Paris; Vernon Duke & The Armour of Music

Other than people living in extremely remote areas untouched by media or technology - if they even exist anymore - I may have been one of the last to hear of the recent appalling attacks in Paris. As my wife Anna would say, this is "not a good story for me", although she learned of the tragedy even later than me, and only after I told her of it. But there was at least an understandable reason for our obliviousness: our three-year-old grandson Charlie came for an overnight visit starting at dinnertime on Friday. Like most kids his age, he has so much curiosity, energy and imagination that being around him is an all-consuming experience and great fun, but exhausting. What with playing and talking and eating with him, there was no time or reason to have a TV or a computer on. And when we did turn to the TV, it was to watch a kids' movie with him, with no ad or news breaks. Afterward, I put Charlie to sleep with the sounds of a Paul Desmond record wafting upstairs from the living room, his last waking words were, "Gwandpa, that saxophone sounds weally good......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz". I drifted off myself for a few minutes and then woke up and watched a movie with Anna, after which we retired for good, still blissfully ignorant. The next morning started all too early and with immediate relentlessness. It was more of the same, wall-to-wall hanging out and playing with Charlie and I noted to myself for the hundredth time that there's a reason people have children when they're young more [...]

So Long, Archie

A shorter and slightly different (i.e. cleaner) version of this piece on Archie Alleyne appeared in the September issue of WholeNote magazine, v. 121 #1.                                                                       *** June of this year brought a rash of deaths which rocked the jazz community – locally, bassist Lenny Boyd and drummer Archie Alleyne – and internationally, jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman and third-stream-composer Gunther Schuller. I wrote memorial blogs about Coleman, Schuller and Boyd, who was my bass teacher. I held back in Archie Alleyne’s case because I just didn’t have another obituary piece about a good friend in me so soon and also because David Perlman, the editor/publisher of WholeNote magazine, asked me to write a piece about Archie in a future issue. Oddly, it was while attending the early spring memorial celebration of Jim Galloway – another local jazz stalwart who passed away recently – that I first learned that Archie was seriously ill. I hadn’t seen Archie in some time and while looking for him at the gathering for Jim I was told that he wasn’t expected to live through the summer, a body blow. He didn't even make it that far, dying on June 8th of prostate cancer. Perhaps it's as well he went so quickly as he was suffering, but the speed of it was still shocking. Archie was such a zestful man, so integral a part of Toronto's musical scene in so many ways and for so long that it's hard more [...]