Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


Farewell to Dogma

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Award-winning jazz pianist Oliver Jones was here just recently, and he mentioned—not casually, but from the stage at the WAG—how the reputation of our jazz scene has really caught on in Montreal. Every week, I get email or calls from New York, Toronto, St Louis, Boston, or Atlanta, inquiring about what’s going on here. The news is getting around. In the jazz world, Winnipeg is no longer a sleepy town.

There are several reasons for this.

Reason number one: There’s a lot of vitality here. The M.A.D. jazz faculty is comprised of top marquee players with far-reaching reputations. They’re all fashioned in the image of a modern jazz musician—they can all teach, perform, compose, and arrange. The prototype for this model is Wynton Marsalis. Of course Wynton wasn’t the first jazz artist with these qualifications, however his phenomenal popularity has mandated that we all follow suit.

Reason number two: The musicians who’ve been graduating over the past four years have been filtering out. They’re all over town, they’re traveling and recording, they’re living in Toronto or Montreal or the U.S. They’re at a very high level of performance, and when they interact with the rest of the world, the question marks are flying—where’d you learn to do that?! It’s all pointing back to this scene. Musicians coming through town are finding out that they’ve been snoozing on Winnipeg. This city no longer fits their script for it—there are players here who can challenge them, and music is going on pretty much every night.

Reason number three: There is a huge appreciation for the arts here. An incredible number of people come out to hear this music and lots of really special people support jazz in many ways—there are at least twenty people who, through their consistent care and efforts, keep this little jazz cruise afloat. I cannot thank them enough. Because of them, we’ve been getting a large number of real jazz experiences through concerts, master-classes and work shops every year. Add the efforts of Jazz Winnipeg and it’s been a dream.

When someone studies jazz with us, it doesn’t mean that they must go into a career of jazz performance. The tools of jazz allows for a person to get inside of music and go where they want to go. One of the main goals in jazz education is to teach an individual to think outside of the box. We want a person to be able to use their wits to turn a curve ball into a great big home run when the situation calls for it.

One of our recent graduates is a budding country singer. Another is becoming a premier Latin recording artist. Still others have gone into stocks and real estate. Oddly enough, some are actually becoming jazz musicians. It’s exciting that we’re at a time when the old stereotypes of jazz can be challenged to such an extent. We’re limited only by our imagination. Challenge old stereotypes. Say farewell to dogma.

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