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A New Beginning: September-October 2003

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Vancouver Vibe has been hatched in the wake of the 2003 Vancouver International Jazz Festival . For ten days, I lived jazz. When we are so immersed in something, insight is better able to define itself. There is so much more to say so buckle up!

In this edition:


The Cellar Turns 3:

The Jazz Cellar is celebrating its third anniversary in September under the direction of Cory Weeds, although the unofficial (more personal) celebration happened August 9. That’s the date that Weeds took possession of the club three years ago to fulfill his dream of providing a new destination for live jazz in the city.

“The idea of not celebrating on August 9 was just because it was the middle of summertime, a lot of people are gone. I want to do something big every year,” says Weeds (pictured right). “September, things are much better: everybody is back in town, the students are back in school.”

The club, on the city’s West Side, is turning out to be a major influence in Vancouver’s music life. Weeds begins this anniversary celebration by welcoming B3 Hammond man Dr. Lonnie Smith to town September 5 and 6. Patrons will celebrate for the following two weekends. In the past year, The Cellar has hosted some big names, including Kenny Garrett , the Mulgrew Miller Trio and a plethora of this city’s finest local musicians.

Weeds sums up (with a laugh) the biggest surprise in the first three years of the club: “We’re still here.”

It began as so many young businesses do: with dreams of economic expense. The Mike Allen Trio opened on Wednesday August 9, 2000. “It was good,” explains Cory, “we had 65 people in there. It was a great night. And I had no idea what I was doing.

“I think the next night, we had 12 people, and the following night we had five people. It got progressively worse from there. And then, of course, it picked up.”

The jazz business, for Cory Weeds, is defined by the power of desire, risk and faith. He openly characterizes himself as a hands-on person, one who learns best by trying something new and learning from mistakes. To this day, Weeds says he is learning and changing constantly as he strives to merge his knowledge of music with his growing understanding of Vancouver’s restaurant business.

Motive is not lacking in this young man: “Without the musicians...they really support what happens at The Cellar. It’s a lot of pressure but it’s also very empowering. It forces me to continue to work hard because people do believe in me and what I’m doing and the club. It’s actually not that hard to keep going.”

Cory Weeds may be Vancouver’s best example of tomorrow’s jazz citizen. He runs The Cellar, has his own independent record label (Cellar Live), a weekly radio show (Chasin’ the Trane) and his own group (Crash). Weeds has wisely positioned himself as a player in music, media and entertainment so that he can more easily book, record and feature groups in many venues. Weeds represents the “convergence” theory within jazz.

If Cory Weeds can hang in, the club will last a lot longer than the intensity of his initial investment. Fan loyalty that develops around such historic beginnings usually endures for much longer than the fans themselves.



Goodbye for Chris Tarry:

Labour Day 2003 will be remembered for the departing performances of Metalwood’s bassist, Chris Tarry, who is scheduled to land in New York City on September 7. Tarry recently granted AAJ an exclusive interview in which he discusses music in general, music in his life and his hopes for a bright musical future in the Big Apple.

Chris Tarry finalized his departure from Vancouver with a trio performance featuring Chris Gestrin on piano and Bernie Arai on drums. The group played a mix of originals and standards.

The players’ contrasting physical images struck me almost as much as their music. Bernie Arai listened so intently to what was happening that he often leaned back, eyelids fluttering, as he struck his traps and cymbals with a truly feathery touch. Chris Gestrin’s elbows protruded while his forearms pointed towards each other, but can he tickle the keys. Chris Tarry’s love of music shines through, whether he is leaned in or stretched out. The trio was something to watch.

The set was highlighted (and concluded) by a wonderful version of Bill Evans’ “Very Early.” Tarry explained that he had not played the song for some time, but that he always enjoyed doing so. This was clear and it drew great applause from a steadily growing audience.



CD New Release:

Gabriel Mark Hasselbach
Gabriel’s Horns (Windtunnel Records)

Gabriel’s Horns debuts the newest collection of electronic wind explorations from Vancouver’s Gabriel Mark Hasselbach. This record is officially released on September 3.

Gabriel’s Horns serves a commercial purpose, although Hasselbach’s skills as a writer and a player are beyond question. Gabriel Mark Hasselbach will be both adored and criticized for this record, depending on where you sit in the smooth jazz debate. This 63 minutes of music may help you out of a bad mood, but it won’t change your life. Is that bad?

Check out our review of Gabriel's Horns.

Hasselbach first came to mainstream notoriety with the enormous success of Canada’s Powder Blues. Since then, Hasselbach has forged associations with a who’s-who in music, most recently performing with Michael Buble’. Gabriel does not shy away from commerce, having produced commercials and jingles for corporations such as Sony, General Motors and National Geographic. His music also underscored fashion shows and corporate presentations.

Gabriel Mark Hasselbach moved to Vancouver long ago from Denver, Colorado.



Maximum Survives:

September marks a new beginning for Vancouver’s Maximum Jazz, a local independent label. The new office was located and set up after a terrible fire swept through Maximum’s Pender Street home in July. I had gone down to meet and greet the staff just a couple of weeks before (during the annual jazz festival). It had not dawned on me that Maximum was part of the inferno that I watched on television news until I received a light-hearted “We’re okay” e-mail from the company.

The building, on Pender Street, has been deemed structurally unsound until officials can fully assess smoke and water damage. Apparently, fire burned quite a hole in the office of Maximum boss Brian Watson and the company’s employees began to work from home.

Maximum’s new releases include Laura Crema’s Almost Blue and Lappelectro’s Closer Than They Appear.



Who Gets the “After Hours” Gig?

Vancouver’s Kate Hammett-Vaughan now waits to see if her audition succeeded.

Hammett-Vaughan filled in for the departing Ross Porter on CBC Radio Two’s “After Hours,” a nationally broadcast jazz radio show. Porter has left the CBC for a private broadcasting gig with the CanWest Global network. Kate Hammett-Vaughan played host for two weeks ending August 29.

With this audition, Hammett-Vaughan experienced the age-old broadcasting challenge. Was she able to picture the invisible, quintessential listener when she opened the microphone?

”Yeah, I was getting there. You know, give me four weeks, give me six. By the middle of the second week, I was starting to hit my stride,” says Kate. “The first week was very, kind of, experimental for me. Listening every night and going, ‘Oh, that seems too fast, that seems too slow, that doesn’t have enough modulation.’”

Regardless of the outcome, Kate returns to her music jobs at Vancouver Community College and Capilano College where, she says, student enthusiasm infects teachers. Kate has charmed jazz lovers since she moved to Vancouver from Nova Scotia in 1979.

Renowned Canadian jazz pianist Joe Sealy takes the chair to audition in September before the public broadcaster decides who will carry the torch into the show’s future.



September Performers

Drummer Steve Smith brings his chops to Canada for a tour of clinics that begin in Vancouver on September 9 at 7 pm at the Vancouver Masonic Centre (1495 West 8th Avenue).

Smith will tour Canada until mid-month, when he returns to play with Michael Zilber and Dave Liebman at the Monterey Jazz Festival in California.

Vancouver jazz lovers can take the open air for nine hours of free music on September 7 at the first-ever Central City Jazz & Blues Festival in Surrey. The event runs from 11 am to 8 pm with each of nine acts playing for about 45 minutes a piece. The talent is diverse, ranging from the Juno-award nominated world music group, Rumba Calzada to Crash featuring a guest appearance by Dr. Lonnie Smith (pictured here).

The festival happens rain or shine but early September in Vancouver is usually dry enough to make for a nice day of outdoor music, especially this year. At this writing, local officials predict that, if we don’t get any rain, Vancouver’s reservoirs will run out of usable water in just over a month.

September features veteran Canadian jazz performers down at O’Douls on Robson.

George McFetridge brings his lifelong experience to the stage Sunday nights. McFetridge has long been known for his work touring the US with the Buddy Rich Big Band after finishing his stint at Berklee. George McFetridge is from Edmonton, although he now works out of Vancouver.

Guitarist Bill Coon opens on Mondays this September. Coon debuted as a band leader with his 2003 release Speakeasy, featuring Darren Radtke on bass, Dave Robbins on drums and Ross Taggart on tenor sax. This man works the town regularly with the WOW Jazz Orchestra, Oliver Gannon, Campbell Ryga, the Jill Townsend Big Band, Karin Plato and Mike Allen (among others).

Bill Coon is nationally known to write for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Woody Herman Band.

O’Doul’s also features Vancouver-born Jennifer Scott on Tuesday, Bob Murphy on Wednesday throughout September in addition to the Ross Taggart Trio from September 4 to 6; the Bob Mahaney and Jennifer Hayes Trio from September 11 to 13; the Stu Loseby Trio from September 18 to 20, and the Kevin Elaschuk Trio from September 25 to 27.

The Mingus Big Band plays at the Chan Centre at the University of British Columbia on Saturday, October 4. For tickets, call 604-822-2697.



Canadian Goes Global:

Tanya Kalmanovitch, who performed multiple gigs at this year’s Vancouver jazz festival, is setting off across the world for the second time in the last few months.

Kalmanovitch is finishing off her newest CD. She has just finished the recording in Calgary and will mix it in Toronto on a swing to play the Guelph Jazz Festival before jetting to India in mid-September. Tanya expects to spend a year there and is then planning to fly to Amsterdam. Kalmanovitch thinks she won’t return to Canada (although perhaps another festival gig might sway her?).

In Day Seven of the festival coverage , I wrote: “Let this be a lesson to us all: we never know when we’ll get to see these artists again.”



The Future of Jazz?

The future of jazz is, in my opinion, most boldly and beautifully stated on Nicholas Payton’s new album, Sonic Trance .

This record is astounding given Payton’s recording past and his unique embrace of current technology. Nicholas Payton jammed with several groups aside from his regular quintet late last year. He led Time Machine, a New Orleans club band that focused on funk and groove stuff. It was there that Payton experimented with much of what he ultimately used on Sonic Trance : selective sampling, synthesizers and a wah-wah effect on his trumpet. The results are very new, a collection of music that seduces our desire to escape while providing an integral jazz forum for the ideas.

Sonic Trance really does reflect a decided philosophical underpinning for Nicholas Payton. “Everyone has a voice,” says Payton. “I believe we can all co-exist – truly be who we are – without stepping on each other though, with the current state of affairs, it plays better in theory than in execution. In that way, I feel this record is very timely."

Agreed. For more thoughts, check out Nicholas Payton In Conversation .



Media Blooper:

Oops! It happens to the best of us.

”Well, the blackout hit much of Ontario. Communities across the province have been without power. Tonight, the situation can be summed up in two words: off and on.”

— Peter Mansbridge, CBC National News. August 15, 2003.


Photo Credits:
Tanya Kalmanovitch Portrait by
Nadia Molinari .


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