Tag Archives: Diana Krall

Thornbury Rotary Club Brings Who’s Who of Toronto Jazz to Marsh Street

The Thornbury-Clarksburg Rotary Club has a special Christmas gift for local jazz fans this Saturday.  A group of some of the most celebrated jazz players in the country are presenting a special Christmas concert at The Marsh Street centre as a fundraiser for Beaver Valley Outreach.  Along with the concert there is a silent auction happening all week long and running through the night of the concert. (www.christmasjazz.ca).

These players have been coming together once a year since 1984 to celebrate Christmas with seasonal favourites done up in their own style.  Their names are familiar to jazz fans. Each of them has spent many years teaching students the art of jazz.

Pat LaBerbera has been on the faculty of Humber College, arguably Canada’s best music school, turning out generations of sax players, for many years.  After his studies at the Berkley College of Music, and work with luminaries like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and many others, he relocated to Toronto in 1974 and became one of the most influential musicians on the Toronto jazz scene.

Brian O’Kane has performed and recorded with artists such as Rob McConnell, Dave Brubeck, Barba Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Diana Krall and Paul Anka.  In addition to his jazz work, he has performed with has performed with the Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestras, the National Arts Centre Orchestra and True North Brass.

Carson Freeman Cooks Up Great Sax at The Red Door

This Friday, The Red Door Grille and Pub will feature an appearance by award-winning saxophonist Carson Freeman.  A busy and successful jazz player who has just joined Andy Kim’s band for an upcoming show at Casino Rama, Carson is coming to Meaford at the behest of his friend Chris Scerri.  He’s been here before to play at The Leeky Canoe and sees it as something of a weekend getaway.  “Meaford’s such a great town,” he says, “nice people.  A lot of times I’ll be in some small town and find people there putting it down, asking why I would bother to come there, but it seems people in Meaford love where they live.”  It’s true, and we are lucky in this town that living in such an attractive place allows us to bring in talent that might otherwise be too big to bother with us.

Carson with Gino Vanelli

Carson Freeman is devoted to the saxophone, and has been since he discovered the music of Michael Brecker when he was in high school.  “Michael Brecker changed my life,” he told Teen Jazz Magazine, “When I heard him play I wanted to pursue a career as a saxophonist.”  His dedication has always been intense and focused.  From his initiation to the instrument in Grade 9, he spent several hours each day practising and his quest for the perfect tone continues to this day.  “Playing the sax is a lifelong developmental journey,” he said in that same interview with Teen Jazz, “There are always new sounds and techniques to explore as well as great artists to learn from.”  He went on to advise his young interviewer, “Practice everyday for at least one hour. When you’re not practicing, listen to music, study music theories, read music publications, watch music videos, and hang out with other musicians. Understand what you are working on, why it’s important, and how it is developing your musical style.”

If you peruse his website, you’ll see how he has applied his own advice.  Although he’s not a teacher (except for a short stint teaching culinary arts, but that’s another story) his website includes detailed coaching tips on saxophone techniques and his personal analysis of the playing styles of some of his heroes.

His dedication has allowed him to make a good living at his art despite being relatively unknown outside of the musical community.  He and his opera singer wife own their own home and are raising two small children, able to support themselves on income from their music alone.

As a side man he has played with some big names in the jazz world.  In college he studied with jazz saxophonist Pat Labarbera who had played with several famous jazz musicians including Buddy Rich, and Elvin Jones.  Heralded as the 2010 Canadian Smooth Jazz Wind Instrumentalist of the Year opened up opportunities that showcased his musical art alongside Grammy Award Winners;  Michael Bublé, M.C. Hammer, David Sanborn, (Guitarist/Producer) Paul Brown, Guitarist Larry Carlton, trumpeter Randy Brecker, and  Jazz Singer/Pianist Diana Krall.  He’s played with Gino Vanelli and now this latest gig teams him up with the legendary Andy Kim, whose successes in the 60’s included the hit “Sugar Sugar”, providing the music for the TV series The Archies, and recording under the moniker Baron Longfellow.  Carson plays with his band every Wednesday night at Shore Grill & Grotto in Port Credit, a listening room with a loyal audience and regular drop-ins from local jazz players.  On Thursday nights he’s at the Thompson Hotel.  And this Friday he’ll be traversing the beautiful Beaver Valley to visit us here in Meaford.

Carson hosts dinner on “Come Dine With Me”

As with many an artistic personality, Carson has developed another passion besides his music.  Having played, along with corporate gigs where he sampled some great food, some high end eating establishments, he came to appreciate that cooking is an art and he developed a real interest in culinary creativity.  Applying the same intense work ethic as he has to his saxophone, he studied cookbooks and tuned in constantly to The Food Network.  One of his favourite shows was the British reality series “Come Dine With Me”.   When he heard there was a Canadian version planned, he applied to be part of it and was not only accepted but was featured in five episodes of the first season and won first place for his hosting and cooking skills.  One of his current plans is to create a cookbook which he will call “The Starving Artist” in which he pairs gourmet meals with carefully chosen music.

Although his favourite music is post BeBop jazz, Carson has learned to appreciate something in all styles of saxophone music.  He understands that part of performance is giving people what they want and if they see value in musical examples that may not necessarily be his first choices he can do his best to play them, and has found that often playing them is a lot of fun.  When he plays the Red Door, he will bring along some backing tracks so that he can provide a full listening experience for the audience while still stretching out on his own playing.  As an all-round aficionado of the saxophone, he has made a constant study of its evolution, from the time of its invention by Adolphe Sax in 1846 to the present day, and he’s put together a show he calls “The History of The Saxophone” which will allow him to express the many things he’s learned about the instrument through his years of dedication.

Show up at 7 on Friday, no cover, to hear Carson Freeman at The Red Door.  Maybe if we’re lucky he’ll come back to play his new show at Meaford Hall.

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