Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Calgary Scene - John Reid

Today's column features John Reid, a longtime member of the Calgary Jazz community. John is the full time Prairie Regional Director of the Canadian Music Centre in Calgary, and Artistic Director of the Jazz Is Society of Alberta. He has had a radio show weekly for 22 years; from 1981 to 1991 he hosted the weekly Jazz Space and Jazz Spectrum programs on CJAY 92 FM in Calgary and since 1988 he has done the weekly program The Canadian Music Centre Presents on CJSW 90.9 FM in Calgary. Reid has taught Jazz History on an annual basis as Sessional Instructor at the University of Calgary since 1984. He teaches a new course at U of C that he founded, called The African Effect in Music. Reid is a Master of Arts degree candidate at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and his thesis topic is the music of Dexter Gordon. Reid is the founder and past chairman of the Calgary International Jazz Festival (1980) and founding secretary and past president of the Jazz Calgary society.

1) Can you tell us about your musical background? How did you learn to play Jazz?

I took piano lessons, sang in the church choir, played alto saxophone in the school band, heard R&B and then went nuts! I took a class at U of C and learned the blues! Eventually I got a job touring with the band "Stratus Faction".

2) Who are your musical influences and why?

Dexter Gordon - because I love his logic.

3) Name your favorite albums:

Miles Davis - "Kind of Blue"

The Brecker Brothers - anything

Dexter Gordon - "Go!"

4) What sort of things are you practising or developing musically these days?

I practice a few minutes a day in the morning, usually working with an Aebersold play-a-long and things for the Instrumental Society's "Master Saxophonists" concert series.

5) What interesting projects do you have on the go at the moment? (gigs, recordings, etc.)

I play an annual jazz spot with the Instrumental Society of Calgary concert series and play in the funk/gospel band at Central United Church.

6) As the artistic director of the Jazz Is Society of Alberta you have been very active over the years in bringing guest artists to Calgary from abroad and featuring them with local Calgary Jazz artists. What can you tell us about some of the guest artists you’ve worked with and what you’ve learned from them. What future plans does Jazz Is have for presenting live Jazz music in Calgary?

I think that the opportunity for many of us to work with visiting jazz artists has been excellent. I have noticed a difference over the years in the way that local artists who have participated have improved their playing,in their abilities to put difficult music together at short notice, to concentrate and focus with an audience present, and to improve their soloing. It's been very gratifying.

7) Favorite place to eat in Calgary?

Notable Restaurant in my local community of Montgomery.

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