I am just getting my feet back underneath me from a really busy year! I completed the first year of the Master’s program at the University of Toronto while directing the 7 o’clock Jazz Ensemble. I managed to continue my regular schedule with the Toronto District School Board as well as my role as Musical Director of the 2014/15 JAZZ.FM91 Youth BIg Band (pictured above).
Big thanks to my wife Pamela for keeping things on the home front going so smoothly and to my boys Jacob,Samuel and Benjamin for putting up with my schedule this year! Pam picked up all the slack this year and is such a great mom!
This last week proved to be an exciting- yet typical week. On Tuesday April 28th, 2015 I did my year first year Master’s recital. The program included half original music and half standards with string and rhythm section accompaniment. I was lucky to have Amanda Lee, Daniela Gasi, Pamela Bettger and Ann O’Kane in the string section and along with Kevin Coady, Josh Smiley and Victor Vrankulj.
Two days later the JAZZ.FM91 Youth BIg Band was on stage at Keorner Hall for the annual JAZZ LIVES 2015 concert. The band shared the stage with Benny Golson, Pat Metheny and Kat Edmondson and some of Toronto’s finest musicians: Mike Downes, Larnell Lewis, Robi Botos and Lou Pomanti.
Benny Golson’s set was truly remarkable. It was a jazz history lesson! He performed Whisper Not, Killer Joe and Stablemates and had plenty of incredible stories about his life and experiences. Probably one of the last opportunities to hear tales told from the original perspective.
Other highlights of the year include two performances at Lula Lounge that I produced which included U of T Big Band Night and Drew Jurecka with the Etobicoke School of the Arts Strings and the JAZZ.FM91 Youth BIg Band.
A couple of weeks later the show at Lula with Drew Jurecka was a real treat! I did a number of arrangements for this concert including big band and the ESA string orchestra. It was certainly one of the musical highlights of my time with the JAZZ.FM91 Youth Big Band program.
The U of T Big Band night was a huge success with an excellent crowd out to see all three groups in action. It was a great opportunity for all the students to hear each other play! The University of Toronto Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Gordon Foote played a particularly impressive performance that night and continues to give everyone a real measuring stick for excellence.
In November the JAZZ.FM91 Youth BIg Band performed with PJ Perry for a Sound of Jazz Concert. I was really excited about having the opportunity to work with PJ as he has been a real mentor to me for years. You can tell the kind of musical intensity that PJ brings to his playing from the photo below.
In closing I would like to mention what a great year I had working with euphonium virtuoso Robert Miller. Not only is he a wonderful player but one of the best private teachers that I have ever had! Thanks for all your words of wisdom! I am already looking forward to working with him again next year!