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The weaponizing of music

Those who tell me “conspiracy theory” you are correct

For those who live this with me, keep reading

They created “intellectual property” monopolized the marketplace trying to control a spiritual entity that music obviously is

It is written with souls, communicating to other souls

Lyrics at times




A spiritual message given to one soul and it connects to other souls

Music my people…  You know what I’m saying

They allow us to aid them in controlling the market with our access to music on any platform available

“The Message” is in the music

They know this

They are successfully shutting it down and then squeezing though the eyes of their control.  No spiritual messages will reach the people if they can help it

And we are aiding them to achieve this

I most certainly am

I’m currently listening to a mix on a CD by Deejay Scootz, with songs on it with Morgan Heritage, Chronixx, Jesse Royal and mush more


I did not pay any of those individuals.  Scootz is sharing a musical love and energy that he knows that I need and I have wrinced this mix for three days now.  In between playing this I’m on YouTube listening to any unlimited amount of music as some spin vinyl while other on Spotify and SoundCloud and MixCloud.  We are aiding the machine

What is the alternative?

I have no clue

I’m just writing some feels and thoughts

Maybe someone else sees this as I’m seeing it and I get to ask the question as they create the answers

The machine uses the largest show promoter to crush the rest of the industry

All of this is news to no one

We are the music

Controlling a spiritual entity is not a possibility

The words are put to all who feel this like I do

“I Don’t want to Die”

I don’t want to die

The last words out of the mouth of a 17 year old who was shot recently.  I learned this on the phone today from Louis March

These are your children

Your children

Our babies are beset by a dark energy giving finance and firearms, in a belief that they have true power, all be it for a fleeting moment, before they are murdered

Your politicians and police are a part of this dark energy, facilitating our children with this “power”.  This isn’t about bad parenting as much as it is a level of helplessness, out of a system set up by corporations, as most treat it as a “conspiracy theory”

Tears in my eyes as I write the words, picturing any of my babies in that predicament, saying those words as their life essence leaves their bodies

I don’t want to die

Ovastand the situation

You cannot relate to this level of elevated hate.  Hate of the rival infused by a hatred of self, preyed upon by the colonizer corporations, using our children as fodder

Talented, beautiful children

Jane and Finch, Rexdale, Scarborough, Malton, North York, Brampton, Sauga, wherever

Talented, beautiful souls, living hard and dying harder

Picture yourself or one of your children in that predicament

Most live in dread and fear constantly

This is no life

And this is all some have

None of these places or these children make guns!  They are filtered in by the most corrupt of all systems they we are all helpless against because it comes from corporations paying our officials to continue the murdering.  It is an investment to corruption

Our children

My instincts lead me to believe that John Tory is an integral part of this corrupt system

We won’t ever see change with this clown in office

Some of you know this truth yet feel helpless like I do

All I can do is to write about it

The degradation is deliberate in order to keep us angry


My observations of John Tory’s work towards the community let me know that this politician is a part of our problem

Not blaming Tory though

He is a small part of the corporate corruption.  A pawn in the system!  The power is higher than him

Jamaican, Somali, Ghanaian elders, parents needed to reach these children who wish to live

The shitstym is set up to deliberately take out our youth

The system / government depend on the profits of the murder of black children.  Death makes money for the system
{Police, forensics, first responders, doctors, surgeons, nurses, medical expenses, jail housing, funerals}

Each death / shooting pays all of these people and more, which is all profit to the system

Note how many times I used the word helpless or helplessness


More from the convo with Louis:

You will find that if you love your children, you will love many children

If you loved your childhood, you would want that for all children


“Stay home”, is the standing order in Jane & Finch today

Do not go for walks in that community or Rexdale for that matter

This is not new

Many are aware of this truth


“Why are we not speaking about Regis?” I asked Louis?  A young woman thrown of a twenty four {24} story building by “the system”.  How is this investigation going?


“The postal code in which you live, dictates the quality of life that you live in Toronto” Louis March

Look into what that truly means

“Why are we forced to think about dying?”

“I fear living more than I fear dying” 15 year old to Louis March

The system has won… Our children are helpless

‚ÄčThe Hypocrite Within

​The Hypocrite Within
Who are you?
Why are you awkward?
Everyone else seems so at ease, happy, interactive and getting along
{Is this the moment I tilt my head back with laughter and get right back in line so no one notices my awkwardness?}
Pretending all is well, every place you go, yet still fulljoying amazing experiences along the way, parties, clubs, concerts, family gatherings…
Who is the real you?
What is the real you?
We all sense your fear
We can see exactly the fraud that you are
You are afraid the real you does not measure up
The hypocrite knows the road code
The hypocrite kicks in with the anger and boldness
Pretend bravado
The hypocrite is a vaxxer / masker
The hypocrite is an anti-vaxxer / anti-masker
The hypocrite knows the story makes no sense yet chooses sides in a ton of distracting arguments and conversations
To fear certain scary futures is too much for the hypocrite
You choose the safest side or the side that moves with your reality
The hypocrite fears the truth of helplessness of an insignificant existence of one eight billion… more or less
You believe in fate as well as randomness
The hypocrite within makes the best of this current existence knowing you are getting played but must choose a side continuing organized abuse of humans
The hypocrite saves our psychological health by creating safe existences
One in thirteen people is a Judas if I go with biblical math
You trust nothing and no one because that’s a lot of Judas’s calling 311
You know that you are being lied to
You feel it
The fear is real
Helplessness against the organizers
You go along to get along
Through all of the hurts and pain, somehow you feel grateful for your life anyway
The hypocrite is helping you to survive
~ ~ ~
I am of course having this conversation with my third person

Writing from feel


The only “right” we need to tell our children is the that it does not need the consent of any other human

No man can give any man rights

Stop asking for them


Intelligent words mean nothing to the colonizer coward… stop talking to them

Yes they control the global marketplace in every and all aspects, so we do feel like we must ask permission to live.  That’s what it feels like to many; black and white

The human spirit is a universal gift.  It is not man made so it does not need permission from any human


Abuse is used to maintain order

They call it “the law”

The law has nothing to do with neither honesty nor integrity.  It is a construct of those who need the human race to be weak and dependent, easily distracted and compliant

We are compliant

We are afraid

“Everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die”

We are weak and hypocritical

We blame each other for getting this all wrong and argue for others to follow what we believe to be a truth.  We abuse and insult each other, each walking away exasperated that “everyone else is so blind”

We are all blind

We are all abusive

We are all scared


It truly brings out our worst energies and traits

Your “right” is to complete your task

Your task of living your best life

If misery makes you happy, be miserable.  That is your task

My right is life

It does include the daily abuses in the news, governments, laws, officials, ceo’s, presidents… laws

A butterfly flits by and does not know or adhere to any man made laws

“Be like water my friend”

The suffering is hard to know about and to not have it affect our very souls yet we must live to our fullest, encouraging others to do the same


Such a confusing topic for me, as being a part of the herd of sheep, I am as brainwashed as the rest, indoctrinated into our court/s of law which are set up to degrade humans

Yet we trust the court system?

We have no need to fight for rights

We need to focus on “murder by law”

“Buck busting”

This was the practice of the colonizer plantation owner of sodomising male slaves while the other slaves were gathered to witness which had the desired effect of scaring those gathered

Control through abuse

Breanna Taylor

George Floyd

Lester Donaldson

Murder by law

Modern day buck busting


As a black person, you may know what ALL of “your rights” are but the trick is to get the colonizer to give a fuck about them, which they never have and never will



While we “fight for our rights” we fall for the deception for no man owns any man’s rights

Freedom is personal

We must individually choose freedom

It cannot be given or taken away as it is a deeply spiritual energy within all humans

Your spiritual upliftment is obviously personal.  We let in the energies that we choose to dwell on; positive and negative

Living free is difficult to explain because I don’t know if any in this generation ovastands if we are actually free

It is obvious to many that we are far from free… physically as well as spiritually yet the only freedom is within the spirit that we all have the ability to affect

Whatever the external / physical distractions, we choose at times how to deal with each event

A free spirit chooses a path to peace and serenity

An enslaved spirit knows only abuse

See and speak the truth to self

Not your or any other perception

The truth

Speak truth to self

Freedom lies within this truth


You have a right to be free to connect with the universe as only you can

Your rights are you

Preserve self

Self love shines out to the community and builds more love

Rights are our distraction

No need to fight for a thing that cannot be taken by any man

Again, I write from feel

Norman Otis Richmond Interviewed by Chaka V. Grier, October 2, 2020 – 7 PM

Norman Otis Richmond is Toronto’s Black music historian emeritus

With more than 50 years in, around and beyond the music business, his work has explored art, politics and everything in between. Host of “Diasporic Music” (once on CKLN-FM, now online) and co-founder of the Toronto chapter of the Black Music Association he is expert in the many cross-currents of Black musical manifestations from jazz to traditional African to soul and much more

This event picks up where our summer “Music Gallery at Home” Interviews left off and features journalist Chaka V. Grier (NOW Magazine, Musicworks) diving deep with Otis to relate old and new stories about a continuum which only grows stronger with each passing year.

Writing the perfect song

For just over two years, before I started with Toronto Downtown Jazz, I had the privilege of managing a local children’s choir. It was a fantastic experience – as the sole administrative staff for an organization of 120 choristers, I got to work on my managerial chops; but I also got to see the effect on the choristers of singing together, and learning from the inspirational artistic staff (headed up by the incredible Zimfira Poloz). And so when it was time to encourage my kids to take up some extra-curricular music, I wanted their first experience to be in a choir – now in their second year of singing, they’re having an absolute blast: it’s such a pleasure to sense their excitement as they exit their rehearsals each week.

One of the songs our daughter is singing is “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman – a song and a movie I didn’t really know prior to her rehearsal last week. When she brought home the music we took a look together and I was immediately drawn in by the lyrics and the melody. And when we watched a video of a performance of the song a few days later, I found myself truly moved. But why? What is it about this song that was able to connect with me on such an emotional level?

Well – I thought I’d take my zero years of songwriting and producing experience and do a quick exploration. (I.e. – this will be far from an academic analysis.)

Let’s be honest – there are established tools of the trade which hook listeners to a song, and “This is Me” uses them wisely. Simple harmonies, with lots of major triads, and no dissonance. A catchy and rhythmic melody. Relatable lyrics about being yourself against all odds. The use of solo voice versus full chorus. A song which starts simply and continues to build all the way to the end. They wanted an anthem, and they created an anthem. I should be clear – I’m not trying to take anything away from the song. It takes a particular skill set to create music in this way, and I think they nailed it.

But let’s forget all of that for a moment. Let’s talk about this video:

I have as much context for this performance as is provided in the video itself: between the preamble (go to the very beginning of the video if that’s of interest) and the on-screen text, it seems this is one of the first public performances of the song, and that the go-ahead on the film depended in part on whatever is happening in the session captured by this video. So it seems the pressure is on. And when Keala starts singing, it’s clear that this is an emotional moment.

For me, there are a few key moments in this video which resonate – moments which demonstrate why live music moves me as it does, can bring the lump to my throat, and continues to inspire me.

The first happens around 1:50, when she decides to step out from behind the music stand. Suddenly the performance is elevated. She’s working on a different level of connection, away from the relative protection of the stand – she’s able to dance, move with and react to the other musicians. And then just before the male soloist starts at around 2:20, she looks at him and motions with her hand: “give me everything you have.”

I’m not sure I can adequately describe that feeling. As a bandleader, I so often look to the incredible musicians I get to work with, and ask them to “bring it” – find the full emotion of the moment, play with the maximum intensity. And when they respond, it’s energizing – for me, for them, and for the audience: we all feel it. And here in this video, he responds to her invitation – and the feeling in the room is palpable. Look at the smiles on their faces – the way they can’t stand still. Look at the pianist! By 2:50, it’s a party. At 4:25, everyone is one their feet. And by the end, I think everyone realizes what has just transpired.

And this is what I miss. This is what I want to get back to. The full-on, full-house, full-emotion experience of music. As a bandleader, as a musician, as a programmer, as an audience member. We’ll take what we can for now, but when it’s time to gather again en masse? Let’s make sure we do it up large, and make it last.

Please share your favourite “impossible to truly describe” musical moments, from whatever side of the stage you experienced it – I’m willing to bet we could all use them right now.


Rise Up Weekend with ReggaeFest ‚Äď Sep 26/20

Calgary ReggaeFest brings to you live on stage PowerHouze Band and The Steadies on Saturday September 26, 2020. Show time is 6:15 pm (Gates open at 5:15 pm). Tickets must be purchased in advance.

Join us for a safety-conscious and socially-distanced night watching some of your favourite local musical acts at the DRIVE-IN at Telus Spark. Hosted by RISE UP YYC and Calgary ReggaeFest, RISE UP Weekend is an opportunity to enjoy the festival music programming you missed this summer, live, from the comfort of your car. Reserving your spot is only $25 per car! Book early as spots are limited to 100. 

Brought to you by Calgary Arts Development and supported by Big Art Drive-in, Showpass & Bird Creatives.

Tickets: https://www.showpass.com/riseupreggaefest/

Just improvise!

As much as possible, I try to maintain a positive outlook on life in general, and the various facets that make up what I do every day. I’m grateful to be surrounded by supportive colleagues and family, to have stable employment (which I recognize is a privilege at this time), and to be doing work which I continue to find challenging and stimulating. But I’m going to be honest – these past six months have been difficult. From work to home and everything in between, nothing feels normal, and in many ways I’ve been feeling “one step forward, two steps back.”

As media outlets have covered the impact of the pandemic on various sectors, I’ve done my best to pay attention to conversations surrounding the arts. And I’m finding myself bristle at one message in particular. Essentially: “Artists are creative people so I’m sure they’ll find a creative solution to this current situation!”

Fundamentally, this is true. Artists are creative people. The history of art is rife with examples of how artists have had to adapt their practice, adjusting to changes in public tastes, or economic realities, or consumption models, or technological advances, or a myriad other factors.

But what we’re facing at the moment goes beyond needing to change from CD to mp3 to streaming, or going from five-night club plays to one-off dates. We’re facing the complete decimation of a long-standing presentation model – its on-stage, off-stage and behind-the-scenes components – through no fault of our own, and far beyond our control.

Over the past twenty years – especially since the rise of digital music and the internet – we’ve tasked artists with not only producing outstanding art, but also becoming savvy in business, marketing, financial planning, social media, digital distribution and more – each of which can be a full-time job on its own. How then, on top of all that, can we ask artists and arts organizations to also completely re-define how art is presented and consumed, then wonder why some choose simply to close up shop?

I heard a story on the radio the other morning about teaching music at high school in the current reality. On the surface, it was a great example of creatively finding a solution to the problem of not being allowed to teach woodwinds, brass and choir – oh the fun they had talking about Boomwhackers! But these are teachers who have trained and gained years of experience teaching exactly those now-banned instruments – not only have they been tasked with completely re-inventing themselves as teachers and their curriculum, but we haven’t even begun to understand the consequences of a province-wide cohort of students not being able to learn certain instruments, or sing in a choir. What does that mean for the future of music performance?

Last week I went to see live music in a club for the time since March. I was so glad to be back, to see musicians on stage, to experience the interaction between the musicians and the audience. The club was as full as it could be under current restrictions; the audience was happy to follow the various health regulations in place and was so appreciative of the musicians. But limited capacity means substantially reduced revenue from food and drink sales, and a substantially reduced payout to the performers at the end of the night. It’s the best everyone can do at the moment, but how will we foster live talent and sustain music venues if the ability to generate revenue is capped? No amount of creativity will reduce an artist’s living expenses, or a venue’s rent.

And it must be said – so many artists and arts organizations have been creative during this time. The range of adaptations – from live streamed “at home” concerts to drive-in concerts to curbside concerts and more – has been inspiring at a time when the news has been so bleak. And from the outside looking in, there have been some successes. In Toronto, drive-in concerts have been sellouts. Certain online streaming platforms are producing impressive results, both in terms of views and revenues. Melissa Etheridge is reported to be generating $50,000 in revenue monthly from her online subscription base.

But except for those top earners (Melissa Etheridge, for example), these “successes” are not enough to sustain artists and presenters long term. Unless a livestream concert is geoblocked (i.e. made available only to people living in a certain city/country etc.), how many livestreamed concerts can an artist realistically perform in a month, and still expect to generate real revenue? How can a drive-in concert with 300 cars possibly generate the same revenue as a concert with 1500 tickets sold? One presenter in Toronto pivoted online and generated $20,000 over five online concerts – that seems like a healthy number, but actually represents only a fraction of what they would usually make on a single live event. How can they expect to fairly pay the artists, their staff, and everyone involved in creating a high-quality production, if they can’t generate enough revenue?

So what am I saying? A few things. I think we need to change the conversation about the arts. This is not a “kumbaya, let’s all just come together moment.” We will not simply create our way out of this. We need to recognize the dire situation so many in the industry are facing – musicians, venues, presenters, and everyone that works behind-the-scenes to bring the arts to life. In the UK, a study was recently released which suggested that 64% of musicians in that country are considering leaving the industry. We need to do everything possible to support the arts.

We are lucky in Canada to have governments at the federal, provincial and municipal levels who recognize the value of the arts and have put real money into the cultural sector over the years. At Toronto Downtown Jazz, we are lucky to have outstanding sponsors like TD who have stood by us during these challenges, allowing us space and time to explore new presentation models. However it’s up to society at large to contribute. I’m not talking about handouts – artists and promoters have demonstrated, time and time again, that they will do the work required to create and present outstanding work. But as consumers we typically pay only a fraction of the real cost of producing the art – if we value art, in all its forms, we need to be ready to pay for it.

I realize that this all may seem like “small potatoes” given the very real challenges so many are facing at the moment. But I hope that the importance of art and culture to our society is not up for discussion – whether we know it or not, we consume or interact with some sort of art daily. And art makes a very real contribution: in 2017, Statistics Canada estimated that the direct economic impact of culture products was $53.1 billion in Canada.

I’m not looking to be a downer on a Friday afternoon – where did my positive outlook go?! But I want to make sure we aren’t sugar-coating discussions about the arts. The passion and creativity of artists, presenters, and the arts industry at large will persevere. But passion and creativity alone will not sustain the long-term survival of the arts. Let’s all do what we can to ensure the art that we love today will be here tomorrow, next month, next year and on.


Jah’Mila from Halifax, NS ~ Reggae Ambassador

It is nice to meet ‘new’ talent.  Only new because I’m just now learning about this reggae, musical veteran, thanks to www.torontoreggae.ca who introduced me to this young lady’s works

From her Bio

​​The Soul

Jah’Mila, born Jhamiela Smith in Kingston Jamaica, has been a beacon for Jamaican music and culture with her talent for singing and positive messages of hope. Long playing the role of reggae ambassador, Jah’Mila has been sharing international stages with the likes of The Wailers, Groundation and grammy award-winning reggae band Black Uhuru, including Sly and Robbie, for over 10 years.  Being born into the very roots of the reggae family tree, she bears high respect for the craft and understands the importance of her role in preserving and performing quality live reggae music. As the daughter of internationally respected musician and Wailer alumni, Earl “Chinna” Smith, music became an inseparable part of her life from an early age. She was born with a melody in her heart and a fire in her soul.
The Sound

Drawing influences from towering reggae legacies like Bob Marley and The Abyssinians, as well as jazz and contemporary icons like Nina Simone, The Beatles and Lauryn Hill – Jah’Mila strives to create music that is lyrically intelligent, masterfully delivered, tastefully arranged and undeniably inspiring. Her signature track ‘Reggae Soul’ is a rhythmic representation of her musical style, in which she interlaces her deep reggae culture with notes of jazz, r&b and soul.
Jah’Mila’s band is comprised of a team of extraordinary musicians who have been playing together for years. With the unbeatable drum and bass foundation laid by Paul Keddy and Alec Frith, coupled with the grooviness of Richard McNeil and Charlie Benoit, the band captures the true compelling and electrifying energy of Jamaican dub. This musical synergy mixes beautifully with the soulful melodies of Sean Weber, making the band’s performance a true musical delight. Kristine’s harmonies are like a cherry on top!
The Journey

She has traveled the world on the wings of her voice, performing on major international stages like the Umoja Festival in Oakland, California, the Afro-Pfingsten Festival in Winterthur, Switzerland and at KulturPunkt! in Flawil, Switzerland to name a few. In Jamaica, she has graced stages such as the Jazz and Blues Festival and the Children of Icons show that was hosted by the country’s Ministry of Culture and Entertainment. Most recently, she has been performing with her full band in her new home Halifax Jazz Festival, Black Top Ball and Makin’ Waves in her new home of Nova Scotia. Jah’Mila was listed in the Top 5 of the Casino Nova Scotia Artiste in Residence Program in 2018 and was invited to sit on Music Nova Scotia’s International Women’s Day Panel in February 2020. Her music was also showcased at the 5th Annual Caribbean Diaspora Multicultural Celebration at the Halifax Commons and also at the 2018 and 2019 Nova Scotia Music Week showcase in Truro, Nova Scotia.
Since moving to east coast Canada less than 4 years ago, she has been blessed to collaborate with many local Maritime talents. She has done original work with Dub Kartel, Pineo and Loeb, Kim Dunn and was featured as a guest artiste for Symphony Nova Scotia’s Black is Beautiful series show in February 2020.
The Mission

Jah’Mila is content to keep herself in work mode – seizing all her musical opportunities as they come. Well equipped with over a decade of industry experience and with the amazing support of her musical team, she is now poised and prepared to stand in the center of every stage in her new hometown of Halifax. Her first LP release, set to be released in fall 2020, will be a spirited and affecting collection of reggae soul tracks with messages of love reverberating through every note.

~ ~ ~ 

​This song / video is most relevant in this time and a reason why Jah’Mila got I n I attention

The power of mentorship

For the past three Tuesdays at 1 pm, I’ve been tuning in to the webinar series Breaking Down Racial Barriers presented by CIMA and Advance. Subtitled “A Series of Discussions with Music Professionals from the Black Community on anti-Black Racism in the Canadian Music Entertainment Industry”, I’ve found the sessions wholly engaging – for me they’ve been an excellent way to listen and learn about the work I still need to do – and the work still required by the industry at large – before we can talk about equality in the music business. I’ve especially enjoyed the structure of each discussion: for the day’s given topic, the first half seeks to outline challenges faced by Black music professionals; the second half seeks to outline possible solutions.

One of the concepts which has come up each week, regardless of topic, is mentorship. The idea that we must be working with new generations of music professionals now, so that when opportunities come up – especially at the decision-making levels of organizations – those younger music professionals are ready to take the plunge. It’s all well and good to suggest that the opportunities are there for the taking; if we don’t actively help to prepare the next generation for those opportunities, we won’t see any change to the structures and systemic failures that act as barriers, especially to people of colour.

The week before last, the world lost a powerful musician, writer, producer, advocate, and mentor, with the passing of Salome Bey. Salome, know as Canada’s “First Lady of the Blues”, was a Grammy, Dora Mavor Moore and Obie Award winner; a Member of the Order of Canada; and, to quote local drummer JoJo Bowden, the “second Mom” to many. Whether she was helping to launch the career of young artists as she did in part with her children’s production “Rainboworld”, hiring younger musicians to join her on tour, taking new generations of performers under her wing, or advocating on behalf of the Black community, Salome helped to shape the musical and social landscape in Toronto. In outlining why Salome’s family is inviting donations in her memory to Freedomschool – Toronto, her daughter Tuku said, in part: “Salome believed in fiercely mothering the creative identities of young people by encouraging deep self-knowledge and self-awareness through artistic mentorship. Salome was committed to the preservation of black artistic legacy and extended that practice by centering the creative brilliance of young people in her mentorship work.”

Before jazz performance and, frankly, most aspects of the music industry were formally taught at post-secondary schools, mentorship was vital to gaining experience and advancing. One can only learn so much in the practice room – once on the bandstand (or in the studio or on the marketing team), the opportunity to learn from your peers and, especially, your superiors, is irreplaceable. The most storied example in jazz is perhaps Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers: over the 40-plus years of the ensemble, more than 150 musicians – the biggest names in jazz – passed through the group, learning not only how to be better players, but also how to be better performers, and better people. He sought out the outstanding younger players, then pushed them to find their own path when he felt they were ready.

Here in Toronto, Archie Alleyne played a similar role. An internationally acclaimed drummer, Archie made it a priority, with Kollage, to seek out new generations of exciting local jazz musicians, putting them front and centre. His legacy now carries on with the Archie Alleyne Scholarship Fund, which continues to provide financial bursaries to emerging musicians seeking to further their music education. Trumpeter Alexander Brown was a member of Kollage; when I recently asked him why he works with musicians both his age and of older generations, he said, “This is my classroom; these are my teachers.”

And, as I’ve read the tributes to Ron Gaskin, who passed away earlier this week, I’m realizing that in his own quiet way, Ron served as a mentor for many. Whether it was making musical introductions, on or off stage, or reaching out unexpectedly to make new connections, Ron helped to foster a vibrant creative music scene in Toronto. I have fond memories, early in my work here at the Festival, of spending an afternoon, over coffee, in the backyard of the house in which Ron was living at the time, chatting about whatever came to mind. We barely knew each other – and we didn’t get to know each other well – but when I reached out, he was more than happy to respond, to lend an ear, to be available. I continue to be grateful to the many who have been, or continue to be, my mentors.

Mentorship can take many forms, and mean different things to different people. But while the musical – and educational – landscape has changed drastically since the early days of Art Blakey, sharing one’s skills and knowledge with younger generations remains a vital component of the music ecosystem. And, as discussed in the weekly Breaking Down Racial Barriers sessions (which continue through September – register at bdrb.ca), it can play an important role in working towards greater equality in our industry.

How has mentorship effected your career development?


Neil Swainson Quintet 49th Parallel Livestream

Live musical performances are gradually coming back in a mix of reduced-capacity in-person performances and livestreams. The Neil Swainson Quintet (west coasters all including the leader!) is doing a release concert tomorrow evening to celebrate the reissue of Neil Swainson’s terrific 1989 release 49th Parallel on the Cellar Music label. The original release on the Concord Records label was certainly an all-star affair with two American front-liners Woody Shaw on trumpet and Joe Henderson on tenor saxophone backed by a Canadian rhythm section with Gary Williamson on piano, Jerry Fuller on drums and the leader Neil Swainson on bass. It’s a legendary recording which features five Swainson originals and a contribution from Henderson (the deluxe CD reissue apparently adds one new piece) and is particularly notable as the last recording of Woody Shaw who passed two years later but was already in bad health at the time of the recording. (I know that Cory Weeds has long raved about this recording and I’m sure that it’s a dream come true to be able to make it available again!) Swainson and Shaw had met on the stand in Ottawa in the early 80s and worked together intermittently (including a European tour) in the time leading up to this date. Unfortunately with the passing of Gary Williamson last year, Swainson is the only surviving member of the original quintet.

The release concert happens tomorrow night August 18th at 7pm Pacific and features Sharon Minemoto on piano, Brad Turner on trumpet, Mike Allen on tenor, Buff Allen on drums in addition to Swainson. The in-person performance at Frankie’s is at capacity but livestream tickets are still available at Side Door.

The release is available for pre-order (180 gram vinyl, deluxe CD and digital) at Cellar Live and features new liner notes by Phil Dwyer, photos from Mark Miller and an interview with Neil Swainson himself. Check out the gig and I’m sure you’ll be sold on the music!