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.
Making decisions can be tough. I was mindful of this fact recently when I asked one of Canada’s leading jazz performers to produce a short list of definitive Canadian jazz recordings. Phil Dwyer, as you may already know, is a highly respected performer, composer and bandleader, who just won the 2012 Juno award for contemporary jazz album of the year.
Dwyer has played with almost everyone on the jazz scene, and as such is eminently qualified to tell the difference between the merely good and the truly great. At the same time, how does one possibly narrow down such an expansive field of options into a few morsels of genuine awesomeness? It seems Dwyer didn’t have any trouble at all with this seemingly daunting task. So here’s a very short list of essential Canadian jazz recordings, according to Dwyer.
Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass, The Jazz Album (1976)
“There were many fine Boss Brass recordings but this was the one that I grew up with. Lots of great moments here, including the achingly beautiful flugelhorn playing of Guido Basso on ‘Portrait Of Jenny,’ which is rightly regarded as a classic. Otherwise, Rob's writing really moved up to another level on this recording and in terms of personnel I think the band was really at a peak. Some of my favourite musicians, Canadian or otherwise, are on this record including Arnie Chycoski, Don Thompson, Terry Clarke, Ian McDougall, Ed Bickert and Moe Koffman. It was a remarkable group under the direction of a great writer and bandleader.”
Oscar Peterson, Canadiana Suite (1964)
“What can you say about OP? He’s one of my enduring musical heroes and a huge influence on my piano playing (not that you would notice). On this record he plays a beautiful set of Canadian musical classics.”
Fraser MacPherson, Live at the Planetarium (1975)
“I guess every kid with musical aspirations has their local musical heroes. Fraser was one of my first, along with Oliver Gannon and Wyatt Ruther. Live at the Planetarium remains a favourite of mine, and many others.”
Hugh Fraser and Veji, Veji (1980)
“Hugh, along with his Veji cohorts, represented the winds of change on the Vancouver jazz scene of the early ’80s. This album gives full evidence of Hugh’s sublime anarchy.”
Contemporary jazz album of the year: The Juno skinny
Junos 2012: Complete list of winners
Paul Novotny's Cdn Jazz Essentials