Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


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Small Moves, Big Effect

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These are exciting times in the Jazz Capital of Canada. We’re welcoming two world-class players to our city—saxophonist Jimmy Greene and pianist George Colligan are settling in with their families to live and work in our city. Both are highly sought-after musicians who bring a lot of energy and expertise to the Jazz Studies program at the U of M. When you catch them in performance, you’ll know what the fuss is all about! Their presence is adding to the ripple effect we’re creating across this country. The U of M has become a viable option for studying jazz in Canada, and the city is now known far and wide as a place where jazz is really happening.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: jazz is thriving here because it is about community-building, and the concept of community is what shapes this multi-cultural city.

Jazz is the first real world music. It was created in New Orleans about a hundred ago when a lot of people from a lot of different races refused to segregate. The one thing they had in common was a love for one another’s music. Klezmer musicians were mixing with Delta blues musicians who were mixing with marching band musicians that had a love for ragtime. These musicians loved one another’s music so much that they risked persecution by the legal authorities just to learn more about each other and to play together. That spark opened the door to the success of the North American social experiment.

The whole jazz performance process is an exercise in community-building—at any given moment, any member in the group can emerge as the leader or fall back into a supporting role. The group’s wit and intelligence largely depends on the willingness of the individuals to cooperate. The amount of varied experiences that each individual brings to the table contributes to the richness and uniqueness of the group’s sound—just like in any conventional community. A neighborhood is only as good as the people that live in it.

The spirit of jazz is tolerance. The heart of jazz is tolerance. The benefit of jazz is tolerance. The more cultures introduced within a jazz performance, the more potential it has to be exciting. Nowadays, some of the most interesting jazz music is coming from countries like Israel, India, Argentina and Africa.

The jazz process promotes listening to one another, engaging one another, debating one another, and in the end presenting a sound that identifies the whole group as a singular personality. Individual players offer individual commentary but in the context of intense listening and understanding. That interaction is a perfect metaphor for a healthy community.

Another class of talented young ambassadors has graduated from the U of M Jazz Studies program, another Summer Jazz Camp has come to pass, another season of Jazz on Wheels has come and gone. A new term is beginning for young players at the U of M and the Monday Night Hang is back in place. A lot of small moves can create a huge effect—they feel us out there! In a crazy, crazy world, the spirit of tolerance and community is right here in Winnipeg, a place I am proud to call my home.


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