Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


Jazz Chemistry 101

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How can you explain the alchemy that happens when jazz musicians are really locked in, making music together? That’s the kind of question that hums just below the surface of a jazz lab.

Throughout the year, visiting musicians borrow time from their performance schedules to unlock the door to their laboratories, and offer tours to all of us who are fascinated by this art form. Practice skills, keys to perplexing problems, thoughts about the creative process, insights into the business of jazz—whether you’re an aspiring musician or a person who’s serious about living a more creative life, jazz labs will offer a treasure or ten to take home and ponder.

The other bonus is that they’re fun. Most likely you’ll have a chance to hear a high-level musician or ensemble toss together a brilliant bit of music-making right there in front of you—and talk about what they’re doing. Often they’ll coach younger players through the process too, and you can suddenly see how even minor adjustments can move a musician to a whole new level.

As part of their TD Canada Trust Jazz Labs series, Jazz Winnipeg has booked in time with both Dave McMurdo, the big band trombonist and composer, and Drumheller, the edgy Toronto ensemble. McMurdo performs the Valentine’s show with the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra; his Jazz Lab takes place a couple of days earlier. Drumheller will be set up at the Park Theatre in the afternoon of Thursday, February 25 for their Jazz Lab—no doubt that conversation will be a great set-up for their evening show.

The Jazz Labs are an important mentoring option for musicians, both professional and amateur, but they’re also a great chance for jazz fans to connect with high-level jazz musicians from across North America in a casual setting. The $10 admission fee is nominal, considering what you take home with you. The fee is waived for students—they’re encouraged to register in advance at

As Jazz Winnipeg’s Executive Producer Paul Nolin puts it, “This is a great opportunity to get not only technical and/or practical business insights, but also meaningful dialogue on the creative process in general. I’m not a musician, but I invariably find inspiration at these sessions. And they’re free for students! What’s better than that?”

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