Sunday, October 17

Jazz season finally returned with sounds from across the spectrum.

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As musicians of all stripes struggle to find performance opportunities, three of the city’s most prominent saxophonist orchestra leaders have prepared excellent options for jazz and blues fans.

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Jazz blues

It’s no wonder Dave Babcock is currently straddling two different bands and sounds.

“I’m excited about both possibilities,” he says, “and just being able to play live again means a lot when you haven’t. That shared experience is the real reward. “

There’s a new weekly Saturday Jazz Matinee on Spotlight Cabaret in which the singer-reedman leads a jumping trio with Chris Andrew on keyboard, Rubim de Toledo on bass and Jamie Cooper on drums. They play two sets at the venue, 8217 104 St., reserve tickets are $ 12 at spotlightcabaret.ca .

It is a continuation of the jumping orchestra concept that Babcock designed more than 20 years ago with a repertoire that combines retro jazz classics with that bouncy spirit, occasional and original ballads.

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Babcock then rekindles a blues angle with The Nightkeepers: Together on and off for the past decade, the band plays classic rhythm and blues, leaning toward classic Texas beats and hopping, and adding more original melodies. His Rockin ‘Highliners compatriot Alex Herriot plays guitar alongside David Aide aka Rooster Davis on keyboards, bassist Harry Gregg and Cooper’s drums again. Babcock is a versatile musician, but the saxophonist excels at bluesy jazz and the Nightkeepers are a great inspiration for that.

Nightkeepers shows are virtual only in accordance with current Yardbird policy and both games run from 7 to 9:30 pm, with $ 10 and $ 8 student / senior tickets at yardbirdsuite.com .

Like so many, Babcock faced a new understanding of how precarious a music career can be during the period of the pandemic.

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“The music business has never been easy, but I didn’t have a plan B,” he explains, “so it’s a struggle not being able to do what you love to do and a fourfold hit: you can’t play, you can’t make a living, he cannot see his fellow musicians and friends, or his audience. You can practice or write or record but you need to get out. There is a way of practice and a way of playing, interacting with the audience, getting back to the rhythm of it. “

Babcock contributed to new recordings for artists such as Dana Wylie and Sammy Volkeov, and arranged his personal archive accumulated over some four decades. Going into meditation helped him move forward through the dark days and the inevitable downtime of these past few months. Finally, he realized a new reality.

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“In the future, I want to focus more on the music I want to play, with the people I want to play with, the more creative and musically focused shows,” he says. “The longer you are around, the more you realize that this is something precious and make it a priority.”

Big band jazz

Talk to Don Berner and you quickly realize how much he loves big band music. Along with his serious art as a saxophonist, his studious knowledge of the genre suggests that Don Berner Big Band’s second season will really be something to listen to when he kicks off on October 16 at a concert called Back With Basie.

That’s William “Count” Basie (1904-1984) to the uninitiated, one of the best orchestral leaders of the golden age of great jazz bands.

“Basie’s band essentially created modern rhythmic concepts in jazz,” explains Berner. “One of the reasons they made you feel so good was because they created the contemporary idea of ​​swing. They were going for 40 or 50 years, so there are different ideas about the sound of Basie, but I’m trying to represent every part of that spectrum. “

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He notes that popular audiences are most familiar with Basie’s band on Frank Sinatra’s live album Sinatra At The Sands and some of that repertoire will be included on the tracklist, such as Fly Me To The Moon, along with instrumental basics. de Basie as One O’Clock Jump. .

To match Basie’s lineup, the band is 17 for this concert with five saxophones including Berner and Ray Baril on alto and Jim Brenan on tenor, three trombones, four trumpets including Joel Gray and leader’s brother Doug Berner, a expert rhythm section, and singer Kelly Alanna.

Saturday’s show takes place at 7:30 pm at Ottewell United Church, 6611 93A Ave. Tickets are $ 31.50 and $ 26 for students at tixonthesquare.ca. Tickets for the entire season of three Berner Big Band concerts are $ 115, which includes the Sinatra Tribute Christmas Show with vocalist Johnny Summers (December 18), and The First Ladies Of Jazz on March 19, where Four singers (Shelley Jones, Natalie B., Renee Suchy, Kelly Alana) pay tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day, Dinah Washington and the Andrews Sisters.

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Berner started his inaugural big band season with two popular shows just months before the pandemic and couldn’t finish before things turned off. She practiced a lot, read a lot of books, and got married in the summer of 2020 while preparing everything for this comeback.

Saxophonist Don Berner stands up and leads his big band into a new concert season, paying tribute to Count Basie on October 16.
Saxophonist Don Berner stands up and leads his big band into a new concert season, paying tribute to Count Basie on October 16. Photo supplied /Postmedia

His vast experience includes concerts in the Tommy Banks Big Band and almost any other type of ensemble. I was wondering where you see the audience for the big bands today.

“I’m trying to build a new generation of big band audiences, but this is a tough time for live music,” admits Berner. “Big band music is important because it is enjoyable and exciting. It provides the public with a point of access compared to the density of contemporary small group jazz. It has its roots in dance music, but it still has the elements of jazz that I enjoy, improvisation and swing, and I want it to be as accessible as possible. “

Just great jazz

Finally, that treasure of Canada’s jazz scene, veteran saxophonist PJ Perry is hanging out in his own weekly residency every Wednesday from 5-8 p.m. at Rigoletto’s Cafe, 10305 100 Ave.

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Reference-edmontonjournal.com

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