CBC Music’s jazz community continues its mission to compile a list of 10 essential Canadian jazz albums with a little help from its friends. This week Juno-winning sax player Mike Murley shares the albums he'd put on the list.
My choices for Canadian jazz essentials are all by elder statesmen whose collective work have left an indelible imprint on jazz in this country. These three recordings are an acknowledgement of the great influence that these master musicians have had on my generation.
I decided to decline any "honourable mention" albums because there are simply too many wonderful recordings from which to choose.
Phil Nimmons, The Atlantic Suite (1975)
Phil Nimmons's work as a composer/arranger/performer and his pioneering of jazz education in Canada is unparalleled. His longevity and his ability to continue to evolve and create music at a high level well into his 80s are truly inspirational. The Atlantic Suite was the first Canadian jazz record I heard as a teenager growing up in Nova Scotia, and Nimmons and Nine plus Six was the first live jazz group that I heard at the Canadian Stage Band Festival in 1975. It is an iconic piece of Canadian music that truly stands the test of time.
Ed Bickert and Rob McConnell, Mutual Street (1984)
It is difficult to have a conversation about Canadian jazz without mentioning legendary guitarist Ed Bickert and the late great Rob McConnell. Rob is well known for his work with the Boss Brass and was respected as one of the world's finest big band arrangers. I think that because of this he may have been underrated as a trombone player but he was without doubt one of the most swinging, melodic and fearless musicians with whom I shared the bandstand. And despite his brashness there was also a vulnerability to his sound that I loved. This duo recording with Ed Bickert captures these two giants in an intimate setting where every nuance of their incredible musicality is on clear display. I was blessed to work with Ed for many years and even did a couple of duo gigs with him myself. These were among the most intimidating and rewarding nights of my musical life. No one listens at a higher level than Ed and his comping is pure genius. I learned a lot about musical economy working with him because I found the most beautiful sounds would come back to me if I simply left a little more space in my solos!
Kenny Wheeler, One of Many (2011)
Even though trumpeter Kenny Wheeler left Canada many years ago for the U.K., his influence on Canadian musicians (and the international community) is huge. Like many musicians of my generation we came to know Kenny personally through the Banff jazz workshop in the mid-’80s. He is a true artist and one of the greatest composers of modern jazz. His most recent album, One of Many, was recorded in 2006 and released in 2011. Like Phil Nimmons, Kenny is an octogenarian who continues to perform and compose at the highest level. One of Many is a lyrical masterpiece featuring beautiful melodies and outstanding playing by Kenny, British pianist John Taylor and American bassist Steve Swallow.
Canadian Jazz Essentials: Mark Eisenmann's picks
Canadian Jazz Essentials: Paul Novotny's picks
Canadian Jazz Essentials" Michelle Grégoire’s picks
Canadian Jazz Essentials: Mark Eisenman’s picks
Canadian jazz essentials: Juno winner Phil Dwyer’s picks
on May 04, 2012