Wednesday, October 2, 2013

For Peter

I was very saddened to hear that my good friend and Regina bassist Peter Dyksman passed away early last week. I'm very disappointed that I won't be able to make it back to Regina tomorrow in time for his funeral and final farewell.

Inspired by my friend Irish bassist Ronan Guilfoyle's excellent post about his old friend, drummer John Wadham I thought I would take a moment to share a few thoughts of my own about my friend Peter.

I first met Peter when I was still in high school and just getting started with my own journey as an aspiring Jazz drummer. Over the years I was very fortunate to play dozens of gigs with Peter with many  different groups in concerts, casual Jazz gigs and the occasional background jobbing gig around Regina. Peter taught me many important lessons about how to conduct myself on the bandstand and I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to play with him as much as I did over the years. I consider him to be an important mentor of mine.

I was trying to think back to some of my favourite gigs that I played with Peter over the years. Not easy, as there were many! But a few that do come to mind include playing trio with pianist/vocalist Louise Rose around the year 2000 and several of Peter's own shows that he led featuring his sextet, a group that became a favourite project of his after he retired. The last time I played with Peter was backing up vocalist Diane Nalini at the Regina Jazz Society during the winter of 2010.

However, I think if there is one gig that stands out for me it would have to be a quartet gig that consisted of myself, Peter on bass with Jim Gallagher on piano and Kris Craig on guitar at the Regina Teacher's Club on the corner of Regina Avenue and Elphinstone in the spring of 2003. Jim and I had just spent the weekend playing with the Regina Symphony Orchestra and had experienced a challenging several days dealing with the headline artist who was brought in and who proved to be a major headache! Jim, in particular, really rose to the occasion that night following our symphony ordeal and I don't think I've ever heard him sound better. Peter was right on the money too and swung hard with every note. In particular he called the very challenging Oscar Pettiford tune and bass feature "Tricotism", played the melody and absolutely nailed it! I don't there is a bass player in Regina who has attempted that since...

Off the bandstand Peter was a good friend too and took a great interest in my career and would often give me a call to offer words of encouragement when he heard that I was about to play a big gig. He also set a good example to me and to others of how to conduct myself on and off the bandstand as a human being. During one challenging time in my career I distinctly remember him passing along some words of wisdom to me that still resonate to this very day:

"The definition of Integrity is doing the right thing while no one else is watching..."

I am really going to miss him.


Here's one of my favourite Peter Dyksman stories (as told to me by Toronto Jazz pianist Gary Williamson):

"Back in the 60s while Peter was living in Toronto, he, Gary and Jerry Fuller drove out to a country club north of Toronto to play an evening of background music for a private event. Apparently Jerry had had a "long" night on the town the evening before and was wearing a pair of dark sunglasses, never taking them off all day nor during their gig. The manager of the country club took exception to this and started giving Jerry a hard time, started to belittle him in front of the patrons of the club and threatened to fire him and the band on the spot.

In a moment of pure wit and infinite cleverness, Peter tapped the manager on his shoulder and said:

"Excuse me sir, but our drummer is blind!"

Apparently the manager turned a shade of white and was beyond embarrassed from his apparent mistake and ignorance.

Not letting an opportunity to be wasted, Peter and Gary escorted Jerry around the club arm-in-arm for the duration of the evening (so he wouldn't bump into anything of course!) and took full advantage of all the food and drinks offered to them to make up for the misunderstanding.

At the end of the night the manager continued to apologize for his mistake and promptly offered to pack up Jerry's drums and load them into his car. Jerry said: "Sure, thanks!" and stood by (still wearing his sunglasses of course) while the manager hauled his drums.

When he was finished, sweating from moving Jerry's drums, the manager apologized one more time.

Jerry replied: "Thanks. No problem!"
He then promptly sat in the driver's seat of his car and drove away.

The country club manager nearly had a heart attack..."


Yesterday while I was driving around Calgary running some errands and as the sun was setting this particular piece came on the radio as I was thinking about my friend. I think it is a very fitting soundtrack and tribute to my friend Peter:

Peter Dyksman - 1937-2013

September 23, 2013 - Peter was born and raised in The Hague, Netherlands where later, his son Shaun would spend his early years with his grandparents, Leendert and Antoinette Dijksman and his uncle Jan Dijksman. In 1956, Peter arrived in Canada at the age of eighteen as an immigrant from the Netherlands ñëjust off the boatí he would say. His first stop was Regina where ultimately Peter would reside for some fifty years. Interrupting those years spent here in Regina, Peter's travels as a musician would take him to many parts of Europe, the Middle East and both Eastern and Western Canadian Provinces. The many influences he experienced both abroad and here in Canada added great dimension to his abilities and his reputation as a bassist grew rapidly. That rigorous course in his professional career later prompted Peter to return with his son to Regina where he continued to enjoy his career as a musician and where he, along with his wife Sharon began his many year commitment as a business owner of The Music Box and the Academy of Musical Education (later Long and McQuade Music) in both Regina and Saskatoon. Peter served on the board of the Regina Jazz Society for several years and in 2004 he was the recipient of the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival's Special Recognition Award. Over the past two decades Peter struggled with very difficult health issues. Under the care of his physicians, Dr. J. McHattie and Dr J.S. McMillan, Peter's faith in God allowed him to live a very full life as a performer and significant contributor to the Regina business community. His leisure time was spent enjoying the beauty of this province, specifically at Regina Beach and more recently at Buena Vista. Peter's health challenges never prevented him from having sincere relationships with all of his friends and among those who were members of his church family. For many years he contributed much to the music worship and other ministries at Hillsdale-Living Hope and Heritage Alliance Churches and served on several Christian Community event committees with significant years devoted to Alpha Ministry's as an advisor and coach. Very recently Peter was diagnosed with an immediately threatening illness and with his wife Sharon and their son Shaun at his side, on Monday September the 23rd Peter passed into the presence of God. He is survived by his wife Sharon; his son and his wife Tricia; and his four grandchildren - Antoinette, Adrianna, Annika and Pekka Dyksman; his brother Jan Dijksman and his wife Will; plus many relatives from Saskatchewan, Holland and Britain. Peter was a consummate and loving husband and leader in his home, adored by his family and a humble servant of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. A Service in celebration of Peter's life will be held on Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 11:00 am at Heritage Alliance Church, 3575 Hillsdale Street, Regina with Pastor Cory Steinson officiating. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Peter, to The Salvation Army, Division Headquarters, 2240-13th Avenue, Regina SK, S4P 3M7. (From the Regina Leader Post)

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