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Fraser MacPherson: From The Pen Of...


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Fraser MacPherson: From The Pen Of...
Tenor saxophonist Fraser MacPherson was an original. Although he was raised in Victoria, British Columbia, he moved to Vancouver early in his career where he remained throughout his working life. He began to build his reputation as a Lester Young-influenced player, and in the mid '70s recorded his first trio album for West End Records with guitarist Oliver Gannon and bassist Wyatt Ruther. This album was picked up by Concord Records in the late '70s and released in the U.S. as Live at The Planetarium thereby giving MacPherson the distinction of being the first Canadian artist to be attached to the label. The wider distribution and broader acclaim that this label presented through this and other subsequent recordings was no doubt attributed to his composed and polished tenor style.

The idea behind this tribute album of MacPherson's compositions came from his son Guy. However the realization of the concept fell to the stellar tenor saxophonist Cory Weeds who is not only the owner of the the Cellar Music Group of labels, and consequently had numerous well-known contacts in the music world, but had also recently become president of the Fraser MacPherson Jazz Fund.

The eminent tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton shared a bill with MacPherson at the Vancouver Playhouse in 1990 at which they learned that the Selmer Super Action tenor they each played was manufactured at the same time. Hamilton uses his to full effect on a swinging rendition of the composition "Night Spot." Another traditionalist tenor saxophonist in the manner of Scott Hamilton is Harry Allen. For this release he brought together guitarist Dave Blenkhorn and bassist Mike Karn, which is a similar iteration as MacPherson's original trio, to bring to life the tune "Waltz For Willi." The trio gives a beautifully integrated version of the number.

There is no shortage of talented Canadian tenor players represented on this recording including Steve Kaldestad on a Johnny Hodges-influenced number "Rabbit's Habit," New York-based Grant Stewart with a playful romp on "Up In Steve's Room" and Ryan Oliver backed by an all-star trio of pianist Bernie Senensky, bassist Neil Swainson and drummer Terry Clarke as they all crackle on the tune "Our Blues." The final tenor player in this category is Cory Weeds. In the group he put together for the composition "Ol' Bill's Blues," he brought back guitarist Oliver Gannon from MacPherson's original trio, and for his own satisfaction he used MacPherson's original Selmer Super Action tenor sax. Weeds' description of MacPherson provides a perfect closure to this album: "He was a tall man with dark rimmed glasses and a deep voice. Although he was intimidating, the music that came from his horn was unbelievably joyous."

Track Listing

Night Spot; Queen's Pawn; It's A Human Race; Rabbit's Habit; Up In Steve's Room; Why Am I Blue?; Waltz For Willi; Our Blues; For Your Love; Ol' Bill's Blues; Theme.


Scott Hamilton
saxophone, tenor
Steve Kaldestad
saxophone, tenor
Grant Stewart
saxophone, tenor
Harry Allen
Ryan Oliver
saxophone, tenor
Cory Weeds
saxophone, alto
Evan Arntzen

Album information

Title: From The Pen Of... | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Cellar Records

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