A fascinating documentary about the life and musical career of the legendary Charlie Biddle. From YouTube.
American jazz musicians were present here by the late 1910s, among them the self-professed inventor of jazz, New Orleans pianist Jelly Roll Morton, active 1919-20 in Vancouver. Young Canadians began to play the new music almost without delay, eg, the Westmount Jazz Band in Montreal in 1918 and the Winnipeg Jazz Babies in 1919. Not until the 1940s, however, did individual figures such as the multi-instrumentalist Bert NIOSI and pianist Oscar PETERSON enjoy national recognition through their radio broadcasts and tours. Peterson subsequently emerged internationally as the most celebrated Canadian musician in jazz.
The many styles of jazz, from traditional (and the related Dixieland) through swing, mainstream and bebop to contemporary, fusion and the avant-garde, have all had their adherents in Canada. The full spectrum was practised here in the 1990s: trad-Dixie, particularly by saxophonist Lance Harrison, as well as many European musicians who immigrated during the 1960s (eg, bassist Jim McHarg, Charlie Gall and Cliff "Kid" Bastien, and members of the Climax Jazz Band); mainstream jazz by Peterson, fellow pianist Oliver JONES, vibraphonist Peter APPLEYARD, guitarist Ed BICKERT and saxophonist Jim GALLOWAY; bebop by pianist Wray Downes, trumpeters Herbie Spanier and Kevin Dean, drummer Norman Marshall Villeneuve, and saxophonists Moe KOFFMAN, P.J. PERRY, Campbell Ryga and Dave Turner; contemporary jazz by saxophonists Jane BUNNETT and Mike Murley, pianist and trombonist Hugh Fraser, the guitarist Sonny GREENWICH and such bands as Chelsea Bridge, the Shuffle Demons and Time Warp; the jazz/rock "fusion" style, most notably by Manteca (flourished 1979-95), Skywalk and Uzeb (flourished 1976-92) and Metalwood; and avant-garde (or free) jazz by clarinetist François Houle, pianists Paul Plimley and Jean Beaudet, bassist Lisle Ellis, drummer Claude Ranger, and the musicians of Vancouver's New Orchestra Workshop and the Toronto ensemble known by the acronym CCMC. Several Montréal musicians have worked in the musique actuelle idiom tangential to jazz, among them flute and saxophone player Jean Derome and guitarist René Lussier.
The big band format had its major Canadian proponents during the so-called Swing era of the 1930s and 1940s in Jimmy (Trump) Davidson, Sandy DeSantis, Mart Kenney, Ellis McLintock, Bert Niosi, Stan Wood and others. In later decades, Tommy BANKS, Ron COLLIER, Hugh Fraser, Jim Galloway, John Korsrud (Hard Rubber Orchestra), Rob McCONNELL (Boss Brass), Dave McMurdo, Paul Neufield and Michael Occhipinti (NOJO), Phil NIMMONS, Dave Robbins, Fred Stone and Vic VOGEL have led big bands, or jazz orchestras, of note.
Most of Canada's jazz musicians have been white. Notable exceptions include pianists Peterson, Jones, Downes, Cy McLean, Andy Milne, Harold (Steep) Wade and Joe Sealy, singers Phyllis Marshall, Eleanor Collins and Denzal Sinclaire, saxophonists Bucky Adams and Ollie Wagner, guitarists Greenwich and Nelson Symonds, and drummers Villeneuve and Archie Alleyne. Several Ontario-born blacks taken to the US at an early age enjoyed international careers, among them pianist Kenny Kersey and big-band arranger Lavere (Buster) Harding; several white, Canadian-born musicians, including arranger Gil Evans, saxophonist Georgie Auld and trombonist Murray McEachern, achieved even greater international renown after similarly youthful departures. Others, including trumpeter and big-band leader Maynard FERGUSON, pianist Paul BLEY and trumpeter and composer Kenny WHEELER, left Canada in the early 1950s as mature musicians to enjoy major and influential careers in jazz. A later exodus saw pianists Jon Ballantyne, D. D. Jackson, Diana KRALL and Renee ROSNES, trumpet and flugelhorn player Ingrid Jensen, drummers Terry Clarke and Owen Howard, guitarist Peter Leitch, and saxophonists Michael Blake and Seamus Blake undertake successful international careers in contemporary jazz styles from a New York base in the 1980s and 1990s.
Characteristically an urban music, jazz has had centres of support in most major Canadian cities. Its domain, beginning in the 1950s, has traditionally been the nightclub - eg, The Cellar and the Glass Slipper in Vancouver; the Yardbird Suite (through several incarnations) in Edmonton; the Colonial and Town taverns, George's Spaghetti House, Bourbon Street, the Montreal Bistro and Top O' The Senator in Toronto; Rockhead's Paradise, Café St-Michel, La Jazztek, Le Jazz Hot, the Rising Sun and Biddle's in Montréal; and the Hotel Clarendon in Québec City.
Summer jazz festivals began to flourish in the late 1970s; more than 20 Canadian centres boasted a jazz festival of some description by 2000. The FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL DE JAZZ DE MONTRÉAL, established in 1980, was hailed as one of the world's pre-eminent jazz events by decade's end, and festivals in Vancouver, Victoriaville, Québec, Toronto, Edmonton and Guelph, Ontario, have also enjoyed international recognition.
The rise of the jazz festival paralleled, and undoubtedly assisted, the music's unprecedented growth here on several fronts during the 1980s and 1990s. More than 25 small, independent recording companies were active in Canada by the late-1990s, among them the oldest, Sackville (established in 1968), as well as Jazz Inspiration, Radioland and Unity - all of Toronto - and Ambiances Magnétiques, DSM, Effendi, Justin Time and Red Toucan (Montréal), Victo (Victoriaville) Jazz Focus (Calgary) and Songlines (Vancouver). Meanwhile, jazz education programs have been introduced at many post-secondary institutions (eg, McGill, St Francis Xavier and York universities, the University of Toronto, the Banff Centre for Continuing Education, and Humber and Malaspina colleges). Young musicians have been assisted financially in their development by the Canada Council, which has also supported regional and national tours by established artists.
The attention paid jazz by the mainstream media has grown commensurately; Canada also has three specialist magazines, Coda(established in 1958), The Jazz Report(1987) and Planet Jazz (1997). Jazz has had limited TV exposure, but many long-running radio programs, both on the CBC and private stations, stand as further proof of its popularity.
J. Litchfield, The Canadian Jazz Discography 1916-1980 (1982), Who's Who of Jazz in Montreal (1989); M. Miller, Jazz in Canada: Fourteen Lives (1982), Boogie, Pete & The Senator: Canadian Musicians in Jazz, the Eighties (1987), Cool Blues: Charlie Parker in Canada, 1953 (1989), Such Melodious Racket: The Lost History of Jazz in Canada, 1914-1949 (1997), The Miller Companion to Jazz in Canada and Canadians in Jazz (2001); G. Lees and J. Reeves, Jazz Lives (1992); J. Gilmore, Swinging in Paradise: The Story of Jazz in Montreal (1987); and Stanley Péan, Tout la ville en Jazz (1999).
Links to Other Sites
The website for the JUNO Awards and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Scroll down the page to check out the latest award winners and music clips. Sample the latest JUNO Awards CD. From the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Canadian Jazz Archives Online
Search this extensive multimedia website for your favourite jazz musican. Features biographies, photos, online audio files of jazz concerts, a jazz glossary, and much more.
The Banff Centre: Jazz Faculty
Check out the profiles of the talented musicians who have participated in the internationally renowned jazz education programs at the Banff Centre.
The Virtual Gramophone
An extensive multimedia database that covers the history of recorded music in Canada. Search the site for musician biographies and notes about the early years of sound recording, online audio clips of recordings, podcasts on specific themes, videos, and more. From Library and Archives Canada.
Diana Krall Official Website
The official Diana Krall website features a bio, discography, video segments, and audio clips of her music.
This site is dedicated to acclaimed Canadian jazz musician Maynard Ferguson. Features a bio, articles, and discography. From Down Beat magazine.
Oscar Peterson - A Jazz Sensation
A superb website about one of Canada’s greatest jazz musicians. Features a biography, articles, photos, and music samples. From Library and Archives Canada.
African Canadian Online
This website covers the multifaceted African Canadian music scene. Features brief descriptions of various musical genres and bios of popular musicians. From York University.
Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
The website for the annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. Information about programs, performers, and much more.
The website for jazz pianist extraordinaire Michael Kaeshammer. Check out his bio, tour schedule, and video clips featuring Kaeshammer and his superb band in performance.
Espace Musique: Jazz
Click on "Espace Jazz" to listen to continuous streaming of jazz music from Radio-Canada. Includes information about song titles and perfomers.
Linus Entertainment on YouTube. See music videos featuring some of Canada's top performing talent. Click on the link on the right to access their full website.
The website for JazzYYC, Calgary’s jazz collaborative. Check out the latest news and events in Calgary's lively jazz scene.
Oscar Peterson Fonds
Information page about the Oscar Peterson fonds at Library and Archives Canada.
The Canadian Musician magazine covers prominent Canadian artists, the latest gear, and the business of music. Check out their online articles and directory of Canadian musicians’ websites.
Beaches International Jazz Festival
The website for Toronto's Beaches International Jazz Festival.
The International Archives for the Jazz Organ
Devoted to jazz organ music, recordings and musicians.
Jazz Festivals Canada
The website for Jazz Festivals Canada. See their listing of annual festivals held across the country.
The Phonothèque québécoise / Musée du son is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving Québec's sound heritage. Their website features an extensive multimedia archive that showcases the colourful history of Québec’s dynamic recorded music and broadcasting sectors. With French and English sections.
Ottawa Jazz Orchestra
The website for the Ottawa Jazz Orchestra, Canada's first symphonic jazz orchestra. Their lively audio and video clips capture the magic of their live performances. Programme notes contain background information about the music and the performers.
Art of Jazz
The website for Art of Jazz, a not-for-profit Toronto organization dedicated to the advancement of jazz and jazz education in Canada and abroad. Check out the latest news about the Art of Jazz Celebration, workshops, jazz awards, and other events.
This site features a bio of popular Canadian jazz singer Molly Johnson and multimedia clips from her recordings. From the website for Marquis Classics, a Canadian independent recording company.
Jazz Profiles from NPR - Oscar Peterson
This site features online interviews and profiles of Oscar Peterson. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for more links. From National Public Radio in the US.
Concord Music Group
Search for recordings by Oscar Peterson, Maynard Fergusonand, other jazz greats at Concord Music. Features album notes and some audio clips.
Charlie Biddle: An Improvised Life Part 1
A fascinating documentary about the life and musical career of the legendary Charlie Biddle. From YouTube.
National Jazz Awards
A story about the demise of the National Jazz Awards. From the Ottawa Citizen.
Listen to recordings by your favourite musicians at the website for CBC Music.
CBC Radio 2 Music Channels
CBC Radio 2 specialty channels showcase the best in Canadian music. Select from "Classical," "Jazz," "Canadian Songwriters," and "Canadian Composers" channels.
The Toronto Musicians' Association
The website for the Toronto Musicians' Association, an organization that represents professional musicians in all facets of music in the greater Toronto area. Click on "Multimedia" to access online music videos.
A great collection of music videos featuring performances by international and Montréal / Québec jazz artists. Peruse this site for the latest news about Québec's lively jazz scene. From the website Sortiesjazznights.com.
The website for award-winning jazz singer Emilie-Claire Barlow. Features her bio, music videos, and more.
A Legend Kick-Starts Summer Jazz in Toronto
Read about an illustrious tribute to Canadian jazz icon John Norris. From allboutjazz.com.
The website for "Coda," the internationally renowned Canadian magazine that covered all styles of jazz.
Remembering Canada Bill
A profile of Toronto-born jazz pianist Bill Clifton. From the TD Toronto Jazz Festival website.
Robert Fulford: Jazz, on the record
Robert Fulford chronicles the lively history of jazz in his National Post column.