Thoughts on Fred Hopkins and Jaki Byard
3/20/1999 - It has been a particularly painful last couple of months in jazz - the world lost two great musical spirits; I lost a musical colleague/friend and my first jazz mentor.
Bassist Fred Hopkins was a true original and like the truly original instrumentalists in jazz he was blessed with a readily identifiable style and sound. But more than just the music, Fred was a warm, incredibly gregarious, open person, almost childlike in his gentleness and also mischieviousness. With Fred this vital nature of his was inseparable from his music - Fred the person and Fred the musician were one and the same.
So many memory fragments of the time I spent with Fred as his musical colleague come to mind: - how, when flying for a gig usually with one of David Murray's bands on a plane headed for Europe, Fred could someone get to know everybody on the plane by the time the 6 hour trip was over; - how Fred used to always manage to arrive a fraction of a second "late" to the bandstand, particularly at our more dramatic big band hits, so that he could make a sort of "fumbling", grander, more amusing entrance. Or how, when taking one of his patented free-wheeling, out of time, often bowed bass solos, Fred would "accidentally" brush up, with his bow, against drummer Andrew Cyrille's cymbals, and would then continue to use this as the basis for his improvisations.
And what improvisations! Often Fred, when given a chance to do an a cappella solo, could segue to a point where he'd have the bass literally lying on the ground, and he would pull it's strings almost recklessly; like Billy Bang and many other open-minded conceptualists, he could take things so "out" that almost anything conceivable became ripe tools for creative input. But also like Bang, Fred when in the right frame of mind and when called upon could play with time within a swing context in a truly original way - his sense of swing had a fullness of tone, a sense of forward momentum combined with an almost effortless carefree quality that I have never encountered in any other bass player. Part of what came of Fred being Fred was a particular unpredictability as to what he might do with an actual chart you gave him, and there are stories of him erroneously playing notated charts upside down, or playing one chart for half the piece until the leader noticed the problem while the rest of the band played another chart. Even these things you just accepted because Fred was always so fully Fred: without a doubt one of the greatest bass players in jazz, but also one of the most unforgettable characters I will likely ever meet, someone you couldn't help but love.

Jaki Byard was my first jazz teacher, and I studied with him when I did my Masters Degree in Jazz at the Manhattan School of Music, from 1989 thru May of 91. I was originally assigned to another teacher there, but before my first day when I found out Jaki had recently been added to the faculty and after doing a little research, I knew I had to work with him. Jaki's lessons were always casual, almost irreverent; sometimes we'd just sit there for the hour with the Manhattan School studio's two grand pianos and play the blues in all 12 keys the entire hour; sometimes he would reminisce about what Monk "really" was like or how Sun Ra was doing the whole "cosmic" thing quite knowingly as an "act" or how he studied with Earl Hines. But somehow the net effect was that what he really taught me was how to be truly open at the piano - in fact, what better introduction to jazz piano than from the true walking jazz piano historian himself, Jaki Byard!

And what an open mind. In his playing and teaching, he touched equally upon authentic stride (which I think in reality actually rhythmically colored almost everything he did no matter how "progressive" the context), the bebop tradition, all the way up to Cecil Taylor and perhaps beyond. And he respected other forms of music, as well: one of the first memories I have in Manhattan, when I wa
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Improvisations on Bach's Goldberg Variations (tribute to Glenn Gould)
From my recent concert at the Barrie Jazz Festival, presented as a part of a concert of "Canadian Inspirations", from Neil  Young to Alanis Morisette (stream the entire second set from the "Canadian Inspirations" concert  here (D.D. Jackson Radio)).
living jazz audio & video podcasts
Organ Nation demo
Audio - Demo recording of our new collective group featuring myself on Hammond B3 organ; Alex Harding on bari sax; Walter Szymanski on trumpet; and Brandon Lewis on drums. Recorded at Dubway Studios, Feb./09.
Organ Nation at Cornelia Street Cafe
Audio - Live recording of our collective group Organ Nation at our premiere gig this past Feb./08 at the Cornelia Street Cafe featuring myself: organ; Alex Harding - baritone sax; Walter Szymanski - trumpet; and Brandon Lewis - drums.
living jazz weblog
8/23/2012 - recent activity...
4/28/2011 - Billy Bang, R.I.P.
9/1/2010 - Freeplay music and
4/15/2010 - latest activities
10/10/2009 - Manhatpro
2/28/2009 - past few months update...
7/14/2008 - "Canadian Inspirations"
3/10/2008 - hear my solo piano performances at Alanis Morissette Tribute concert in Ottawa
12/24/2007 - R.I.P., Oscar Peterson
10/27/2007 - A chat with Andrew Dubber of New Music Strategies
10/4/2007 - James Carter recording, Moonfest, & other recent activities...
8/1/2007 - New Music Strategies plus MOMA concert
7/7/2007 - on Chicago City Limits and other "mini-successes" of the day...
7/1/2007 - I couldn't resist... and bought an iPhone!...
6/30/2007 - performance with Ahmed Abdullah at Sweet Rhythm
6/2/2007 - new Living Jazz Podcast is up...
12/19/2006 - gigs about town with Dean Bowman
11/29/2006 - appearance on CBC's "Fuse" program
10/14/2006 - Reflections on the birth of my new son Jarrett in Podcast #19
9/11/2006 - In Memory of 9/11
7/14/2006 - Trudeau opera news spreading fast
6/20/2006 - my Trudeau opera
6/6/2006 - John Hicks memorial
4/29/2006 - jazz opera Quebecite in New Brunswick
3/16/2006 - "Serenity Song" track from upcoming "Serenity Song" CD now available for free download
3/8/2006 - Thoughts on recent Bret Primack Seminar on Web Publicity
2/27/2006 - Chris Howes interview plus more updates
1/14/2006 - live from Cambodia: thoughts on my IAJE panel (1 of 2)
1/13/2006 - Live from Cambodia: thoughts on my IAJE panel (2 of 2)
12/6/2005 - My first Artistshare blog entry
7/5/2005 - a new Trudeau opera
3/25/2005 - Solo piano in Taiwan (part 1 of 2)
3/24/2005 - solo piano in Taiwan (part 2 of 2)
2/18/2005 - Musician-in-Residence, St. John's College (Part 1 of 4)
2/18/2005 - Musician-in-Residence, St. John's College (Part 2 of 4)
2/17/2005 - Musician-in-Residence, St. John's College (Part 3 of 4)
2/16/2005 - Musician-in-Residence, St. John's College (Part 4 of 4)
1/4/2005 - New Year's Eve in Japan (part 1 of 2)
1/3/2005 - New Year's Eve in Japan (part 2 of 2)
9/15/2004 - JaraSum Jazz Festival, South Korea
8/14/2002 - Bluiett/Jackson/El'Zabar mini-west coast tour
3/4/2002 - Last Few Months Update (part 1 of 2)
3/4/2002 - Last Few Months Update (part 2 of 2)
3/3/2002 - Thoughts on 9/11
9/9/2001 - New Music Festival Premiere (part 1 of 2)
9/8/2001 - New Music Festival Premiere (part 2 of 2)
9/13/2000 - D.D. Jackson Group in Japan
7/1/2000 - A Canadian in New York (part 1 of 2)
6/30/2000 - A Canadian in New York (part 2 of 2)
5/20/2000 - Yukon adventure
3/13/2000 - Juno Awards
3/5/2000 - Tel Aviv
3/5/2000 - My New Columbus Band
2/1/2000 - Musings on Wynton after the Jazz at Lincoln Center (part 1 of 2)
1/31/2000 - Musings on Wynton after the Jazz at Lincoln Center (part 2 of 2)
9/10/1999 - My first RCA CD's
9/9/1999 - Re-addressing my classical past (part 1 of 3)
9/8/1999 - Re-addressing my classical past (part 2 of 3)
9/7/1999 - Re-addressing my classical past (part 3 of 3)
3/21/1999 - Thoughts on Fred Hopkins and Jaki Byard
11/28/1998 - African Journal (part 1 of 5)
11/28/1998 - African Journal (Part 2 of 5)
11/28/1998 - African Journal (part 3 of 5)
11/28/1998 - African Journal (part 4 of 5)
11/27/1998 - African Journal (part 5 of 5)
10/31/1998 - "Effusion"
10/28/1998 - Hamiet Bluiett's Strange Second Set
9/18/1998 - Perilous Journey From Japan
9/18/1998 - Strange Duos with Kurt Elling
6/5/1998 - "Blood on the Keys"
2/22/1998 - Thomas Chapin
1/20/1998 - Duets with James Carter
11/13/1997 - "Ultimate" big band
7/1/1997 - 2 surreal gigs in Canada
5/26/1997 - First tour of Japan
5/5/1997 - Thoughts on James Carter
3/1/1997 - Thoughts on Don Pullen
2/20/1997 - "David Murray Week",. Columbus, Ohio
12/3/1996 - Duo Sessions
10/28/1996 - "Freedom" in East Germany
10/3/1996 - Tribute to Don Pullen session