on his own Dare2 label. Mike Holober’s Gotham Jazz Orchestra has ‘Thought Trains’ on Sons of Sound, while Mike Vax remembers the Kenton bands on “Next Stop, Live… On The Road” [Summit] and Gordon Foote directs students from 2002, 2003, and 2004 on the McGill Jazz Orchestra’s ‘Ostinatocious’ [FJM Records]. In the more vintage department there’s ‘No Funny Hats’ by Buddy Rich [Lightyear] and a pair by the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band, ‘All Smiles’ and ‘More Smiles’ have been reissued on MPS.


From the Proper Box folks from England come four CD sets “Jazz and Velvet,” 95 tracks from Mel Torme; “Chattanooga Gal,” Bessie Smith, again over 95 tracks; “The Young Rebel” covers the early career of bassist-composer Charles Mingus with 88 tracks; and a comprehensive 90-track compilation, “The Arranger’s Touch.” All come at a reasonable price and wonderfully informative booklets.

More CD catching up follows in June.

© Len Dobbin 2005
Montreal, Quebec, Canada