Blog

Thoughts on music, the arts, and interviews with friends.
Click the title of each post to read on.

A nation is a collection of stories. Where they overlap, they represent a shared experience and an intergenerational legacy. In their uniqueness, they underscore just how varied our individual lives are. Legacies 150 is a series of interactive photo and illustration essays from the National Film Board reflecting on legacy and inheritance a century and a half into Canadian Confederation. These first-person stories explore where we come from, who we are, and what kind of nation we are becoming. I was honoured to contribute the music to It Might Break Your Heart as part of this initiative. It was written by Mary Walsh, illustrated by Jud Haynes and produced by...

Today we Take Five with singer/songwriter Barry Canning. He'll be rocking out at Salmon Fest 2017 Saturday July 15, not far from his hometown of Bishop's Falls, NL. Most recently, Barry has been sharing the stage with Newfoundland compatriots Chris LeDrew, Cory Tetford and Paul Lamb in a series of successful in-the-round concerts. There’s a quote from www.barrycanning.com worth sharing: “If you could combine the voices Crosby, Stills, and Nash into one, then you have captured the essence of Barry Canning the singer. If you could fuse together the writing talents of John Hiatt, Jackson Browne, and Chris Rea, then you have...

The fine gentlemen in this photo are Buddy Pennington (drums), Ed Goff (tenor saxophone), Rob Mills (electric bass), and Ralph Walker (piano). I got this photo from Rob himself during one of our many chats about jazz music in Newfoundland. These four stars shine bright and are a part of intricate constellation of musicians known for their originality, open ears, and work ethic. Since 2013, I've interviewed dozens of NL jazz performers and fans. The stories they share are inspiring and sometimes heart-breaking. I am reaching out to anyone reading this who feels connected to jazz performance in NL. In particular,...

Pianist/composer Bill Brennan is Canadian treasure. We’ve worked together quite a lot through the years and each time I feel more excited about music and life. If you’re in St. John’s, NL Sunday July 9 you can get a bit of that feeling at the Ship Pub from the Brennan/Bendzsa Little Big Band. This cut is from a concert Bill and I offered in 2008. Listening back after so long, I hear two friends on a reckless search for fun in every phrase. I’ll post more from this concert soon, as well as a long form interview with Bill about composition. Take a walk...

Like you, I've been improvising for a long time. Improvisation is so ubiquitous that it doesn't actually need to be called anything. Essentially, that's the biggest problem in examining improvised activity. Noticing, seeing, remembering, acting, not-acting, playing, resting, driving, cooking, listening. It's in everything people do. Offering the entire world as one interconnected and improvised relationship is my favourite shared activity with tense students who are reluctant to improvise. Today I want to share a paper I wrote (gulp) 10 years ago for the now defunct International Association of Jazz Educators that deals with that tension. Reading older writing shares the...

In these TAKE FIVE interviews, I hope to offer some perspectives from musicians around the world and direct you to some incredible sounds. I plan on offering some longer form interviews with much more discussion too, separate from these short vignettes. Jon McCaslin is a dear friend of mine. We’ve had a lot of crazy adventures through the years. We were students together at the University of Toronto. One thing that connects us is our love of Canadian jazz music in particular. We’ve had dozens of conversations about radio shows, concerts, and recordings that we love. I could talk about Jon all...

My wife Jenny and I just returned from a marvelous trip abroad to Ireland and the U.K. Part honeymoon, part family visit, it was entirely riveting. While I brought my pocket trumpet but I don’t mind admitting I didn’t play very much at all. Every year, I take a short respite from playing to experience the thrill of returning to it fresh. Needs change. Stepping back from the canvas, so to speak, allows different perspectives and potential strategic alterations to manifest. I’ll devote a whole post to this later, but for about a year I’ve used Chase Sanborn’s 6/60 Routine to...

Here's a little video of me talking about the University of Victoria, where I am Associate Professor of Jazz Studies. In 2017-18 I'm teaching courses in Jazz Theory (MUS 401D), Jazz Pedagogy (MUS 239), Music Business (MUS 411), Indigenous Peoples and Music (MUS 391), and Jazz Ensemble (MUS 180D-580D). Drop me a line if you'd like to know more about all the great things happening at UVic....

Welcome to my new digital home. It’s been a long time coming. Many kind thanks to Christopher Willes for all his hard work in realizing it. Anyone interested in working with reliable, fun people with their finger on the pulse should visit http://christopherwilles.com/ and http://endlesscommons.com/ immediately. Chris is a ridiculous talent on stage and off and reconnecting is bliss. This blog is a through-put, not an output. I’ll showcase work in sound and music, including things in progress (which I suppose, is everything). Tell me what you think about, please. I want to share ideas on combining improvisation and composition, and...