Everybody in the JazzWorks community knows Gaby Warren. The 70-something singer is a mainstay at jam sessions, always picking great tunes and surrounding himself with the best musicians available. No one is better prepared: he has charts for everyone in the appropriate keys. He’s thorough: he lets everybody know when he wants them to come in, who solos when and how to take it out.
Gaby hasn’t been at jazz camp for a few years (lean on him a bit next time you see him!) but he was a faithful attender for just about all of the Christie Lake years as he was taking his first steps into jazz singing. In the liner notes to his brand-new CD, his first, Gaby makes note of that.
“I gained valuable experience and knowledge by attending, for a number of years, JazzWorks jazz camp,” he writes. “I am indebted to Judy Humenick and the faculty.”
The new CD has a definite JazzWorks flavour, with three faculty members in the rhythm section — Nancy Walker on piano, John Geggie on bass and Nick Fraser on drums. Another faculty member, Rob Frayne, is listed as co-producer. Also on the CD is the compelling saxophonist Kirk McDonald, who left Ottawa a few years ago for Toronto.
The CD reflects Gaby’s encyclopedic knowledge of jazz, right down to the packaging which invokes the look of the Impulse Records LPs of the Sixties. Included are tunes by McCoy Tyner, Horace Silver and Thelonious Monk — and not the obvious ones either. A highlight is Kirk McDonald’s beautiful Calendula, with lyrics by Gaby. Gaby also contributes several originals.
Another thing about Gaby that not everybody may know is that he is an avid supporter of other people’s music, one of the most loyal in the city. If you have a club date, the odds are that Gaby will be there. If you put on a concert, Gaby will be in the audience. If you are fortunate to draw a “bravo!” from the crowd, that will be Gaby.
That’s one of the reasons why a lot of us will be there on May 21 at the NAC Fourth Stage when Gaby launches his CD, Reflections of a Jazz Fanatic. The same great cast of musicians will be along with him. It should be a great night.
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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.