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Take Five With Alex Clements

AAJ Staff BY

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Meet Alex Clements:
Alex Clements; so many adjectives can be used to describe the many facets of this talented, creative, well-rounded Canadian jazz pianist and composer. Clements is an internationally recognized artist, performing in the United States, Europe, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Morocco, and Cyprus. One of Clements' highest accomplishments is an Alberta Achievement Award, which was presented to him by the Government of Alberta.

In the past fifteen years, Clements has received numerous scholarships and awards from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Quebec, The Canada Council, The Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Record (FACTOR), McGill University (Margaret Houlding Memorial Prize), Berklee College of Music (Achievement Scholarships), and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (Arts Study Grants).

Clements has performed at numerous jazz festivals including, the Montreal International Jazz Festival and the Kissimmee Jazz Festival. He competed twice in the Martial Solal International Jazz Piano Competition in Paris; the competition consisted of 59 top jazz pianists from around the world.

Additionally, his music can be heard on the McGill Jazz Orchestra's latest release, Ostinatocious, which includes Part 1 of his Suite No. 4 "Cycles." In addition to his own album, Clements has recorded with singer Sophie Lapierre on her album entitled They Can't Take That Away From Me, with soprano saxophonist Monik Nordine on her album Not Just To But Over The Moon, tenor saxophonist E.J. Hughes on his album Audrey and, more recently, with tenor saxophonist Alain Bradette on his album State of Mind. In December of 2004 Clements was a member of the peer assessment committee for the Grants to Professional Musicians (Non-Classical Music Grants) Program for the Canada Council for the Arts, the principal federal agency for the support of the arts in Canada.

A skillful composer and virtuosic musician, he has performed on numerous CDs, including his own, entitled Suite No. 3 -ËœThe Cycle of Life, featuring his original compositions, as well as a new solo piano album entitled Emily's Song. The album was recently featured on Radio Palermo La Guagua, Buenos Aires, Argentina, WUCF-FM Orlando Jazz and more, and CBC radio show Afterhours. To support his latest release Clements has made numerous radio appearances and most recently performed on WUCF-FM radio Orlando with his Quartet recording a live performance paying tribute to Bill Evans. He also performs frequently in the Lake Timucua Concert Series in various settings including solo, trio, quartet, Classical and with international jazz trumpeter Tiger Okoshi. He performed with saxophonist Randy Cole for the Central Florida Jazz Society. He also worked with a jazz trio in Seoul, Korea and his music was heard on a local television mini-series.

Continuing his journey, Clements next release will be in 2007 featuring Clements in a quartet setting with internationally renowned drummer Danny Gottlieb, Canadian saxophonist Alain Bradette, and bassist Chris Queenen from Orlando. Danny Gottlieb has performed with all the jazz greats including Stan Getz, Pat Metheny, Chick Corea and more.

Instrument(s):
Piano.

When were you happiest?
There are types of happiness, personal happiness, career happiness. For example, my wife and I going to Southern France for a weekend getaway, and then there's my publicist emailing me to tell me my album Waiting for you... is ranked 50 on the jazz charts... yippee.

What is your greatest fear?
My biggest fear is not being able to let the world hear my music as well as the music of other jazz musicians. (i.e. the jazz stations would change their format to exclude acoustic jazz)

What is your earliest memory?
My earliest memory is of me sitting at the piano when I was four figuring out "Close to You" by the Carpenters.

What would your superpower be? My superpower would be to stop the hunger and fighting all over the world. Just when I think things get better something horrible happens and I wish I could stop this, stop the killing, stop the hunger, stop the unnecessary suffering.

Which person would you most like to meet, and why?
I would like to meet Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson, because his music speaks to me and he has that heightened sensibility that I am constantly searching for in my music. He also has a wonderful balance between the notes (sound) and rests (silence).

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
I would go back to the '50s so I could see all the jazz greats in action. There is nothing better than seeing someone whom you know has had a profound influence on your playing.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Awesome, cool.

Where would you like to live?
I would like to live in France. I love the lifestyle, the wine, the architecture, the scenery, the quality of life. I don't feel I have to rush around when I'm there (of course I'm not talking about Paris). The values are ones that are similar to mine. Shops are closed certain times so you can spend time with your family or friends, or just rest. I think in America we work to hard and forget about what's really important... and no it's not money. But then again it's good to have.

What makes you depressed?
The news. They always focus on depressing things and bad news... what sells the most I guess. What's wrong with talking about all the great things happening. I can't tell you how many times I just turn off the local news because it's predictable... shootings, murder, robbery, scandals, etc. Not enough focus on art.

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