Last month I gave a talk to the Toronto Chapter of the Duke Ellington Society, a group of enthusiasts that gets together on the second Tuesday of every month, except for July and August.

p27The Society was founded in 1959 as the Duke Ellington Jazz Society through the efforts of one Bill Ross, a Canadian working in Hollywood who placed an ad in Downbeat magazine in late 1958, announcing that a Duke Ellington Jazz Society had been formed in Hollywood. Simply put, it consists of people who are interested in Duke Ellington: fans, musicians, researchers, scholars and writers, the common bond being a love of the music of Ellington – and, of course, his alter ego Billy Strayhorn. (It’s interesting to note that in 1968, at the Duke’s request, the word jazz was dropped from the name and all the Chapters became known as the Duke Ellington Society.)

The Toronto chapter’s origins make an interesting story, thanks to the Anger family. Rhea Anger, a champion of the music of Ellington, in response to a letter of January 29 from Ross, organized the first meeting of the Toronto Chapter, which was held on May 4, 1959. Anger was elected as the first president, and the Toronto Chapter has been meeting regularly ever since. There’s no doubt that she was a suitable choice. She was the widow of Justice Harry Anger of the Ontario Supreme Court, who had established a warm friendship with the Duke many years before. After his death, Rhea and her son, Ron, also a lawyer, maintained the relationship. Over a period of time, whenever the Ellington band came to Toronto they would be invited to the Anger home after the engagement to enjoy some home comfort. And Duke Ellington played this town many times from 1931 on. I came up with a list of 16 different venues where they performed.

Robert Fulford, in the Toronto Star, January of 1987, wrote the following: “In the early 1970s, when the Duke Ellington band was playing the O’Keefe Centre, tenor saxophone soloist Paul Gonsalves came down from the stage and stood before a middle-aged woman in the audience, affectionately serenading her as the band accompanied him. While Gonsalves played and the woman shyly smiled, Ellington dedicated the number ‘for Mrs. Anger, our dear friend.’” For years Rhea and her son Ron were familiar faces at jazz events in Toronto and their love and enthusiasm for the music never diminished.

In his book, Music Is My Mistress, Ellington wrote: “Mrs. Anger and her son, Ron, are also among our most loyal friends and supporters. They never miss our appearances in Toronto, and the city’s chapter of the Duke Ellington Society has always owed a great deal of its health to them. Canada has a character and a spirit of its own, which we should recognize and never take for granted.”

In 1987 Toronto hosted the fifth annual Ellington conference at The Inn on the Park. It was a three day event, and the musicians included two Ellington alumni: trombonist Booty Wood and bassist Aaron Bell, along with Doc Cheatham, George Kelly, Ray Bryant, Gus Johnson and from Canada, Oliver Jones, Neil Swainson, Fraser MacPherson and myself. In addition, there was a rare performance of Ellington’s extended work, The Tatooed Bride by my big band. Alice Babs, who had a long collaboration with the Duke, was present. She’s perhaps best remembered for her singing in the second and third Sacred Concerts, which Ellington wrote for her voice. It had a range of more than three octaves and was so remarkable that Ellington said that when she did not sing the parts that he wrote for her, he had to use three different singers!

In the early days of the society, meetings were held in members’ homes – but nowadays Montgomery’s Inn, at the junction of Dundas Street West and Islington, is the home of the Society. And each year the Toronto Chapter presents a fundraising concert at a date close to Ellington’s birthday, April 29. In 2011, on Saturday April 30, a group led by Dave Young and Terry Promane will be the featured ensemble. More about that closer to the date.

As a result of their fundraising activities, seven $1,000 scholarships are awarded to emerging Toronto musicians, a remarkable achievement for what is a relatively small group of enthusiasts. Speaking of which, they would welcome additional members – especially some younger blood – so if you’re interested please call Chris McEvilly at 416-234-0653 and help the spirit of Duke Ellington to live on in one of his favourite cities.

 

What’s in a Name?

When I spoke to the Toronto Duke Ellington Society the topic was nicknames given to some of the musicians who worked with him. Here are a few of them.

Trombonist Joe Nanton was one of the great pioneers of the plunger mute. He joined Ellington in 1926 and his growl and plunger sounds were a major ingredient in the band’s jungle sound that evolved in the 20s. He earned his nickname “Tricky Sam” during his first years with Ellington. There are a couple of conflicting stories about the origin of his nickname, neither having to do with his trombone technique – a common misconception.

One story is that he consistently won when he played poker with bandmates, so much so that he became known as tricky with a deck of cards. But saxophonist Toby Hardwick claimed that he was capable of “doing with one hand what someone else would do with two – he was tricky that way.” Nanton had perfected a technique of drinking on-stage without anyone noticing!

Another trombonist, Lawrence Brown, joined the band in 1932. Somewhat straight-laced, he kept away from the drinking and high-life enjoyed by the rest of the band, a rather puritan behavior that earned him the nickname “The Deacon.”

p28Tenor sax player Paul Gonsalves joined the band in 1950 and stayed for the rest of his life. His nickname was “Mex,” because people thought he was Hispanic, when in fact he was from the Cape Verde Islands. But Ellington bestowed on him another sobriquet. Because he sometimes walked around in the audience while soloing, the Duke dubbed him “Strolling Violins.”

Here’s one for punsters. In the 1950s Britt Woodman was in the trombone section. So was Quentin Jackson, whose nickname was “Butter,” thus giving rise to “Britt and Butter.” So you see, some of us don’t only play on instruments – and words seldom fail us.

Happy listening.

 

Jim Galloway is a saxophonist, band leader and the former artistic director of Toronto Downtown Jazz. He can be contacted at: jazz@thewholenote.com.

Here we are heading into a new season. Summer is a sweaty memory. Before we know it, we’ll be complaining about the cold weather. But it also heralds an upsurge in club and concert activity. There are even a couple of festivals to round out that season.

The Guelph Jazz Festival runs from September 8 to 12 and kicks off with a performance featuring accordionist Pauline Oliveros performing live in Guelph with Anne Bourne (cello), Guelph’s own Ben Grossman (hurdy gurdy) and Jesse Stewart (drums) connected to two other sites where they will be joined by Ricardo Arias on balloon (in Bogotá, Colombia) and Jonas Braasch on soprano sax, Doug Van Nort on laptop and Curtis Bahn on electronics (in Troy, NY).

Some of the other featured artists include the quartet of Bob Ostertag, Sylvie Courvoisier, Taylor Ho Bynum, Jim Black on the 9th, Henry Grimes, Jane Bunnett, Andrew Cyrille, Marilyn Crispell, a double bill of The Trio (Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, George Lewis), Sangam (Charles Lloyd, Zakir Hussain and Eric Harlan), and on the closing day – and I do mean day because it is scheduled for 10:30am – guitarist Marc Ribot, bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Chad Taylor. The festival is a veritable feast for anyone who enjoys contemporary music. Full details can be found in our listings or by going to www.guelphjazzfestival.com.

P29Then there’s the All-Canadian Jazz Festival in Port Hope, September 24-26, which will be a real celebration of Canadian jazz. The Shuffle Demons, Alex Pangman and Her Alleycats, Laila Biali Trio with Guido Basso and Phil Dwyer and the Brian Barlow Big Band with Heather Bambrick to name just a few. Again, full details can be found at www.allcanadianjazz.ca.

On October 3 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, 5040 Yonge, the Jazz Performance and Education Centre will present a tribute to Warren K. Winkler, Chief Justice of Ontario. The JPEC Jazz Orchestra (Denny Christianson, music director), and vocalist Ranee Lee are the featured performers for this gala event.

Not Run of The Mill

The fall programming at the Old Mill certainly isn’t “run of the mill.” On Thursday, September 16, 7:30pm in the dining room, 2010 Grammy Award-winning vocal virtuoso Kurt Elling will take the stand followed by the Oliver Jones Trio on September 30, while over at the Home Smith Bar Thursday nights will feature John Sherwood, except on the 16th when Richard Whiteman will take over.

Friday nights will showcase June Garber, Luis Mario Ochoa and Julie Michaels. On Saturday nights the Home Smith will present the Bob Scott Duo followed by the trios of Gord Sheard and Paul Read.

Gallery 345 at 345 Sorauren Ave. is also coming up with some interesting programmimg this month with “The Art of the Piano,” featuring Dave Restivo and Robi Botos on the 12th, Henry Grimes, Jane Bunnett and Andrew Cyrille on the 13th, and Indo-Latin jazz from Irshad Kahn World Trio on the 19th.

Meanwhile, the Rex rolls on and Quotes will be back mid-month. So the season is well and truly under way, and you should check the listings section for more complete details of the month’s offerings.

I also did some looking back at significant and memorable events this year, and two spring to mind immediately.

The Ken Page Memorial Trust Gala in May featured a cross-section of Canadian and American artists in an informal setting, again at the Old Mill, where players were mixed and matched throughout the evening. The visitors included the Vache brothers, Allan and Warren, George Masso and the multi-talented Scott Robinson, all long-time favourites with Toronto audiences. And the local musicians included almost a who’s who on the Toronto scene with John MacLeod, Kevin Turcotte, Laurie Bower, Al Kay, Don Thompson, John Sherwood, Reg Schwager, Neil Swainson, Terry Clarke, Lucian Gray and some guy playing a bent soprano sax.

Then there was the tribute performance by members of the Rob McConnell Tentet at the Old Mill. Led by trombonist Terry Promane the band gave an exuberant evening of Rob’s arrangements – that is, until the closing number, “For All We Know,” composed by J. Fred Coots in 1934, with lyrics by Sam M. Lewis. It goes as follows:

For all we know we may never meet again

Before you go make this moment sweet again

We won’t say goodnight until the last minute

I’ll hold out my hand and my heart will be in it

For all we know this may only be a dream

We come and we go like the ripples of a stream

So love me, love me tonight tomorrow was made for some

Tomorrow may never come for all we know

Ah, they don’t write lyrics like that any more.

But on that night it was an instrumental performance – and if ever there was a demonstration of the emotional power of music it was John Johnston’s moving alto sax interpretation of Rob McConnell’s arrangement. If there was a dry eye in the room it must have belonged to someone who is emotionally deaf.

To all of you out there: fall in and get out to hear some jazz!

 

Jim Galloway is a saxophonist, band leader and the former artistic director of Toronto Downtown Jazz. He can be contacted at: jazznotes@thewholenote.com.

 

“I’ve been a great jazz fan my whole life. I certainly like modern jazz as well, but my favourite kind is New Orleans jazz. Something about the primitive quality, the simplicity of it, the directness. It is the one style of jazz that stays with me the most.”

So says Allan Stewart Konigsberg, better known as Woody Allen in a recent article in New York’s Village Voice.

“Early jazz was very pleasurable and very simple,” explains Allen. “After a while, that stuff became concert music, and the chord progressions got very complicated, and the harmonies got very complicated. It became less pleasurable. Not less great … But it required more concentration and more effort from the audience.”

Allen has just finished the season of sold-out Monday night appearances at New York’s up-market Carlyle Hotel where, to be honest, his fame rather than his music was the big attraction, and forking out $100 for the privilege wasn’t a problem.

He does not deny his limitations as a musician, but his love of the music is genuine.

It is, however, a form of jazz that is no longer a part of the mainstream of the music. The audience for traditional jazz has diminished, partly through attrition, changing tastes, media neglect and the fact that jazz has embraced so many different influences that it is now well nigh impossible to define. Only a few young musicians now choose to specialize in traditional jazz and you have to look to Europe to find many of them.

Certainly, early jazz and swing musicians looked upon themselves largely as entertainers. There was no comprehension that jazz music might be or develop into an art form. “Entertainment”: such a vital word when describing early jazz, and a word that’s foreign to much of today’s music.

New York, which used to be a stronghold of jazz in the tradition with places such as Eddie Condon’s and Jimmy Ryan’s still does have a few places where you can hear jazz that swings: Arthur’s Tavern on Grove Street, Il Valentino at the Sutton Hotel on E. 56th St., and on Mondays you can catch Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks (11-piece band) at Club Cache, downstairs at the Edison Hotel on W. 46th St.

Here in Toronto the longest running of these traditional strongholds has to be Grossman’s Tavern on Spadina, which this year celebrates the 40th anniversary of New Orleans Jazz every Saturday afternoon from 4:30 pm.

P24The original bandleader was Cliff (“Kid”) Bastien, and his Saturday afternoon residence at Grossman’s began when, in 1970, then-owner Al Grossman hired the young trumpeter and his Camelia Band, later called Kid Bastien’s Happy Pals, to perform every Saturday. Apart from a short period around 1980, Kid played there until his death in February 2003. But the band, now led by Patrick Tevlin, still plays New Orleans jazz to a faithful following.

C’est What has bi-weekly sessions with the Hot Five Jazzmakerss from 3-6pm, although in the next few weeks the dates are June 5 and July 4. They play a mix of ragtime, blues, spirituals and classic jazz, and they have been strutting their stuff in this downtown watering hole on Front St. E. for over 20 years. The leader is trombonist Brian Towers, and the band is dedicated to playing in the traditional style with the emphasis on entertaining their audience.

It’s worth making the observation that when I say traditional jazz, I’m using terms of reference that have changed from the old days when jazz was still relatively easy to define – the time when you were either a traditionalist or a bebopper. Nowadays, as I have said in earlier columns, it is pretty well impossible to define just what jazz is, so widespread are the influences – and Charlie Parker’s music, once considered pretty “outside,” now sounds positively traditional.

Having said that, a great spot for jazz that swings has to be Quotes on King St., opposite Roy Thomson Hall. They have established a loyal following for their Friday sessions from 5 to 8pm with the resident Canadian Jazz Quartet plus a guest each week drawn from the extensive pool of front-rank local musicians. If you want a seat near the band you have to get there early.

What makes this club so successful? For one thing the timeframe of 5 to 8 is a winner. You can make your way there after work or make it a destination. you can enjoy the music and be home by 9 o’clock, or go out for an evening on the town. It also falls into the TGIF category at the end of the work week for most people.

But there’s another significant element; the quality of the music is extremely high by any standards, and the club has become a “hang” for local musicians, adding to the cachet. In this regard it is reminiscent of the old Montreal Bistro. They do, however, take a break over the summer months, so you will have to wait until September 17, when jazz at Quotes will enter its fifth year of swinging jazz.

However, the reality is that more and more traditional jazz finds itself surviving in little enclaves, supported by a small but dedicated following. Yet there’s a vital significance to this music: every style of jazz is an integral part of the story and if you know nothing about the roots your music – or your listening experience – will be less rewarding than it might have been.

If art reflects the age, and recognizing that we are in an era of anger and frustration, then it’s no wonder that today’s music often reflects what is happening around us these days. As the Austrian writer Ernst Fischer said: “In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay.” But I like to think that music also has the power to heal, soothe and calm, and there has to be room in our lives for jazz that lifts our spirits and entertains us.

Happy listening – with the emphasis on happy!

Jim Galloway is a saxophonist, band leader and the former artistic director of Toronto Downtown Jazz. He can be contacted at: jazznotes@thewholenote.com.

 

 

p26Another death in the family. Less than two weeks after the passing of Gene Lees, the ranks were thinned even more by the passing of Rob McConnell. But the legacy left by him leaves no doubt that his music will live on. Like Duke Ellington, the orchestra was his instrument and his arrangements will be a living memorial to his great talent as an arranger.

A native of London, Ontario, he took up the valve trombone in high school and began his performing career in the early 1950s. In 1954 he played in Edmonton with the band of saxophonist Don (DT) Thompson. Back in Toronto he played piano in drummer Alex Lazaroff’s Rhythm Rockets and trombone with Bobby Gimby before moving to New York for several months in 1964 to play, mainly with Maynard Ferguson’s big band.

On his return to Toronto he became one of the busiest studio musicians and arrangers in town. At one point he was doing the Bob Maclean Show five days a week, playing the Juliette Show, both on CBC plus any number of jingles. Whichever way you slice it, McConnell was a very successful studio musician, but the real satisfaction came from playing jazz, mostly in small group settings until he formed the Boss Brass in 1968. The band’s first engagement was at the Savarin, an attractive watering hole on Bay Street in Toronto. As the band’s name suggests, it originally had no reeds. The instrumentation was 16 pieces consisting of trumpets, trombones, french horns, and a rhythm section – but no saxophones, much to the chagrin of the local reed movers and shakers. Eventually McConnell repented and introduced a saxophone section in 1970. He also added a fifth trumpet in 1976, bringing the total to 22 members.

Inevitably it took some time for the band to be recognized in the United States, but Times jazz critic Leonard Feather, in 1986, proclaimed it the jazz band of the year. Now this was long after the heyday of big bands and for such a group to win critical and a degree of financial success was quite remarkable - an achievement all the more extraordinary when you consider the fact that five Juno and three Grammy awards were accumulated by the Boss Brass over the years.

I think it’s fair to say that it was because of the Boss Brass that McConnell was regarded as one of the major Canadian jazz musicians on the world stage. In 1997 he gave up the unenviable tasks of running a big band and formed a 10-piece group which still had the unique McConnell sound and with which he continued to work until bad health forced him to slow down.

As a person, McConnell had his light and dark sides – we all have different facets to our personality and he was certainly no exception – and was not always the easiest of people. He could be grumpy and difficult to work with, but those of us who knew him offstage also saw a much more gentle, good natured man in contrast to the crusty persona he could present.

He had a biting sense of humour, and pity on anyone on the receiving end of it. I like to think of him as the Don Rickles of jazz.! There was also a wry side to his humour. His close friend, Ted O’Reilly recalled the following little episode.

“The Boss Brass did a CJRT concert at the Ontario Science Centre for me one time, and it was intense. Setting up a 22-piece orchestra, complete with microphone setups and sound checks was hard work. To add to that, we got word that Dizzy Gillespie was going to come to the concert. It went well, of course, but at the end of the hour, with an empty hall, there was Rob collecting all the music, packing his horn; and me, wrapping up mic cables and putting equipment away. Rob stopped, shook his head and laughed, saying ‘Here’s the reward of the jazz world: you the producer, me the leader – where’s the broom to sweep the floor?”

Like many great artists McConnell coped with feelings of insecurity throughout his career, using that bluff exterior he presented to the world as a cover. Not that he was modest or insecure in his belief in the greatness of the Boss Brass – and rightly so.

On a personal note, I’m proud of the fact that in my last year as artistic director of the Toronto Jazz Festival I was able to present McConnell and the Boss Brass in what was to be their final performance. When I called him he really didn’t want to go to the trouble of getting the Brass together, and suggested that I hire the tentet instead. For my part, I knew exactly what I wanted, and fortunately I was able to convince him that a July 1 noon-hour concert in the marquee at City Hall and free to the public would be a perfect way to celebrate Canada Day, and that the Boss Brass had to be the band.

Just before the start of the performance on that day we had a few private minutes together, and it was quite clear that Rob was less than well. We walked to the tent and I know it was an effort for him to even get onstage, but there he was, cracking a joke, making the audience and his musicians feel good and launching into what was to be the last hurrah.

Drummer Dennis Mackrel summed it up nicely: “Rob McConnell was a giant among musicians and one of the finest arrangers of his day or anyone else’s. To listen to his writing was a lesson in excellence, and remains one of the best examples of just how high the bar can be!”

Thank you, Rob, for the musical pleasure you gave to fans around the world and the music that will continue to inspire young players for years to come. The boss is dead – long live the Boss Brass.

Hank Jones

p27As I was writing about Rob McConnell, word came in that we had lost yet another jazz master with the passing of pianist Hank Jones. Born in 1918 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, he outlived two younger brothers, trumpeter, composer Thad and drummer Elvin, surely one of the most musical families in jazz.

Jones was a prodigious talent and revered by every other piano player. Case in point: seven years ago The WholeNote printed a piece I wrote after spending an afternoon with Oscar Peterson. I talked about his huge talent as an accompanist, knowing when to use his great technique and when to leave spaces, and O.P. said, “Do you know who my teacher was? It was Hank Jones.” He then spoke about the Jazz At The Phil concerts when the closing of the show would feature Ella Fitzgerald, accompanied by Jones. “Hank would be right there, playing for Fitz and I’d soak up whatever I could, ‘cause he taught me everything I know about it. I learned from Hank Jones. I’m not ashamed to say that – I’m proud to say it.”

Jones leaves a wonderful legacy, and although we feel sorrow we should also celebrate his remarkably rich gifts.

Happy listening and make some of it live jazz.

Jim Galloway is a saxophonist, band leader and the former artistic director of Toronto Downtown Jazz. He can be contacted at: jazz@thewholenote.com.

We all know who Satin Doll is – but how many of you know Queenie Pie? They both inhabited the world of Duke Ellington, although one was a lot more successful than the other.

Satin Doll, a collaboration with Billy Strayhorn – and indeed there was some question as to who was the real father – saw the light of day in 1953; Queenie Pie had a much longer gestation period beginning in the early 60s and was still a work in progress at the time of Ellington's death in 1974. (I've reviewed a new recording of it in the DISCoveries section of The WholeNote this month.)

Queenie Pie was a musical, originally intended for National Educational Television in the USA, which in 1970 became PBS. The work was loosely based on the story of C.J. Walker who developed hair-care products and through her efforts and business acumen was the first known African-American woman to become a self-made millionaire.

p22Jazz impresario Norman Granz remembered Ellington having begun the project in the early 60s and that Ella Fitzgerald was supposed to play Queenie Pie, but PBS support was withdrawn and, necessity no longer having to be the mother of invention, the work languished to the extent that when the Duke died it was still incomplete. What material there was consisted of some lead sheets, lyrics and harmonic progressions.

When the work was first performed in 1986, a libretto had been adapted from Ellington's original story, additional lyrics were written and a score in the style of Ellington had been arranged.

Now, here's the 64 dollar question: Is it still Ellington?

There are, of course many examples of unfinished works, completed by other musicians – Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 10, Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 7 and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Requiem are famous examples – but they were certainly partially completed, not simply melodic lines and harmonic suggestions.

It has to be understood also that Ellington's true instrument was his orchestra and he wrote with his own musicians, especially his soloists, in mind, and was able to experiment with colourings, tonal effects and the unusual voicings that were his hallmark. And having a working orchestra enabled him to hear his music being played. It is well known that in lean years the royalties from his "hits" subsidized the band, enabling him to keep using his "instrument." In a Newsday interview in 1969 he said, "The writing and playing of music is a matter of intent... My music fits the tonal personality of the player. I think too strongly in terms of altering my music to fit the performer to be impressed by accidental music."

It all leaves me just a bit uncomfortable about calling Queenie Pie an Ellington work. Any thoughts?

Mary Lou Williams

This month sees the centenary of one of the most significant women in jazz, a fact that is sadly overlooked by many. I'm referring to Mary Lou Williams, who was the most important female jazz musician to emerge in the first three decades of the music. She also had a bearing on the career of Duke Ellington; in 1941 Mary Lou traveled with and wrote for the Ellington Band for about six months. One of her arrangements was called Trumpet No End, based on the changes of Blue Skies and it is a prime example of just how well she could write. Duke Ellington said of Mary Lou, "Her music retains, and maintains, a standard of quality that is timeless. She is like soul on soul."

p23aShe was a composer, arranger and master of blues, boogie woogie, stride, swing and be-bop. She also had to cope with a musical environment in which women instrumentalists were hardly plentiful and women arranger/composers were as scarce as hen's teeth.

She was the first jazz composer to write sacred works. She composed three complete Masses, one of which, Mary Lou's Mass, was performed right here in Toronto. I was fortunate enough to know her and privileged to assist in presenting that performance.

If your travels should take you to Washington DC, the 15th Annual Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Centre will celebrate the 100th anniversary of pianist Williams' birth with three evenings of concerts featuring top female jazz artists: vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, pianist Geri Allen, bassist Esperanza Spalding and saxophonist Grace Kelly; vocalist Catherine Russell, drummer Sherrie Maricle and the Diva Jazz Orchestra.

There will also be a celebration in New York on Williams' birthday, May 8, at the Church of St. Francis Xavier. A very special lady indeed.

Right here in Toronto here are a few things worth the mention. On May 2 there will be a fundraiser at Koerner Hall for the Geneva Centre for Autism featuring Chaka Khan and Matt Savage and his band. For info call 416-408-0208.

On the 8th, St. George's Memorial Church in Oshawa will present Jazz at George's with vocalist Lynn McDonald, Dave Restivo, piano; Pat Reid, bass and Ted Warren, drums. Call 905-263-2791. On the 25th and 26th of the month at the Enwave Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, the Art of Time Ensemble will present "The Songbook 4," featuring vocalist Mary Maragret O'Hara, saxophonist Phil Dwyer, guitarist Rob Piltch and cellist Rachel Mercer. For reservations call 416-703-5479.

The Annual Ken Page Memorial Trust Gala fundraiser will be held at The Old Mill on May 20. Warren Vaché and brother Allan Vache, trombonists George Masso and Laurie Bower, John Sherwood, Neil Swainson, Don Thompson, Reg Schwager, Terry Clarke and Lucian Gray are confirmed at time of writing. They will also be joined by a saxophone player called Galloway. It promises to be a pretty special evening. For reservations please call Anne Page at 416-515-0200 or e-mail anne@kenpagememorialtrust.com

I hope your May days will be distress-free. Happy listening.

Jim Galloway is a saxophonist, band leader and the former artistic director of Toronto Downtown Jazz. He can be contacted at: jazz@thewholenote.com.

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