Sunday, June 24, 2007

recent gigs

The Impressions in Jazz Orchestra just wrapped up its Spring series of concerts. We had three shows in three weeks, with around 60 pieces of music to learn in total. The first and third gigs were part of a series at the Billings Estate, with the orchestra playing 1920's music and 1940's respectively, and the middle gig was part of our own series of concerts at the Crowne Plaza (photos from these shows can be seen here). In amongst these gigs I of course had other shows to do, but these ones stood out.

The 1940's gig was especially fun for me, as not only my brother Mike and his wife came out (they have come to some of the other IJO gigs), but my mom and step-dad made the trip up from Kingston to see the show. Mom is 86, and does not get around as easily as she used to, so it was great that she was able to make it. Even more so because I was playing music that she grew up with, and I'd discovered on my own years later. As a kid I of course listened to the Beatles, since my older brothers had all the records, but when I discovered the famous Benny Goodman "Carnegie Hall Concert" in my parents' record collection at age six I was captivated by the swinging sounds and the extroverted drumming of Gene Krupa. Mom must have heard me bang along to "Sing Sing Sing" a few thousand times, so it was great to have her come to the show and see that it all paid off in the long run. ;)

This morning I had another interesting gig, playing jazz in an Anglican church! Yes, on Sunday mornings I'd normally be playing my regular gig at the Metropolitan with Steve's quartet, but we've been rained out so much on that gig (and don't get paid when that happens) that when bassist Tom got called for this one he took it and asked me to join in (we both sincerely hope that Steve got by just fine with our substitutes. hehe). The Reverend Dr. Tim Elliot was doing the sermon, and he is also a jazz pianist, so with the Jazz Festival currently running in Ottawa Tim thought having some of this music as part of his sermon would be a good thing, and it was!

We played standards, so no rehearsal was needed aside from meeting up ahead of time to compare notes (pun intended). Being a church the acoustics were lively, and since a real piano was being used instead of an amplified digital one I played with brushes for the entire set, and it made for a nice, light feel. The parishioners seemed to enjoy this change in routine, and while we were in between tunes Tom and I sat back and enjoyed the three fine singers that subsituted for a full church choir (though as a professed agnostic and lapsed Unitarian I had to tune out the lyrics to a fair degree...).

I've been forgetting to take my camera with me on recent gigs, and one thing I wanted to capture today was a little bit of fun on the part of the church's builders. As I set up near the choir stalls I looked down to see a mouse! Well, it was a carved wooden mouse, sitting on the foot of the rearmost bench. I mentioned it to Tim and he said "Oh yes, and there's another one over here" pointing to the Bishop's Seat, and sure enough there was a similar one peeking out of the rear of that. It's nice to see some humour in what was otherwise probably a rather strict design criteria. ;)

Oh yes, of course I rode the trike. And the electric assist came in very handy for climbing back up Nanny Goat Hill (yes, that's the name of the escarpment where Bronson heads up to Laurier Ave.).

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