“When I Sat Down to Play the Piano: Compositions Inspired by the Poetry of Al Purdy”
Sunday November 5, 2017 at 2 pm $20/$10 (cash only)
Gerry Shatford – piano
Neil Swainson – bass
Barry Elmes – drums
Paul Vermeersch — narration
Originally from Calgary, but raised in the suburbs of Toronto, Gerry Shatford eventually found himself studying formal composition and classical piano at McGill University’s Faculty of Music in the late 1980’s, immersed in studies with many of Montreal’s most esteemed artists including John Rea, Brian Cherney, Bengt Hambraeus, Bruce Mather, Luba Zuk and Louis-Philippe Pelletier. It was during this time that he caught the jazz bug, hearing Bud Powell playing on a recording of “All God’s Chillun Got Rhythm” with Sonny Stitt and Max Roach. Later he participated in a series of jazz workshops conducted by the esteemed New York pianist Barry Harris. Gerry eventually transferred to the jazz performance programme at McGill, studying with Fred Henke, André White and Jan Jarczyk. He graduated with distinction in 1995, having and won numerous awards and scholarships including the Raymond Laliberté and Frank Mills prizes.
In 1996 Gerry relocated to Vancouver where he maintained a busy teaching schedule while performing regularly as house pianist at the Vancouver Club. Returning to the east in 2001 Gerry settled in Ottawa where he was instrumental in establishing Café Paradiso as an important venue on the Canadian jazz scene. In Ottawa Gerry worked with many of Canada’s finest jazz artists including Dave Turner, Mike Rud, Joel Miller, John Geggie, Kevin Dean, André White, George Evans, Heather Bambrick and Frank Lozano. He also co-ordinated and facilitated jazz workshops led by Barry Harris and vocalist Sheila Jordan, and performed with Sheila on a mini-tour with dates in Ottawa and Kingston.
It was during this period that Gerry began an important relationship with the American pianist and composer Stanley Cowell. Concurrent with his relocation to Toronto in 2008 to begin graduate studies in composition at York University, Gerry was mentored by Professor Cowell, a project that was generously supported by a Chalmers Professional Development Grant administered by the Ontario Arts Council.
At York University Gerry worked closely with Al Henderson and Barry Elmes, successfully defending his thesis “When I Sat Down to Play the Piano: Compositions Inspired by the Poetry of Al Purdy” in 2010. This work became the basis of a second Ontario Arts Council Grant (Popular Music Recording) which has allowed Gerry to realize his first full-length recording project. Several compositions appeared in the 2015 feature-length documentary “Al Purdy Was Here”, directed by Brian Johnson.
Neil Swainson (bassist) was born on November 15, 1955 in Victoria and began playing professionally there, backing visiting musicians including Herb Ellis, Sonny Stitt, and Barney Kessell. He started working with Paul Horn in 1975 and led his own band for a two-year period before relocating to Vancouver in 1976. He has lived and worked in Toronto since 1977.
Swainson has been a leading player on the Toronto jazz scene ever since, playing with local and visiting luminaries including Moe Koffman, Rob McConnell, Ed Bickert, James Moody, George Coleman, Jay McShann, Tommy Flanagan, Lee Konitz, Joe Farrell, Slide Hampton, Woody Shaw and George Shearing.
Swainson’s own recording, 49th Parallell (Concord Jazz 4396), features Woody Shaw on trumpet, and Joe Henderson on saxophone. He has also recorded with a number of other great artists including Jay McShann, Doc Cheatham, Geoff Keezer, Sam Noto, Peter Leitch, Pat LaBarbera, Kevin Dean, Rob McConnell, Ed Bickert, Lorne Lofsky, Kirk MacDonald; and JMOG, a cooperative band featuring Don Thompson, Pat LaBarbera, and Joe LaBarbera.
Neil Swainson continues to compose music and freelance extensively in the Toronto area.
Barry Elmes has occupied a position of prominence on the Canadian jazz scene since the 1980s and has become internationally-respected over the years since, not only as one of Canada’s most talented drummers, but for parallel accomplishments as a composer, producer, recording artist, and dedicated educator. His award-winning work has been documented on over 90 jazz CDs and he has performed all over the world with many renowned jazz artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Tommy Flanagan, Charlie Haden, Diana Krall, Joe Henderson, John Abercrombie, Oliver Jones, Cedar Walton, Phil Nimmons, and Moe Koffman. In 1991 he formed the Barry Elmes Quintet, featuring a «who’s who» of the best in Canadian jazz. A success from the beginning, this group has released five critically acclaimed recordings, toured Canada coast-to-coast and performed internationally, including a groundbreaking tour of Chile
In addition, Barry continues to produce recordings for a variety of artists, co-leads the quartet Time Warp and presides over Cornerstone Records Inc., a successful artist- owned jazz label and publishing company dedicated to presenting recordings by Canadian jazz artists. Barry is an associate professor of music at York University and currently serves as the Jazz Area Coordinator.
Paul Vermeersch is a poet, professor, artist, and editor. He is the author of several poetry collections, including the Trillium–award nominated The Reinvention of the Human Hand and Don't Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something
Vermeersch holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph for which he received the Governor General's Gold Medal. His poems have been translated into Polish, German and French and have appeared in international anthologies. He edits Buckrider Books, an imprint of Wolsak & Wynn Publishers Ltd. He lives in Toronto.
Please note that proceeds from this event will be donated to the Al Purdy A Frame Trust. November 5, 2017 at 2 pm
This is concert # 596 at Gallery 345