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Wall LPs (Summer 2020) 

On the wall in my teaching studio there are three IKEA LP frames that fit vinyl records that can be easily swapped in and out.  Because I can only listen to vinyl in the basement, it's a nice daily reminder of some of the music I've picked up physical copies of, usually from the Record Centre on Wellington.  I try to change the records out once a school term and put the three albums on a Spotify playlist so I can let those albums percolate a bit through repeated listens.  

Over the last several months the…

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Newest solo album now available 

Just a quick note to let you know that the third of the five solo albums I recorded this year are now available on most music streaming services.  Physical CDs will be ready when all five are finished.

You can check out all of my recent releases on my Music page, or go directly to my latest album on Spotify by clicking here.

This latest album features almost entirely original music.  When I first conceived of this monthly set-of-piano-music project, I cast a fairly wide net, but now that it's almost time to…

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End of Summer update 

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I am going forward with my five-album solo piano project.  I'm happy to announce that I have received the Canada Council Digital Originals grant to help distribute my music online.  As of this writing, physical copies of the first album are being finalized, paperwork is being filed for the second one, both of which are available on streaming services already.  The third album is in the final mastering stages, the fourth is ready for me to record and the songs for…

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Updated Store and Spotify 

I have been preparing some new solo piano music but in the meantime, I updated my store to only show physical products, as I've made most of my earlier albums available on major streaming services like Spotify.  I also added a tip jar, which I'm intending on using during any online events in the coming months.  If you are listening to my music online and want to make a gesture of support, since purchasing and downloading albums is less of a thing, please feel free to do so.  Thanks!

Hugh O'Connor (1928-2020) 

I wanted to share the sad news of the passing of one of my favourite Ottawa jazz musicians, an inspiration and a mentor to me and many other local players.

Click here to see a short article on Hugh's passing.

My quotes at the end were taken from this written interview with Peter Hum:

1) When did you play with Hughie and where? How many gigs did you do with him? 

I got to play with Hugh every Sunday for at least a year at Chez Lucien around 2007/2008, right up until I moved to Boston for grad school at the…

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Toots Thieleman 

This Friday I'll be playing at the Merrickville jazz festival with Norm Glaude for his tribute to Toots Thielemans - here are two of my favourite tracks that we've done in the past.

Estate - from Only Trust Your Heart 

Before I was involved in this project I had already listened to this version a bunch as my go to for this tune.

 

Sno' Peas - from Bill Evans' Affinity - this is just about the hardest set of changes in a simple 8 bar section AABA tune that I've played in a while.  They break up its…

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Fall 2019 

I haven't written an involved post in a while, but I thought I'd mention that as I settle into the fall term, it appears I will have a full teaching studio for the 2019-20 school year.  There are some great performances I'm involved with coming up which you can check out on my Events page, and I have been tending to post more on Instagram than on other platforms because I like how I can quickly capture what I'm working on and not feel like I'm trying to create evergreen content for mass consumption.

I have…

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Post Jazz Festival times 

Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this year's Ottawa Jazz Festival.  It was a very special honour for me to be part of the house trio hosting the jam sessions every night for ten straight days - the first year I went to the jazz festival (1996...) I probably went to eight of their late night jams.  It was my first exposure to the music in a club setting - real professionals playing mere feet away, the sound came from the instruments as much as any sound system.  I'm really happy to have had this chance…

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Updated Events 

Hey, just a quick note to say I've updated my calendar to reflect some Jazz Festival events, most notably the 24 hour jazz ramble which takes place from 10AM Friday to 10AM Saturday next weekend.  I'll be on at noon with Mark Ferguson playing some Bill Evans music in the style of his overdubbed pianos records.  I'll also be part of Ed Lister's quintet at 9PM.  The whole event takes place at the Record Centre on Wellington.

I also had a blast playing all types of Indian music at City Hall last week for the…

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Indian Music 

I've started rehearsals with Vinay Bhide for a show May 10th at noon at City Hall.  Vinay has asked Mike Essoudry and me to join him to play what we feel fits in the performance of two pieces.  One is based on the Raga Rageshri, on which I have previously written an original piece, "Pas De Deux".  In the key of C, the notes for improvising are Bb-C-E-F-A-Bb-C and the downward notes are C-Bb-A-F-E-D-C.  After a few minutes of getting it in your ears, an accidental G sounds glaringly wrong.

I've also been…

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Radio Play 

My hopes of a regularly maintained thoughtful content-filled blog haven't materialized in the face of my regular practice and teaching schedule.  However, I thought this might be a great and easy way to keep track of fun news and things I'm doing as they happen, instead of constantly bombarding my e-mail list.

Most recently, I've been practicing video game theme songs for this Friday, when I'll be playing with the relatively new F8-BIT at Live on Elgin.

Alex and Michel were interviewed about the project…

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All - Never Took 

Here is the another video of a solo piano arrangement of a pop/punk tune.  The first one you can find by clicking here

I went to see the documentary about the band All and the Descendents "Filmage" when it came out and immediately became one of my favourite music movies.  Musicians that I looked up to lived a very tough life on the road, playing music for food and gas.  20 years after first hearing their music, it all makes sense to me now, and I still have a soft spot for all of their records.

https://www.

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Modern Bootlegging 

First of all, the very word "Bootlegging" has to do with clandestine action, and what started me thinking about this issue was the extremely overt and non-secretive manner in which people currently are reproducing live music.

We have all had that thought when someone holds their phone up to record a shaky, badly lit chunk of video from a live music performance. What are they thinking? Do they lack the presence to enjoy the experience without proof they were there? Do they love their phone more than the…

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Bodyjar - Five Minutes Away 

For three of my posts in this series I wanted to record solo piano versions of songs that aren't covered by solo piano very often.  This exercise of figuring out a vocal melody and harmony and making an arrangement is something I get my first year university students to do- there's nothing better than working out a song you love.

The first one is by Australian group Bodyjar- I saw these guys play sometime in the late 90s at a tiny club in downtown Ottawa that doesn't exist anymore, the Liquid Monkey maybeRead more

Forbidden Musical Devices 

During World War II, Hitler's regime forbade certain musical ideas and devices that didn't conform with their idea of artistic music.

From New Dutch Swing

It [de jazzwereld's guideline for entertainment music in 1940] was mostly a detailed roster of forbidden devices and practices: plunger mutes, growls, smears and other dirty timbres, ostinato basses, background riffs repeated more than three times, charts written by black musicians, washboards, the use of the word 'jazz' were all off-limits.

How many…

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RIP Gunther Schuller 



I had the great opportunity to perform this piece with the composer himself conducting during my time at NEC.  Without him I don't think any of us working in jazz full time with a large part of that work coming from post-secondary education would be doing what we are doing.

I hope to get back to writing some of my thoughts on music for my online community of students and fans now that the school year is over.  Have a great summer everyone.

Jazz Standards- 16 you should know. 

This past weekend I moderated a jam session for Jazzworks at the new Ottawa Bluesfest Music School.  I prepared a handout on tunes to know that I wanted to make available to all my students and those who couldn't make the jam.

For the last few months I have been looking over many other people's lists of standards, as well as pooling my peers for their opinions on the matter.  There are tons of great lists out there, from the great book by Ted Gioia to lots of websites.  I even remember coming across regional…Read more

Learning how to Learn 

After missing a week of my self-imposed schedule of weekly thoughts on music, and already being 24 hours behind and dangerously close to missing another I thought it might be good to whip off a quick note about something I have been meaning to mention for a while.

I've been slowly working my way through Learning How To Learn by Idries Shah, a book that was recommended by Dave Holland during a masterclass at the New England Conservatory.  I've been reading it slowly because it is one of those books of…Read more

Music Note Sudoku 

I often encourage students to practice randomized chord patterns by picking a chord type or two, and then moving them through a tone row.

For instance CMaj7 - Ebmin7 - FMaj7 - F#min7 - Dbmaj7 - Dmin7 - BMaj7 - Emin7 - AbMaj7 - Bbmin7 - GMaj7 - Amin7.
And the opposite Cmin7 - EbMaj7 - Fmin7 - GbMaj7 - C#min7 - DMaj7 - Bmin7 - EMaj7 - Abmin7 - BbMaj7 - Gmin7 - AMaj7.

I had great breakthroughs in my playing working through newer chord types that I didn't realize were coming slower to my fingers than I thought…Read more

Don't just know how to do something 

I had a huge breakthrough early in my college music studies when I first started practicing for extended periods of time (besides the obvious). 

When I was younger, I would generally practice the stuff I liked to play and avoid the stuff I didn't like (generally longer, involved pieces... that required more of an attention span).  This naturally led to me only being able to play the fun stuff and hating the hard stuff--  a vicious spiral.  When I confronted these issues in college, I went too far the other…Read more

Happy New Year 2015 

I want to congratulate my brother-in-law, Tyler Kealey for sticking to his insane goal of recording a different song every day for 2014.  Here is the final video which includes many of my favourite Ottawa musicians.  Not to leave anyone out but off the top of my head there's Rebecca Noelle, Dave Schroeder, Jeff Rogers, Brian Asselin, Megan Jerome and Peter Voith, plus many familiar faces (including my sisters and our significant others). 

Click here for the link.

Year in review 

While I had made attempts at blogging before, this fall, inspired by my brother-in-law's much more daunting endeavour, I finally started weekly entries.  Even if they are sometimes simple and short, I wanted to have something out there to focus my thoughts on music, life, and practicing.  And here we are, over 40 entries in!  For any of my friends, students, and potentially music fans who don't even know me, thanks for taking the time to check these out.

Here are a few of my favourite entries from this year…Read more