One of ways JazzWorks keeping renewing itself is through scholarships and we are fortunate to have some generous donors who help keep the scholarships alive. We can always use more. Elsewhere on this site, there’s a page that will give you more information about that.
A new scholarship is being inaugurated this year in honour of Alun Davies, a bass player and composer well-known in both Toronto and Ottawa music circles. Alun attended jazz camp in 2006 and established some lasting musical friendships there. The scholarship has been set up by Al’s friend Rob Martin, one of the busiest guitarists in town and a familiar face at camp and at jam sessions. Here are are Rob’s reflections on his friend:
“Alun Davies, who died in August 2008 at 42, was born in Sierra Leone but grew up in Toronto. Despite passing at such a young age, Alun had a long and varied musical career. He started his musical studies as a teenager under the guidance of Tom Monohan (Toronto Symphony Orchestra) and participated in the National Youth Orchestra. While still a teenager Alun put aside his studies and the double bass when he heard Weather Report bassist Jaco Pastorius. He substituted his upright for a self-made fretless bass and immersed himself in Jaco's playing. His life long love of jazz started there. Miles, Herbie and European artists like Tomasz Stanko, Enrico Rava, Palle Danielsson, and Tord Gustavsen were always on heavy rotation in Alun’s apartment.
“In the 1990s Alun developed his recording abilities and eventually became an in-house composer, engineer and producer at Keen Music in Toronto and wrote music for a large number of movies and TV commercials in the 1990s. During those years he developed a strong attraction to music from India and North Africa and he often incorporated the rhythms and modes of this music in his playing.
“In 2005 Alun moved to Ottawa and quickly became a regular feature on the Ottawa jazz circuit playing with Antizario, Peter Hum, Mike Rud, Amy Brandon, Helen Glover, Floyd Hutchinson, Gerard Hartley, Gerri Trimble, Lu Frattaroli, Rob McFadden, Adam Duncan, John Graham, and Charley Gordon among others. Al was also a participant at the JazzWorks monthly jam sessions — events he enjoyed as an outlet for music but also as a place to cultivate friendship.
“Alun will be missed for the loss of his music but for those that knew him well the deepest loss is that of a loyal and unfailingly honest friend. Al's honesty was the thread that ran through everything he did, from music right down to making an especially frank, perceptive — if not always welcome — comment about a social situation or a personal failing. Alun never believed in throwing around compliments for the sake of ‘making nice’ but was very generous to with younger musicians that were playing with integrity and developing an individual voice.”
Alun could be crusty, for sure, but he would be pleased with the first recipient of the Alun Davies Scholarship — Ben Heard, a bassist now attending Canterbury High School, who played impressively at camp last year and in various local appearances since.
While some scholarships over the years have been given to older musicians, the emphasis has been on students, and there have been some great ones over the years, people like Chris Donnelly, Nathan Cepelinski, Emily Denison, Sam Cousineau and Colin Lloyd.
Colin, a trombonist now attending McGill in the jazz program, was the first recipient of the scholarship established in memory of Jerry Heath, a trombonist, long-time JazzWorks participant and inspiration to many of us, who died in 2012 at the age of 77. This year, the scholarship continues, and the recipient is Keagan Eskritt, a drummer who will be attending University of Toronto.
JazzWorks also gives a scholarships in conjunction with MusicFest Canada and Capital Region MusicFest. This year’s recipients are Ottawa guitarist Rob Wannell and Ottawa bassist Michael Kavchak. It will be fun to see all the winners at camp.
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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.