I’m proud to have had an opportunity to work with Paul Nolin. In case you haven’t heard, Paul Nolin was the Executive Producer for the jazz festival in Winnipeg—a job that presented a set of challenges that were not meant for the faint of heart! Though there were many unpredictable complications involved with this post, time and again, through courage, resolve, luck, clarity and flexibility, Paul was able to meet them and deliver the goods year after year for well over a decade.
I consider Paul a true champion for the arts culture of Winnipeg because he created some stunningly visionary opportunities for many local musicians. I personally was able to launch my Oceanic Jazz Orchestra as part of the Nu Sounds series. (I will likely be sailing that ship until I can no longer sail again.) In this series, I was encouraged to think as far out of the box as possible and I did. For the first time I was able to create music for a hybrid mix of musicians, from the WSO to the jazz faculty as well as from the greater community at large. I got to use strings and woodwinds and pedal steel and vibraphone and percussion and wah-wah pedals and singers and just about anything I imagined. Many Winnipeg musicians along with myself were given a great deal of license to push the envelope to the full range of our imagination because of that wonderful series.
Paul partnered with me to deliver community outreach ventures like Jazz on Wheels. This is an inner city program that brings live jazz and pop music to neighborhoods that traditionally have been underserved. We’ve supported a lot of young musicians on those stages over the years, and watched a lot of dancing kids and smiling adults in the crowds at those community parties.
Another partnership with Paul that has benefitted the jazz community at large has been this magazine that you are reading right now. With Jazz Winnipeg’s support, dig! magazine has been able to report on the health and vibrancy of Winnipeg’s world-class jazz culture bi-monthly for 12 years.
I learned a great deal about many things through my interactions with Paul. I learned about vision, passion, courage, resolve, tenacity and flexibility, but the greatest lesson was humility. Paul never sought the limelight for himself. He was always setting someone else up for their moment to shine. I know that he derived a great deal of satisfaction from that. He was always very supportive and encouraging.
The results speak for themselves. People are talking about the Winnipeg jazz scene all across Canada and the US. Winnipeg has had a spike in jazz musicians since I’ve come here and many of them have gotten their first opportunities to perform in a festival from Paul Nolin and Jazz Winnipeg. Likewise, the world comes here through the jazz festival and meets us.
We will miss you Paul as you move on to the next phase of life. I know I speak for the vast majority of jazz fans and musicians of Winnipeg when I say, ”Thanks for a job well done.” Bon voyage!