Saturday, November 03, 2007

New Yardbird mini-festival jazzes up November

Roger Levesque

Asked why members of the Edmonton Jazz Society's Yardbird Suite were inspired to mount a fall mini-festival of all-Canadian jazz acts, the answer was: "Why not?"

Edmonton Jazz Society organizers wanted to take advantage of the fact November is a relatively busy time for touring jazz acts across the country, and they already had the recent experience of running their own Yardbird jazz fest as a two-year transitional event in the summers of 2005 and 2006.

Most of the artists involved are also getting touring grants, so they're not expensive. Finally, featuring a week of touring acts also allowed the club to open evenings with some of Edmonton's best up-and-coming artists.

Whether you're a fan or just curious, you can catch a little bit of everything, from the more adventurous feel of Michael Bates's Outside Sources on Sunday, to Vancouver bassist Jodi Proznick's acclaimed quartet Wednesday, Rosemary Galloway's straight-ahead quartet sound Thursday, the versatile piano of D.D. Jackson on Friday, and Vancouver guitarist Gordon Grdina, who closes the fest Nov. 10.

After Bates's band opens the fest Sunday, Monday is booked for the Littlebirds Big Band Workshop and Tuesday for the club's regular jam sessions. Then two acts are presented each night Wednesday through Saturday.

For further information on gigs and the bands involved, see

Canuck roots run deep

Vancouver-raised bassist Michael Bates has been living in Brooklyn, N.Y., for six years now. He loves the fertile opportunities there for working with like-minded exploratory player-composers, but he certainly hasn't forgotten his Canadian roots.

"A lot of my friends here are Canadian. We laugh because there are a lot of times here that I've done sessions and there might be one American among us."

Outside Sources actually includes Toronto-based saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff, and Americans Russ Johnson on trumpet and Jeff Davis on drums. Together now for several years and two albums, they draw on Bates's own influences ranging from Russian classical composers to Miles Davis's '60s quintet with a free-wheeling chemistry.

Either down in Brooklyn or on his trips back to Canada, Bates has been excited to hear the next generation of Canadian jazz artists.

"Canadian jazz is definitely alive and well because there's a whole generation of musicians who have started to hit their prime, players like Quinsin Nachoff in my band, and William Carn, and others who have investigated other styles, and they're doing great stuff. People up there still love to swing, and I love to play standards, but I also think the future of the music relies on new composers."

The band will record immediately after this tour for an album to be released next spring on trumpeter Dave Douglas's Greenleaf Records label.

The Edmonton Journal 2007