Portrait of O’Doul’s:
O’Doul’s Restaurant and Bar may be trendy but in many ways it truly represents Vancouver’s West End. The joint features jazz music seven nights a week but O’Doul’s is absolutely rooted as a restaurant that caters to trend, health and commerce.
O'Doul's rose to notoriety as the namesake of Frank “Lefty” O’Doul. Frank spent most of his playing career in Pacific Coast League (PCL) baseball, beginning as a pitcher in 1918. At one point, O’Doul managed the triple-A Vancouver Mounties. “Lefty” became a journeyman major league player in San Francisco (where he remains a legend), Los Angeles, New York, Boston and Philadelphia. O’Doul played in one World Series game (with two RBI) before retiring to help young players in their careers.
In the mid-90s, O’Doul’s in Vancouver was renovated to a New York-styled bistro whose glass housing provides an air of openness. Although many people enjoy ogling Robson Street’s social activity, one is forgiven for staring at the restaurant ceiling.
Early in the Seventeenth century, the exuberant imagery of twin hemispheres injected a fresh dimension to the world map. Although this map appeared under William Blaeu's name, the claim of authorship is somewhat clouded by suspicion. Blaeu died in 1638 but this map bears a dedication dated 1665 (to Jacopo Altovito, papal legate in Venice).
O’Doul’s caters to an affluent West End culture. Its windows look out on a surfeit of quaint storefronts that serve in the trade of novelties. Although the buildings are relatively new, these businesses operate in less than 1000 square feet. One cannot help but feel minimal in such surroundings and O’Doul’s functions as a prosperous example of that power. People often attend O’Doul’s as a public statement. The jazz music surely enriches an overall experience that is defined by setting and social class.
O’Doul’s is housed in the Listel Vancouver Hotel. That is where many guest musicians stay when they play the Vancouver International Jazz Festival.
Wendy Solloway: Where There’s A Will:
Wendy Solloway, bassist for the Vancouver jazz ensemble Mother of Pearl , is a living example of musical purpose. She speaks passionately about what she loves and one senses that Solloway took some difficult roads to that understanding.
The 53-year-old mother works as a music therapist for Vancouver’s St. James’ Cottage Hospice. Wendy was hired on a very short-term ten years ago for a job that she bluntly told her boss that she did not intend to keep for very long. The circumstance was mutually beneficial. Wendy began working in long-term care but soon moved to palliative care where, to this day, she works with people who have no more than a few months to live. Wendy Solloway often plays for audiences of one and they haven’t got long to hear her musical messages. Tough gig.
DVD Review : Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind
Solloway confirms that Western Culture badly undervalues its elders. Although many families of her clients participate in helping her treat impending death with song, Wendy says most of her patients suffer from messages unspoken. Either no one is there to hear them, or we are just too busy to listen for long. Although terminal illness often does motivate families to reconcile, there is little time for little else.
Music therapy carries an unexpected human cost. “There are always these people that wheedle their way past these little barriers that you set up – right smack dab into your heart,” says Wendy. “And for those people, it’s always a lot harder to let them go...so it still can be difficult.”
Catharsis defines Wendy’s work at many levels. One listens intently while she tells one story upon another of people who have lived hard and are suffering in ways that make them philosophical about change. Wendy once worked with a young woman who contracted Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) from a life on the street. Her sentence was premature death. The woman penned a lyric that Wendy put to song in which the dying woman remembers how she left her family home in rebellion and longed for a different decision. The lyric was a statement of regret for the past, but hope for a peaceful end to a turbulent life. There is the catharsis, short-lived as it is for terminally ill patients.
Wendy Solloway creates CDs whose stories survive long after their authors. ”I find it really satisfying,” says Wendy, “because it’s creative for me. I get to work on the music. I feel it’s really satisfying to hand this over to another person...it’s a great project.”
Prioritizing keeps Wendy sane. She does not claim to have an answer for the stresses but she does some things that should cause us pause to consider their value: going for long walks, crying if necessary or snapping (as Wendy laughably discusses) at a person who is being unreasonable. “A lot of the things that we think are really important, and that really make us angry or upset...they don’t mean anything, you know?
“If you could look at your life, look at yourself in the position of these people, and look back and say, ‘That guy who cut me off or that lady – is that going to matter to me when I die? Am I even going to remember this?’”
Although she is planning to change careers, one cannot speak with Wendy Solloway without sensing that music therapy has been a reciprocal inspiration. Wendy says music therapy found her, not the other way around. People with so little time have helped Solloway clarify the most resilient values that survive us: people, friends, family, love, adventures (things risked) and accomplishments — immaterial moments of human ascension.
DVD Review: Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind :
Joni Mitchell’s music is so widely appealing that it has merely brushed the jazz genre. Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind, however, is a striking document of the serious trials that have defined the humanity behind Mitchell’s music. One could scarcely be prouder of a humble Canadian prairie girl who braved polio and a strange, changing world to produce world-class songs.
Jazz fans first learned of Joni Mitchell through her four albums of collaboration with Jaco Pastorius in the 1970s. Well after her ascent as a folk singer, Mitchell would receive a call from Charles Mingus, who phoned to ask if she would participate on his last record. She wrote the lyrics for Mingus’ music. In 2003, Joni Mitchell: The Complete Geffen Recordings was released as a box set.
Joni Anderson was born officially in Fort Macleod, Alberta but she vividly recalls growing up in Maidstone, Saskatchewan in the 1940s. After World War II, Mitchell’s father bought a house on the highway through the town of 1,200. Its picture window provided young Joni with the ultimate creative metaphor – a window on an imagination that would travel far and wide. Ironically, Mitchell remembers playing at a Calgary coffee house called “The Depression.” That is where she met her first husband and manager. Joni walked down the aisle with Chuck Mitchell “...for all the wrong reasons.” They would forever part when he articulated an unwillingness to raise another man’s child. Mitchell the girl became an adult in a hurry.
Indeed, global insight may be the key to Joni’s survival – a passion to create that carried her through some very hard times to some very good times. Last November, Mitchell celebrated her 60th birthday and surely one of her highest, most transcendent moments came in Vancouver, when she reunited with her daughter, Kilauren Gibb. Joni became pregnant when she lost her virginity; motherhood was economically impossible for unwedded mothers in the early 1960s. Joni and Kilauren met on the West Coast and Joni discovered that she is a grandmother. That was a long, long road that some of Mitchell’s peers believe may have ultimately completed Joni: as a person and as an artist.
”Bad fortune changed the course of my destiny,” says Mitchell. “I became a musician.”
GJR’s full review of Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind.
Production Notes:Studio: Eagle Vision Picture Format: 16:9 Sound Format: Dolby Digital Stereo; DTS Digital Surround Sound; Dolby Surround Sound 5.1
DVD Extras:Interview out-takes Bonus songs: “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Amelia,” “Hejira” and “Woodstock” Photo gallery Discography Travelogue Slide Show
Eagle Rock Entertainment
Joni Mitchell Home Page.
License to Print CDs:
O’Doul’s Restaurant & Bar has produced take time, a compilation of local jazz recorded at the restaurant.
Take time features trios and quartets led by guitarists Bill Coon and Jeff Shucard, vocalists Karin Plato, Alita Dupray, Kate Hammett-Vaughan, Jennifer Scott and Leora Cashe; sax players Mike Allen, Saul Berson, Campbell Ryga, Stewart Loseby, Ross Taggart and keyboardists Bob Murphy and Sharon Minemoto.
The record also contains three previously unreleased tracks: “Paulina”, written and performed by Campbell Ryga; “Love Me or Leave Me” featuring vocalist Leora Cashe, and “Don't Explain” featuring Alita Dupray. take time, the first-ever O’Doul’s compact disc, debuted on November 26.
With this news, O’Doul’s may be testing the waters to see if it can become a player in the production and distribution of local jazz music. Although Lise Magee, producer of take time, says there are no immediate plans for future O’Doul’s releases, nightlife and CDs can makes a lot cents.
Vancouver may be ripe for corporate expansion into jazz music production and distribution. The only question is how artists themselves will benefit from this variation on the old marketing, distribution and royalty paradigm. Cynics may suggest that live venues are now just using cheaper technology to profit on the proceeds of live performance; optimists may be stimulated by the prospect of producing a live album while they produce a live set. Ideally, everybody could win with a little fiscal compassion: ”you make some, I make some.” Realistic?
New CD Releases:
Jillian Lebeck: Living in Pieces :
Jillian Lebeck has released her debut album, Living in Pieces (Talie Records). Although the record contains three vocalized cover songs, the Vancouverite’s greatest strength is her power to make notes gently resonate in our imaginations.
Check GJR’s full review .
Curiosities abound here. Lebeck’s classical training in piano and trumpet are not as evident as one would expect. Instead, Lebeck uses her unique artistic voice to characterize the musical ideas within a general, emotive context. Local musician extraordinaire Brad Turner beautifully offsets his own uniqueness to augment Lebeck, a mission shared by saxophonist Jon Bentley. Bassist André Lachance and drummer Paul Townsend ably fill the aural spaces between keyboard reverberations.
Jillian Lebeck’s Living in Pieces was released on December 20.
Chris Tarry’s Project 33 :
Vancouver bassist Chris Tarry is surviving in The Big Apple. Tarry settled in NYC for a few months and has reported that he intends to stay. Before he left, Tarry gathered a group in Vancouver and recorded Project 33 for release in late 2003 on the Black Hen label.
Check GJR’s full review .
Tarry’s latest is a tasteful and compelling fusion of jazz traditions with the vision of someone with enough experience to see new ways of expressing our age-old love of note. Band mates Mino Cinelu, Chris Gestrin, Jesse Zubot, and Kelly Jefferson offer unique contributions to a greater holistic result. So many egos could ruin such music. Instead, this group of musicians made a great record.
GJR In Conversation with Chris Tarry (Summer, 2003).
Sneak Peek at Michele Mele:
Canadian singer Michele Mele is set to release her new album this March. Laugh is scheduled for release almost exactly one year after Mele’s debut album, Like This .
Laugh continues many of the musical threads woven on Michele Mele’s debut: 42 minutes of tight ensemble, playful voice, slick sound and abbreviated solos. “Cabana Boy” initiates a comforting groove and the mainstream ride continues with creative punctuations. String orchestrations figure more prominently into the mix. “Trying” features some beautiful harmonies. Mele’s band again delivers excellent improvisation on violin and flute. “Laugh” swings like few other songs in this collection. Overall, the relative brevity of this album is diminished by its stylistic variety.
”It feels so good to be free/Let the music flow through me.”
How to Play the Saxophone:
Michael Brecker showed us how on December 10: blow in one end and press the buttons on the horn.
Appearance is everything so start at the top: put on a stupid looking beret and indoor sunglasses. Next, gig shirts. Hawaiians are fine but, in a pinch, look for floral. In a jam, you could always settle for anything sweaty and used from a club, or festival. Although many say that jazz is about using music to crash through consciousness, appearance improves playing. During those longer (more strenuous) solos, audience members who nod are actually looking at your feet. If you play in Vancouver, you’d better wear sandals. Pay attention to all local customs. Remember: nothing sounds better than looking good.
When you've dressed properly, you may practice. All great jazz playing boils down to the facial expressions of rapture and pain (i.e., the blues). Take some method acting lessons; you’ll learn it in no time flat.
Reeds. Optimally, you'll move to Cuba, cure your own cane and carve your own reeds. If you're a “weekend warrior,” buy 100 reeds from the store and throw away 60 of them. Those were unplayable. Take those that remain and soak them in a mixture of 27.8% rubbing alcohol and 72.2% pituitary gland extract for 17 weeks. Throw away 20 more reeds. Those ones were stuffy. Sand each of the remaining 20 reeds for 13 seconds using #1200 grade sandpaper. Take the squeaky ones (14 or so) and throw them away. Take the remaining six reeds and soak them for 17 more weeks, this time in a mixture of 72.2% rubbing alcohol and 27.8% pituitary gland extract. Sun dry the remaining reeds for three weeks and throw away three more (general principle). The last three reeds should last you several months if you stop to change them every 20 minutes.
Sell your new horn immediately and buy the Selmer Mark VI: born at 4:27 PM on June 14, 1963, serial number 635543. If you can't get that, buy another one that is equally old and expensive. Its functional condition is utterly irrelevant (especially after a certain period of solo time).
Finally: do not listen to your idols!! To really understand the music and its traditions, you must bend your ears on every bit of music ever recorded. Start with madrigals and work forward. By 2034, you will begin to understand everything played by Miles Davis.
The conclusion to this column is dedicated to Tom Grieve. When we read from the giant literary works of Ezra Pound , T.S. Eliot and W.B. Yeats , none of my answers seemed to be correct. Disconcerting. Upon consultation, Professor Tom – an academic giant who stood five-foot-four – gave me the secret. “There are really only two ways to understand modernism,” said he. “Flop around in a cloud of misunderstanding, or learn all of the conventions (including those referenced in the Old and New Testaments) to find out how the modernists played on old ideas.” Toughest B- of my life.