Baculis, Al

Al Baculis (Joseph George Alphonse Allan). Alto and tenor saxophonist, clarinetist, composer, arranger, teacher, b Montreal 21 Nov 1930, d Seminole, Florida 22 Jan 2007; L MUS clarinet (McGill) 1951. He studied clarinet 1948-51 at McGill University and theory and composition privately 1952-6 with Istvan Anhalt and Marvin Duchow. During the 1950s he was active in jazz, playing with the Canadian All-Stars - Gordie Fleming (accordion), Yvan Landry (piano), Hal Gaylor (bass), Billy Graham (drums), who made the LP Canadian Jazz All-Stars (1955, Discovery DL-3025) - and winning CBC radio's 'Jazz Unlimited' poll for five consecutive years as best clarinetist. After 1958 he turned to studio work, playing, composing, and arranging for the CBC ('Vedettes en direct,' 'Music Hall,' 'Let's Go,' etc) and composing four scores 1961-5 for NFB productions. Parts of his score for the NFB's Le Sport et les hommes (1961) also were performed by a Baculis octet at the 1962 Montreal Jazz Festival. Four Baculis jazz themes were recorded in 1977 by the US clarinetist Buddy De Franco with Gordie Fleming and others on the LP Waterbed (Choice CRS-1017).

The Al Baculis Singers (fl ca 1965-ca 1972), a studio group comprising Margo MacKinnon (Baculis' wife), Renée Beaumier, Raymond Berthiaume, René Lacourse, Giselle Poitras, Rudy Pontano, Jean-Pierre Rondeau, and Nicole Scott, were heard frequently on CBC radio and TV and made the LPs The Al Baculis Singers (1966, CTL CTLS-1084/Birchmount BM-528), Back to Baculis (1967, CTL CTLS-1095/Allied Paragon ALS-228), and Anne of Green Gables (1967, Dom 1368).

During the 1960s and 1970s Baculis toured Europe and the Middle East with Vic Vogel's band performing for Canadian soldiers. Leaving studio work in the mid-1970s, Baculis taught arranging and composition 1977-86 at Vanier CEGEP, Montreal, and 1978-83 at McGill University. Baculis arranged of the theme for the closing ceremonies of the 1976 Montréal Olympics.