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Take Five: Geoff Lapp


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If you were to spend just a bit of time poking around geofflapp.com, you might think that the Montreal pianist was one of these 20-something musicians who is new to the scene but has plenty of Web mojo. His site links to his Facebook and Twitter accounts and indeed, via song.ly, he tried this year to promote Canadian jazz by directing people to hosted MP3s by Canadian jazz musicians. At his site,  Lapp a listening room with tracks from his CD which can be streamed and then downloaded, if you so choose. You can even donate toward the creation of Lapp's next CD via his site -- in keeping with the Net-based business model that all the young cats subscribe to.

In fact, Lapp's been a mainstay of the Montreal jazz scene for nearly 30 years. When I was there in the mid- and late-1980s, he was one of the house pianists at Biddle's, backing up the singer saxophonist Johnny Scott. I looked up to him then for the flow of his playing and for his sure grasp of harmony, with a special nod to Bill Evans. Lapp has also played with American heavies such as Sonny Fortune, Bob Mover and Slide Hampton, but I think of him more as two hands for hire, called upon by fellow Montrealers such as trumpeter Charles Ellison and singer John Labelle and Jeri Brown.

For the last 10 years, he's has led a trio that includes bassist Paul Johnston and drummer Dave Laing, both McGill University grads originally from Ottawa. I'm under the impression that this group doesn't go out on the road much, but this Sunday night, it will play in Ottawa, at the First Unitarian Church, where there's a new Steinway grand piano waiting to be played.

Lapp was kind enough to send along these answers to the blog's five questions.

What's the difference between good music and bad music?
One is easy* to listen to, the other isn't. One is well constructed, well performed, and the other isn't. I could go on about the subtle differences, but that becomes personal.

*easy, assuming the listener is educated in the music form they are listening to. For example: Most people would probably not enjoy John Coltane's A Love Supreme the first time they heard it. Lots of people still do not appreciate Monk.

I'm also assuming the listener enjoys the music's style. Personally I'm not a fan of opera, but good opera is a lot easier to listen to than bad opera.

2) What jazz musician past or present would you like to have dinner with, and why?
Wayne Shorter. I think it would be fun to pick his brain about his compositional technique as well as his experiences with Miles and all the other great bands he was part of.

3) What's one thing that you're practicing or studying these days?
I've been working on some standards, trying to personalise them, find my own voice within the jazz tradition.

4) Name three of your desert island recordings:
Bach: The French Suites, Glenn Gould
Gershwin's World, Herbie Hancock
Portrait in Jazz, Bill Evans

5) What would you have done with your life if you were not a jazz musician?
Painting. Sculpting. Who knows? I might have become rich.

The Geoff Lapp Trio performs Sunday, Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church (30 Cleary Ave.) Tickets are $20, $12 for students.

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