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Thank you Denny

I tend to shy away from writing here in response to someone’s passing. It’s too fraught – why write about this person and not others? How can I possibly capture someone’s life’s work in a short blog post? – but word of Denny Christianson’s passing has hit hard.

Denny was a trumpeter, composer, bandleader and educator who, for 17 years, was the director of music studies at Humber College. Since word of his passing emerged yesterday, tributes have been written by some of Canada’s top musicians – along with some of the outstanding younger musicians his work at Humber College helped to foster. I won’t try here to list Denny’s impressive biography; and there are many who can write much more eloquently and knowledgeably about his achievements on and off the bandstand. Instead I wanted to share just a few thoughts about my experience with Denny.

My first interactions with Denny were at National Music Camp, where I was a camper about 30 years ago. I was still relatively new to jazz at that time, and NMC was an incredible source of information and inspiration for me each year. Denny led the trumpet master class one year, and although my memory is a bit foggy of everything we discussed, two items in particular stand out: he had us listen to excerpts from a recently-released (at that time) Columbia Music collection of Miles Davis recordings; and he introduced us to the work of vocalist Carmen McRae. I didn’t really know who Denny Christianson was at the time, but I knew that if he was on faculty at NMC, I should listen well to what he had to say – his speaking passionately about Miles and Carmen has always stuck with me.

When I was auditioning for music schools, I didn’t apply to Humber College. I wanted a degree, which wasn’t available from Humber at that time, and the program was in need of redevelopment. Denny took over as director of music studies at Humber two years after I graduated from U of T Jazz, and the transformation of the program was amazing to watch. In just under two decades, he redeveloped the program and (re)positioned the school as an important player on the international jazz education scene. The quality of students graduating from the school skyrocketed over his tenure (to be clear: there were always fantastic students coming out of Humber’s program), and he developed an awe-inspiring artist-in-residence program – one workshop by Pat Metheny is particularly memorable for me. Humber is now a degree-granting institution, and even the facilities received an upgrade, with the opening in 2007 of the Humber Recording Studio. Although I didn’t attend Humber, so didn’t work with Denny as a student, I benefitted from his passion for providing an outstanding educational experience: I was enriched by the various guest artists whose public workshops I attended; many of the students who graduated during Denny’s tenure as director I now count as friends or musical colleagues; and the recording studio (with Steve Bellamy at the helm) provided a fantastic venue for the recording of my band’s third album – I have such fond memories of that entire experience.

Over his career, Denny worked with some of the top musicians and educators in the world – people that I look to as models of outstanding playing and teaching. Which is why, in some ways, I so appreciated the interactions I had with Denny over the past few years at the jazz festival. Despite my being a relative amateur when compared to so many of the faculty and guests he would work with each year, every time we spoke – either in person or on the phone – I felt such respect from Denny. He spoke to me as if I was a real colleague. It was clear he wanted the best for his students and faculty, but also for the festival; he appreciated the efforts we made to feature Humber personnel, but also wanted to make sure the collaboration, however it looked, fit within the context of the Festival. Even in these interactions I was able to learn from Denny, and am thankful for having had the opportunity to work with him, in all of these various contexts, over the years.

Please take some time to read some of the official obituaries but also the numerous comments on social media about Denny’s passing. The impact he had on so many is far wider than I could hope to express here.

Josh

Keeping it simple

One of the more – what’s the word, interesting? challenging? – aspects of online school over these past few weeks has been helping our 9-year-old edit her written and oral presentations. She has a tendency, which may sound familiar, to add words – or, when working on an art project, to add elements – just for the sake of making the work longer, or busier…but without actually enhancing the content. As we work through a given assignment, I find myself asking her, “could you say that more simply?” Or, “how does that add to the story/artwork/etc.?” A couple of weeks ago we introduced the idea of KISS, which we made slightly friendlier by explaining as “Keep it simple, sister.”

KISS is a well-used adage in jazz – as students we were always told to “leave space,” and that “less is more.” (My personal favourite is “don’t just do something, stand there!”, which I thought was attributed to Miles Davis, but apparently not…although he did say “If you don’t know what to play, play nothing,” which also applies.) It’s the idea that when we improvise, we’re aiming to create melodies – if our playing gets bogged down with extraneous notes, or if we don’t give our ideas space to breathe and develop, the results will sound like just notes (or worse – just noise) and not melody.

Several years ago, Maria Schneider was the artist-in-residence at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music. Maria writes stunning, beautiful, compelling large jazz ensemble music, and as I was sitting in the audience, listening to the excellent performance by one of the U of T big bands, with Maria conducting, I realized that at a certain point in one piece, she was just using triads – essentially, the most basic building blocks of harmony. Nothing fancy. But her masterful use of those triads was effective and moving, as is so often the case in her compositions.

I was further reminded of the idea of “keeping it simple” when recently catching up on some bookmarked videos. As part of their multi-concert tribute to Wayne Shorter, SF Jazz published some fantastic recordings of video calls featuring Wayne Shorter, Terence Blanchard, Herbie Hancock and, in the example I’m about to cite, Branford Marsalis. Needless to say, they shared some interesting perspectives! But the concept of simplicity came up when Terence referenced one of Wayne’s solos from a Joni Mitchell album, and what Terence discovered when he figured out what Wayne had played:

Terence says: “It wasn’t no big mystery – it was the way you did it and where you decided to put it.” It’s amazing how often that same notion comes back – an idea needn’t be complicated in order to be effective. When done right, a simple concept can be brilliant.

Of course, when done properly, complicated concepts can be equally as effective – I’ll happily listen to the crunchy chords of a Thad Jones arrangement any time, any day. But Thad’s writing was special because he knew exactly what to do with those dense harmonies – no matter how many #9s or b13s were in a chord, they were somehow always perfectly placed, pleasing to hear, and swinging. But if I think of all of the experiences I’ve had – artistic or otherwise – that have been dampened by being made unnecessarily convoluted, I tend to believe that simplicity is often the best path.

The concept of “keeping it simple” has all sorts of applications (including grade 4 French Immersion projects on rocks, in case you were wondering). In fact, in many ways, life at the moment feels like the epitome of “keeping it simple”. Most of the activities that kept us busy are not on offer. We’re staying home most of the time. And while I’d much rather be up to my neck in planning a Festival, as is usually the case at this time of year, at the moment it’s simply not realistic to plan for elaborate productions or complicated logistics. Perhaps this forced simplification – while challenging – will serve as a reset of sorts, so that when the time is right, we can use what we know, and what we’ve learned through this time – whether simple or complicated – in the most effective ways.

Josh

Dub love Lithuania ~ Reggae For Life

A love story

Reggae music is truly love

Not always to be explained with the use of language as spiritual dialect is difficult to, or next to impossible to speak in any physical language, yet the “feel” is everything

Reggae rounds the globe, no matter the language spoken

The Japanese people choose dancehall as their mode of expression.  One of the most disciplined cultures on the planet, the Bushido code, the samurai, the Japanese revere Jamaicans and the dancehall culture as high art

And it is

I came across this clip of sound system and dub culture in Lithuania

Lithuania

Reggae knows no borders

We humans create definitive lines with genre and culture yet reggae / dub has none of those hang ups we share as residents of any culture

Reggae is love

Dub is love

I listen to these brothers speak in this interview and you KNOW that they feel the right feel

Cultural difference is irrelevant

Sound system love

Sound system love is necessary to global culture yet the Jamaican governments have never seen fit to elevate or monetize it.  As a matter of fact, they deliberately try to quash it and eliminate it out of the vibrant JA culture

Nothing more dangerous than a black colonizer and the Jamaican governments since 1962 are FULL of black colonizers abusing the people of Jamaica

Even in the woods, in this video, babylon shows up

Yet these youths string up the sound, play, dance and celebrate even in the face of the harassment from Johnny law
Canada has sound systems too

It is a necessity to feel deep bass and to share that with other dancing fools as yourself / myself.  It is a most beautiful feeling

It is truly a labor of love

Reggae For Life
The voice of the voiceless
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Gratitude

And so, here we are. The end of 2020. My last blog post of the year. As I’ve heard others say, what a decade this year has been.

I’ve done my best to be honest with those I’ve spoken with over the past nine months – friends, family, colleagues – about how this situation has affected me: it’s been hard, for so many reasons. But I have a lot for which to be thankful, and I’d like to end this year on a bit of a positive note. Each night at home, we ask our kids for their “thorn, bud and rose” – something negative about the day, something they’re looking forward to, and something positive about the day. It’s a way for us to be honest about what may not have gone well, but also to be thankful for what did. So I figured I’d look back and share some “thankfuls” from the past twelfth months because, despite everything, there were positives on most days.

I’ve said it before, but I remain first and foremost thankful for family and friends, who always seemed to reach out at just the right moment, or who were always at the other end when needed. I’m thankful for work which continues to challenge and engage me on a variety of levels, a fantastic team of colleagues, and the incredible community of venue owners, media outlets, sponsors, fans and more who do so much to support the music which continues to inspire me on a daily basis.

I’m thankful for so many musicians who have found the courage, the drive, the passion to continue making music during this time. Releasing a new album is always an enormous undertaking – given the challenges of the pandemic it’s amazing that anything was released this year at all. But what was released, I think, was some particularly personal work. Naming names is always a risky business, but a few stood out for me in particular: Gregory Porter’s All Rise simultaneously explores his musical influences while demonstrating his ease in a variety of styles; Nubya Garcia’s Source displays an exciting depth of artistry and musical traditions; while here at home Rebecca Hennessy’s “All the Little Things You Do” is so completely, perfectly, a Rebecca Hennessy project, with fantastic writing and playing, and the surprise (to me) of her excellent vocal work. Brad Mehldau (Suite: 2020) and Fred Hersch (Songs From Home) released stunning solo piano albums. And thank goodness for albums by people like The Fearless Flyers, Cory Wong and Scary Goldings, among others, which allowed me to dance along unapologetically in the kitchen.

I’m thankful for music educators – in all of their various forms – who have had to overcome enormous barriers to continue to instil the love of music in their students. From physically distanced private lessons to virtual rehearsals to workshops with artists from around the world, teachers have found new ways to engage their students and keep them inspired. This one is especially personal – we enrolled our kids in a choir in the fall of 2019 and the TBCYC crew have done an incredible job adapting their programming to the circumstances. While obviously we wished they could rehearse in person, hearing our kids singing along on zoom from the basement every week is still a joy, and they look forward to every session.

I’m thankful for dance, for the dancers and choreographers who bring it to life, and the people and organizations who give it a home. Dance is an art form which continues to boggle my mind because, as much as I know about the art form in which I trained professionally – and how an art form is learned and practiced – I’m still amazed that choreographers can come up with routines out of the air, and dancers can do that with their bodies. I sat enthralled in front of my screen for the Fall For Dance North Signature Program, which featured six completely different world premieres, especially enjoying how each interacted with the music in their respective pieces. And I was excited to read that a Canadian choreographer – Brittney Canda from Calgary – won the 2020 UK Music Video award for best choreography for her work on the music video to Sheenah Ko’s “Wrap Me Up” (watch it here), beating out some impressive competition. From swing to street to tap to contemporary and everything in between, I’m often awestruck by what is possible on the dance floor.

Speaking of music videos, I’m thankful for videographers, and everyone who continues to pour their passions into making music videos. We are a long way from the glory days of MuchMusic, but institutions like the Prism Prize here at home (and so many others around the world) continue to recognize and, I hope, encourage the art of making music videos. Given the sheer volume of imagery we see on our screens on a daily basis, it takes real talent to create a video which can truly hold our attention for a few minutes – just yesterday I watched this video for Kelly Lee Owens’ “Corner Of My Sky” which follows the trials and tribulations of a man trying to figure out why his toast continues to disappear (yes really); while this all-too-brief video for Cookiee Kawaii’s “Vibe (If I Back It Up)”, for me, is a great mixture of fun music, engaging imagery and impressive choreography. (And if you haven’t already seen it, check out the Prism Prize-winning video to Charlotte Day Wilson’s “Work” – another simple but brilliantly implemented concept.) Even jazz musicians can get it on the fun – could this recent video from Carla Bley, showcasing a new side of Chet Doxas, be a more fitting encapsulation of her music? To a certain extent so many of us have become video editing “experts” over these past nine months…but I’m glad there are real pros who continue to make outstanding short films set to music.

I’m thankful for difficult conversations. Because as hard as year has been, it’s vital that we continue to grow as an industry, as organizations, and as individuals. For me, that meant working to face some of my personal biases, and aiming to truly listen, through the conversations which made up the ten-week CIMA/Advance series Breaking Down Racial Barriers. Over the course of ten sessions, an incredible diversity of Black entertainment professionals shared their perspectives on working in every aspect of the industry – from media to performance to artist relations to major labels and more – bringing to light the racial barriers they have faced in their work, and making some concrete suggestions on how to break down those barriers. I recognize I still have much work to do – on a personal level, but also as a member of an arts organization and the wider industry – to ensure we get to a real place of equity, and these conversations were a good reminder that my comfort zones can sometimes mean I’m missing the bigger picture.

And so, here we are. Despite everything, there has been joy, inspiration, growth, and much gratitude. I’m ready for a break, and then I’m ready to hit the ground running into a new year. Wishing you all the very best for the holidays.

Josh

Reggae Rising Again Needs You

Picture

Old flyer… Just reminiscing

I am no politician

I have zero interest in that puppet show

It takes a special human to choose such a grimy job in my opinion

My grandmother was Iris King, once the mayor for Kingston, Jamaica and possibly the only mayor to serve two terms of office.  She was certainly someone I and many in my family looked up to.  She was a member of the People’s National Party, a friend and advisor to Michael Manley and P.J. Patterson; she still carries clout in certain spaces in my life

Gaga, as I and others hailed her as, was a special human

I must take a moment to also mention her rival at the time Ms. Rose Leon as many Jamaicans have deep love for both of these women, no matter which side of the fence you may be, cause a woman in politics in the 1950s is easily an unheard of proposition for those times where many women, globally barely worked or had positions of power

My maternal grandmother, Lena Melbourne was a pharmacist back in the late 30s to the 40s and for many years of her life.  My grandmothers were boss ladies

My grandfather John Melbourne was a great man and died tragically in an explosion, working for the Jamaica Public service.  He seemed to be a revered man

Herman King, my other grand pops was a Choice Pilot for Grace Kennedy, bringing ships into the warf area.  A respected man by all accounts

Herman and Iris produced four children, Barbara, Hermon, Donald and Bentley

Donald is my pops

Unfortunately for me, pops took off to England, sometime in the early sixities and mom, Patricia, had us two to contend with (my sister Donna as well)

For most of my life, I lived what I considered to be a fairly “normal’ existence and for the most part, a very happy childhood
Through the years, Hermon and Bentley would check in on Donna, mom and myself, looking out for their brother’s family.  I am well grateful to my uncles for this.  The King Boys were like the three musketeers of old, “all for one and one for all” vibe which Hermon especially kept up his end of the bargain.  He not only checked on us but was a great mentor to me as a youth

Woody was a special soul {that’s what folks close to him called him}

Grandmother King the mayor and Woody, her son, a big RasTaman

By all accounts, mother and son were very proud of each other

Woody King

The folks who knew him can tell you more of his exploits with RasTafari, reggae music as a promoter of sorts as well as the character of this man.  Suffice to say that I hold Woody King in the highest regard

To give you the story of his life would be telling a Robin Hood, honest, conscious man, well loved by all his crew but was also known a no nonsense person and fairly quick to box a bwoy where necessary

One story, which we spoke of, was his life in Spanish Town

He told me that he and his wife went to live there and over a period of time more and more folks gathered to listen to charismatic Woody as a confidant as they read bible, chanted and lived respectfully.  It is rumoured that man like Bob, Peter and Bunny came for reasoning sessions with Woody

One day while Woody was by himself, fourteen {14} babylon showed up, beat him up and trimmed his locks.  When he recounted the story a couple years ago to me, I remember him saying that “there were just too many for him”

In that moment I knew that he did not go easily

I had always been aware of his defiance to injustice

I know that he was considered a dangerous man because of his affinity to justice and truth as well as very strong connections to RasTafari

Woody took the Jamaican Constabulary Police to court, sued them and won the case making it illegal to trim RasTafari, in Jamaica, to this very day

King vs Regina, you can look it up

Woody was a bongo man

Yet he was also from privilege as a youth

I once asked him why he chose RasTafari and he said, “Because they needed a voice”

He knew that he could make impact and he did

Even at the cost of brutality to himself

Woody helped to bring the Folks Brothers music, “Oh Carolina” to the world

Woody was a reggae man

And possibly my greatest influencer

I was way too young to have known all that he was doing yet several years after moving to Canada, my life with reggae, mirrors his as it pertained for the love of Jamaican music

I am grateful that he and I reconnected by phone over the years till he passed recently

We realized that DNA is a real thing…lol

Reggae

An uncompromising, spiritual energy that flashes around the globe like a bolt of lightening

It is a genre of music that the babylonian has set its sights on to try and control, using the same tactics of brutality through the use of the corrupt politicians in all Jamaican governments and leadership

Before you jump up to defend the JA government, I will list a few things that tell you a truth

How are the artists in Jamaica living today who set the foundation for the music?

Are they making any money from the impact of their music globally?

Has the Jamaican government ever set up a pension program for ailing or broken men and women of reggae?

Why aren’t Jamaican artists given jobs at resorts to make a proper living?

Why are there no major concerts in Jamaica but nuff concerts all over Europe?

How many vinyl pressing plants are there currently on the island?  With the lucrative vinyl market making white children a ton of money, why doesn’t JA have a vinyl plant or two?

Why hasn’t the Jamaican government ever monetized the export of reggae to aid the economy (and I am not speaking of their use of Marley’s face for tourism selling}?  I mean the rich heritage of reggae and the hundreds of talented men and women doing it over the years till this very day, why isn’t it monetized?

Why are the colonizer government beating down the clash culture with soldier and police?

The list could go on for a few more pages but you catch my drift

The goal it seems is to kill the music at the root, with the use of colonizer governments with politicians eager to sell out Jamaican people and Jamaican culture

Their abusive is undeniable and decades long and clearly visible to the world and CONSISTENT over several decades now

Undeniable

Babsy Grange

I have never had the pleasure of meeting this lady yet she is the Cultural Minister in the Jamaica Labor Party (Her title much longer but yu get mi)

Ms. Grange lived in Canada for a bit and elevated the reggae community here.  Many mention her name

She booked events, created tours, advised artists, created a record label to sell reggae music.  She went back to Jamaica to do the same thing and take reggae to the world

She is consistently reggae

I trust her far more than I trust politicians because of her consistent work of elevating reggae music

She ought to be recognized and honored as a “reggae soldier” while she is still above ground and breathing

I believe she is the beacon of this time in which we live

The corrupt babylonian venom encircling the earth need reggae eradicated or controlled

This is not possible

Spiritual energy cannot be contained

Brutality and bigotry can be brought to the people but this only makes reggae stronger because reggae comes from the spirit of the ancestors brutalized by the colonial yolk.  The reactionary energy that oozes from oppression and abuse

“They” have made it clear

Only they can earn from reggae

We all want to eat food as well but nuh matta weh unnu do, reggae a go play.  We reggae soldiers will keep on keeping on even with the spiteful venom of the colonizer “sucking the blood of the sufferer”

Reggae For Life is my vibe

Canadian Reggae World is a website that I have maintained for close to twenty years as a conduit for reggae music.  We are not the most influential site yet here we still stand

All of the things that I used to rant about was a thought that when I became enlightened, I would spread the info, shine the light, folks could see the issue/s, change them and the world would be a better place

Yes naïve
I realize I am not writing to everybody

I also recognize “government” is perceived as bigger than me / us

Reggae is for life, so as we live and breathe, we must continue to seek the love, spirituality and sense of protection to those who cannot fight for themselves, which sometimes includes all of us

Yah man, reggae for life

~ ~ ~ 

​Hit the link on the hoodie for RFL merchandise.  We ship any place in the US and Canada only

Denise Jones Canadian Reggae Warrior R.I.P.

Denise Jones

Jones & Jones meant everything to me and many live reggae performers from Jamaica to Canada in the 80s – 90s

What an era shepherded by Allan and Denise

I worked down on Mowat Avenue back in the day when Jones & Jones had an office in the building.  It is where Denise and I created a relationship / bond of reggae love.  She loved and respected my passion and work ethic for IBADAN, the band that I managed at the time, and booked us on many of Jones & Jones events {folks thought that she managed IBADAN the amount of gigs we used to get…lol}

Jones & Jones and LIP {raspect always Lance Ingleton RIP} made reggae sweet back in the day

They motivated and encouraged us all and with the amount of gigs that were happening.  There were so many reggae acts to choose from to open up for international acts

As IBADAN was young at the time, I knew that we needed an international stage to showcase what we were about.  Denise booked us to open up for Tony Rebel at the El Mocambo

Our first international show!

We KILLED it!!!

The reviews in the Share and other community papers as well as on Community radio were so great, it truly launched the band to Toronto star status

Jones & Jones booked the band often and we opened for Culture twice, Gregory twice, Luciano and early days Jambana and a host of other events

Jones & Jones did this for many other performers within the culture as well

Booking IBADAN went on to give all of us belief that we could perform on the world stage/s and encouraged the first album “Do It” and other recordings since

Nothing like the band loading in for soundcheck at a gig and hearing Denise or Allan singing, “I need and I need and I need you” the lead track off the first album

Denise has left an indelible mark on this proud Canadian reggae culture

No one does not know or heard of Denise Jones

Rest in peace my reggae warrior queen

Your presence made reggae music culture a prideful thing here in Canada

Love you Denise Jones

NUFSICISUM

In my second year of the Jazz Performance Program at the University of Toronto, I had the good fortune to play co-lead trumpet in the 11 O’Clock Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Phil Nimmons. Our first gig of the year was in the Arbor Room at Hart House, and the first tune of the night was a Sammy Nestico arrangement of “Smack Dab in the Middle.” Phil counted off the tune and I absolutely pasted the first note.

Exactly four bars early.

And I remember Phil looking back into the trumpet section with a “what the hell was that?!” look…and then just smiling, laughing, and carrying on. In some ways, it was a defining moment in my development as a musician and as a person: Phil would have been well within his rights, as a professor in a professional training program, to reprimand me for the error. Instead, he chose to find the joy in the moment. And that’s what got passed on to me, that night and every time I’ve worked with Phil since: the absolute joy of making music.

Often referred to as the “Dean of Canadian jazz”, clarinetist, bandleader, composer, arranger and educator Phil Nimmons is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the International Jazz Educator’s Hall of Fame. He was awarded the inaugural JUNO Award for best jazz album of the year in 1997, and in 2002 he received Canada’s highest honour for an artist, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement. He taught at the University of Toronto in the Jazz Studies program for over 45 years. (Read more about Phil here.)

As a student, learning from Phil was…non-linear. There were tangents aplenty, and many hilarious stories. But the point was always made, and his ease of character should never be taken for a lack of seriousness about the subject matter: he aimed to install in all of us the importance of caring deeply for our art, regardless of the project at hand. When preparing composition assignments, he wanted us to be sure why every note was on the page, and its purpose; his own hand-written scores are evidence of the attention he’s paid to every bar of music.

I especially came to appreciate his love for nature, and Canada’s natural landscape. It can be found in song titles like Tides, Harbours, Horizons and Under A Tree (among others); but it goes beyond just taking inspiration form his surroundings. Phil finds – and encouraged us to find – literal music in nature. One of my fondest memories was when, in fourth year jazz composition, he played a recording of a loon call. And as the loon sang its repeating melody, Phil snapped along – it was a perfect, natural waltz. Several years later, when I was writing a suite of music dedicated to Phil, I wanted to hear that loon call again – I reached out to Phil and he was more than happy to send me a CD of his compiled nature sounds along with, as always, a hand-written note.

And then there’s Phil the human being. Almost always positive, always encouraging, always so grateful for the opportunity to work with his students, his fellow musicians. As I look back at some of my correspondence with Phil I’m struck by his grace – in the words he chooses it’s clear that he does not take for granted that others would want to work with him, play his music, hear his perspective. Phil stopped teaching just last year at age 96 – I would bet that he loved the teaching just as much as working with the students. And just as I have always found his joy in music making inspiring, so is his sense of playfulness – evident in the way he plays clarinet, in his compositions (tunes like Threeful or Birdburger are HARD to play but so joyful), and even in the way he chooses his titles. In fact, the title of this blog post is the title of a Phil Nimmons composition. It’s not a made up word – read it backwards and you’ll get a sense as to why Phil continues to be such an inspiration, and why I continue to find joy in what I do.

About 15 years ago, as I was getting ready to release my big band’s second album, I reached out to Phil to ask permission to call the album “Under A Tree” – the title of one of my favourite Phil compositions, and a tune we recorded on the album. I missed his phone reply, but he left me a message – a message so “Phil” that I’ve kept it to this day. With Phil’s permission, I’m posting the message here – I think it captures his grace and joie de vivre in just a short 45 seconds:

Last Friday (November 27), the album To The Nth was officially released. A tribute to Phil, the album includes seven of his compositions, arranged by his grandson (and pianist/producer extraordinaire) Sean Nimmons, with a multi-generational ensemble featuring some of Canada’s top jazz musicians, all of whom have been influenced by Phil in some way. It’s a fitting celebration of Phil who, at 97 years of age, continues to inspire jazz musicians of all ages; and it’s a solid introduction to his music. (Find it here.)

I encourage you to learn about – and listen to – Phil Nimmons as much as you can. Whether you choose his own bands like on the Atlantic Suite/Tributes double album, his sublime duo work with David Braid or one of the two albums of Phil’s music recorded by the Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra, I guarantee you’ll come away refreshed, uplifted, and full of joy.

Thank you, Phil, for everything.

Josh

CRW seeking Web Team

I am eternally grateful for the path of interacting with humans that love reggae music

It is a lovely ride

No regrets

We ovastand a spiritual energy that cannot be contained that delivers the truths that are needed to be felt and heard

I feel like CRW works have aided in the upliftment of Canadian reggae vibez to a larger audience globally

Individual artists like Chester Miller, Blessed, Ammoye, Exco Levi and others promote themselves globally opening even more doors, making it easier for CRW as well as Toronto Reggae YYZ who work on reggae music every day, to showcase reggae vibez in a Canada

Everyday!

This is both an honor and a blessing for us, based on reggae love

How do we maintain daily reggae work?

We try things like merchandising.  Toronto Reggae t-shirts, RFL merch, live events, advertising and promotion, consulting as well as seminars to pay us for the works that we provide

With this much interaction our audiences continue to grow

Now that live has been eliminated by the current global circumstance, we will endeavor to be more interactive on our reggae websites

As we continue to create our own infrastructure as we must, CRW is seeking the right candidate/s to work with creating an opportunity to sell Canadian reggae music directly from the CRW site

An interactive music site for reggae as well as other black music in Canada

Honor – Respect – Integrity – Nobility

These are the standards we seek most in working with folks

RasTafari is the energy that guides my path and I seek those who live in and relate to that behavior in personal livity as well as doing business as such

Our goal obviously is to elevate sales opportunities for the genre as a whole by improving what the artists earn weekly, monthly or several years down the road

If you feel like you suit this situation and energy and want a conversation, please link up

JuLion

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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EVERYTHING IS FINE

Usually at this time of year we’d be in the thick of planning the upcoming festival, making offers and even getting certain shows ready for sale. But until we have more clarity on several fronts, we’re in a bit of a holding pattern. I’m doing the usual agent outreach, but the conversations are a bit, well, absurd: “So what’s the plan for the Festival?” “Don’t know. Got any artists looking to tour?” “Don’t know.” Repeat.

Meanwhile, I don’t have to tell you that the news from here at home is concerning – COVID numbers are high and official messaging on controlling the spread is confusing; we have two young kids in school, which, for us, has added to the stress of the situation. We’re doing our best to stay positive and put on a brave face…this comic by KC Green (abbreviated from its original form) almost perfectly catches how I’m feeling many days.

Despite the unknowns of the upcoming Festival, work has remained busy and fulfilling. Our Summer Concert Series and Casa Loma Sessions (the last of which, featuring Molly Johnson, premieres this Tuesday) were a welcome reminder of the magic of live music. Initiatives like our Act4Music presentation and our co-presentation of Allison Au at this year’s virtual DC Jazz Fest (with the generous support of the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC) helped put local artists in front of an international audience. Our recent involvement in COJAZZ, the first ever Canadian Online Jazz Festival, was a ton of work, but the end result was satisfying – it felt like a truly collaborative effort with colleagues from across the country, and provided a national stage for seven very different local artists. We’ve just launched our “Stories From Home” initiative, which invites musicians to relay their experience in their own words, and we’ll have an announcement of another major event soon.

Music – even if not live – remains a go-to source of comfort and inspiration for me. I’ve been checking out the occasional online concert (I admit my patience for more screen time is short) and have tried to keep track of new releases. Happily, an abundance of new music has been released over the past several months, and I’ve especially enjoyed albums by musicians who seemed to have dug a little deeper for their newest projects, exploring more closely some of their musical influences, and making records which feel like reflections of who they truly are as artists.

And then there’s humour. Social media can be, frankly, toxic, but I’ve been grateful for the many posts that, if not making light of the situation we’re in, at least have tried to bring some levity. If you like your humour political, for example, check out Pat LaBarbera’s recent Facebook reimagining of lyrics of jazz standards. And this image, which has been circulating in the past few days, humours my music nerd side while simultaneously calling attention to the frustrating side of certain internet security measures:

Just like the classic albums which help to centre me musically, there are certain clips that I turn to when I’m in need of a laugh. These two get me every time.

I’m thankful for family, music, humour, work and more…What has helped you find some positivity?

Josh

​Remembrance Day 2020 Reflections

No I cannot “celebrate” this the way they are and have been selling it to me
If these so called patriots are selling it, you know that it is the wrong energy.  The hatred and venom they brought and other “patriots” like that, confirm puppet behavior and maintain this continued violence to innocent human life
Blood sport
The ultimate blood sport
Bravery personified to “serve your country” and to risk your life for others.  Purple hearts abound as other innocent souls get murdered in order to earn them medals
What is it that “they” want me / us to remember about war?
In WW1, some 20 million children were murdered on the whim of decision makers and in WW2, another 80 million children were murdered
The people who send 100 million children to be murdered control the celebration of the passing of these children
Over 100 million children
Little boys as soldiers not even 18 years old yet.  Innocent women and children as well who were not soldiers but civilians in the wrong place and time
Nah
Keep your celebrations
If these people promoting Remembrance Day celebrations actually cared, we would see no hint of war for the duration of humanity, when we take into consideration the 100 million lives we took away; from whose decisions again?
Who decides to murder children to make a point?
To win some territory?
To plant a flag?
To secure poppy or oil fields?
To maintain the opium trade?
Control the world economy?
“To end communism”?
For religion?
To make the American dollar our trading currency as opposed to gold?
Let us murder and pillage and sacrifice the lives of innocent children, “taking orders”
Wow… a get out of jail free card because one has to follow orders
As we murder more innocent children on any side of the conflict
If these children’s lives meant anything, we would endeavor to never do this to other children
The people, the “patriots” who send our children to die are also the ones promoting this poppy day
I truly do not trust these evil humans or their track records since WW2 with the numbers of global conflicts since that time… Falkland, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam etc, etc, etc…
I will remember the lost and murdered children / soldiers
I will mourn these children and try to stave off this cannibalistic murder brought by the “decision makers”
Remembrance Day should not only mourn loss but also a movement to hold these “decision makers” accountable for the lives of dead children / soldiers
Remember to look out for these abusive leaders
Fire all politicians that call for war
Remember to find the executive at Big Pharma, the Corporation or the Banker pulling these strings and hold them people accountable for the lives of children
Our children
I think we should ask a million vets their opinions before we engage into another “war”
We have the narrative that they fought for our freedom as we know it today
Ok
Well, I suggest that all presidents, prime ministers, politicians, the senate, ceos of pharma or other banking entities who vote to send our children to war, must immediately report to the frontlines next day with their wives, husbands and children of age, to be suited and booted
Right to the frontlines!
If they survive, they can get their jobs back
Everyone fights! No matter their age or health conditions since we are fighting for “our” freedom
Remember how controlled we are
Remember how insignificant our sons and daughters are to fiscal bottom line
Remember the numbers of injured and amputee veterans out in society still struggling today
Remember to question the decisions of rich people playing with poor people’s lives
Remember to ask questions
Remember to recognise the corporation/s that kills millions of humans in the name of “freedom” yet none of them or their children are on the battlefield risking life and limb
Remember to question why you accept this
Remember that you probably have no say in whatever happens with the trillions of trillions spent on “war”
I empathise with vets and their families for lost lives and limbs, physical and spiritual trauma, aka PTSD, so I remember to ask about this aspect of war
“Remember, No more war”
That is the mantra I hope to share going forward
There are so many thoughts and things to say yet I do hope that those who have suffered are not hurt or offended by these thoughts.  I am hoping to create dialogue, thoughts, shifts in spiritual energy to protect humans