Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

September/October 2009: George Colligan

Jazz on Wheels: Rollin’ on Through

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The Jazz on Wheels band has been sharing the joy around the city this summer. And joy it is—winding parades of red t-shirted kids rattling homemade shakers, impromptu dancing along the sidelines, crowds of kids throwing down the gauntlet with spectacular jungle roars, all powered by great music played right out in the open.

The band is primarily students this year, and they’ve taken to these open-air musical concert-parties with the perfect mix of serious musicianship and playful enthusiasm. Their repertoire includes dance music and cartoon music and remakes of familiar tunes. They improvise funny stories with only their instruments for voices. Most of all, they are open and comfortable and clearly enjoying themselves—the ideal combination to entice kids and adults alike who don’t have a lot of experience of this kind of music-making.

Steve Kirby is more of a presenter than a performer this year, having given up the bass post (mostly) in favor of ground-level hosting. By all indications, it’s working—he seems to be having as much fun as the hordes of kids who are teaching him their new dance moves or grabbing the available rhythm sticks or sidling up to get near the microphone.

Jazz on Wheels ends the outdoor season at the Sherbrook Street Fair on September 12, just after school gets underway for another year. In the months ahead, members of the band will take the next big step—connecting with some of these interested kids to help them develop basic musical skills themselves. Exciting times!

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