“Jazz is the teacher, funk is the preacher.”
– James Blood Ulmer
In 1979, when I was 15, I started gigging in Montreal nightclubs, often playing 3 or 4 nights a week in clubs that closed at 3 am. Since then, with the exception of about 5 years when I laid my horn aside, I have gigged steadily, playing over 1,000 shows in 12 countries with hundreds of professional musicians, as well as with DJs, poets, videographers, painters, dancers, rappers and more. At various times I was also a music critic for major newspapers and magazines (Montreal Gazette, Downbeat, etc.) and co-owned a record label, Word of Mouth, that released 10 CDs featuring music by Jeanne Lee, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Steve Lacy, Dave Holland and others. I’ve lived a huge amount of my life in music, and most of my ideas about people and about the world have been shaped by my musical experiences. You can find many more recordings on my Soundcloud page, but here are a few of the musical settings I’ve worked in over the past few decades…
This is improvised music by me (sax/vox) and Jeff Morton (MAXmsp patches and joysticks) recorded live at the University of Ottawa as part of J’Acousmatic #2 in September 2014.
This is a band I put together to record with different poets at the Action Poetry ’94 residency that I organized at the Banff Centre. It features legendary dub poet Lillian Allen on vocals, along with Tim Posgate (gtr), Harold Carr (bs), Merilyn Lerner (p), Peter Valsamis (dr) and me on sax. This original track was produced by Kedrick James. It was released on the Virgin Records CD Word Up.
This is AWOL Love Vibe, the polyvocal action-poet trio I was in with Kedrick James and Alex Ferguson for 5 years (1993-98). Kedrick produced this track which we all wrote and performed. I also play sax on it.
This is a duo called The John Waynes, featuring me on vocals and Wayne Kelso on keyboards. What was special about this duo is that everything we did was 100% improvised, including all the spoken poetry that I made up as we went along. After listening back to it we named this piece: Where the Bears Go.
This is my current band Rakestar,an 8-piece ensemble that plays the music of Sun Ra. It’s a terrific group of musicians and we have a blast bringing the inter-stellar funk and reaching for the motherlode of cosmic wisdom:
And this is a House Band I played with for a year or so in Val-David Quebec, in which most of our music was improvised. Felix Leroux (perc), Thom Sokolowski (dr), Laurent Belec (el gtr), Richard St-Aubin (ac gtr), Francois Myrand (bs) and me on sax. We had a blast making up this tune and many others: