Jazz journal leaves
Yardbird out in cold
Downbeat blew it when it left city club off
guide to top jazz venues
Fans of the local jazz scene will
want to take issue with the February edition of the American jazz journal
In its guide to 100 Great Jazz Clubs, the long-running music magazine
makes a serious omission in not mentioning the Edmonton Jazz Society's
Yardbird Suite. In business at its current location since 1984, it's
likely the oldest jazz club in Canada.
The survey does list four Canadian clubs, typically forgetting that
anything happens between Toronto and Montreal in the east, and Vancouver
in the west. Not to put down the competition, but at least two of those
don't begin to match the Yardbird for longevity, size or significance of
If this sounds like the mere boasting of a local yokel, then I suggest the
editors of Downbeat consult Bill Frisell, Dave Holland, David Liebman, Joe
Lovano, Sheila Jordan or Lew Tabackin. They're just a handful of
world-famous jazz artists who've appeared there more than once and
remarked how impressed they were with the organization and atmosphere of
the club. (For an amazing list of past performers, check the archives
pages at www.yardbirdsuite.com.)
It's particularly ironic that Downbeat failed to do its homework at a time
when the Yardbird is such a beehive of activity.
From Feb.14-17, the venue plays host to
some 20 school jazz bands during the JazzWorks 2007 non-competitive big
band festival. For more than a decade, JazzWorks and the Yardbird have
played a key role in fostering upcoming jazz talents.
In March, the EJS marks the 50th anniversary of the original Yardbird
Suite with 10 special shows over five weekends, with returning performers
like singer Mark Murphy, saxophonist Lew Tabackin and keyboardist Doug
Riley with the Sandro Dominelli Quartet.
w Note: Anthony Wilson, originally scheduled to play the Yardbird this
Friday, has had to cancel his appearance. Instead, you can hear the
excellent DADs Trio that was to back him up. That's bassist Rubim De
Toledo, pianist Chris Andrew and drummer Sandro Dominelli.
The music starts at 9. Tickets are $18 for members, $22 for guests, at
Ticketmaster or at the door.
CARSON RETURNS TO EDMONTON
At the youthful age of 24, pianist James Carson has to be one of the most
gifted rising stars of the local jazz scene. He's just the latest example
of a kid who started out in the EJS-sponsored Littlebirds years ago.
You can hear him at the Yardbird on Saturday, leading a quartet with
saxophonist Brett Miles, bassist Thom Golub and guitarist Jim Head (music
at 9 p.m., tickets are $8 for members, $12 for guests). Carson has also
been taking part in hip-hop jazz dates at the Rose & Crown Pub on
Saturdays with Miles and others, an ongoing gig except for this weekend.
When I last chatted with Carson in late 2003, he was home from his studies
at the New England Conservatory of Music outside Boston. While earning his
degree at the prestigious jazz college, Carson enjoyed regular mentoring
from the likes of such world-class artists as Cecil Taylor and Joe Manieri,
and poet Robert Creeley. Carson's debut CD, a session of improvised duos
titled Arms Outstretched, offers evidence of a serious talent far beyond
After graduating from the NEC in 2004, the enterprising musician set off
to see the world for some 18 months and came back with enough stories to
write a memoir of his travels. Now he's back home to do some "woodshedding."
Literally. He's exploring the possibility of building a log cabin for
unlimited practice opportunities.
"It's all about solitude," Carson explains. "For me, solitude is the
source of all creation. Finding that focus and freedom is all part of the
whole thing, life and music."
While Carson's musical interests were previously focused on the
avant-garde and open-form free playing, he's changed his tunes, so to
speak, as a means to further his own artistic growth. The quartet this
weekend will focus on updating the standards repertoire.
© The Edmonton Journal 2007