Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

one article at a time

In upcount, editor Steve Kirby considers the intersections of jazz and life and the building of community.

In this section

July/August 2017: Anna-Lisa Kirby

Deconstruction Blues

My first bass teacher was an old Jewish guy by the name of Henry Loew. He was the principal bassist in the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. He was an amazingly generous soul who cared for me like a son. In my very first lesson, I brought along a bass that was once owned by a […]

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May/June 2017: Buster Williams (Festival Edition)

Blur the Lines

The mechanics of jazz, the ideology, the culture, the genesis of jazz is built from the freedom to blur the lines, break down the artificial walls, and promote a true sense of peer equality while codifying a universal language in the sound of art. It’s true that some people can realize gifts that others have […]

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March/April 2017: Neil Watson

An Off Ramp

Jazz definitely has its problems. For one thing, most of the songs that jazz musicians perform were written many decades ago as popular tunes. The sounds of those times were trumpets, trombones, saxophones, clarinets and flutes, guitar, piano, bass, and drums. Today’s sounds are more likely guitar, keyboard synth, drums, bass, and voice. Love songs […]

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January/February 2017: Warren Wolf

The Root of Why

I’m certain that many of you see this type of thing all the time but it’s a rare phenomenon for me. I’m talking about a personality that is so stunning that it calls to mind the days when I believed in magical stuff. The incident happened when it was my turn to take my son […]

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November/December 2016: Alicia Olatuja

Greener Pastures

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 […]

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September/October 2016: Robi Botos

Beat Your Own Drum

I want to dedicate this letter to the oddball in the crowd, the fifth wheel, the person heading due south when everybody else is going north. This is for the black sheep in the herd. In Winnipeg the main arteries mostly consist of two-lane roads. Curiously, an often occurring phenomenon in those two lanes is that […]

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July/August 2016: Greg Lowe

Piece of the Peace

One of the most devastating means of communication that I have ever encountered is doublespeak. When somebody talks to you in doublespeak, they shake hands with you with one hand while simultaneously clubbing you over the head with the other. Doublespeak is talking in code. The way I see it, much of the confusion in […]

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May/June 2016: Kamasi Washington (Festival Edition)

Pure Imagination

This is a crazy world we live in. A house party is where a group of people get together to stare at their phones. You can have a thousand friends and no meaningful conversation. A peanut can be fatal and injected botulism can be beautiful. In this crazy world, Winnipeg sits in the bull’s-eye centre […]

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March/April 2016: Aaron Diehl

Life Is Good

Now that I have lived in Canada for 13 years, I can look back on my experience as an American with a bit of perspective. In the past four years, it has slowly occurred to me that I grew up in a war zone, learning to survive as part of the “at risk” society. When […]

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January/February 2016: Seamus Blake

Fuel for Passion

It really makes a difference when I’m working with someone who’s passionate about what they do. They’re carrying a beautiful little secret that they just can’t wait to share. Even when I don’t care about this thing that they’re so passionate about, I can relate to the sheer enthusiasm. It’s instructive to me. It grabs […]

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September/October 2015: Vincent Gardner

The Art of Hearing

I think hearing is a most difficult art form, and that’s largely because listening is a most difficult task. Ironically both functions are among the most essential aspects of social interaction. The toughest part about listening for me is hearing an external voice through a cacophony of internal voices. Whether I’m in a classroom or […]

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July/August 2015: Walle Larsson

Little Things

I’m writing this letter from Victoria, at the front edge of a festival tour with Curtis Nowosad’s quintet. As often happens for me in other cities, I found myself looking for the unique yet unspectacular things that are here, that somehow help the place feel comfortable, loving and appealing. I was talking with some of […]

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May/June 2015: Esperanza Spalding

In our Own Sweet Way

Winnipeg definitely has its checks and balances. For example, we just had one of the mildest winters in recent memory. Relatively speaking, we hardly kept an accumulation of more than a foot or two of snow the whole time. It’s like we somehow pulled a fast one on the whole eastern seaboard and they wound […]

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March/April 2015: Regina Carter

Come and find Yourself!

Marriage counselors love a jazz bass solo because it’s the best way to get people to start talking to each other. Seriously, jazz bass playing is tantamount to things like the art of butlery or homemaking. When you are at your most effective you are barely seen or heard, yet the people you serve receive […]

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January/February 2015: big dig! band

Closing Pandora’s Box

When I look in the mirror, I see a man—but I remember that most people see a black man. I realize that I am from one of the hundreds of various dark races in Africa but I remind myself that my soul is colorless and that color is not relevant to my character or virtue. […]

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November/December 2014: dig! magazine Turns Ten!


I’m now going into my eleventh cold season here and I am a bit surprised about the amount of anticipation I feel about the ensuing winter. (I’m actually not kidding about this.) My favorite part of the cold season in Winnipeg is the time leading up to the holiday break in December. It’s the coziest […]

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July/August 2014: Curtis Nowosad

Why Can’t “It” Be Here?!

When we first came to Winnipeg, one of the first things we started was the Monday Night Hang. That was a lot of fun because it was the place where I got to meet everyone and everyone got to meet me. It was exciting to see symphony musicians and blues musicians and jazz musicians, young […]

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May/June 2014: Jimmy Greene

Walkin’ In Space

Why is it that personal growth always has to come in a bittersweet flavor? I experienced that taste this year when I became a participant in a huge community initiative led by a new hero of mine, Roger Berrington. The program is called CanU, and it is designed to inspire “at risk” children from our […]

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March/April 2014: Cécile McLorin Salvant

The Voices Normally Unheard

That was some winter, eh!? They say it was the coldest one in eighty years. Usually there’s a break every once in awhile, but that one came fully loaded. There was nothing but seamless, cold and brutal temperatures for roughly two and a half months. It was certainly a lot of pressure. I watched a […]

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January/February 2014: Neil Coligan

The Sweet Parts of Life

The basic culture in Winnipeg is so similar to the places I’ve lived in the US that it took me five or six years to realize that I was an immigrant. I used to say it, but in my heart I really didn’t understand. Now after ten years, it’s beginning to sink in just how […]

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