John Kelman

All About Jazz user John Kelman

With the realization that there will always be more music coming at him than he can keep up with, John wonders why anyone would think that jazz is dead or dying.

Senior Contributor Since: 2004 | From: Canada | Profile Views: 117,902

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I was born in Winnipeg, Canada and stayed there until the age of three, when the kiddie train in McKellar Park closed up and the only reason left for staying was the tropical climate. Relocated against my wishes to Ottawa, where I have lived ever since, I now bask in the balmy winters, where temperatures often reach -40C (that's -40F for you non-metric folks), and the temperate summers, where temperatures often reach a humid 35C (that's 95F).

Living in a government town that is known as a hotseat of jazz culture (?) I have spent much of the past thirty years or so as a freelance guitarist backing up numerous singer/songwriters, some good, others, well... what do you get when you add an “e” to the word “artist”? Answer: someone who takes themselves way too seriously.

Realizing that my CD buying habit was about to put myself, my wife, and two dogs (Posey, the intrepid Jack Russell Terrier and Toby, the ever- cheerful Shih Tzu; sadly, with Posey passing in the spring of 2009, it's just the venerable Toby) out of house and home, I realized that the trick was to start writing about what I'd been listening to so passionately since my first guitar teacher introduced me to Wes, Charlie Christian, Miles and Johnny Winter, amongst so many others. More than a decade on, I am now receiving upwards of 150 CDs/month for review consideration, and am in the position of taking up so much space with review copies that I am, yet again, threatening to push my wife and dogs out of house and home.

In 2005 I was asked, by Steve Lake (of ECM) and writer Paul Griffiths, to contribute to a book they were putting together about the label. It's a privilege to have been a part of Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM (Granta, 2007). With 21 contributions from writers around the world covering the entire breadth of the label and also including bios/testimonials from artists, graphic designers and many others, a wealth of colour and B&W photos, a comprehensive discography and more, it's a remarkable book and I'm honoured to have been a small part of it.

In recent times I've become more intimately involved in the Norwegian scene--to my mind the most vibrant scene at the moment, with an almost unreasonable (!) amount of remarkable music being made by so many people in a country with such a small population. I've traveled the country (and continue to do so) from Bergen to Kongsberg, Oslo to Molde, Stavanger to Svalbard--and, of course, to Kristiansand for Punkt, perhaps the most unique music festival on the face of the planet. I've also covered events in Malaysia, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Amsterdam, the United States and Canada.

In addition to contributing to Horizons Touched and regular contributions to All About Jazz, I've contributed to Downbeat, Jazzwise, Jazznytt and Oxford American magazines. I've written liner notes for artists including Arve Henriksen (Rune Grammofon vinyl box, due November 2012), Bill Bruford (Summerfold and Winterfold collections, Koch), Jan Erik Vold (Blackbird Bye Bye, with Bill Frisell and Arild Andersen, Hot Club of Norway), Terje Rypdal (Odyssey Live and in the Studio, ECM), Dave Liebman and Marc Copland (Impressions, hatOLOGY), Stanley Jordan (Friends, Mack Avenue), Matteo Sabbatini (Dawning, Fresh Sound), Alex Sipiagin (Prints, Criss Cross), Samuel Blaser ( As the Sea, hatOLOGY), Tom Harrell (Number Five, HighNote), Joe Chambers (Moving Pictures Orchestra, Savant) and Sharp Radway (Hymns and Things, Radway Music); had photos published in ECM recordings by Terje Rypdal (Crime Scenes) and Tomasz Stańko (Dark Eyes) and in numerous magazines; and contributed chapters to another (German-only) book on ECM: Die Blaue Klang (Wolke Verlag, 2010). I've written press sheets for Greta Aagre and Eric Honoré (Jazzland Records), the Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group (Motéma Music), Samuel Blaser (hatOLOGY), Cryptogrammophone Records, Komeda Project (Independent) and John McLaughlin (Abstract Logix), and was honoured to contribute the introduction to photographer Ziga Koritnik's forthcoming jazz photography book, Cloud Arranger.

In 2012, I curated a series at Norway's Kongsberg Jazz Festival, a collaboration by AAJ, Kongsberg and Music Export Norway. All About Jazz Presents: Doing it Norway will present seven shows, over two days, that will feature some of today's most creative Norwegian musicians in contexts both old and new.

All of this has been a direct result of my affiliation with All About Jazz, and being able to leverage opportunities thanks to AAJ's international reach and large readership. It's all just a matter of going after them by providing quality service bolstered by the strength of AAJ. You can do it too!

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