Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


Sharing the Wealth

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Sometimes jazz musicians will only give you part of a familiar rhythm—they want you to fill in the blanks. They’ll play bits and pieces of a melody. You’ll remember how the rest of it goes and smile at the parody. They’ll lead you to an obvious ending and hand you a surprise exit through a hidden door. Your inner eye will open. In an ideal world, a well placed note will set off a chain reaction in you that will get you dancing to the sound of what they didn’t play.

Most of the musicians that we write about in dig! magazine can evoke those images. Many of those people live right here in River City.

Part of the beauty of a jazz performance lies in the fact that the musicians are asking you to become involved in the music-making as a listener. Unfortunately, this concept isn’t supported by current trends in our modern society. In this Web 2.0 society, no one ever has to do much thinking any more. Computers can do all the thinking for us while television leaves nothing for the imagination to do.

I confess that I like to watch a little trashy TV occasionally. I’ll just lay back and drool while the TV takes total control. I just have to remember to struggle with it a little every now and then.

I have the same relationship with rock, R&B or rap—it’s great that they leave nothing to the imagination. (I don’t really want to take the responsibility for imagining the types of things they’re singing about anyway. They’re much too explicit!) Playing, teaching and listening to jazz music resonate more fully with me, however. Doing those things is my way of pushing back against total mind control.

Probing and provoking a listener or band-mate musically requires a great deal of wit and presence. That wit is fed largely by the diversity of our cultural experience. One of the perks of living in a major metropolis like Winnipeg is that so many different cultures thrive here. When those little enclaves send out their emissaries to explore each other musically, cultural cross-pollination can happen. The tools of jazz can facilitate that process.

I look forward to the day when inner city kids can get their hands on those tools—music may never be the same again. I can’t wait to hear what they create. Imagine the sound of someone who didn’t even know that they had a voice or that someone wants to hear it. Imagine a sound that is unique to Winnipeg.

Jazz on Wheels is inching us toward that goal but dig! magazine will keep us posted every step of the way. It’s our way of tracking what’s happening in jazz in this city, and who is emerging, making those new sounds. We provide the road map—and it’s available now in that high-tech virtual world at

dig! magazine is laying down markers in an important part of Winnipeg’s cultural history. We’re sharing the wealth at home and abroad!

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