The other night I was at GigSpace listening to Brian Browne, performing as part of GigSpace’s Still Swingin’ series. Brian, in his 77th year, played with his customary swing and swagger, and his two trio-mates, bassist Sol Gunner and drummer Glenn Robb, kept up too, although they are of similar vintage. In fact, they were part of Brian’s original trio when he played around Ottawa and Hull in the Fifties.
The Still Swingin’ series has featured other Ottawa musicians in the past is, including another great pianist, J-P Allain, and the series will continue. It is, as GigSpace’s website puts it, “created with the intent of preserving our jazz history.” That’s a laudatory aim and don’t let the description fool you. The musicians featured are not museum pieces.
As someone who is only slightly less old, I’m always interested in how veteran musicians keep up, stay fresh, keep bringing new ideas into their playing. Because if they don’t, they do become museum pieces.
Listening to Brian play Besame Mucho (a tune he admitted he sneered at as a young man), it was easy to hear that he has kept his ears open. The dark, minor chords of the tune brought out some voicings that were as modern as anything you’ll hear anyone else play.
When I listen to young musicians, I’m interested in how they develop their musical vocabulary, how they learn the language, how they absorb and expand on the players who came before. Too bad some of them weren’t among the sold-out crowd at GigSpace.
But we will get a chance to hear some young folks at the upcoming Sunday jam session at the Carleton Tavern. Beginning at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 9, you will hear a combo from Nepean High School, working with teacher J-F Fauteux, called The One L’s Jazz Combo:
Ethan Hardy, alto saxophone
Ben King, trumpet
Avery Vine, piano
Keagan Eskritt, drums
Robert Wannell, guitar
Joshua Yazbeck, bass
Hey, it’s music for all ages.
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About this blog
Tune Up won't be a calendar of events — Ottawa Jazz Happenings takes care of that. But it will discuss events and issues of interest to the JazzWorks community. Journalist, author, trumpet player and a jazz camper since 1999, Charley Gordon is a former vice-president of JazzWorks.